Monthly Archives: May 2010

Stock Market Elevator

   We all know that the stock markets go up and down. Of course, we only want them to go up. This last slump has been very interesting. I have several aggressive overseas investments that have fallen deeply, but that is what aggressive investments do – they go way up and they can fall way down. So, I am not surprised that I took such a big hit. My Roth is heavily laden with foreign ETFs that follow developing and emerging markets. My 401k is slightly less aggressive.

   Europe is worried about the value of the Euro and whether the Euro can withstand the weaker nations pulling down the stronger economies. Most of Europe already has many of the same type of entitlement programs and tax spending pressures that we have and for much longer. So, their troubles are a little more complicated; much more than this mind can decipher.

   I think the effect of European economies on our domestic markets is overstated. I agree that there exists a real global economy, but I think that the US recovery is continuing, as slow as it may be. Orders for durable goods are up, unemployment in some areas is down, growth estimates for the US economy is 3.2%, higher than previously forecasted. Home sales were up, but I am guessing the stimulus credit probably helped there with the next few months probably showing a drop in sales rates. We are such an impatient lot. I believe in the entrepreneurial spirit. Capitalism, with all its detractors, still finds a way to create wealth, which leads to opportunities. However, I know there is a lot of pain and suffering out there as the economy works its way to find a new sense of normalcy.

   Many are afraid to invest now. If you have a long time horizon, more than 10 years, I would stay in the market. By putting in money month after month and diversifying your investments, you take advantage of today’s low prices. If I had less than 10 years until retirement, I would still stay in the market, but with more conservative investment choices. We have had many downturns in our economic history and are bound to have more.

   So join me on the Stock Market Elevator as it goes up and down. Let’s just hope that when we step in together, the operator says, “Going up.”

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Home Originates in ME

   What is home to you? Is it four walls and a roof? Four walls and a roof can certainly be: a house; a barn; a stable; a prison; and many other things. Home is not a place but what happens in that place, how one feels about that place, how one perceives that place. Ralph Waldo Emerson said of a house: “A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.” That does sound like a house, but that doesn’t sound like a home.

  It is most important that we realize that Home Originates in ME. It is important that the feeling of home comes from others, but it must originate in you. Only you can feel “at home” somewhere.

   Being home means being accepted, feeling safe, feeling loved, knowing that you are part of a family. Belonging is an important part of feeling at home. Robert Southey said of home, “There is a magic in that little word, it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits.”

   Home does not have to be among those that are related to you, but it usually is amongst those that love and care for you. You can extend the feeling of home by returning their love, care and trust. It is then that a real home is created, regardless of the location. Home is a place where you can be vulnerable. Home is a place where you can be yourself. You find support there. And if you are going in a negative direction, the members of your family, your home, will try to steer you back. They do this because they love you. None of us wants to see someone we love go in a negative direction. How can we love someone and then stand by to see them seek their own destruction?

   I know that Home Originates in ME. It is my desire to show love to a person that begins the feelings of home. I must show them that they are accepted. It is my responsibility to show them that they are valued and needed. I want them to feel necessary. I want them to feel wanted. It is in these feelings that they can feel at home in me and with me, no matter where we might be.

    We often think of “Mom” when we think of home. And this is usually the person that creates the home. “It is a woman, and only a woman — a woman all by herself, if she likes, and without any man to help her — who can turn a house into a home,” says Frances Cobbe. I do not completely agree. I do believe the chief homemaker is generally a woman, but I think it is everyone’s responsibility within the family to create the feeling of home. It is our willingness to be vulnerable and open to others and allow them to be vulnerable and open to us; it is our willingness to love and be loved, to accept ourselves and others and be accepted by them; it is our willingness to give them a place in our heart, a place called “home.” It is a safe place, a place to love and to cherish one another. Remember that “home” starts with you and you can say to yourself, “Home Originates in ME.” 

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Leadership

Just the other evening, the question was asked as to how we define leadership, or what is leadership? This is not a simple question. It seems simple, but I found that it took a great deal of thought. I asked myself the question, what qualities do I admire in a great leader?

The first thing that came to mind is a quality of authenticity. Someone who is authentic can be trusted, good or bad, you have an idea of how they would act or respond. They are true to themselves, they know who and what they are. They know their strengths and shore up their weaknesses by the talents of those around them.
A great leader has a vision and involves those around him or her in that vision. They care about those they lead. They know, to lead efffectively, they need to serve those who they lead. By serving them and providing the resources they need, they accomplish their own goals. They seek out the talents of those on their team and value their contributions. They seek out to cover the weaknesses of one link with the strengths of another.

A great leader is open to new ideas, changes and opinions. They know that they don’t know it all. They listen to opposing views and may respectfully disagree but yet garner what is good from the other viewpoints. A great leader is responsible for the outcome of the vision. It is their responsibility to teach, train, coach and coax their team members to succeed. A great leader trains others to be great leaders. It is a mentoring situation where information flows freely between the parties to create a stronger, more vibrant vision. He or she allows their team member to rise to the task, to take ownership of their portion. Leaders appreciate the differences in people, knowing that it takes many different talents to create an incredible force. They seek out the uniqueness of every individual. The 17th poem of the Tao says this:

When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware he exists. Next best is a leader who is loved. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised.
If you don’t trust people, you make them untrustworthy.
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!”

Jesus was an incredible leader. He deserves our awe and amazement. He said to the crowd and his disciples, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matt 23:11,12 NIV. He amazed his disciples later by washing their feet. He demonstrated to them that true leaders are exalted because of their servitude, because of their love and caring for others.

Of course, leadership involves so much more than this short article can offer. But I think it begins to answer the question, what qualities does a great leader possess? What are your thoughts?

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