Category: Life Lessons (page 1 of 2)

“A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega”

Rolling Stone Magazine wrote, “Ashley McBryde may be a “whiskey-drinkin’ badass”, but the Arkansas native shows a softer side with her latest #1 hit single, “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega.” From what I understand the song was a collaboration written by McBryde, Nicolette Hayford and Jesse Rice after they’d collectively had an awful day. “We had all had a really bad day. Not ‘one of the worst days of my life,’ but I had one of those days where nothing was going right,” McBryde explained. “I got a crack in my windshield on my way to work, I got sick, and my guitar broke all within an hour and a half. On top of that my co-writer, Jesse, was late, but bless his heart, when he walked in we could tell he had had a night and a morning that was just as rough as ours. That’s how we got on the subject of “having the worst day ever”. That’s also when Jesse told us a story about a day a few years back that he thought was officially going down as “the worst day ever”. He was leaving Atlanta and his car broke down in the middle of nowhere. He made a wrong turn and ended up in a small town called Dahlonega, Georgia. Frustrated and mentally tapped, he spotted a little dive bar called the “Crimson Moon” where he went to wait and to call a tow truck. Believing he was in the middle of his worst day ever, he spotted a cute little blonde girl and struck up a conversation. They were together for the next three years and then got married. What an awesome story! McBryde said, “That’s what you do with the worst day ever, you flip it on its back and raise your glass!” I should note, the owner of the Crimson Moon says tons of people each day are now pouring into the bar to take picks and pay a visit. Also keep in mind, Ashley McBryde had been in Nashville the past 10 years trying to record a hit song. It’s just funny what comes from things we originally deem as “bad”. I truly believe God has a plan… If Jesse Rice doesn’t take that “wrong turn”, and his car doesn’t break down, and he doesn’t head into the Crimson Moon, none of this happens. Great song, great message, and happy to see it bring such success to a wonderful group of people. It’s definitely worth watching the music video and listening closely to the lyrics. Click HERE to see the official music video.

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Respect, Sacrifice, and Grit… Do We Still Have It? 

Today marks the anniversary of WWI, often referred to as the “The Great War”. The war was originally ignited by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, by Yugoslav nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, in Sarajevo. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict quickly spread around the world. Twenty-seven countries were eventually drawn into the conflict, which touched every corner of the globe – from the trenches of Belgium to remote villages in Africa. An estimated 16 million soldiers and civilians died in the military violence, while more than 50 million more are thought to have died from resulting hunger and disease. By its end, the maps of Europe and Asia were redrawn, marking the end of the imperial empires of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Ottoman. Out of all the ashes rose the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and the still embattled Middle East.

The last living veteran of WWI was Florence Green, a British woman who served in the Allied armed forces. She passed away in February 2012 at the incredible age of 110. Green joined the Royal Air Force and worked in the officers’ mess in England, but her service wasn’t recognized until 2010 after a researcher uncovered her records. For 90 years, she remained anonymous! Frank Buckles was the longest surviving American veteran of WWI. He also lived to a ripe old age, passing away in February 2011, just a few weeks after his 111th birthday. I ran across a news article about Buckles that said he was still driving the tractor on his West Virginia farm at the age 103! Of the 65 million brave men and women that served, there are no survivors left, which is a sad thing for the world. Every story they had to tell, every insight they could provide, everything that could be learned about the war and their experience has been written and recorded. There will never be a new tale told. Losing the perspective of those who actually participated in any war leaves a tremendous gap, but World War I was especially unique. Almost an entire generation was lost in it. While millions signed up to serve, most had no idea what they were even fighting “for.” Their desire to serve was motivated by one simple principle, as Brank Buckles once recalled: “If your country needs you, you should be right there, that is the way I felt when I was young, and that’s the way I feel today.” We should absolutely honor their courage, bravery and sacrifice and never forget what that generation gave back to the world.

