Friday, July 31, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Cheezy

I admit that I sometimes think this . . .

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Well, today (July 29th) was my birthday. I spent it with my family and it was great. Birthdays always make me think about the more important things in life like my purpose, God, my challenges, my family, my achievements, and my failures. Maybe we should do our new year's resolutions on our birthdays? Jobina got me a non traditional and simple birthday card. The front page read "I like you..." and the interior wording was "You take kissing seriously." I'm glad she noticed!

I also got phone call messages from my brother and mom which was really nice and made me smile. In my humble opinion people, make two big errors when it comes to their birthday. Some ignore their birthday. These types pretend (or believe) it's not important and they either feign discomfort when anyone tries to honor their big day, or they truly are uncomfortable - like they don't deserve any sort of recognition! I don't like this approach because it seems to rob themselves (and others) of the joy of celebrating their life, uniqueness, and God's work in their life. On the far other end of the spectrum is the birthday addicts. They make sure you know their birthday is coming - maybe even weeks or months in advance. They then either plan their perfect day (down to the last detail) or they wait expectantly for others to put on a big celebration for them and are often disappointed.

I wonder though if we could embrace the positives of both approaches (humility and celebration) without the negatives (feeling unworthy to be special or being full of oneself)? I want to enjoy my birthday and celebrate God's making and sustaining me. I want to let my family celebrate me, being humble yet thankful at the same time. I want to party, think deep thoughts, open gifts, remember my blessings, and share the experience with others - all with a humble and thankful heart. Of course I'm not there yet (ask my wife) but I feel God is working on me. So how about you - do you like your birthdays? Where on the scale do you fit in? If your birthday is coming up soon (or has just recently passed), let me say a hearty "Happy Birthday" to you and I hope you have a great day!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Chasing

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lessons Learned

When I was 17 I got into an accident. I was leaving the Camp Arnes pool parking lot in my 77 Nova and I backed up into a car - an old Tempo if I remember correctly. I panicked. My brother was with me and in that moment of hesitation he gave me his sage-like advice: "Drive man, Drive!!" So I took off, hoping that no damage had been done to the other vehicle. When we got home I looked at the back of the Nova. Nothing, not a scratch. Maybe I hadn't hit the other vehicle very badly and maybe there wasn't any damage? I slept uneasily that night.

The next day in school I tried to forget about what had happened but when a guy came up to me and said "I heard about what happened at Arnes" I knew I was sunk. Summoning all of my courage I drove down to the Gimli police station. Nervously I introduced myself and said I wanted to report an accident. "What's your name?" said the police officer. When I told him he said "Ah, we were just about to come looking for you." Yikes, they police were coming to look for me! Basically at that point I broke down, confessed my sins, and begged for forgiveness. Then I had to tell my parents.

My mom was fairly compassionate but my Dad seemed to almost get glee from the whole situation. "You'll have to face the music son," he said. "You have to get pay the consequences for your actions." Luckily because I had turned myself in just before 24 hours had passed since I had fled the scene, the police could only charge me with failing to exchange particulars. But I still had to go to court. My Dad was happy to take me. I remember on the way there him trying to prepare me for what I would face. He seemed to think that this was going to be one of those great life lessons that hurts but turns out for the best. Little did he know how right he would be.

We drove to Selkirk where the court was but parking was a bit of an issue. Dad looked for parking by the mall, and I went inside. I presented the papers I had to the admin person and they gave me outstanding news: the RCMP at Gimli had been impressed by my repentance, humility, and honesty and recommended to the court that all charges be dropped. The court agreed and I got off scot free. Freeeeeedom!! I rushed outside to tell my Dad the good news.

Unbeknownst to me Dad was having his own adventures outside. Apparently the place he had parked in was a place he was not allowed to park. A parking guard came by and ticketed the truck. Dad had then tried to talk to the parking guard who told him that the law was the law and he'd have to pay the fine. I'm not exactly sure what my Dad said in return but I do know that there was much anger and unkind words were spoken. When I came out less then five minutes immediately after this and Dad realized first that he hadn't even needed to park he was testy. When he heard that I got off with only a warning that made him even more upset - he had wanted me to learn a lesson (I hadn't) and he had gotten a ticket for nothing. I was supposed to pay for my transgression but instead now he was the one paying a fine! And he had "lost it" on another person and had to admit it to his son. He wasn't having a stellar day.

