The process of progress

6 04 2010

Progress is an interesting concept.  Some say we are progressing as a society, some say we are regressing.  Some say our economy is progressing while others say the next bubble is about to burst.  Some say going from diapers to pull ups is progress – others…maybe not.  All of that to say we have differing perspectives on progress.  What is progress to you?

I’m an “if you’re not moving forward – you’re moving backward” kind of person.  Whether it’s being 15 minutes early to an appointment (if you’re not 15 minutes early you’re 15 minutes late) or dreaming up the next big idea I like moving forward.  Certainly that is not to say I don’t get stuck in ruts, have bad days, I have bad months for that matter, but in general I like focusing ahead.  Focusing ahead allows me the perspective needed to assure safe travels in rough and unknown waters.  For me this is why my written goals are so important.  Kind of like a road map to where I’m headed but also a reminder of where I’ve been and where I’ve come from.  Some of us keep a diary, some take enough pictures to have stock in Kodak, others choose addresses to mark their journey but whatever the conduit – we would all agree it’s important to keep tabs on the progress we make. 

To continue my mountain climbing metaphor I am almost at Base Camp 1 on the ascension of Dream Mountain.  Of the 7 actions in my 3 month plan I have been able to cross of 5 of them.  My wife and I have found tremendous power in the crossing off of action steps.  We have until July to complete all 7 but as it looks now we are ahead of the game.  My natural tendency is to get ahead of myself and move into my 6 month steps but the key to all of this I think is in the process – not the progress.  To learn the ability to enjoy the growing.  To accept the setbacks.  To love the planting of the roses let alone stopping to smell them.  In my estimation we all have the power to be whatever it is we want to be if we will accept the process it takes to achieve progress.   I am ready for the challenges and looking forward to overcoming them.  Setbacks will come from the most unexpected places.  Expect the unexpected right?  But even with setbacks on the horizon this opportunity for growth and becoming “the me” I have always wanted to be such an awesome trip.

We are starting a basement renovation in one of our rental properties in a few weeks.  We are updating the space and making it a self-sustaining basement apartment.  This is very exciting to me.  I love the planning, creativity, breaking of stuff, and the ability to actually see the ideas in my mind coming to fruition.  As I look at the renovation going into it – the process is actually most important.  The progress will come with the successful execution of the process.  This is the same in the actualization of our dreams.  The careful following of the process creates in us the progress we so desire.  At least that’s been my experience.


Pay it forwards

5 04 2010

I hate forwards.  Never read them – never forward them.  In this sense I do not “pay it forwards”. 

Please click on the link below and take 15 seconds to read what I was sent. 

I love the taste of crow!


What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk?

1 04 2010

Courage is defined by as “–noun 1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. 2. Obsolete. the heart as the source of emotion. 3. have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, esp. in spite of criticism.”  When I looked up courage in the dictionary I was expecting to see a picture of John Wayne, Barack Obama, or Rosa Parks.  A photo encapsulating all that is courage.  Maybe when you think of courage you picture a mountain climber cresting the peak, a firefighter with soot all over her face and a clean outline of where her re-breather would have been, or maybe you see the silhouette of a solider walking a dusty desert road at sunset?  There are many different examples or images we typically associate with courage.  Whatever picture comes to your mind when you think of courage, I’ve had two opportunities this week to see courage in my friends in distinct and inspiring ways.  These are two examples I would have never put on my example of courage radar.  They have moved me, encouraged me, and inspired me.  Considering the name of this blog is ‘Living Your Dreams – a journey in courage and triumph’ I thought it only apropos to include these two different stories of courage in dramatically different ways.

