Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Realistic Mediocrity

"Being realistic is the most commonly
 traveled road to mediocrity." 
--actor Will Smith

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Don't Short-Change Yourself

   "Potential" is a word that I've heard a lot in my life.  Its definition is "having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future".   Potential can be a very good thing, but it can also be destructive and harmful if left latent for long periods of time.

   The word "potential" comes from the same root that the word "potent" comes.   "Potent" means "having great power, authority, or influence."  If you have potential, that capacity needs to be catapulted into something real.

   I know a lot of people that don't seem to have any talents or abilities whatsoever.  I've learned though that many times, people's skills are suppressed by people and situations in their life, to a point where they no longer believe in themselves or in what they can accomplish.  They begin to stop caring, become lackadaisical about everything, and often recoil into a commonplace existence.

George C. Scott in the "Flim Flam Man"
  "Shortchange" means "to deprive of or give less than something due; cheat".  We usually think of shortchanging as a sort of "flim-flam", when someone else tricks us into taking less than they owe us. Actors George C. Scott ("The Flim Flam Man") and Steve Martin ("Leap of Faith") gave depictions of these types in their film roles.  But sometimes people actually short-change themselves. They begin stop trying to achieve anything in their lives.  They fall way short of their potential or destiny.   They start expecting and accepting less.  It appears they might be happy, but deep within, they know there is something better for themselves.

   We all come to a crossroads at different times in our lives.   All of our stories are unique.   Our paths and timetables are each set on an individual basis.   But we all share the same inner desire to find the right course and pursue it.   If we allow ourselves to want anything less, we are cheating ourselves.

   Stop a moment along life's highway and reevaluate your course.  Are you following the path that brings you joy and fulfillment, or are you somehow stuck in a path that's not of your choosing?  Actually, you did choose it, but you did so out of compulsion or necessity, and not out of a yearning and longing.  Each of us needs to eventually find that right course where we know we belong, and follow it with all of our heart.

   Don't short-change yourself.  It's bad enough when another person succeeds in robbing you of what you are due.   Don't ever let yourself do it.   You owe yourself more.   Check your "pockets."   Do you have all that life owes you.  Or have you settled for less ?   If so, take some time to think about what you need to do to pursue your life's dreams and goals.  And then take your "potential" and mold it into something powerful in your life.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Choices and Freedom

   I went on a hiking trip today with a group that I had joined just a short few months ago.  I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time.  I enjoy walking or hiking, and love the scenic view of a natural park.  About a dozen of us walked around a 365-acre lake today, enjoying the company and the scenery.  It was a lovely experience... one that I hope to enjoy again soon.

  Okay, so "what's the point?", you say.  This is a Business website, isn't it?  I mean, at least it's supposed to be.  It's a place where you can come and learn more about becoming and being an entrepreneur and finding new avenues for a fulfilling career and life.  So... "why are you talking about hiking on your business site?"

  Because... part of planning and living your dreams is to actually begin to enjoy the things that you enjoy.   That may sound redundant to you, but it's not at all.  Well, of course you enjoy the things that you enjoy.  Yeah, but the real question is NOT if or whether you enjoy certain things, but how often do you really have the chance or opportunity to enjoy them?

   Part of the drudgery of life sometimes is always doing things the way you've always done them, and never ever becoming able to make the changes that you need to that will make things any different than they've always been.   Wow- that statement I just made feels really monotonous just typing it or saying it.  Much less-- actually living it!

   The trouble is, so many times we resign ourselves to relinquishing control of our lives over to someone else, or groups of people.  Oftentimes we do not even realize that we are doing it, until we've been doing it for such a long period of time.  Have you ever REALLY believed that you could live the way you REALLY want to live it?   I mean-- REALLY!   Not just talking x's and o's here.. but smack dab down on the field of life, in your everyday life?   If not, then there might just be a problem.

  Like I've said before (see the rest of this website), if you want to work for another boss, or another man, or another-- whatever-- then that's fine.  But the KEY word here is "want".  Is it REALLY what you want?   Or are you just settling for something less than you REALLY want or that you've always wanted.