With my Dad in a bit of foul mood, we went into the mall to a restaurant to get something to eat. As soon as we sat down my Dad suddenly looked terrible. "What's wrong?" I asked. "It's that parking guard, he's eating a few tables over." My Dad struggled for a minute or two and then got up. He paused, took a deep breath, and then went over to the parking guard and appologized for his earlier behavior. Then he sat down, we finished our meal in thoughtful silence, and headed home.

When I got home I very much enjoyed telling the story to my Mom and have several times reminded my Dad of that fateful day. In fact, it's one of my favorite "Dad" stories to tell. Lessons were learnt. I learned what mercy, real mercy was. I messed up and instead of having to pay the price was given mercy instead. I never forgot how that felt and to this day I want to give that feeling to others.

My Dad too learned a lesson. Sometimes you are so fixated on seeing someone else "learn a lesson" that you don't realize that you are about to learn one yourself - so watch out! My Dad thought he had been a terrible example of a father to me, but he didn't realize (at first at least) that this was one of the best examples he ever was to me. After making a fool of himself by losing it on someone he swallowed his pride and did the right thing - he humbled himself and appologized. And that was the lesson I learned - if you mess up you need to humble yourself and admit it, asking for forgiveness. It's the right thing to do, the manly thing to do. It was hard, but he did it anyway. I was proud of my Dad that day, in fact I'm still proud of him. All of us make mistakes sometimes, but not all of us will admit it and say we're sorry. My Dad did. And for that I love and admire him. Thanks Dad for such a great lesson on how to be a man. I'll never forget it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Just curious what you think about this video:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thoughts from Rick Warren

On understanding life . . .
"You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”

On humility . . .
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.”

On dependence . . .
“You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”

On the Church . . .
“You don’t judge the strength of an army by how many soldiers sit and eat in the mess hall, but by how they perform on the front line. Likewise a church’s strength is not seen in how many show up, but in how many serve in the ministry.”

Monday, July 20, 2009

Help Needed

Everyone has gifts and abilities. Part of what makes us all so fascinating is that yours are different from mine. For instance I know people who can:

1. Dispense wisdom.
2. Make people laugh.
3. Fix anything.
4. Cook like a chef.
5. Show heartfelt compassion.
6. Teach.
7. Learn things quickly.
8. Read fast and lots.
9. Sell stuff to anyone.
10. Pray for hours.

etc, etc, etc. I know that I too have gifts and abilities. One of the abilities that I don't have is the ability to build and fix things. In about a month though we are moving and we need to do some repairs to our house. We need to do things like:

Repair and paint our fence.
Repair our main level ceiling?
Put new flooring in the kitchen/dining area (this I'll probably pay someone to do).
Paint our exterior windows.
Paint our interior (as much as possible).
Miscellaneous repairs.

Sadly, even painting is a stretch for me. The repairs? A complete mystery. It's times like these I look at my friends with their carpentry and mechanical knowledge and feel jealous. Rationally I know that we all have different gifts and abilities but it doesn't make it any easier when I need to do something requiring skills and tools I don't have (OK, Jobina just corrected me, we have tools, we just don't know how to use them). It's frustrating! So if anyone has some extra time and expertise on their hands, let us know. Maybe you could lend me some of your skills and I could lend you some of mine? That sounds Christian somehow. Meanwhile I'll be out back trying to figure out how to fix my fence without destroying it . . . and dreaming about getting a truck.

Friday, July 17, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: "All Four"

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: Waiter Rant

Book Review: Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of A Cynical Waiter By Steve Dublanica

According to the author there are basically three kinds of waiters:

1. People trying to become something else
2. People's who's lives are falling apart
3. People stuck somewhere in the middle.

