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"Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Family, Travel, Motivation: Peak Performance

09/07/2010.  It was August 2009 when David K. Gadoury, lifelong recreational outdoorsman, my Dad, first mentioned that he was preparing to hike Baxter Peak at Katahdin, Maine.  He casually checked my interest.

From that moment I knew I was going to be there. I set in my mind that I was going to do whatever it took to make it happen. There were many good excuses to back out. Poor conditioning. Persistent unemployment. Demands of a new business venture. Yet no excuse could surmount the dream of setting off on a physical adventure with my dad and brother while we are all grown men and in good health. For me, it was a rare opportunity long overdue. And when the dream is big enough, the facts don't matter.

I have learned that every major accomplishment in life begins by first making the decision to accomplish it. Success then follows as the progressive realization of a worthwhile dream. After several months of training, and acquiring hiking equipment, and planning the hike, the day finally arrived.

Jumping ahead to the end of the story, we reached the summit and safely returned. The pictures are proof. But the achievement was not realized at the summit, it was simply recognized there. Success was achieved more than a year ago when we boldly made the decision to climb. Success was measured with every step, backed by the refusal to quit.

Hiking Katahdin was easily the most physically challenging test of my entire adult life. The three of us had hiked the higher and more challenging, Mt. Washington, when Armand and I were younger than twelve. And one month before Katahdin, I completed a single-day, 9.4 mile, two-summit hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Neither of these experiences came close to comparing to the tribulations of Katahdin.

Despite the painful feet and legs of the final quarter-hike, and the ridiculously dangerous rock scrambling along the edge of deep ravines, including several near misses, I would not give back a moment of hardship for the memories we created and the sense of mission we accomplished.

In the month leading up to the hike, my business partner, Tim Brennan, recommended a book to me entitled Peak Performance by John R. Noe. Noe relates the story of his summit of the Matterhorn and the life success principles that helped him envision, prepare, and declare victory over his goal, and, then setting newer and higher goals. I highly recommend this book to you if you have ever dreamt of being a high achiever. If you are a Christian, you will appreciate how Noe integrates the idea of a purpose driven life with the God-given ability and call to be the best You that God made You to be.

After winning three Superbowls with the New England Patriots, Quarterback Tom Brady was asked afterward what he was thinking about.  Without hesitation, he declared, "the next one."  After our hike, we immediately began thinking about our next hike, including some "unfinished business" with Katahdin's knife's edge.  Altlhough I am leaning toward a sport-fishing kind of adventure, Dad is very much contemplating the next hike.  The point is, once you have reached the peak, there is a hunger to reach the next challenge.  God created us with the drive to achieve.  We can't afford to waste it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Religion, Family, Freedom: DC Rally - A Marker or a Ripple Maker?

8.28.2010.    My travel party and hundreds of fellow citizens boarded the first train from Van Dorn Street Metro station at 7:00 a.m., quickly filling the car to capacity.  As each station passed, the waiting crowds became larger, eager, bubbling with anticipation.  Evidently this was not going to be an ordinary August Saturday in Washington, D.C.

A diverse crowd emerged from the Smithsonian station at the National Mall.  A rainbow of races, an equal mix of gender, a variety of ages. Modern American experience suggests that tension and animosity would linger over such a crowd.  Yet, there was not a hint of discord.  No anger.  No bravado.  While most traveled hundreds of miles motivated by political and economic frustration, there was an aire of unity, solidarity and peace.

As hundreds of thousands paraded past the Washington Monument toward the great Reflecting Pool in a hushed, respectful yet purposeful pace, it became clear that in this moment, at this place, the American spirit of September 12, 2001 was emerging.

Parade of Americans March for Enduring Principles and Values
In the week following what is reported to be the 6th largest gathering at the Lincoln Memorial, the left-leaning and right-leaning media documented the speakers and the speeches, the attendees and the critics.  Yet unwritten is whether this rally will serve as a historical marker, noting the end of an American experiment in self-government grounded in timeless principles and values; or, whether this singular event will be a ripple maker, the proverbial stone dropped into a glassy pond?

See this and other photos at www.glennbeck.com .
Any person who can answer that question with confidence has a wiretap into the omniscience of God.  But I am convinced that the 300,000+ who assembled at the Lincoln Memorial desire to be ripple making stones.  And I believe the assembly will succeed if and only if they are capable of restoring personal and spiritual integrity, and revitalizing both their families and their churches as co-equal, independent authorities along side (and not subservient to) government.

I am of the opinion that the successful American experiment in self-government is rooted in a proper balance of three guiding institutions that have influenced human behavior in every civilization in world history.  Virtually all civilizations have the Family Unit, Organized Religion, and Political Structure.

When the three institutions are out of balance, tyranny by the dominant institution results.  When properly balanced, no single institution is capable of abusing the other and threatening human liberty.

My 180 Degree Perspective on the First Ripple
As the sun rose and warmed the mall and its occupants, I soaked in the experience of patriotism and spiritual introspection.  I felt pride, comfort, purpose, unity, resolve, honor.  I paused to consider that I was surrounded by a throng of Americans who felt the same way; who manifestly understand what our Founding Fathers meant by the words "All men are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. . ."  My fellow assemblers understood that the document that propounds these words is a legal instrument designed to ensure that the institution of government is properly checked and balanced by the People's solemn recognition of the institutions of God and Family.

My Proof to Family, Christian Brothers, and Fellow Citizens
That I Paid a Price, And Stood for Restoring Honor
on 08.28.2010
There are those who believe that Religion should not influence the public square.  I understand that point of view.  I believe that view is due in part to a proper fear that dominant Religious institutions left unchecked lead to tyranny.  But I also understand that Secularism is itself an institution of Religion -- one that defers massive moral authority to the institution of Government.  Pick your poison.  Or not.  It doesn't have to be a choice among tyrannical alternatives!

As Americans, we need to restore balance.  Indeed, we need to restore honor to the Family and Religious institutions that afford to us a good and limited government.  Family, Religion and Government working co-equally and independently will serve the general welfare, preserve our enduring liberty, and protect and defend the American experiment in self-government.

I pray that with this stone will follow many ripples.