Imagine living your whole life afraid.  Afraid of what ifs, maybes, or could happens.  Growing up being told where to go, what to do, and even at times what to think.  Imagine this environment, and assume it has been created with the most redeemed intentions, being one where self discovery may have been low on the totem pole of behaviours.  Growing up in an environment where experiential learning may not have been promoted it’s easy to understand the lack of experience in living courageously.  With this as the backdrop you can see why I was so moved by my friend this week.  She had never known what she wanted to do in life.  Didn’t know what she was passionate about.  In fact, if you would have asked her she may have replied shopping, her kids, or ‘I don’t know’.  My friend got a job this week.  A job she has wanted to do for as long as I’ve known her.  It’s not a glamorous job but that doesn’t matter.  This isn’t a story about glamorous jobs but one of triumph and living fearlessly.  My friend had never even applied for a job before.  Her family was well connected growing up so she would get a job at the business her father ran or one of her father’s friends businesses.  She never really had to find out what it was that made her tick and never had to have the courage to step outside the family compound to find experiences.  She went from her family home to her marital home.  From the job she had as a teen to full time motherhood.  She was able to stay safe, comfortable, and frankly – somewhat afraid without any trouble at all.  It was funny receiving the email from her asking me for help with her resume and cover letter because, as she insisted, she couldn’t do it as she had  never even written a resume and didn’t know what to put in a cover letter.  When I asked her what she wanted to do with this resume she told me she was finally going to go after the job she had wanted for 8 years.  She didn’t know if she could do it, get it, or even if she was qualified but she assured me she was going to put her mind to it and overcome the fear of stepping out of her comfort zone.  My friend is the kind of person who is so afraid of everything she has been paralyzed to do most things she desired to do.  She’s been quite content to simply be a passenger on the train of life.  This is why I found such joy in celebrating with her when she told me she had in fact landed that job.  She shared with me that she had initially been sluffed off but that she persevered and went back a second and then third time.  She found the courage to not take no for an answer.  She found a way to triumph over her fear, grow experientially, and she has found something she LOVES.  Awesome!  Sometimes the biggest victories are found in the smallest places.  FDR said it best, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Now that my friend has triumphed over her fear of her fear the sky is the limit.  Her story allows me the perspective to know it’s not the big glossy dreams that speak to legacy rather the smaller personal victories that come when I have the courage to do what I know needs to be done despite my reservations.  Thank you for your wonderful example.

An e-mail arrived yesterday which stopped me dead in my tracks.  Through the day I, like many of you, receive a lot of e-mails and the majority tend not to stop me, lean me back in my chair, and cause me to reflect this way.  I’ve been accused many times of living in my head or being too cerebral.  For me, reflection on our shared experiences allows for the experience of wonder.  It creates space to find the jewels of wisdom in one another’s lives.  Reflection allows me to extract the marrow of life.  This particular e-mail did that.  A friend of mine is looking forward to getting married for the first time in the fall.  I know – many of you are thinking that IS the courageous part.  Others may be thinking ‘what’s the big deal.’  You see my friend was asking me for advice on what to expect in her first year of marriage.  What to do, think, say, expect?  What she needs to prepare for having been single all of her life?  She was looking for the kernels of wisdom her married friend may be able to provide.  What was astonishing to me was not the question or perspective she was looking for as this is a natural and regular occurrence in our friendship.  What was astonishing to me was the courage it had taken her to get to this point.  You see my friend has lived her life having never experienced a serious romantic relationship.  In fact, she had never even experienced a kiss.  Ever.  She decided in her youth she would dedicate herself to her dream of saving herself for her husband.  Upon reflecting on her decisions and beliefs I was astounded by her courage.  This is not information she readily shares and the disclosure of said details, while certainly mildly daring, was not the genesis of my inspiration.  I remember back to when I first found interest in the fairer sex and the pressure to flirt, touch, kiss, fool around, have sex – whatever – was tremendous.  In fact it was the way we as young people and adults for that matter related with one another.  It seemed as though the single most defining factor in relational interaction was the “spark” and often that was discovered based on the kiss and/or one another’s desire to be in some form of nakedness together.  Those who chose to avoid these interactions where marginalized.  It is worse today with girl’s social acceptance being based on their level of promiscuity.  Imagine the courage it took for my friend to not only stick to her guns in what she knew to be right for her but to do all of that in light of her own longing for relationship, love, care, interaction, and physical connection with a man.  She had the fortitude to follow her dreams regardless of cost and desire to the contrary.  My friend is amazing.  She gives me the inspiration to know if my dreams are important enough to me, no amount of immediate gratification can substitute the sheer joy experienced in a dream realized without the mortgaging of my beliefs.  And look at the payoff.  She is about to marry the man of her dreams and she can say with pride that she saved everything for him.  She said once that she wanted her husband to be the only man she had ever kissed.  Well, my friend, your dream has come true and I couldn’t be prouder for you.  Your courage is inspiration to me and I am so proud to call you my friend.

What decisions have you made recently that speak to courage?  What defines you?  What one small decision you have made has been the catalyst for what you are doing now?  Take a moment to reflect on your own courage and triumph.  Your story is worth celebrating.