   You may be noticing the use (or over-use) of the word "REALLY" here.  It's quite intentional.  Why?   Because lots of times, we are not REAL with ourselves.  We are dishonest and fool ourselves into thinking that somehow, everything is the way that it should be, or if not, then at least everything will eventually work out the way that we want it to be.  The trouble is, the only thing that usually changes when we think this way is time.  Yeah, time.  In other words, we eventually take a look back and see that over the past 10, 20, 30, 40 (fill-in-the-blank) years, we've maintained the SAME exact attitude about our lives, and nothing else has ever REALLY changed, except... the date (and our ages)!

   There is no doubt that the worst thing that can be taken away from a man is not a house, not a car, not any other prized possession.  It is his choice or his freedom.  Or we could say:  his freedom to choose.  May God have mercy on those souls whose freedom has been taken away from them, not from their own neglect or folly, but totally without any fault of their own.  There are countries where governments have subjected their citizens to such a life of misery.

   It is a fact that no matter where you find yourself in life, no matter what choices you've made in the past, no matter how difficult or impossible that you feel your situation to be, the one thing (and the most important thing) that you still have available to you is your ability to choose.  You can choose to make today different than yesterday.  You can choose to take a different direction than you've taken in the past.  You can choose to stop following a path that will only lead you down a spiral to misery.

   Most people are in that spiral, and not only don't realize they have a choice, but many times don't even realize that they made the choice to be in that situation.  There are many excuses :  "I don't have an education."   "I'm not smart enough."   "I've always done this and guess I always will."  "I don't know where to start."   "I don't feel comfortable making changes."   The excuses will always be there.  There's always one available.  But do you choose an excuse, or choose an escape?

   Ten years ago, I probably couldn't have gone on a scenic hike on a Friday morning.  But it's not about the hike, or a concert, or a beach trip... or even about the money, or the cash flow.. it's all about your freedom.. to be able to choose.  

   Don't kid yourself.  If you think that working for forty years to get to retirement will help you enjoy life more, you're fooling yourself.   Especially if you're not really enjoying those forty years of your life that it takes to get you to that point.   It makes no sense at all to devote yourself to something for that long a period of time, sacrificing many enjoyments of life (family, friends, travel, etc.), so that you can get to a place where you can perhaps enjoy those things for a few short years.  First of all, there's no guarantee that you will even make it there, or once there, live that long to enjoy it.  Second of all, there's a great chance that the pressures and stress of everyday life will wear on you to such an extent over your lifetime that, by the time you get to retirement age, you may not have the energy or health to really enjoy what you've worked so hard and long to obtain.

   Think about it.  No matter where you are in life, no matter your age, or your situation, you still have a choice.  You still have the freedom to make choices.  You have the freedom to make changes.  Don't sell yourself short in believing otherwise.  This little essay today is not about specifics or details.  I'm not about to tell you -what it is- that you should do, or what you should think.  But one detail is important- don't stand still and make no choice or decision.  Because not to choose... is to choose.  But the lack of making a decision can never be a good choice.  So give your life some thought.  If you're not really where you want to be, you can pull off the exit ramp, and get on a different road, one that will take you in a new and exciting direction.

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Business Logos


  One of the assignments in an Internet class that I'm taking is to take another look at my business materials, including my logos.  I'm posting my logos here for my instructor and classmates to view, and also for me to see all of them together in one place.  I'm going to listen to feedback, and see if I can discern any new ideas for making them better and more applicable.  They are supposed to send a message to everyone who views them about my business and what I'm seeking to do.  It should clearly show and promote my goals and purpose.

I just look for something unique and different when I'm thinking about a logo or banner.  This idea for "The Bob Page" logo came to me just out of the uniqueness of my name, it is a Palindrome, meaning it's the same forwards and backwards, and there's the "O" in the middle of my name, with two identical "B's" on each side.  I thought it would be clever to use the "O" as a picture frame for my image.  The ultimate would be to have a slide show of pics, revolving from one to another, inside of the "O" frame.  I believe that I'm aware how to do that, only haven't had the time to explore it yet.  I'm not even sure it would work in Blogger.  =)

The idea of "GuiTarHeel" probably came about because I am a UNC Tar Heel basketball fan.  Of course, although "Tar Heel" is a university and sports moniker, it is also the official nickname for our state : the Tar Heel state. Not that the basketball connection actually directly caused the name or logo, but because of the relation between "gui-tar" and "tar-heel".  They shared a common word or syllable between them, so I chose to capitalize on that by combining them into a new word : "gui-tar-heel."  I like it, and it's also become an online login name and identity for me at various sites, including my own blog.  I believe it's distinct, unique, and different from most business names that I've seen used in the past.  I also think that the name clearly and cleverly states what I do, and also where I do it.  Using the NC map as a background also enhances the look and builds upon the theme.

