Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lifetime Achievements

Recently I received a long and very complimentary letter from a reader. Two paragraphs were as follows:

"You seem to be successful, happily married, with a history of a good marital sex life, socially at least somewhat liberal, fiscally conservative, Texan, intelligent, an interesting writer, bisexual, good taste in men (at least from your photo blog), Christian, and you have had longstanding very close friends-with-benefits relationships with men, and your wife is aware of this and it didn't ruin your marriage.
Jesus, man, how did you manage all that?  Kudos to you."
Like anyone, I appreciate a compliment whenever one is offered. However, in this case, I have to point out that the person offering the compliment is seeing me as a man in his mid sixties. If he had known
me when I was in my mid thirties, his compliment might not have been offered. There certainly have been times when I struggled to keep it all together, and there have been times when I was scared shitless about what it was going to take to achieve a goal.

Even so, the person complimenting me has more than likely seen, as have I, men in their sixties and even seventies who have not been very successful in their lives. What is it that allows some of us to achieve great success in our lives while others among us seem to struggle throughout their lives, or even worse, simply give up at some point?

The letter writer is correct when he describes me a fiscally conservative and socially liberal. For the most part that is correct. However, while I consider myself socially liberal, I am, by no means, a bleeding heart liberal. My recent reply to an "Anonymous Liberal" points out the distinct difference between me and the bleeding liberal hearts who are too blind, too elite, and too egotistical to see that they are on a path to destroying this country and its heritage.

I point out this reply because it answers part of the letter writers questions. My father was a man of few words. He spoke in a clear and simple way. He took seriously his duty to raise me and my brothers to be men who could support ourselves and our families. From an early age, he impressed on us that we were part of a world which doesn't give a damn about us. He stressed that there was no excuse for failure to be found outside ourselves. Adversity was just another name for challenge; and challenge was just another name for opportunity in my father's philosophy.

Feeling blue or mistreated? Get over it! Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps and keep doing whatever it is you have to do to achieve your goals was another major part of my father's philosophy of life, though he didn't say it in such gentle words.

I can't remember a single time I ever got a single word of sympathy from my father. Bleeding or
bruised? "I've had worse places on my eyeball," he'd say. Bullied or mistreated? "Learn to defend yourself; give as good as you get," he'd say. Yet, my father was always there, it seemed when he had to be. I almost drowned on my tenth birthday. I was going down for the 3rd time, and convinced my life was about to end when my father plucked me out of the deep water. I don't know for sure, but I've always felt my father let me get enough lake water in my lungs to convince me I'd better learn how to swim.

In today's world, not nearly enough people share my father's philosophy for success. "If I can't make more than minimum wage, why work?" they say. "Why should I stay in school?" they ask. "The governments got money, why should I work? they contend. Worse still, many people today would consider my father's philosophy a sign of ignorance. In response to anyone with such a viewpoint, I point out that my father raised three very successful sons.

Liberals contend minorities still need preferences and handouts to achieve success. The truth belies their contentions. Tens of thousands of minority middle and upper class Americans have made their lives a success just by taking advantage of the opportunities available to all Americans and by refusing to be defeated. The only fight I have with these successful minority Americans is, even they, now fall victim all too often to the liberal lie that minorities must have special help and preferences to achieve success. They have forgotten that it is their own struggle that made them what they are today.

Such self delusion is not just engaged in by successful minorities. It is also engaged in my successful white Americans who try to shield their children from the struggles they had to overcome on the road to success. They give their kids everything money can buy and never teach them the value of hard work and personal achievement. I admire Bill Gates and other wealthy Americans who do not plan to share their fortunes with their children, but instead teach them how to make their own fortunes.

Another reason for my success is that I was born with an inquiring mind. I always wanted to know, Why? I was never satisfied with success. I always wanted more. As a young man, I looked at people
who had grand homes and expensive cars and I wanted to be just like them. I was willing to work long, hard hours to achieve what I wanted.

I have never been a person who is afraid of or resistant to change. Nothing has ever been sacred to me simply because it is the way it has always been done. I have always been sensitive to the rights and the feelings of others because I have always been a believer in the old maxim that "what goes round comes round." Now, in the twilight of my years, I can honestly say that in my observation throughout my life those who cheat and steal and take advantage of others are seldom successful in the long run and never happy in the long run.

I have never been one to blame my failures on others. That sort of thing is simply alien to the philosophy of life my father instilled in me. It is a tell tale mark of the ignorant. If I fail, I simply try to learn from the failure and initiate a new strategy. Along the same lines, I've never thought of myself as the only person who has to carry a bag of rocks around with him. I know everyone has their own bag of rocks, and I believe it is out bag of rocks and what we do about them that determines our stature in life. No one else can relieve us of our rocks. They are our personal responsibility.

I've always been willing and able to reassess my bag of rocks. Often I've found what I thought was just a rock was, in fact, a gem stone. Such is the case with my bisexuality. For years it was one of the biggest rocks I had to carry. When I finally was able to assess it correctly, I found it to be one of the biggest gems in my life. It was because of my bisexuality, that I met some of the most important people in my life. It was because of my bisexuality I have been able to help some people to deal with their own sexual challenges. It is one of my life's greatest satisfactions to know that I have been able to affect lives for the better. At the same time, there is satisfaction that I was not able to affect such change all by myself, but rather by helping others to identify their options, clarify their thinking and take on new paradigms that brought about the changes.

I have always been a planner. I had the good sense to marry a woman who was also a planner. She is also intelligent and self sufficient. She doesn't need me to take care of her. She simply needs me to share my life with her. So many people ruin their chances of real success in life by marrying beautiful, needy women who are both unwilling and unable to be an asset to them. Such carelessness, more often than not, takes a huge toll on one's life.