“jUUUst a bit outside!”

31 03 2010

How many times did we hear growing up that walking away was the best alternative in conflict resolution?  My mom was a big advocate of this approach.  Maybe she was concerned for her son’s safety?  Maybe she was a pacifist?  Maybe she thought that had to be the message as a mother?  Who knows – for me I was more of an “eye for an eye” advocate.  The only problem with that approach is it leaves 2 one-eyed dummies rather than 2 fully sighted albeit angry combatants.  In hindsight I guess her approach is probably more beneficial because to be frank – I really like seeing.  The advice to walk away can be applied in so many different forums and sometimes, for me at least, it can be the hardest advice to heed.  And when it comes from the people closest to you – it can be that much more difficult. 

We’ve all done it.  Gotten involved or stayed involved in something we knew was, in the famous words of Bob Uecker, “just a bit outside.”  Something that had we listened to our circle or chose to look at things objectively we probably would have made a different choice.  That bad boy boyfriend we just knew we could change, the job that was sucking the life out of us, crossing the line we said we’d never cross, making the deal that wasn’t totally above board, or splicing our cable.  Whatever it may have been – we’ve all done it.  Yesterday the crossroads of ego and better judgment was presented to me.  One part of my dream is to buy, renovate, and sell resale homes.  Better known as flipping.  We inadvertently got involved in a flip in 2007 and I loved it.  Flipping is one branch in my full service real estate business.  On Sunday night I found a gem.  Well actually it was a giant terd.  It was like a gem took a dump and out came this place.  Call it a diamond in the very very VERY rough.  It’s in a gated style community facing a marina, locked on one side by a great lake and on the other side by one of the busiest freeways in the country.  It has access for commuters, gorgeous views, strong lifestyle options, and is the dump of the neighbourhood.  All very good things for market value.  The owner went bankrupt so the bank is selling the home.  We went to look at it yesterday to assess its condition and develop a business plan to see if it works within the parameters of my number matrix.  All of that to say the numbers have to work before the property can be a viable option.  My wife, a friend, and I looked through the property.  My friend measured the properties insides while I took pictures of the properties good and bad points.  Well actually it was more like bad and awful points.  What a mess!!  It hadn’t seen a dimes worth of investment in 20 years.  Ever seen one of those “Extreme Home Makeover” shows where in the beginning you look at the place and on the outside you say, “not so bad” but when they show you the inside you say “how can people live like that”?  That was this place.  It was so bad my friend (she’s also my agent) rightly suggested she didn’t want to take her shoes off.  It was awful.  Every corner of the house needed to be gutted.  A roof, windows, framing, insulation, structure, deck, landscaping, foundation, and mold.  That was just the outside.  Then there was the inside and the inside was 10 times worse.  I said to my friend, “I’d move into it and work in the reno but I’d be afraid the kids would fall through the floor.”  It was PERFECT!  Just the kind of project I was looking for.  I was envisioning the new kitchen, floors, layout, and removal of walls to open the space and give it the right flow.  Whether it was removing the overgrown tree in the front to take advantage of the marina view or a complete redo of the master suite to take advantage of the bones already there but make it the showpiece it could be – I was ready for the challenge.  I loved it.  I could see the finished product in my mind and it was great.  If I could make the numbers work this would be the first project in the ascension of Dream Mountain.  I was not concerned about going from base camp to camp 4 to continue the metaphor.  My feelings should have been the first indication of things to come.

As we were driving home and I was reviewing the pictures and talking about what I would do in the place my amazing wife looked at me a little sheepishly.  She asked, “Can I say something without crushing your dreams?”  Here it comes I thought.  “I think it’s too much right now and it may be better to walk away.  There is a lot of work to do there and I think with the basement reno on our other property coming in May, the blog, the courses, not to mention work and the family a project like that might just get you over your head.”  Ahhhhhh…the voice of reason.  You know what?  She was right.  She usually is.  She wasn’t suggesting we not do it at all – just not right now.  In this case her advice of walking away was the best decision.  I didn’t say anything for a bit.  Not because I was upset (although I’m sure my past history was leaving her with that impression) but more because I was in awe of her insight.  She was completely on the ball and there was little I could do to dispute her logic.  Looking at her I suggested the process really excites me.  It’s a passion and it fills me.  Not having these outlets keeps me feeling depleted.  However we do have a number of other things on the go and the completion of those projects, stepping stones if you will, allows for the ascension from base camp, to camp 1, 2, 3, all the way to the top of Dream Mountain without the possibility of elevation sickness.  In this case, walking away was the best decision.