   "NovelTees" is a name that I came up with about 5-10 years ago whenever I started this online tee shirt at Zazzle.   I wanted a word that ended in "ty" or "ties" so that I could change the spelling and make it applicable to selling tee shirts.  "Novelty" is defined as "the quality of being new, original, or unusual."   This was exactly what I was shooting for, both in a business, my products, and a name.   The whole business idea came about through casual conversations while just hanging out with some close friends.  We would always humor one another by saying clever things or making puns.  One day, one of them said, "That would really be good on a tee shirt."  A bell sorta went off in my head.  The idea germinated inside my head for awhile, lying dormant until that same friend gave me the encouragement to start the actual process of designing and selling the shirts.  The logo itself is fairly simplistic.  I wish that I had a better concept or idea;  perhaps a better one will come along at some point.  But for now, this logo incorporates an upside-down tee shirt, implying something a little different or unique.  It may not make any real sense, except it's meant to project a thought of uniqueness or difference.  Many of me tee shirt slogans are off-the-wall humor. [for example, a picture of Rodin's "The Thinker", (which is a nude guy) with the caption "I wonder where I left my underwear".. or a pic of a little boy peeing, with the caption "I stayed up all night studying for my urine test".. there are many, many more examples.. go check out my site to see them all!]   So-- the overall theme of a lot of my shirts also coincides with the concept of being unique or different.

  "Night Light" began in the 1980's when a "friend-of-a-friend" was just starting to venture out to make a career out of a hobby of playing guitar and performing original songs.  This singer/songwriter had been working as a maintenance man on a golf course, and as he rode around on a riding mower, he would hum tunes in his head and come up with songs.  He was also teaching guitar lessons to local students.  Somehow, I got involved in helping him promote and develop his performing career.  We started out playing at local churches and events, then I booked him at some regional festivals and colleges.  In the mid-80's, we took off on a two-week tour through the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.  I also booked a short trip to Tennessee and Kentucky.  

  [In the late 80's, he formed a 4-5 piece band, and was able to make connections with a festival promoter in Myrtle Beach, who booked him and his band as the festival warmup band, playing on stage with some nationally known artists and performers. He has since worked with international Christian ministries such as YWAM (Youth With a Mission), Last Days, and now develops guitar and music teaching materials for Hal Leonard Publishing and has a monthly column in Worship Musician Magazine.]

  During this time period, I added a few other artists (booking as many as a dozen artists) in various fields, such as bluegrass, gospel, jazz, and speakers/comedians.  I continued doing booking and promotion into the early 90's.  Sometime in the mid-90's, I let it go for some reason, and it has been dormant for the last 20 years.  I am now beginning to plan to revitalize this musical venture again, and hope to develop a website to implement concert booking and promotion services.

  The name "Night Light" just came to me, but later I discovered that it probably came from a Scripture (Bible) passage in 2 Corinthians 4:6 : "For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ."  My ultimate logo will also have a skyline as a background, and may change in other minor ways, but will always have the "light bulb" as the major theme or icon.   Here's another version of the logo.. I don't particularly like this skyline, I'd like a more realistic and bold one.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You Never Stop Learning

   Someone tells me, "You're a lifelong student."  My retort to that is :  "Shouldn't we all be?"  If you ever stop learning, I think that it signifies one of two things : (a) either you think you've learned it all, and are therefore superior to anyone else's intelligence or wisdom; or (b) you have lost the interest, will, or desire to learn.  I'm not sure which of these is the worst;  both are probably equally horrible traits and fate.