Finally, throughout my life, I have surrounded myself with great people. Especially in my career, I
intentionally hired people who were smarter than I and who knew things I didn't know. I intentionally tried to avoid at all cost hiring problems and instead to hire competence and team members.

Have I made mistakes in my life? Too many to count, but mistakes have always been just a weigh station on the road to success. One of the greatest discoveries of my life has been that people appreciate a good attitude and a willingness to do something, even if its sometimes wrong. More often than not, such people are quickly forgiven their mistakes. It has happened to me over and over in my life.

I've always believed in powers bigger than myself. In my mind such belief is vital to keeping oneself grounded.

It's never too late to achieve success. We don't have to be rich to be counted successful. We don't have to have the grand home of the expensive car to be seen as a success. Some of the most successful people I've ever known have been quite poor in material means. As my father always said, "Be the best at whatever you do. If you dig ditches for a living, be the best ditch digger anyone has ever known."

Jack Scott

6 comments:

  1. I'm probably going to regret saying this, because mostly I agree with you, but what bothers me about so many fiscal conservatives is that they (not necessarily you) tend to be extremely myopic. The Food Stamp program is out of control and Fox News loves to continually bash it. Yes, fraud within the program is a problem. But let's put the $330 million in estimated annual fraud into context:

    "Did you watch any of the U.S. Presidential debates between John McCain and Barack Obama? When asked about defense spending, do you remember McCain talking about an amphibious vehicle program that was costing the taxpayers billions of dollars? Meet the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, or EFV. Planning and vision for this vehicle began in the 1970s and continues to this day. The EFV is a tracked vehicle with an aluminum hull designed to operate in the ocean, amphibiously land on a beach, and continue travel with a crew of 3 and a carrying capability of 17. The budget for this fabulous piece of equipment increased year after year and as of now stands at approximately 15.9 billion dollars. The catch? That’s for development. Prototypes. In fact, the US Marine Corps just sent the last batch of prototypes back to the manufacturer, dissatisfied with the fact that they broke down, on average, once for every 4.5 hours of operating time. That’s twice per operational day, per vehicle. The current cost of 15.9 billion dollars is not a final number, because the vehicles have not yet reached production phase. The 15.9 billion dollars spent on this vehicle system so far could have instead bought every resident of the U.S. Virgin islands (of driving age) a 2007 Ferrari F430." (Source: http://regretfulmorning.com/2009/07/5-most-expensive-military-vehicles-to-date/)

    I should mention that the current Wikipedia entry for the EFV says $3 Billion was spent before the program was cancelled in 2011.

    It seems to me that true fiscal conservatives would want to target BILLIONS in waste before millions, especially when it all goes to one company. But that's not what they do. Instead they focus entirely on programs for people, like food stamps, and fight tooth and nail to preserve multi-billion dollar equipment boondoggles like the EFV.

    Both fiscally and logically, it makes no sense to me.

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    1. I see nothing in your comment I can quibble with. I too believe conservatives, especially ultra conservatives can be myopic; but then again, aren't ultra liberals?

      I'm well aware of the EFV fiasco. It is the product of a Congressional system that finds its members continually needing to raise money for elections and there is no better way to do that than keep as many people in their state employed even when the military itself is saying I don't want or need this weapons system.

      As a conservative myself, I think most of the conservatives now serving in Congress are foolish about not investing more in tomorrow. I don't agree with the President on very many things, but he is right that even in a recession we need to be building for tomorrow. The trouble with the President is that he funds foolish projects and boondoggles when there are thousands of more worthy projects going wanting.

      Whether we're Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, all politics is local and beyond that all politics is hostage to our own self interest. Because of that, in my eyes any and every fault can be found in every group one wants to examine.

      My conservatism is based on the fact that we ought to encourage people to become educated and to provide for themselves. That philosophy is older than Christ who espoused it more than 2000 years ago. There was a time in this country, and it is still true in many, when one had no choice but to provide for his own welfare. Now, unfortunately, too many are content to beg Uncle Sam for their living. Others are content to criminally defraud the Government and take money from all of us that are hard working tax payers.

      I appreciated your comment. I like to debate opposing viewpoints.

      Jack Scott

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  2. Jack, you give great advice. The only thing that I would add is to select something you will enjoy to be your life's work. If you can say, "I can't believe they pay me to do this" you have achieved this goal. Along with that, the pay need not be more than will sustain you and your family to be happy. Many times doing life's work may lead to great riches, but it is not necessary. Many people just happen to start a hobby on the side, while drudging away at work, and over time that hobby starts to earn them enough money to be happy.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more David.

      Thanks.

      Jack

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  3. Jack very good post. I believe that you are my Texas doppleganger. I hope that some of the younger readers that read your blog actually pay attention to what you are saying.Can I ask if you are a natrual writer or have you been trained profesionally. I have found writing throughout my life to be extremly challenging. My profs when I was in college rolled there eyeballs a lot and shook there heads.

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    1. I guess it is just one of my few talents Cary. In the seventh grade my writing was first recognized by being awarded 1st Prize in an essay contest for Fire Prevention Week.

      Throughout school I had no trouble in writing. I loved tests that used a bluebook rather than multiple choice answers. I could always fill up a bluebook.

      Recently I received my first paid writing assignment when a major publisher asked me to contribute to a book for GLBT Teenagers.

      Writing allows me to clarify my own thinking. It also causes me to identify new ideas for other writing.

      My rambling wordy style of writing is not appreciated by professional editors and by many people who appreciate modern soundbites. However, i think that the rambling casual style is appreciated by thoughtful readers and encourages them to think more deeply about the intended message as a whole.

      It is the thoughtful person who enjoys introspection and appreciates the value of it to whom I aim my blog essays.

      Thanks, I appreciate your support.

      Jack Scott

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I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott