Category: Life Lessons (page 2 of 2)

If You Were To Die In One Hour, What Would You Regret?

I ran this story a few years ago and it recently came back across my e-mail. Life at times can get difficult and pull us off course, I like to use inspirational videos like this to help me refocus and stay inline with my core set of values and beliefs. I watch this video at least once a year. Each time I seem to find new meaning and a reason to be more thankful than ever. I hope it has the same impact on you as it does me. Ric Elias was a father, husband, and business man in South Carolina… In January of 2009 he sat in the first row of the flight 1549––the infamous Hudson River crash. As he braced for impact and what those on board thought would be their final seconds of life, several life changing thoughts swirled through his head. As you watch this short moving video, keep in mind Ric Elias is very much just like you or I. He has been an extremely hard worker his entire life. He graduated from Harvard Business School and became very successful. Just like other business owners, starters, and entrepreneurs one can often lose track of what truly matters in life. As fierce competitors we tend to focus on the game and the strategy to win. At times we mistakenly take ourselves out of the “REAL” game, in return our priorities often drift and can quickly end up in disarray. Bottom-line, we need to listen carefully to the message presented by Ric Elias, and NOT rely on moments of trauma to recognize what truly matters. Let’s open our eyes now before it’s too late… To live a life of REAL purpose. CLICK HERE

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A Letter I Recently Wrote To My Nephew

My sister asked me to write a letter to my nephew to be read while he was out on a retreat. I showed what I had penned to my wife Michelle and she thought it would be good to pass long and share as it provides a lot about the life lessons we’ve collected through the years. I just think any time you can pass along life lessons or words of encouragement to others you should take the opportunity and a moment to do your part. I’m a firm believer in paying it forward! I also included a few pics of my sister and her family along with my nephew and his long-time girl friend as they take pics before a high school dance. Many of you have meet my sister as she always helps with our annual event in Kansas City. The family she has built is amazing. Love them all…

Dear Conner,

I am extremely happy to see you’ve taken the time to go on a “retreat.” Though I was never personally given the opportunity to attend a ‘real retreat,’ I have embarked on several personal journeys that have forever changed my life.

I can speak from experience when I tell you that I have faced many ups and downs. I know it’s tough to think about the ‘downside’ when you are just turning 17 years old, have your entire life in front of you and parents that provide you with most all the necessary tools for survival. But having been a professional trader I learned the ‘downside’ can be an incredibly slippery slope and something we most often never see coming our direction. In fact, like I’ve told both Jordan and Kennedy on many occasion, it wasn’t until I found more faith in God that my life began to take a more positive turn. I never shied away from a good party, believed nothing bad could ever happen and never considered the downside risk that could be in the road ahead.

You may not know it or have seen it in your lifetime, but I have been broke on more than one occasion, it hasn’t always been life in a big house behind a big gate. In fact your mother and father have helped us out in the past when we didn’t have the money to pay my own bills. Luckily I have had a great family like yours and Michelle’s parents surrounding me and have been smart enough to learn form my mistakes. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen again, because anything is possible. But I have recognized most of my mistakes have been made when I did not take into account the ramifications of my own choices and how they would impact those who love me most. In simple terms, I never chose to consider the downside risk for others that were associated with my decisions. Like I mentioned above, it was not until I found a deeper appreciation for God and strength in my faith that I started to become more humble and approach life with much greater gratitude. It’s this “gratitude” that now makes me pause a bit more often before I make a decision that could adversely impact not only myself, but those I love in my life. Hence the reason I choose to never drink and drive. The reason I chose to never invest or give money to anyone who is not doing good for society. The reason I always donate and try to help those in need. To say it has been a game changer would be an understatement!

Moral of the story, by having a deeper relationship with God, I clearly have a much different perspective in life. Below is a short poem that I have given to both my children. I encourage them to read it each morning, just as I do myself. I hope you find it to have similar importance and use for when times are tough…I promise there will be those times. Lou Holtz would pass it out to the Notre Dame football players. Similar to Coach Holtz, I believe it’s definitely worth sharing and referring to often.

Today is the beginning of a new day.

God has given me this day to use as I will.

I can waste it or use it for good.

What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something I have traded for it.

I want it to be gain, not loss.

Good, not evil.