  I have set about to learn and educate myself on as much information as possible concerning a very broad subject : the Internet.  In specific, I'm seeking to gain wisdom and expertise at understanding how to effectively use the Internet to promote and market one's self and business enterprises.  It's a vast undertaking.  There are so many areas to grasp and understand : website development, domains and URL names, Search Engines, social media, effective writing, promotional tools, etc.  The list goes on and on and on.

    I've discovered some books and online sites that have been helpful to me, and I intend on sharing these at some point in the near future.  However, I will tell you about something that has been extremely valuable, and that is a new tool that is being offered through my local public library.  That is the wonderful educational site called GALE COURSES (formerly Learn-4-Life).  It is available through my library at no charge.  That's right- FREE! Over 300 courses in many, many different fields or interests are available.  I have finished one course, and am taking three more presently, all revolving around the Internet.  I am also recommending this to other friends and associates.

  I have taken the following : 
   I previously studied "Blogging and Podcasting".   All of these courses are expanding my knowledge base.  With each new concept or piece of information that I grasp, a whole new world of understanding opens up, and slowly but surely, I am going to be able to piece together a unified, sensible approach to building and growing an Internet business model.

  As you can tell, I'm somewhat excited about this.  The free courses that I'm taking are not the only means for my learning.  I've also been reading some books, watching some videos, listening or viewing some online webinars, etc.   All of it is helping me develop a solid foundation for moving ahead with various online projects.

  You should check out GALE COURSES online.  See if there is an organization in your area, perhaps a business or college, which is offering their courses.   They are invaluable and would be well worth the investment to pay for these courses;  however, if you are fortunate, you will find a group that is a sponsor and is offering them at no cost to the community.

Click on the Links ABOVE or BELOW to check out More Info :

Gale Courses

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Story -- (and I'm Sticking to It)

My Own Story
    My own story is a history of twists and turns, detours and roundabouts.  I wish that somehow I could've had the wisdom or discernment about careers or business that I am starting to develop now, back then in my teens and 20's.   It seems that my dreams and goals didn't really start blooming until I was nearly 40.  I'm grateful for all I learned previously, and certainly not regretful of my past, however ho-hum it might've seemed in retrospect.  I became like many people : lacking any kind of motivation or concept of a better life, I settled into a lifestyle of mediocrity, accepting whatever was dealt to me as my destiny's lot, and not questioning my pay scale or my lackadaisical attitude about my jobs or work.

Following in the Footsteps  
   Let me tell you about my father's background, and perhaps this will help you understand  my background and development.  My father worked in the retail sales environment for 45 years.  He was the youngest store manager in his company's entire chain at 21 years old.  He typically won all of the chain's sales contests, beating store managers that were 25 or more years older than himself.  Before he was 30, he left the department chain to go to work for a small town men's specialty store as Assistant Manager.  Within two years, he was Manager of the store, and remained in that position, for two different periods, from the late 50's until 1971, and from 1972 until the mid 90's, when he retired.  In the intermittent year (1971-72), we moved about 200 miles to my aunt and uncle's hometown, where my dad had heard of a job opening at the same chain that he left back in his early days.  He accepted and worked a position of Assistant Manager, until it was apparent to him that his main job was to help train the manager's nephew, and it was proposed to him to take a Store Manager's job in Oklahoma.  For some reason, moving that far away did not appeal to him or to my mother.  So we moved back, and he took the same job that he had before. 

   I need not go any farther for you to see that my dad was very knowledgable and capable at retail management.  In fact, a college professor gave my father a copy of his Business book, autographed with the words, "To Bob, who could write his own book about business management."  I always wished that my dad would've done just that.  He knew and read people very well, and loved interacting with them.  He had the "gift of gab" and loved selling and being able to please his customers.

Early Years
  It was in this environment that at about 21, I started out in the work world by working for my dad.  I worked off and on for several years.  My dad helped me get a job with the same chain that he started with, and worked there for a couple of years.  While working these jobs, a friend of mine got me interested in computers, and I began taking a few courses at the local community college, which eventually led into an associate's and then a bachelor's degree.  I felt newly energized, putting all of my time and energy into learning and developing a new career path in technology.  While in school, I managed to secure several jobs in the field, working as a computer operator at one organization, and then as a computer help desk operator.  As I was finishing school and after graduation, I worked as an assistant to a Network Administrator, and as a Computer Tech at my college.