Waiter Rant is about a man who goes through all three. It is birthed out of his famous blog about an accidental waiter's thoughts and experiences working at an upscale New York eatery. A man who went to seminary and was bent on becoming a priest, Steve journals his journey that found him ending up as a waiter. An avid reader he blends his theological background, philosophy, psychological insights, dry humor, and naked authenticity into a fascinating story. Of course there are all the crazy stories on how he exacts revenge on customers (his strategic use of flatulence make one's blood run cold), the obligatory horror stories of customers freak outs, debauchery among staff and patrons, and rants about the ethics of tipping. But more, he shows the human side of the approximately 2 million Americans who live the life of a server. Life being a server is not easy and his insights into the challenges and lives of restaurant workers can make you hate them one minute, disgusted at their evil antics, and the next minute getting a lump in your throat as you hear their stories of heartache and pain.

Reading this coarse, crude, and surprisingly vulnerable story of one man's accidental falling into "the industry" brought many flashbacks. It was only eight months ago I too was a server, working my way through school, and it was truly a different world. I miss it. I feel it is a humble and noble occupation, but I feel I've moved on. I too have stories of debauchery, entitled guests, kitchen dramatics, and management errors that would make your head spin. But the stories that stand out to me the most are the common stories of people trying to make their way in the world. Their dreams and hopes. I miss the people. We were at a wedding recently where we were served by servers and I noticed that most of the people at our table treated the servers like they were barely there - no please, no thank you, no smiles. I on the other hand made sure I did all of these things but I worry that I too will forget what I learned - that waiters are people too and deserving of respect and honor.

I struggle to recommend this book as it is so crude (if it was a movie it would be rated "R" or higher), but something in it did touch me. I leave you with one of my favorite pieces from the book. Steve is burning out as a server. During another long night he's just had to go through the uncomfortable situation of asking a tipsy patron to leave. A lady at one his tables says to him:

"I always tell my husband you're a great waiter," she says. "very capable."

"Thank you."

The woman looks at me. She's about fifty, her her faces shows the life she's led, but her eyes are warm and young.

"But overly capable," the woman says. "I saw how you handled that woman. I was watching. You're more then just a waiter. Aren't you?"

I smile broadly. Customers can be very observant.

"Yes, Madam," I reply. "Yes I am."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Real Estate Thoughts: Things Are Looking Brighter

Today I saw this article on Yahoo, talking about the values of pre-existing homes in Canada going on the rise.

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada jumped 31.5 percent in the second quarter from the first and saw their first year-over-year quarterly increase since before the peak of the financial crisis, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Tuesday. The industry group said actual home sales totaled 147,351 units in the second quarter of 2009, up 1.4 per cent from the same quarter of 2008. Home sales rose 8.7 percent in June from May on a seasonally adjusted basis. They were up 17.9 percent from June 2008, using nonseasonally adjusted figures. "This is on par with the record for the month of June set in 2007 and is the fourth highest ever for activity in any month on record," CREA said in a report. . .

I take this as encouraging news. Even thought the numbers are skewed by the major markets rebounding, overall things look like they are stabilizing. Here in Winnipeg we haven't had a decline in any values (miraculously) but it has slowed down recently. Jobina and I are strongly considering getting another rental property as we have equity that we could use for this very purpose. Although interest rates will probably slowly rise, getting a rental property in Winnipeg is a very good idea. I would encourage anyone who has a lot of equity in their house to consider getting another property as an investment. Unlike say, ahem, GM shares, which can lose all their value, real estate is definitely a more stable and reliable investment (of course risk is involved - discernment is still necessary). Also, by using your first home's equity you can actually purchase a home without a big down payment. We bought our first property and since I got a little extra on the mortgage to help pay for some repairs and cover the closing costs! I love real estate.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


"We either love people or we control them. There’s little room for anything else. And its far easier to control them than to love them." - John Eldredge

In Mennville this past Sunday I spoke about loving one another as an antidote to controlling behaviors. Controlling behaviors (pressuring, criticizing, nagging, blaming, complaining, etc) are loveless as they lack the respect for other's free will. It is impossible to love and control at the same time - despite what we think or feel. The abusive man who controls his wife (all the time saying he loves her) is not loving her. The nagging wife says she is nagging her husband (because it is the only way to move him to action) is not loving him. Controlling behaviors always damage relationship as we always resent those who do not up respect our freedom to choose our own destiny.