Living my dreams is such an exciting process.  What an amazing opportunity to grow, discover, learn, and create.  As I learned yesterday sometimes living your dreams means saying no to the very thing you want in order to sustain the dream itself.  And sometimes, at least for me, the best vice – is advice.  Thank you sweetheart.

My life in the glove box

30 03 2010

The package arrived around 3pm.  Nothing special really.  The UPS driver asked for the signature as is expected.  The box was simple and nondescript.  Inside was the first step in the ascension of Dream Mountain.   Frankly I thought there may have been more excitement as I opened the package.  In my mind I was recalling the anticipation of my childhood Christmas presents or the first birthday present my wife ever got me.  But this was more peaceful.  More of an exhale I think.  More like the safe return of a loved one rather than the first time you laid eyes on them.  What arrived was the first course in my correspondence real estate licensing.  Phase 1 will teach me the initial portions and what-to-knows of the market.  For me right now it’s less about what’s in the workbook and more about the workbook’s presence in my home.  The last time it was in my home was 2004 and at that time the story was quite different.

My wife and I had just built our first home and we were blissfully unaware of the heavy weight decisions we were making.  Months earlier I had been approached by an investment company to work with them as a financial planner/investment consultant.  After careful deliberation and conversations with people I respected and trusted I declined the offer.  However by January of 2004 I was looking for a change.  It was a few months since I had moved from selling domestic cars to luxury cars and there was one common denominator – I was still selling cars.  A friend was just getting into selling real estate and my wife and I would often comment on how interesting and fun it seemed and that I’d be good at it.  We loved looking into real estate, property values, design and decorating, all the things the HGTV have built an entire network on.  So together we decided I would get take the real estate courses necessary to become licensed and pursue my next endeavor.  Nights were filled with study and calculations.  Workbooks became filled with details and completed case studies.  3 months of work culminated in the 4 hour written exam on a sunny Saturday in March.  However a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.  Saturday morning I was to write the exam.  I was to head to the office for a meeting, slip out and drive the 15 minutes to the exam, write it, and head back to the office for 12:30pm.  No problem right?  Well, needless to say I never got to the exam.  A customer showed up and bought a car.  Then another.  By the time 1pm had rolled around I had sold 2 cars but my dreams of selling houses were packed up like the junk in the glove box of one of the trade-ins from that day’s work.  The window of opportunity had closed and rather than cracking it back open and trying again I settled for more responsibility in the place where I was.  The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t right?  It’s taken 6 years to get back to the place where I am opening the workbook and cracking the window however the difference this time is regardless of the number of distractions and obligations I will complete this endeavor.  This is step one on the path to the goal.

It’s funny to see things coming into focus as I pursue living my dreams.  My 12 month plan includes 3, 6, 9, and 12 month smaller goals.  Of the seven 3 month goals, I have completed four and we are working on the completion of some of the 6, 9, and 12 month goals as well.  It’s interesting to me how the momentum begins as we focus on the things we love doing.  The dreams are beginning to take shape.  A friend asked me yesterday how to know where to start.  My suggestion was to find out what it is you want to do and the way you do that is to figure out what you’d do for free if money wasn’t an issue.  I love the parts of real estate I have been exposed to.  I am certain there will be parts I don’t like or don’t do well at.  There are those parts with anything we do.  For me, Marcus Buckingham said it best when he suggested the best way to live the fullest version of you is to live in your strengths.  That is to do the things that make you feel strong.  Conversely, while doing that, Buckingham suggests one needs to be mindful of their weaknesses or those things that leave us feeling depleted and manage them effectively.  Find people and processes that mitigate the feeling of weakness or the weaknesses negative effect on others.  I feel like achieving my goals is allowing me to play in my strengths.  So awesome!  What are the things in your life that make you feel strongest?  Are you doing everything you can to spend the majority of your time in them?  How are you managing your weaknesses?

The package was opened and the information downloaded into the computer and course 1 has begun.  We’ll see how well I do at that.  I am not a student by nature.  Not a strength for me at all.  However I am so looking forward to re-writing the history of my life and allowing the diversion of 2004 to finally find its rightful place in the glove box of my life.  Never to be seen again.