Success, not failure… in order that I shall not regret the price I have paid for it.

You are about to embark on a new chapter in your life. Just remember it will be written with whatever pen you choose. The teachers like to say that your reputation follows you, but I believe it actually precedes you in life. These days people will more than likely judge you by what they hear or read online before they ever actually meet you in person. With this in mind I often look back on my own life and wish I would have done a few things a bit differently, especially with my Mom passing at such a young age. Unfortunately in life, unlike video games, there are no do-overs or re-set buttons, remember this as you move forward and are faced with many tough decisions. I repeat again… there are no do-overs, you can not hit the re-set button and you get no additional lives by reaching the next level.

As you contemplate your future, I hope you approach it with bold confidence, but also understand life is extremely fragile. Give your Mom that extra hug for no reason and let your Dad know you appreciate all the hard work he does for you and the family. As I mentioned earlier, ‘gratitude’ is an extremely important tool that is often overlooked in life. I encourage you to taste it, chew it and swallow it daily.

Another important life lesson is to be extremely cautious of the ‘unknown’. It’s not the gasoline or the matches, but rather the ‘fumes’ we do not see that most often cause the explosion and pain. We never fully appreciate or expect the unexpected and we never know exactly how the game will end. Two important items that at times can make understanding our life somewhat difficult and certainly unpredictable. Be respectful to both, trust in your heart and follow Gods lead.

No one ever said this journey would be easy, but I promise if you listen to the “music” that God has placed in your heart rather than the noise of the world, you will more than likely enjoy tremendous happiness. Keep in mind I didn’t promise you would be rich or famous, but rather happy. I suspect if you’re like me, how you define ‘happy’ will eventually become of great importance, and I’m certain it will evolve often as you mature in life. Therefore feel free to refer back occasionally as I believe this message will change and hold deeper meaning as life deals you more wild-cards.

Always keep your strong will and determination. I love you and wish you the best in all you seek to achieve! Only you will set the limits from here on out!

Make your life spectacular… with much love,
Uncle Kevin

Clint Harp’s Big Gamble On Himself Paid Off Handsomely!

Clint Harp has been a staple on HGTV’s hit show “Fixer Upper” since the beginning. His part in the show has turned him into a celebrity and even lead to a deal for his very own television series. His seeming ‘luck’ at having his wildest dreams come true all stemmed from a huge leap of faith in himself. Just six years ago, Harp was in medical sales, but his real passion was building furniture. In the beginning of 2011, his desire to pursue that passion led to him quitting his six-figure job in Houston and dive in feet first. As he explains, “The only way it was going to happen is if I completely went for it.” He had two kids at the time and his wife, Kelly Harp, was a stay-at-home mom. He recalls conversations the two had where they were discussing things like bankruptcy and trying to figure out how to stretch their savings. The summer of that same year, the family moved to a small apartment in Waco so Kelly could pursue her graduate degree. Clint continued with his efforts to launch his furniture business, which was tough in an apartment. The Harps also added a third child, which added to the financial pangs they were really starting to feel. One night over dinner, friends mentioned Chip Gaines, a builder from Waco who owned Magnolia Homes. As Harp was was looking to start picking up work building furniture, he thought ​of ​a connection Gaines might know where he could rent a woodworking shop. He gave Gaines a call in December, but never heard back. A few months later, the family pulled into a gas station following an afternoon at the park. Harp recalls that he was unsure if they could even afford to fill up the tank and thinking to himself, “What did I do?” It was then that he saw a Magnolia Homes truck pull in. He approached the driver and asked if he knew owner Chip Gaines. Turns out, the driver was Gaines, and when Harp explained what he wanted to do, Gaines invited him to hang out that afternoon. The two drove around discussing Harp’s idea, and a few nights later the Harps went to the Gaines’ house for dinner. There, the Harps met Chip Gaines’ wife, Joanna, who was selling some home-decor pieces out of her home and looking to add more, including furniture. Harp ended up renting shop space on the cheap from Habitat for Humanity, a charity he’s been involved with for many years. Finally, he had someone to build furniture for, and he was feeling positive about the future of his enterprise. The good fortune was just beginning though. Within a few months, the Gaines​es​​ were approached by High Noon Entertainment about developing a television show. Harp says the whole thing seemed insane. “I met Chip at a gas station in February or March of 2012 and by October or November, we’re filming a pilot for HGTV,” he says. His regular gig as Joanna Gaines’s go-to furniture maker on the show has allowed him and Kelly to open up their own store, buy the shop building and commercial-grade tools and even add some employees. What’s more, the couple’s own series, “Wood Work,” aired on the DIY Network earlier this month. Clint typically uses recycled and reclaimed wood from old structures, fallen trees, and scrap piles to build his pieces. “There is the beauty of this idea, of something being left for dead and brought back to life,” Clint told the Austin American-Statesman. “I felt that way about myself. For me, I’m kind of reclaimed as well.” (Sources: Austin American-Statesman, Country Living)