My grandfather, who served in WWII, said to me late in life, he was very interested in seeing how my generation turned out. He said it would be the only generation in U.S. history that wouldn’t fully know and understand what it means to sacrifice for your nation. Yes, the men and women of our Armed Forces have voluntarily signed up to protect us, and they have earned our respect and support. But there have been consequences we’ve rarely considered. With relatively few people and families now shouldering this enormous burden, it has created somewhat of a divide in our society. In all previous generations, families in all neighborhoods across this nation were forced to make huge sacrifices. Mothers would be forced go weeks and months without hearing from their sons. Wives would check the mail religiously in hopes of learning more about their family’s future. Will her husband return home safely or not? The entire nation and neighborhoods would wait and mourn together. Today, that has all significantly changed. Most Americans appreciate what the military does, but for many it’s simply out of sight and out of mind. My grandfather obviously knew what he was talking about. He knew that a generation that didn’t have to sacrifice as a whole, would probably struggle to unite and become divided. He also wondered how our generation would raise their children? He wondered if the kids today, that my generation is raising, would be tough enough and have enough grit to overcome the hurdles ahead? He said that parents who didn’t have to make the sacrifice, would have a tough time raising kids that would have to make a sacrifice. When I was younger, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but now that I look back, almost 20 years after his passing, I would say his thoughts were very insightful. Here’s to ALL the American families who have sacrificed!

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I’m Not A Huge NBA Fan But… This Speech Is Worth A Listen!

Russell Westbrook was recently named the MVP of the NBA. His statistics on the court clearly speak for themselves, as he became the first player in 55 years (since Oscar Robertson) to average a triple-double — not to mention the first player to post 42 triple-doubles in a single season. He ended this past season averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game. What many people don’t realize is how much Russell Westbrook cares about his friends and family. Many people see Westbrook as the selfish player on the court, but that was certainly not the case during his recent MVP acceptance speech. Westbrook gave many thanks during his speech, but around the 4:20 mark he starts talking about his family and how much they’ve meant to him along his journey. This was a different side of Westbrook that many have never seen…it’s worth taking the time to hear his speech. Click HERE for video.

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MUST READ: Learning To Fail Better…A Lesson For Us All

I ran this article a few years back, but have since received lots of positive feedback and several request to re-run or from subscribers wanting to pass along to friends and family. Like always, I encourage everyone to pass along anything I publish that might help make a positive difference in someones life. That’s something that brings a smile to my face and one of the most personal rewarding benefits I receive. I hope you enjoy it and it makes you think…

I was recently sent a great e-mail penned by Megan McArdle in reference to her new book, “The Up Side of Down”. In the e-mail McArdel discusses how America is now raising their children wrong by NOT allowing them to fail. Parents are simply not giving them permission to take on NEW challenges where they might fall flat on their face. In return we are not teaching our children how to accept criticism, how to overcome objections, and most importantly how to quickly pick themselves back up, dust themselves off and get back in the fight when things go wrong. McArdel argues this is vital not only on a personal level, but also vital for America, because that’s where innovation and growth come from. Parents are pushing their children harder than ever — micromanaging their lives, orchestrating things and manipulating the environment so that their children have as little opportunity as possible to go astray. It’s totally understandable. But it’s bad for the kids, bad for the parents, and bad for the nation. She goes on to tell story after story about how parents have now made children afraid to “fail.” Afraid to take that class where they might hurt their grade point average; afraid to try that sport where they might not be the best; afraid to do anything that might embarrass the parents or prove they are not as good as the neighbors kids… “America, you’re now doing it ALL wrong,” she screams! If you can’t afford to risk anything less than perfection at the age when your 13, then for heaven’s sake, when is it going to be the right time? This is the time when kids should be learning to dream big dreams and dare greatly. This is when they should be making mistakes and figuring out how to recover from them. Instead, we’re telling some of our best and brightest to focus all their talent on coloring within the lines. Below are few of the other reasons why she believes this is such a bad idea:

  • Kids are now spending their entire high school years in terror of making the slightest mistakes. In order to get into that top-school or fight for that scholarship kids can not afford to take any risk. At the time in their life when failure should have the lowest cost, when they should be learning to try things, and developing ways to think outside the box, they are being held down more tightly than ever.
  • This is a time when they should be learning how to identify when those great and crazy ideas aren’t working out so well. And gaining the ability to move on after the occasional embarrassing “flop.” If “perfection” is the goal, which many parents now expect, then the kids can’t afford to do any of that.
  • Unfortunately most kids are now avoiding areas that they are unfamiliar with — and the ones that at first seem to be the most difficult. So essentially we’re taking insanely bright, hardworking kids and discouraging them from trying NEW things that they might be great at, because what if they aren’t the “best” or even God forbid, “fail” at their first attempt.
  • We are teaching that “success” can often be achieved by doing what comes easiest, which we all have learned is the opposite of true.
  • We are drilling into their heads that success consists of jumping through a series of hoops to please the “system” and the “authority.” Of course, this is a valuable skill that everyone needs to learn, because hey, that’s part of life. But it shouldn’t be valued at such a level at such a young age.

 

Moral of the story, the longer this kid goes without failing, the more dreadful it will be when it finally happens. When you’ve never coped with failure, it starts to become imperative that you arrange your life so that it never happens. I watched a lot of MBAs and tech wizards melt down after 2001 because they had done everything they were supposed to do and somehow they found themselves out of a job? America needs more bright, hardworking kids taking on challenging tasks. But it does not need them to learn that success is a “formula” — or a zero-sum game in which the race goes to the safest. In fact, that’s exactly the opposite of what we need — and more important, it’s the opposite of what those kids need!

 One of my favorite books is “Popular Crime,” by the great Bill James. And this is one of my favorite passages:

First of all, as I see it, no one has any ability whatsoever to figure out what is going to be important to people. I look back on my own life. When I was in high school I had two habits that greatly irritated my teachers; actually, many more than two, but let’s focus. One was writing funny notes to my classmates, trying to make them crack up in the middle of class. The other was spending hours of valuable study time making mystifying totals from the agate type in the sports pages. I was called on the carpet any number of times and told to stop doing this stuff and pay more attention to What Was Really Important.

As I look back on those years, the two most useful things that I was doing, in terms of preparing me for my career, were 1) Writing humorous notes to my classmates, and 2) Making mystifying totals from the agate type in the sports pages. By writing amusing if vulgar notes to my classmates, I was learning to write — not learning to write in a way that would please English teachers, but learning to write in a way that would hold the interest of people who had no reason to read the note, other than the expectation that they would enjoy reading it. That’s much, much closer to writing books than writing insipid research papers to please bored English teachers. The adults in charge thought they knew what was important, but in retrospect they were just completely wrong.

At the personal level, most of us could attest to this — you never know what will end up being important, but it’s probably not what you think. And at the economy level, this is basically a pithy summation of what economist Joseph Schumpeter dubbed “creative destruction”: the process by which old ideas, and companies, and even markets are destroyed in order that something previously undreamt-of can replace them.

Do we want a society that dreams new things and then makes them happen? I hear that we do, every time I hear a teacher, or a politician, give a speech. So why are we trying so hard to teach the next generation to do the exact opposite?
(Source: Megan McArdle “Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail” on Bloomberg)

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17 Inches… One of My All-Time Favorite Life Lessons!

This was sent my direction by my friend John Santi, Wealth & Investment Advisor. John is always passing along some interesting items, but this one really caught my attention and I wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have…

Over twenty one years ago, in Nashville , Tennessee , during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend.
One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”…………“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?
“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause. “Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?”

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline.

We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.

From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today.

It is this: “If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.”

Note: Coach Scolinos died in Nov 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it… “Don’t widen the plate!”

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