Where’s the game?

29 03 2010

“I want to be a firefighter, figure skater, singer, and a crane operator.”  My 3 year old son understands in the current age of career and work experience – diversity is the mother of prevention.  Prevention from a life of what if’s, when we were’s, and wish I would have’s.  At 3 he believes he can do all of these things and as parents we seem to encourage his ideas and dreams by saying things like, “you can do anything son” or “that sounds fun”.  When does this change?  At some point we start to encourage and guide our children and ourselves away from the I can do anything attitude of our childhood and more towards a make up your mind and be responsible type of positioning.  What happened to us?  Was it the disappointment of our first attempt and failure at following a dream?  Is too much riding on where we are now that to leave the comfort of the day-to-day rhythm is too daunting?  Are we embarrassed to start talking about our dreams and aspirations?  Have we no one in our lives who is willing to step up to our sides and walk with us as we finally start living happily and wholly rather than as a reasonable hand drawn facsimile of our best selves?  I don’t know when things change however I am convinced we can change it back.  We can take back the childhood wonder we gave up and build the life of our dreams.  In fact, I’m going back to my childhood for the wisdom to move forward.

Growing up my mother was the consummate list maker.  In fact you could walk into to her home today and find countless numbers of lists posted to the fridge, countertops, and side tables.  This seemed to keep the Lithium dosages to a minimum.  These lists seemed to keep everything under control and ensured all was well through the day.  My father was a budgeter.  He would have a budget, add to the budget, pour over the budget; maybe those budgets were his lists in disguise.  All of that to say – I have a reason to HATE lists.  Maybe you’re not like me but if my parents did it, for most of my life that was enough reason for me NOT to do it.  I mean really – how many of us wanted to be just like our parents?  Not me!  But funny enough I think we may share a name for a reason.  The older I get the smarter they get.  Weird.  So in the spirit of honouring our parents I look to my mother’s lists for inspiration.  The first step in living my dreams is to write them down.  In fact, if you walk into my house today my 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month goals are front and center on the fridge.  My daughter’s colouring and our real estate agents magnet have taken a side stage position for the goals I have set.  As a matter of fact, my wife and I have looked at that list for 2 weeks since it went up.  The list of goals has become almost like a mantra to realizing our successes and dreams.   We have been able to check off 4 different smaller stepping-stones in the ascension of Dream Mountain.  You see my mother taught me if I wrote down my goals and worked daily to stepping slowly and doggedly towards each smaller goal the big picture gets completed with each little check mark.  You are reading the second check mark now.

In 1986, Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze starred in a “blockbuster” of a movie called Youngblood.  It was a coming of age story of a hockey player (Lowe) and his team.  As an 11-year-old hockey goalie this movie was the best.  My father tolerated the film with me but a funny thing happened on the way to his kiddie movie slumber.  In a scene which would impact my life unlike any other, the coach of the Mustangs (Lowe’s team) screams at Lowe from the bench, “Dean, where’s the game?”  As Lowe looks over to his coach the coach puts his fingers to his temples.  The game clearly is in your head.  If I had a dollar for every time my father screamed at me from the stands in my hockey games, in the kitchen of my childhood home, or on the other end of a March 2000 phone call from my office, “where’s the game”, the realization of my dreams would be much easier.  But imagine the impact this one small scene had.  24 years later the movie starring Rob Lowe and featuring the guy from Dirty Dancing and a young Keanu Reeves with a really bad French accent is the engine that drives my dream realization.  The key to my father’s insight is visualization.  I have taken to seeing my dreams coming true in my mind.  The talent, determination, and drive needed to be successful in the new world I’m entering is already at my fingertips.  I have everything I need and as I visualize success in my mind and I walk closer and closer to the goal.  The goal for me is not the end but the beginning.  Not the achievement or completion of the goal but the active participation in the world of small business ownership.  What is your dream?  What goals do you have as the stepping-stones to realization?  Are you visualizing yourself winning?  Where’s the game?

For me, the combination of childlike belief and parental wisdom has been the key to living my dreams.  Whether it’s a firefighter, figure skater, crane operator, or real estate mogul I believe anything I set my mind to I can achieve.  Heck, if I’m going to tell my kids they can do anything they choose I’m going to start telling myself the same thing.  We deserve that don’t we?  I mean if we’re not going to believe in us – who will?  However, the words and ways of my parental experience ring loudly for me.  Write it down.  Read the lists and adjust them as needed.  Visualize the success and it becomes a reality.  I am so glad I moved out of my parent’s house when I did.  The longer I’m out of their house the smarter they become.  What can you do today to live your dreams?

Red wine or red wine vinegar?

26 03 2010

Ever had one of those experiences where you say to yourself, “if I knew then what I know now…”?  Man those piss me off sometimes.  Only pissed off at myself but still a little prickly.  There aren’t too many of those experiences I hang on to but the ones I do hang on to I choose to keep close because of the lesson learned.  Not that they’re huge life changing lessons necessarily but more just those learning experiences that, with proper fermentation, turn into the full bodied wisdom I can call on down the road.

Think back to summer of 2004.  The sub prime mortgage “situation” was beginning in the USA, the Canadian housing market was plugging along nicely with fixed rates as low as 6.5%, HGTV didn’t exist (what would we do without Property Virgins), and you could buy a 1 bedroom condo in the heart of downtown Toronto for $249000.  Yes that’s right – $249000.  I know because my wife and I almost bought one.  Not to live in but to rent out.  We have been dreaming about the real estate business collectively for about as long as we’ve been married.  It was always something we were both totally enamoured with but never had the guts to get into.  Being completely inexperienced in buying houses, being landlords, mortgages, resale, tenants, law, and pretty much everything else to do with real estate we felt as though we didn’t have what it took to even be involved in real estate as much more then simply owners of our own principal residence.  So, at that time, we walked away with our dreams in our back pockets reluctantly happy to dream smaller and more responsibly. 

Maybe we just do things the hard way but instead of following up on our dreams and desires we “responsibly” started buying and selling principal residences.  First it was a new construction where we were able to work with a builder friend of ours to minimize our costs.  His poor assistant had to take my daily construction questions, décor changes, pricing realignments, and daily drop bys.  I’m sure by the day we took possession I had driven her to drink but to me – I was learning and I loved it.  Next was a move to a run down estate sale home on a GREAT property with a GREAT location.  What a mess!  We took possession, renovated, and moved into the house in 31 days.  That was exciting, stressful, maddening, and wonderful all at the same time.  I think I learned more in that 31 days then I had in 31 years prior.  And you know what – I had a knack for it.  I made a lot of bad choices on that reno but I learned what to do and not do in the real estate market and I found a passion.  Next was another new construction that we general contracted with the help of family and friends that are in construction.  This was awesome.  It took 100 days to build from scratch but wow was it fun.  We did a good job and we used the lessons we learned from the first 2 in order to save ourselves time, aggravation, and money.  It was right around the completion of that residence when we decided to take out first step into our dream of real estate holdings and investment.

First we bought a condo in our hometown for a number of reasons.  It was a small initial investment.  It was managed by a very good management company.  We could get into the rental property market without the dreaded hassles of tenants calling all the time for small detail issues.  It seemed like a good compromise and foray into our dreams.  We bought and tenanted the place in 5 days.  Next was a triplex.  Then our residence became our next property.  Then we moved and bought another property.  In a matter of 3 short years we have developed a real estate holding company for our properties.  We have strong positive cash flow, good tenants, and enough diversity in properties to ride out any kind of real estate storm.  This was the first part of living my dream – owning a business in something I love.  

The condo my wife and I first looked at in Toronto is on the market today for $500000.  That’s a 100% increase in 6 years.  Hahaha – makes the skin on my forehead scrunch up just thinking about it.  However, the success of our initial real estate ventures gives me the confidence to know I can successfully achieve my dreams.  Learning the hard way is sometimes a good thing isn’t it?  Remember the last hard lesson you learned?  Aren’t’ you glad now to know what you didn’t know then?  You see, as I stare up the ascension of the next mountain in my life I look up with a different perspective.  It’s the perspective that can only come through the patina of experience.  Of knowing now what I know now.  We can all look back at something and say “if I knew then what I know now…man that pisses me off.”  But how much more potential is there in saying, “I’m so glad I know what I know now – this kernel of wisdom will help capture my dream.”  It’s like the full bodied complexity of a finely aged wine – and you know what?  Because of those small kernels of wisdom my dreams are coming true.  How about yours?