  In about 2000, after the last company I had worked for closed down the local office, I found it more difficult to find a job in this field, and began a job search which had degenerated into finding "anything to do".  After being so driven to find a new career, it was a terrible awakening to realize that I might have to leave what I had felt so excited about, to go back to the routine of working a menial, ordinary type of job.  After a few months of searching, I wound up at a local hotel, and worked at two different ones over the next five years.  In the meantime, I was still interested in computers and the possibility of returning to that market, but the right opportunity did not immediately present itself, and over time, I settled in again to accepting the status quo.

A Brand New Direction
  I ended up working at a printing shop for two years, and then back into retail department store sales for another two years.   I had picked up a habit though, while working at the hotel jobs.  I was a customer service / front desk clerk, and while waiting for guests to arrive or for a phone call, I began letting my mind "wander" and imagining things that I would like to do with my life, and areas that I would like to explore as a career.  I popped a disk into a computer, and began typing up these different ideas.  Over a period of a few months, I had amassed what was probably the equivalent of 50-75 pages of ideas.  These weren't just one-liners;  they were fully developed business plans, with bulleted lists and short and long-range goals.  And it wasn't just a handful of ideas.  There were probably dozens of them.   You can see that this was a time of letting my spirit out of its cage and letting it attempt to fly into unknown territories.

Goals and Dreams
  Just about five years ago, a friend had given me the idea of starting my own business. The idea came from us throwing around word puns, and laughing between ourselves.  Then one day, he said, "That would be good on a tee shirt."  And then, "I bet that would sell, if you put it on a shirt."  The original idea was to print up tee shirts, and put them on consignment in different shops around town, and eventually other areas.  But along the same time, it became aware to me that a lot of companies were springing up online, ones that somehow were able to offer free services to just anyone that was interested in
Browse My NovelTees Tee Shirt Store
starting their own independent online store.  I went to one of them, and started a free website.  This was the origins of what is now known as "NovelTees".  I started by spending my one or two days off a week, using the interactive screen to combine clip art graphics and text on tee shirts, caps, and bumper stickers.  I probably put up a dozen shirts my first day.  And now, there are between 1,500 to 2,000 items for sale.  It has not become a full-time career or income yet, but it is a start in a new direction, with a great potential for growth and success.  I eventually want to expand into several online stores, and also take the business offline, when I develop the capital to do so, and print my own shirts, reducing the overhead, and being able to sell them at community festivals and flea markets.

   Another idea of mine which has become a reality is my guitar teaching.  I began playing the guitar when I was a teenager, never with the idea of teaching anyone else.  In fact, at the time, I wasn't sure that I would ever really learn to play.  But in the 90's, while I was working those other jobs, I started teaching in a guitar shop, and did so for two years, developing about 20-25 students, working two days a week.   I also taught a guitar course
Go Check Out My GuiTarHeel Website
at the local community college.  Then, for some reason, that idea fell to the wayside for the next twenty years, but about two years ago, after being on unemployment for over a year, I decided to "test the waters" again, and found a local senior adult center that was interested in having guitar classes.  I've been doing them for the past year, teaching three classes now, averaging about 25-30 students per eight-week session.  See my Guitar Site for more information on this venture.

  It was in this context that I took the local library's offering of a "Blogging for Beginners" class in June 2013.  This class allowed my past technological background and my newly fertilized visions for various online business ventures to fuse together into an amalgamated, unified path.  I had developed a personal website while taking a class in HTML and web design back in the 90's.  It was mostly for my class,
Visit "The Bob Page"
and for my friends.  They loved it, and told me so.  But eventually it, like most of my other projects and dreams, fell by the wayside, while pursuing other dead end roads.  After taking this blogging class, I immediately set out to re-invent this website.  It was called "The Bob Page", and was basically.. about ME -- "Bob".  However, I'm in the process of learning how to delicately combine personal and business into one consolidated web community, which hopefully will someday soon develop into both an enjoyable hobby plus a career and income.

  More later.. as "My Story" develops more.. & more.. & more.. Stay in Touch.. 

Maximum Age / Minimum Wage

    I've got a Tee Shirt on my "NovelTees" store that portrays "Minimum Age / Minimum Wage".   It's meant to be a pun or jab at teens trying to find work whenever they reach the minimum age for a work permit.   Usually the only thing available is a minimum wage entry level job.  

    On the other hand, I've seen some teenagers venturing out to even start their own businesses while in high school, or even before.  The days of kids setting up lemonade stands are almost gone now.  Kids are web savvy, creating complex Internet sites and learning how to play and even create
Order This Shirt @ My NovelTees Store
computer video games.  Some other young people are venturing into other areas, like crafts or food or writing.  I've heard of girls baking and selling cookies.  

   One of my college friends had a daughter who she helped set up a website and sold cookies online.  Although I'm sure that a lot of them had their parents' guidance and help, I am amazed and impressed that so many that are so young can manage to imagine and conceive such enterprises, and then follow through on it to actually put it into motion and achieve a measure of success.

   One of the focuses of this "Make This Job & Love It" site is to try to help people get out of the old mentality of "I CAN'T do this" or accepting their current job or career status as "Oh well, somebody's got to do it".  If you are in this mental state, then you are ACCEPTING the status quo, and ENDURING your work, rather than EXCEPTING the status quo, and ENJOYING your work.   I had lunch with a couple of friends yesterday.  One of them said about their past job, "Well, it was a necessary evil... it had its pro's and con's."  He enjoyed his co-workers;  in fact, some of them are still casual friends several years after he left the job.  He found that the job itself was not that difficult.  He was a photographer, who went in, did his job, and then usually went home.  But he found that the company did not treat him fairly, cut the benefits to a bare minimum, and at the end, left him with no alternative but to quit.

  My own story has similarities to my friend's, although the circumstances are different. It was about four years ago that I returned back to my hometown from about a two-year stay in Nashville, and was somewhat excited to be able to find a job within about a week.  It so happened that one of the managers, the one conducting the job interviews, was a former co-worker or boss at one of my former jobs.  I was hired, and settled into the retail environment once more.  Having just spent almost two years in a retail sales job in Nashville, it was natural for me to be comfortable in that setting.  But what I began to see and find over the course of the next 2-3 months was that this particular job was a return to "Point Zero" for me, a reoccurring revolving door or detour off of life's highway.  I had been making almost $10 an hour at the former job.  Even though our commission had been cut out about halfway through my stay there, I was pretty satisfied.  To some of you, working for $10 an hour is an appalling thought.  To me, it was Retail Heaven.  When I got back home, and got the new job, I was again making Minimum Wage, which was something in the neighborhood of $7.25 an hour.  I was being paid a stipend of 50 cents for store credit applications that were collected and approved.  (Wow!)  My former job in Nashville had given us $2.00 for each credit application.  When I asked the manager about the differential, he just flatly stated, "It's your job. Take it or leave it."  At 5:30 a.m. sales meetings, the store managers would look at me and make remarks like, "We're counting on you for five credit app's today. Come on.. you can do it!"   The appeal of this pitch was totally lost on me.  I began to see through this whole game of the corporate ladder, and the low rung to which I was seemingly permanently affixed.

  After about two months, the store laid me off.  It had been a seasonal temp job anyway.  Two or three of us got extended into regular employees.  I was one of the "unlucky" ones that got axed.  But looking back, I could not thank them enough for their generosity in letting me go.  It opened the door to almost two years of unemployment, through which I began to look for other alternatives to the Minimum Wage dead end.

  More later.. For an in-depth look at my history and background, read "My Story--(and I'm Sticking to It!").

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Strength in Numbers: The Splendor of Mentors

   As I look around at the various leaders of our generation, I notice something.  Even most of the leaders are followers.. that is, copy-cats.  They will borrow something that works, and take it to the next level.  Unfortunately, those that lead and those that follow leaders rarely do it from an unselfish motive to foster new creativity and individuality, but rather to help build their own dynasty and legacy.

   Almost everyone is familiar with The Lone Ranger.  If you weren’t a watcher of the original or re-run old B&W TV episodes, you probably saw or heard of the new movie of the same name that premiered this past year.  The idea was that this crusader wore a mask to conceal his identity, and only his Indian friend knew who he really was.  But, you see, even The Lone Ranger wasn’t alone.  He had Tonto, a very faithful comrade and sidekick.

