Does it matter whether you are a pessimist or an optimist?  Is it necessary to 'hope'?  Do you really have to think positive for people to like you?  Should other people's decisions impact your attitude?

Life is a lot like fishing-- You are just not going to catch a fish with every cast-yet, but you should prepare, hope and be ready on every cast!  There are times when the fish will strike immediately when the fly hits the water—other casts, the fish may strike right at the end of the cast when you are just about ready to bring in the line and cast again.  If you are not ready when the fish strikes or because you think they won’t, you won’t be ready and they will spit out the fly and swim away and another opportunity is missed.

There are times when the fish are there and jumping all around but not striking your fly—so you need to change flies.  There are times when you won’t see any fish and suddenly they strike.  You can have a number of strikes within minutes—other times you won’t have any strikes for hours.  Sometimes your prettiest cast won’t get a strike—other times you may accidently catch a fish by dragging your line behind you—which is very rare.  The more skilled you are as a fisherman, the quicker you are about deciding when to change flies or when to go to another spot—but no matter how good you are you can’t make the fish strike—it’s their decision.

So, as with life, who you are and how you feel about life is something you can control.  You can’t control the decisions of others.  Those decisions may disappoint you, however, don't let the decisions of others determine how you feel about yourself, again focus on what you can control—and don’t get hung up on what others decide to do.  Focus on your decisions and learn to hope for good outcomes.  Whether you are a father, mother, son or daughter you have a purpose.  You need to find that purpose, embrace it and enjoy it.

Having a positive outlook or hoping for good outcomes won't prevent days when the fish won’t strike—but you smile and appreciate the 'opposition' and be better for it.  Appreciate the 'wildlife and the other beauties' because your self-confidence and esteem is not determined by events you don’t control—it’s about how you participate in those events or disappointments and your attitude WHILE the fish aren’t striking—that’s what you control and that's what others see!

In dealing with people and relationships, you can't control their decisions nor do you control their perceptions.  Your attitude and approach to life is seen and felt by others.  You leave impressions with every interaction.  Since each impression you leave with a person is 'real' to them, the impact of that perception becomes a reality.  If that perception is negative, it is a weed in your garden that will need to be dealt with at some time. Choosing not to deal with the weed causes the weed to grow and impact the other good things going on in your garden!

Always approach every cast with passion and excitement—because the fish might choose to strike and when they don't, it's ok!  There's always next time!  

The best is yet to come!
Family finances can be one of those areas that bring you freedom or bondage.  If you allow it to bring you into bondage it can have a very negative impact on your marriage and family.  So it takes a certain discipline to focus on what is important and not get caught up on 'things' you can't afford.  If you aren't careful in your planning, the frustration can also overwhelm you so that you do things you soon regret.

I just finished reading about George Washington.  A great leader but also a very practical man.  Here's a great quote from him on family finances:  “There is no practice more dangerous than that of borrowing money;  for when money can be had in this way, repayment is seldom thought of in time, the interest becomes a moth, exertions to raise it by dint of industry cease, it comes easy and is spent freely, and many things indulged in that would never be thought of if [they were] to be purchased by the seat of the brow.  In the meantime, the debt is accumulating like a snowball in rolling.  (letter to Samuel Washington)

So that may be a little extreme for us in today's environment to never borrow money, but we can be very careful about using a process to scrutinize what we borrow.  And then we should have a plan to pay off that debt as soon as possible.  The goal is to free ourselves of debt!  Free ourselves from financial bondage.

We live in a society where principles are being taught to 'live like there's no tomorrow'...  but there is a tomorrow and you want to enjoy it by knowing you are executing your plan to get out of debt and building for tomorrow and enjoying your freedom today!

For those starting their journey in the workplace I'd recommend you stay away from the temptation of buying expensive cars, extravagant living and living off of credit cards.  Spend less than you make and don't get caught by great marketeers and buying things you can't afford!

Life is good...  

One of the hardest lessons for me as a dad… when to listen more and hold back my opinion!  (a lesson of life-not just in my role of being a dad)!  There are times when our children need to know the ‘process’ we followed or a process we recommend but leave the ‘answer’ for them to discover through following the process.  Other times, it’s important to be brief and straightforward and say what is right (sometimes referred to as our opinion).  The challenge is executing the right one at the right time!

