Perhaps the most rambling newsletter yet
Perhaps the most rambling newsletter yet
Strap In For The Ride!
Following last Tuesday’s incredibly informal MasterMind meeting, I was accused of blowing smoke up people’s panties because I gushed over the quality of the meeting. It is my duty here, to respond to those fallacious accusations. Foremost in my defense is the fact that I do not readily hand out compliments. I am, by nature, a crabby old fart who dwells too easily on the negative. More pertinent is the fact that the meeting truly was our best meeting yet. Even though the agenda flew out the window and the conversation bounced about like a Lotto ball on Friday night, we got to the heart of the matter.
When Napolean Hill outlined his concept for the Mastermind meeting, he posited that when multiple minds are in tune, they will channel the Infinite Intelligence. While I don’t subscribe even remotely to Mr. Hill’s worldview, I do contend that a small group of people, conversing openly and respectfully, can uncover real Truth, the kind of Truth that’s been around since before creation.
When Paul mentioned the concept of leaving Garland better than we found it, you could have knocked me over with a feather. My father’s favorite and frequent advice to me was to “leave every person and place better than you found them”. It dawned on me in our meeting that this little group has the means and hopefully, the motive to leave Garland’s non-profit community far better than we found it. Furthermore, through that influence, we wield the power to multiply the good we could do otherwise. Henry Cloud, in his book, “The Power of the Other,” lays out the perfect foundation for evolving this group into something that could accomplish that goal. I seriously recommend it.
Now, on to something else.
Why I’m an Unapologetic Capitalist
In 1993, my little company was making money hand over fist and I succumbed to my need to showcase that success. I built a house in Firewheel Estates, the premier subdivision in Garland at that time. I spared no expense on that home and secretly took pride that it was the largest on our cul-de-sac (idolatry has it’s rewards).
A few weeks after we moved in, a guy named Tom showed up at my front door with a card for his fledgling lawncare company. For $50 a week, Tom would keep my grass mowed, edged and weed-free to the envy of all my neighbors. We shook hands and I relaxed knowing my lawnmowing days were forever behind me. For a couple years, Tom showed up once a week with a few hired hands from the day labor pool. They initially did an excellent job. Little-by-little, Tom stopped being a member of the mowing team and at an equal pace, the quality of my lawn care declined. More than once, I called Tom at night and asked him to come back the next day and fix the poor job his crew had done. To his credit, Tom never complained.
Then, one day a Honduran fellow named Raul Something-Unpronounceable came to my door and, in barely passable English, introduced himself as Tom’s new foreman. Things returned to being perfect … for another eighteen months … until I noticed them slipping back to the previously lower level of quality. I also noticed Mr. Hardname was no longer with the crew.
Sometime later, as I was arriving home a meeting, I noticed how much better my neighbor’s hedges and flowerbeds looked than mine (idolatry has it’s drawbacks). Not wanting to be one-upped by a neighbor but also being too proud to admit second place, I had my wife ask his wife who was doing their yardwork. Turns out that Raul of the difficult last name was trimming their hedges and, yes, they did have his phone number so I called him up.
Due to a monumental screw up in timing … or a twist of fate … or the will of God, Raul showed up to work on my flowerbeds the very same day Tom’s old crew came to mow. I heard loud words being exchanged in my front yard and later found a broken flower pot on my patio. That evening, Tom called and literally yelled at me for betraying him by hiring his ex-foreman. I’d had a few beers by then so I was relaxed enough to calmly explain that I’d only hired Raul to do the flowerbeds, not the lawn. But (and I love a good “but”) given Tom’s pissy attitude, I’d be finding a new lawn company as well. After hanging up on Tom, I called Raul and asked if he owned a lawnmower. He didn’t but thought he could borrow one. I even offered to spot him the cost of a new mower and take it out of my fees but either his pride or our mutual lack of bi-lingual education resulted in him borrowing a mower and weed eater.
That was 1997. Fast-forward to September 2021. I went back over to my old neighborhood to visit one of my poker buddies – the very guy who initially hired Raul to do his flowerbeds. There, on Firecrest Drive, sitting in a brand new 4-wheel-drive GMC, even bigger, shinier, and fancier than Shon’s, sat Raul Still-with-the-hard-name-to-pronounce. He was supervising his lawn crew as they mowed my old lawn. For nearly twenty years, his crews have been mowing several lawns in that neighborhood which means that not only does he know lawncare, he also understands customer service (those are some picky idolators). He’s also seriously improved his command of the English language. We visited. And I pondered. Can any other economic system in the world turn a dirt-poor immigrant with nothing but a toothy grin and some determination into a successful entrepreneur? Show me!
“Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”
― Thomas Sowell