Inspired for Change: Take Control of Your Life

Have you seen the CNBC documentary on Sears? As a member of the last generation of “catalog kids,” the show grabbed my attention immediately. My memories of being 8 years old and looking through the Sears and Montgomery Ward’s catalogs to find out which company had the best go-cart flew back into my head. Being the son of a mechanic…and a boy, I must have looked through the pages hundreds of times. Whenever I would grab the fat catalog it would magically open to that precious page…go-carts. The dilemma was, do I try to buy the blue two-seater (it had a Briggs and Stratton engine) or would I try to get the red one with the racing cowl on the front?

It wasn’t the memories of the catalogs that kept me entranced to the documentary on Sears though. No, it was listening to the entrepreneurs that were involved in the company and realizing that it wasn’t just Mr. Sears that built the company. Arguably, it was in spite of him that it grew to the size it did. What inspired me was the way that they solved everyday problems. Sears started with selling inexpensive watches, but moved on to selling everything under the sun. Right down to your typical “snake oil” of the day. It wasn’t until the third partner, Julius Rosenwald, said that they had to have some controls over what they sold that the snake oil went out of the catalog.

What triggered me to want to blog on this topic is that back in the day – Sears was a mortgage lender. Back in 1908, Sears started selling kits to build a home. Catalog readers could order plans for $1. The application for buying the home had one question on there, “What is your vocation?” There were no credit checks and no Fico scores, just a simple question that helped to qualify the buyer. This ultimately became the demise of the prepackaged house for Sears. Non-the-less, this idea that somehow one question could dictate the character, integrity,

and fiscal well-being of people all over the country (homes were shipped almost anywhere the railroads went) caused me to think deeply about our own moral compass. I thought so deeply about this that half of a night of sleep was dedicated to this one point (read: I couldn’t sleep). Has this country changed? Are we derelicts? Pompous jerks? Cheats? Are we as vile as the media portrays the world? These are all questions that ran through my head as I tossed and turned trying to find a corner of the pillow that would allow my head to rest comfortably.

What happens if we are destined to continue the same cycle over and over? An economist back in the 1800’s surmised that we are destined for this cycle of excess and famine; for this swing between great times and depression. The theory being that this is the way that “civilized” cultures are and this goes back thousands of years. It is different than the way a nomadic culture, Indians, indigenous people, etc. are. One thinks in terms of conquering, the other in terms of “living with the land.” One sees shoes on our feet and a car to get around as progress; the other might see it as destruction. This raises a question to me, not of where I should be living, but how? There is something to be said about the kid that was flipping the Sears catalog and searching for the “right” go-cart. He wasn’t looking to buy it so that he could run around the neighborhood and say look at my cart, no he just wanted to go fast and drive like his daddy.

Today, though, after the decline that we have had, maybe it is time to take an account of what our lives are about. Maybe we should celebrate these times of famine to realize the many things that we really do have. To assess how we have let our lives become distracted and out of touch with whom we are. Who caused the financial collapse? I did, you did… we all did. There is no one that is not to blame that lives in this culture. Not the Republican, not the Independent, not the Democrat, not even the person that has lived well within their means is free of some blame.

The shear fact that we have traded living in a society of progress as opposed to in a community in the jungle, dictates that we have all contributed to one level or another.

It has often been said that if we don’t understand the past, we are destined to repeat it. Well, maybe we are just destined to repeat it and the best we can do is go into it with our eyes opened a little more. How? Today I encourage you to do two things: 1. Take an account of your life currently. Spend 30 minutes in a coffee shop and write down what you like and don’t like about your life… more importantly about yourself (who you are and what you have become). Make sure you look at both sides, for example: do you make excuses or try to find solutions? Think through how you could change to align yourself closer to your beliefs (whether it is your spending or your time). If you are passionate about the poor, what are you doing monetarily AND with your time? How much are you really giving…1 hour a month? 2. Start counting your blessings. As we dig out the bad we need to make sure that we replant ourselves with things that are positive. I mean truly go through the day, and picture the day as a day of thanks. I know I am going to take a rash of crap from my male friends on this, but I challenge YOU guys too! Change your view of your day to what you are thankful for (in that one day)….your spouse, your kids, your house, car, job, boss, etc. Find out what you like and be thankful.

Lastly, how are you going to take this and make 2011 your best year ever? Be kind to someone that you have held a grudge against. There is no reason to be fake, but you can let the dirty water wash down the stream. Call someone up that you haven’t talked to in a while (no email doesn’t count- let’s get a little more personal!). While the world has washed out its sins of too much debt, maybe it’s time you did the same? Many companies have gone through bankruptcy and have started with a new slate. Is it time that you started new in a couple areas of your life? What 10 people do you know that would be inspired for change by reading this blog?

Share this newsletter by email or through your favorite social network to see if you can’t help them make a positive change in 2011.

2 Responses to “Inspired for Change: Take Control of Your Life”

  1. Nicely put from an awesome blogger

  2. Brownie points for creating a post on this topic. There is not enough content written about it (not particularly useful anyway). It is excellent to see it receiving more coverage. Thanks again!