   Everyone at some point wants to follow their dreams.  They have a vision and goals and wish to follow after them.  Sometimes these are dreams that others also aspire to reach.  Sometimes it is a unique dream or vision.  Whichever path you are following, it is almost certain that you will not reach your aspirations unless at some point, you find some help along the way.  Even travelers who take off on an independent journey have signs along the way to direct their path, signs that someone has earlier placed there to help them find their way.

   I just got an email recently from a friend at the library whose course I took a couple of months ago.  It was called “Blogging for Beginners.”  I would not be writing this article for you to read if it had not been for her initiative to develop a class where I could learn the basics.  I already had an idea for redeveloping a website that I had created about fifteen years ago, but it was this class that gave me the motivation and final impetus to get it done.  This new email was a follow-up to that class;  she was letting me know about a new program that the library is using that offers free online classes, and so I am actually signing up to take a few, including “Blogging and Podcasting for Beginners.”  I have been wanting to develop online video lessons for my guitar students, and the idea of audio/video podcasting sounds like the ticket that I’ve been needing.  Plus just today I discovered “Windows Movie Maker”, a basic video editing program.

   The point that I am making is one that you’ve heard over and over : that “no man is an island.”  Most people typically equate the term ‘networking’ to Amway or some other business, but if we take an honest look, all of us “network” with other people.  You cannot really function or make it through an entire day without getting the help of a few people along the way.  And a lot of them are complete strangers.  Let’s say, you take a trip.  Perhaps you have directions or a map.  But somehow, you still get lost along the way.   What do you do?   Quit, and turn around to go home?  No way.  You stop and ask directions… from a complete stranger.  And more than likely, they are willing to stop and help you.  On a much bigger and broader level, this continually happens in our lives over and over again.

   About two years ago, a dear friend prayed with me, and several months later, he told me that besides the spoken prayer that he had uttered, he had also asked a silent prayer that God would send me the people into my life that would be an encouragement and help to me.  And it was amazing… that I was able to share with him many instances where new people had emerged in my life to help me in certain areas.   Coincedence?  You might say so.  But I believe that ordinary, random events in our lives can also be appointments with destiny.  How so?   I think it is just a truth of life, but very few of these circumstances tend to be viewed in this panoramic way at the time they happen.  It is only after a season of time has passed that we usually gain the perspective to see the purpose in things that otherwise had seemed ordinary and mundane.

   I am thankful for my friends.  They mean so much to me.  But I’m also thankful for the acquaintances in my life.  And also for the strangers that I encounter on a daily basis.   They may come and they may go.  But each and every one of them appears and disappears for a reason.   You may say : you are philosophizing, or overstating the obvious.   You may be one that takes everything that happens at face value.   And you may even be somewhat right.  But I think one’s perspective is not always just a perspective, but a perception of purpose and meaning.

     One short word here about networking in groups.  It’s not only individuals that come into our lives, but sometimes we come across groups of people who can help us.   In recent days, I’ve seen the importance of making contact with groups of similar interests
and visions.  Today, the Internet can be a source or tool in finding these groups, as well as word-of-mouth and daily interaction.  It also affords us the ability to network with people all over the world, as well as those in our local areas.   I have encountered groups that exist to help entrepreneurs, guitar players, as well as hobby and health groups that exist to promote sports and recreation, or just social interaction.   My church has also been a rich source of meeting new people and interacting with them.

   Remember.  We’re not an island.  We are not alone.  Who is out there?   E.T.?  I don’t know, but I can tell you that there’s a God who loves us, watches over us, protects us, and also sends people into our path to prepare and equip us for what lies ahead.  As you go forward with your life and business, take a second look at your perspective with the people you come across.  Value them and appreciate them for what they have to share with you.  They might just be the “angel” that God is sending to help you.    If you have something to give in return, then give it.   Your life will be that much more rewarding for it.  But more than anything else, you will have a new, richer view of the world and people around you, and a better perspective of how it all fits together in the big picture we call “life”.


   “Two are better than one, ... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up ... Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken ... If God be for us, who can be against us ?" [ Ecclesiastes 4: 9,10,12;  Romans 8:31 ]