A Lifetime of Persistence Pt 2

Posted on December 7, 2008. Filed under: People to Follow | Tags: , , , , , |

We left off Napoleon just as he was promised a typewriter in exchange for changing his wild habits and working toward some better ones.  Martha Hill, his step-mother, had great hopes for all the Hills, and even 115 years later, we could learn a lot from the way she handled her husband and stepsons.  Here’s a quote from the book, “A Lifetime of Riches” by Michael J. Ritt Jr. and Kirk Landers:

“[Martha] patiently constructed a close, individual relationship with her troubled stepson.  She didn’t force the stubborn, hot-tempered boy to do things, for this would most certainly have produced failure.  Instead, she treated him like the person she wanted him to become – an intelligent, hard-working, independent lad who would set constructive goals for himself and achieve them. ”

” ‘People are wrong about you, Napoleon,’ she said.  ‘You’re not the worst boy in the county, only the most active.  You jst need to direct your energy toward accomplishing something worthwhile.’  In the course of this conversation, Martha suggested that Napoleon consider becoming a writer because of his keen imagination and gutsy initiative. ‘If you will devote as much time to reading and writing as you have to causing trouble,’ she concluded, ‘you might live to see the time when your influence will be felt throughout the state.’ ” (pp. 8-9)

How important it is to have somebody believe in you early in life!  As adults, we are in large part a product of the messages we are given about ourselves early in life.  We take those on and make them part of our identity.  That’s not exactly news – the “self-esteem movement” in child development circles of the 1980s and 1990s was built on that. 

At the same time, notice how Martha Hill’s belief and support was accompanied by some real expectations.  She didn’t just say “You’re smart honey, and you’re really wild, and that’s the way you are.”  She directed that energy in a new direction.  What’s more, she persuaded Napoleon to be responsible in himself for that change in direction.  She suggested a goal, but ultimately it was Napoleon who internalized the goal and worked with passion and diligence to achieve it.

This is something I try to instill in both myself and in my children.  We are all working to become something.  What is the worthwhile thing we want to do?  Who is the person of worth we want to be?  How can you reveal that person of worth right now?

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A Lifetime of Persistence, Pt I

Posted on December 5, 2008. Filed under: People to Follow | Tags: , , , , |

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. 

“Thoughts are things”. 

 “You become what you think about”. 

These are concepts made popular in the last century by Napoleon Hill, and for the past week, I’ve immersed myself in his biography.  Why would I be interested in the life of an early 20th century self-improvement prosletyzer?  His name keeps coming up as I delve into the teachings of more recent “mentors” – people like Chicken Soup for the Soul author Jack Canfield, and Bob Proctor.  And you can learn a ton from the life of Napoleon Hill – especially if you are one of those people diagnosed and struggling with ADHD. 

I actually started my research as a speaking project for Toastmasters, and was actually amazed at what I found out about him.  Who knew we would have so much in common?

I’m not saying that Mr Hill had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  But reading his life story, he shows many of the symptoms.  Very bright and active, he was sent to school at age four (in 1887) to “get out of his parents’ hair”. Once in school though, it was very hard to keep him in his seat, or his attention focused on what was going on in class.  He was much happier exploring the woods around his home, packing a six-shooter, hunting small game and starting fires.  Not exactly a promising start for a future philosopher and lecturer.  I liked him already!

The key to his success, though, began with the unwavering support and belief in his talents shown to him by his stepmother, Martha Hill.  She was the widow of a school principal who married Napoleon’s father, James, when “Nap” was nine.   Martha’s deal with her stepson was this:  “Turn in your gun and I will give you a typewriter”.  Bear in mind that this was around 115 years ago, and a typewriter was as new and as coveted as an XBox 360.  Napoleon took the bait, and he sat and struggled to learn how to type.  It was to become a key tool in his transformation from young hoodlum in training to young man with a big goal and the means to get there. 

To be continued!

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Getting Back On Track After You’ve Been Derailed

Posted on December 1, 2008. Filed under: Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , |

Here’s an article that I wrote for work – particularly for a MoneyMinding affiliate and supporter, Julie Taylor of Rebuilding You.  As a registered clinical counsellor, she helps people put their lives back together after trauma – particularly physical injury. 


Here’s the article!


Train wrecks.  Derailments.  From where I write this in British Columbia, occasionally our newscasts feature images of a chain of heavy train cars lying on their sides, spilling their contents into a river canyon or a ditch, looking both ungainly and fragile as their small wheels spin helplessly in the air.  It’s never pretty, and clean-up is often difficult.  Is it any wonder that when crises happen in our life, we sometimes talk about being “derailed”?


For long periods of time we chug along the track that’s been set out before us, delivering our goods, sheltering our passengers.  Then, WHAM!  A rockslide on the track, or a cow, or even the “wrong kind of snow” causes us to lose our grip, or get jerked off the rails.  Whether your metaphorical derailment is a physical injury, a relationship breakup, a sudden financial loss, loss of a job, or death of a family member… these are the circumstances that life throws at us, and putting ourselves back on track often takes time and a series of small steps.


Ironically, often the “life crises” are compounded by money crises.  When you can’t work because you are sick or injured, or you are caring for someone else, that can hit you right in the wallet.  So what are the steps you need to take get moving forward again?


The first step, and it’s not an easy one when you are knocked over, is to be grateful for where you are.  Unlike trains, you are a human being, capable of love, appreciation and gratitude even in the most unlikely circumstances.  It might just be “Thank heaven I’m not dead!”  or “I’m so glad I have family members who love me,” or “Well, I’m grateful that this lousy thing is done.  Let’s see what I have left to work with.”  When you know what you are grateful for, take the time to record your thanks – in a notebook, on index cards, or on sticky notes by your bedroom mirror.  Don’t let those items of gratitude slip out of your life.  Recreate your moment of thanks daily.


This is the perfect time to reflect, reassess, and to make new goals that take into account the life event that you have just been through.  When you have your goals, write them down and carry them with you. 

Obviously, these first two steps are much broader in scope than you will find in most financial repair “how-tos”.  But the truth is, financial health is built on a foundation of overall well-being. When you have these first two priorities in place, then you can ask yourself, “What is the next baby step I can take to reach my goal?”  That next step may be to record your daily expenses, so you know where your money is going as well as where it is coming from.  It may be to start putting aside your change, so you can use it later for “guilt-free” purchases.  Do that one next step consistently for 30 days, so it becomes a part of who you are.  If you try to change too much at once, especially when you are already dealing with the larger change of your “derailment”, your new habit may not stick. 


Expect success, at least in this one manageable area of your life.  Taking charge of your money does not have to be a struggle, provided you approach it in a step-by-step fashion.  You may even find it to be one area of calm and control in an otherwise turbulent situation.

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