This rang true in a recent discussion with one of my unmarried daughters (3 of our 4 daughters are in this category).  Seems she has quite a following of young men.  When asked which ‘one’ I thought was the best I quickly realized I was at a decision point and needed to talk more process and less final answer!

The young men all come from great families.  I’ve had the opportunity to observe each of them working hard to save for college and each are active in Church and have either completed a mission of 2 years for the Church or currently serving a mission.  It would be an honor to have any of them as a son-in-law.

A couple of immediate thoughts came to my mind… (thoughts that I kept in my head and didn’t let escape to the tongue)  that this is still my little girl and she is too young to be having marriage discussions!  She needs to continue to date and really get to know these young men and allow them to continue to grow and mature.   How are they going to be able to take care of my daughter when they haven’t even finished college!?!?!! (Let’s just set aside the fact that I wasn’t finished with college either when I got married—close, I had 1 year left).

So my response was calm (at least that’s my recollection) and I left the monkey on her back as I said that they were are all good young men and I liked each of them.  Then continued that as she continues to be patient, pursuits her college education and develops her musical talents that the time will come when she will know ‘the who’ and ‘the when’.   But for now, she is still daddy’s little girl!

An example of the brief and straightforward…  

As a background, our family generally gathers for evening scriptures and prayers.  We try and read a chapter—sometimes only a few verses—and sometimes when it’s really late, only the prayer.   We chose evenings many years ago as mornings seem to be difficult as everyone has such a different schedule and a different tolerance for getting up in the morning.  So evening works best for our family. 

The other day it was time to gather and one of the kids was over at a neighbor’s house.  When I went to make the call to ask them to come home and join us, one of my other kids said that I shouldn’t make a big deal about it—just let them play over there and we can have scripture/prayers without them. 

I remembered times when some of the family wasn’t present, me traveling or someone at a sleep over.  I thought about that and rationalized that missing 1 scripture/prayer wasn’t the end of the world.  And then the quick parental inspiration came:  I want my family together whenever we can.  Gathering for scriptures/prayers is something I enjoy and it makes me happy to end the day together as a family.   So my simple response was that they were probably right that missing once was not a big deal, but that it means so much to me when my family is gathered together.   And whenever we could gather, we should gather.  So they made the quick call for me and the child joined us and then went back to the neighbors afterward.


College preparation starts when they are young--before High School.  The expectation should be set very early.  When they enter high school they should understand how high school will prepare them for college and expectations need to be set for what they need to accomplish in high school.  Set the bar appropriately...  GPA 3.5+, extra-curricular activities whether that be sports or choir or music or student government, etc.  They also should have service opportunities and leadership opportunities.  It's good to have fun in high school but it's also a preparatory step and your youth needs to be prepared.  By their Junior year they should be taking ACT / SAT tests.  It's good to take some practice tests or tutoring.  Don't underestimate the importance of these entry exams. 

Also, a big area is financial.  You'd like to avoid loading your youth up with college debt, however, you shouldn't be mortgaging your future to get them through.  Start having them save for a college fund and also pursuit scholarships.  You should know what you can afford and what you are planning to contribute and make sure they are aware during high school so it can reinforce the importance of their good grades and additional efforts that will help them get scholarships. 

Most importantly is their decision making process.  It develops the whole time they are growing up.  Help them to become independent and develop the ability to be on their own.  They need to learn responsibility and the value of money.  When they enter college, put them on a budget.  Let them manage to that budget without bailing them out all the time.  Blowing a budget is something they need to learn.  10% miss is much better than a 100% miss.  They need to develop that discipline of spending only what they can afford.  Too many families and kids are saddling up with too much debt thinking when they make it big time they can pay it all off.  Think about avoiding all the debt and getting through college with minimal debt.

Regarding major... don't switch when it extends the graduation date.  Too often youth switch and add another couple of semesters.   That might help the college revenue stream, but rarely does the cost justification exist.  Few undergrad majors are going to get you through life.  You will need to learn a lot more in your first job.  Graduating with a bachelors degree teaches you to learn and adapt.  It says that you have dedication and you know how to complete things.  The goal should be graduating within 4 years with your bachelors degree.  Get through it as quickly as you can, learn as much as you can and then go get some career experience and prepare to get a Masters degree!  Also good to have internships between semesters.  Even if they are without pay--the experience is what you need--beyond working at a fast food restaurant (unless you are planning to work in that industry).

Your thoughts?