This evening in our small group we discussed controlling behaviors, especially attempts by family members to control us or us controlling them. Although they may have the purest of motives, it's amazing how much we resent and rebel against mother, fathers, brothers, and sisters who overtly or subtly try to control us. Dave gave a good example of this, the technique of "voluntelling." Here's the definition from the Urban Dictionary :


(verb) To unwittingly volunteer someone's services without allowing them the opportunity to decline.

Variations: voluntelling, voluntold
"Who are we gonna get to finish copying and collating the TPS reports?"

"I'll voluntell Steve to take care of it."

Classic controlling technique, a variation of manipulation. Are you guilty of voluntelling? Or are you a constant victim? Driver style bosses or managers can sometimes be terrible with this technique, not to mention church bullies. I have been both victim and assailant when it comes to this technique. If you are the victim of a voluntelling addict, try this:

1. Just say no. "I'm sorry, but no. If you want to ask me, fine, but what you said isn't asking."
2. Point out that they are not asking you, but telling you. "You make it sound like you are asking me, but you're not - you're telling me. How come?"
3. Ask them "Is there a question you have for me?"

Any other ideas?

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Power of Pee

According to this story, urine may be an ideal power source for hydrogen powered cars. Yay science! Also, in case that idea does not totally gross you out/inspire you, how about pee powered batteries?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Just a quick post to say I'm speaking this Sunday at Mennville Church so if anyone wants to pray for me, feel free. I'd really appreciate it!

P.S. My speaking will be somewhat different from Mr. Spurgeon's (at right). Nice pulpit though, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, July 10, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Local Church

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I thought I would try something different for awhile: ASBO Jesus Fridays. In case you weren't aware, ASBO Jesus is Jon Birch's cartoonist's Blog. A little left of center, his cartoons are sometimes funny, sometimes controversial, but always challenge me in some way. I don't agree with everything he say (or implies!) but I often enjoy his artistic approach to exploring faith issues. As a caveat I will say that I don't support everything he writes but believe I can still learn something from those I disagree with. Enjoy, and feel free to comment on what thoughts and questions the cartoons bring out for you . . .

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Secret To Good Sex: Aging?

The Globe and Mail had a short but very interesting article about some research done by Peggy Kleinplatz at the University of Ottawa. Apparently when she put out the call for "great lovers" she was contacted by many older married couples - those who had enjoyed marriage for over 25 years. Kleinplatz found that:

-Several ingredients for “great sex” emerged: being present; connection; deep sexual and erotic intimacy; extraordinary communication; interpersonal risk-taking and exploration; authenticity; vulnerability, and transcendence.
-Optimal sex gets surprisingly better with experience and becomes self-perpetuating.
-Aging may be an asset towards optimal sexual development.
-The findings go against how popular culture portrays fantastic sex, a depiction that stresses performance, technique and novelty. This image of sex sends mixed messages that create unrealistic expectations, anxiety, shame and guilt.

The study brings up an interesting point, what if most of the messages we hear about sex in the media (magazines, TV, movies, internet) are based on untruths? Maybe sex before marriage isn't "normal" or "healthy" and maybe it's not impossible to wait til your wedding? Maybe you don't have to be super skinny/buff/attractive to attract a sexual partner and be able to enjoy great sex? Maybe seeing soft or hard porn actually does affect a person in their heart and mind and will affect their relationships in negative ways? Maybe sex is not only for the young but can actually be better and hotter as you age? I love it when research shows us that our ideas, the ideas we are fed everyday can be wrong, even damaging. Perhaps for us Christ-followers we need to be reminded every now and then that the media isn't the best source for our ideas and info on sexual intimacy . . . and that sometimes we start to believe the lies that we hear - and shouldn't.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Surviving The Fall

This is one of the most unbelievable things I have ever heard of:

Read the story here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Camp Morton Yurts Review

Camp Morton Yurts, Manitoba Review (and suggestions)

This past weekend my family did something new: instead of our usual tent camping at the wilderness area of Camp Morton Provincial Park we accepted the invitation of the illustrious Howe's (a very cool families in our church) and went "yurting" instead. Yurts are modern outdoor tent structures based on the refined designs used for centuries by Mongolian nomads.

Let me just say, for someone who is mostly a wilderness camper staying in a campground (even in yurt) seemed in principle to be a betrayal of my camping philosophy. My philosophy can be summed up like this:

1. Be as far away from other campers/people/civilization as possible.
2. As much as possible, carry all your own gear, be self propelled.
3. Travel light and simply.

All of my philosophy had to be thrown out the window. Instead I tentatively tried what Manitoba parks calls "comfort camping." What does this mean? Basically, you are coddled. Instead of a tent you get a large 16 foot diameter yurt complete with rustic bunk bed, table/chairs, futon, armoir, and coat tree. Not only this, but the yurt has lights, yes that's right, ELECTRICITY. You have dimmable lights, power sockets, a fan, and (I kid you not) an electric heater. A large transparent (and openable) dome in the ceiling lets you see the stars or sky at all times. Outside your door you have a nice covered deck and kitchen area which is great for cooking (no cooking in the yurt). There is also an outside light there. In front of your deck you have your own firepit, a picnic table, and you own personal wagon for transporting your stuff from the car to your site. It was so cushy that it was overwhelming. And I'm ashamed to say that we did, ahem, use the heater when it got a bit cool in the evening. Yes we did and I enjoyed it's toasty warmness. Here's a few pics:

Skylight dome and top of bunk bed

Front of yurt and deck.

Jobina cooking in her al frescoe outdoor kitchen area.

The lakeview from inside yurt #2 , looking out.

For a family, this kind of camping is just way to ideal. It's so easy. During a short rainstorm we just hung out in the yurt and when we got hungry we went outside onto our deck and cooked our hotdogs on our stove (which we'd brought ourselves). The yurt was so esthetically pleasing - round rooms feel better for the soul somehow - that I usually didn't want to leave. Of course I did as Camp Morton Provincial Park has lots to offer: trails, swimming (our yurt had a nice lakeview), the gardens, etc. Definitely more then enough for a young family for one weekend. We had the Howe's over at our yurt for campfires in the evening and had a blast. Also, since the yurts are brand new at the park this year we were presented with a cheezy T-shirt to mark the occasion. Sweet unexpected additional value! Also, unlike some campgrounds (yes, I'm talking about you Bird's Hill and Ambrose), firewood is free and plentiful.

Will and Keith testing the waters (literally).

Do I recommend the yurts at Camp Morton? Absolutely. If you are a family with 2 or 3 young kids it is easy and enjoyable to enjoy the park. The extra money required ($47 for a yurt per night as compared to $15 for a campsite) is so worth it. Trust me, you won't be dissapointed. I'd also go as couple looking for some time away. Unless absolute privacy is your highest ideal, you could have a very nice and relaxing weekend for two for under $100 (plus food and gas of course). Very cheap for what you get. We will be going back.

Suggestions: If you are booking online, I'd try for yurt #2 first. It has in my opinion the nicest blend of privacy, view, and a bit of a bigger deck as it has a nice wheelchair accessible ramp that my son enjoyed biking down. Yurt #2 is also close to a water source which was nice. My second choice would be Yurt #1, my third choice Yurt #3, and my 4th choice Yurt #8. Yurts 1-3 and 6-8 are kind of grouped together, something to keep in mind if you come as a group. If you have lots of kids in your group and you want to hang out as much as possible with others in your group, keeping them constantly within line of sight, choose yurts 6-8 as you there is little foilage between them. There is also a nice (but tricky) path to the beach just south of them. Bikes are not essential but are nice to help you get around quickly. If you have any questions about the yurts, feel free to post them in the comments below!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

On Arranged Marriages . . .

An Indian once compared love with a bowl of soup and marriage with the hot plate of a stove and said: "You Westerners put a hot bowl on a cold plate and it grows cold slowly. We put a cold bowl on a hot stove and it warms up slowly."

I liked this quote. It catches the spirit of why arranged marriages can actually work, and often work well. In most Western marriages, couples attempt to experience most of the best parts of marriage before they get married. Sex, cohabitation, domestic sharing, even children. Yet they are not fully committed. Try before you buy. Experiencing and embracing all of these things without the safety and security of a firm marriage commitment is not just anti-Christian, but creates huge emotional/attachment issues. It is no wonder that so many Western marriages end in disillusionment and divorce. Yet their strength is that there is freedom and consent, and often some form of love.

The strength of arranged marriages is their foundation of commitment. Arranged marriages definitely have severe drawbacks (especially when you don't have the enthusiastic consent of both parties). They usually do not start on a foundation of love (or even "like"), which seems to be a foundational necessity. Arranged marriages focus too strongly on the commitment aspect and are weak on love, something that is just as necessary for a marriage to grow and flourish. Although cultural norms do not encourage those in arranged marriages to divorce, many of these relationships are cold and lifeless.

Commitment and love must both be present and in high amounts in order for marriage to survive and thrive. Although it is best and most fulfilling to have these at the start of a serious relationship there is still much hope for those who didn't have one or both of these. And that is why I do what I do . . .

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Don't Feel Like It

The following is from an article in a newsletter sent out by joint ventures specialist, Robin J. Elliot. Elliot is a businessman (and also a Christian) but I like reading his newsletter for the general feeling of inspiration that I get when I read it:

"I Don't Feel Like It"

How many times have you said, "I don't feel like it", but you go ahead anyway and do it, and you're very happy you did? In life and in business, feelings are not always the ideal indicator, especially when they involve a spot of sloth or discomfort on your part.

Recently, my amazing daughter urged me to go for a ride with her on a wild-looking machine at the fairgrounds that whirled people around upside down, high above the ground. The last time I rode on one of those things, I was a teenager. Now I'm 56, but I agreed to accompany her. I didn't feel like it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! My wife persuaded me to go to Disney World for the first time. I certainly didn't feel like that, but I did it, and I loved it. After that, we visited Disneyland as well! Yesterday, my two friends suggested we jump off the boat and swim in the cold waters of Howe Sound off Horseshoe Bay. I didn't feel like it, but I dived in, and it was great.

Do you think athletes feel like training for hours every day, in all kinds of weather, enduring constant pain? How about that awful food they eat on their special diets? Don't you thing they feel like gobbling fatty burgers or lining up at the trough for ice cream? How often do they feel like quitting? Those who do quit don't win the gold medals. The same goes for entrepreneurs. Someone once said, "The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night."

Note, in the above quote, that the author says, "Reached and KEPT" - it's OK to win once, but to keep on winning, you have to discipline your feelings and urges. Ross Perot said, "Something in human nature causes us to start slacking off at our moment of greatest accomplishment. As you become successful, you will need a great deal of self-discipline not to lose your sense of balance, humility, and commitment." Beware - pride comes before the fall.

Lee Iacocca said, "I learned to keep going, even in bad times. I learned not to despair, even when my world was falling apart. I learned that there are no free lunches. And I learned the value of hard work." And Jim Rohn said, "Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments. One discipline always leads to another discipline." That's good news - doing the right thing instead of the easy thing becomes a good habit.

Small habits that get good results need to be developed and maintained in order to reap long-term rewards. Those who quit easily and seek the fast buck never get anywhere, and they develop a reputation for excuses and for not being reliable. James Allen said, "Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set." That self-discipline to do the right thing in spite of what you feel, is what separates the men from the boys.

Champions don't make excuses, and they fight on, regardless of their feelings, comfort zone, or the opinions of others. When losers tell them, "Don't work too hard, take it easy, rest more, dress down, don't be so aggressive, don't upset people", winners simply go deaf. They associate with other winners and hear only their mentors and coaches. Do the right thing, continuing in good and bad times to do the right thing, in spite of what you feel. Conquer yourself, and you can reach any goal you wish.

Robin J. Elliott