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

Duck Dynasty’s Missy Robertson to Son: “You Can’t Come Home”

This article was sent my direction the other day and it made me stop and think about “relationships”. For Michelle and I, we left home immediately after getting married and moved to Chicago. We quickly realized we had no one but each other and it truly helped us build and develop an incredibly strong relationship and deep form of communication. This made me think twice about the advise being offered up by the this Duck Dynasty mom, who has some serious words for her son Reed and his fiancée… The article below was written by Jenny Rapson, who is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and the editor of For Every Mom.

Duck Dynasty’s Missy Robertson has been married to her husband Jase for over 25 years—and in that time, she says, she’s learned a LOT about marriage. The mom of three recently posted to her blog,, reflecting on when she was a new bride. Now that her son Reed is engaged to be married, she shared with him a conversation her loving father had with her the week of her own wedding, back in 1990. She says:

…he [my dad] stopped me in the hallway of our house one day during that festive week, took me by the shoulders, faced me head on and stated, “Missy, I need to tell you something very important”, it definitely got my attention. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “When you get married on Friday, you can’t come home.”

What? Where in the world did this come from? Maybe I didn’t hear him correctly. So, I asked him to clarify.

Again, he said, “You are not welcome to come back to this house to live after Friday night.”

At first Missy thought that seemed awfully harsh, but as she and Jase worked through the predictable problems and adjustments of early married life, she became thankful for her dad’s words. She says as a newlywed there were times that she laid in bed crying, wishing she could run back to her parents’ home and away from the responsibilities and struggles of married life, but then: “I would remember what my dad told me, and I knew I had to go talk to Jase about it.”

She says her dad’s words helped solidify her commitment to her marriage as a young bride, and that’s why she recently shared them with her son Reed and his fiancée, Brighton.

She says she told them this story of her dad’s pre-marital verbal smackdown because she wants them to understand, too, that God’s design for marriage means sticking together and working out problems with God’s help, not running home to mom and dad to fix things or escape. She cites Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Learning from her own loving father, this loving mom says of her son and his bride-to-be:

So, not only did I tell them my memory of that awkward conversation I had with my dad all those years ago, I also took the opportunity to pass down the same information to Reed. I left them with these endearing words:

“Reed, I love you with all my heart, but once you say ‘I do’ this fall, you can’t come home. And Brighton, you’re stuck with him.”

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

10 Life Lessons To Consider

I’ve been lucky in life to meet some fantastic individuals and great thinkers. I sat down this past weekend and just wrote down 10 quick life lessons that were passed along my direction through the years and wanted to share. I hope you find a couple of them interesting enough to share with your family or friends. For with it’s worth I had some free time this weekend as my wife was down at my daughters sorority for “Mom’s Weekend” and my son was down in New Orleans at Mardi Gras with some fraternity buddies. I was going to go out and play some golf but the weather got bad…

The Key to Life is Moderation: There’s a great quote by Democritus that reads, “Throw moderation to the winds, and the greatest pleasures bring the greatest pains.” A lot of folks like to think of “moderation” in terms of food or spending habits, but I’ve ran across lots of people who have painted themselves into a corner because they’ve become overly obsessive about anything and everything. Can you have too much love that it will bring pain into your life or can you have too much kindness? Can you have too much faith and can you be too health-conscious? In today’s world that certainly seems to be the case as everyone becomes more obsessive compulsive. Unfortunately it’s becoming much more difficult to stay “moderate” as technology continues to rapidly change and advance our world. We simply have such an abundance of opportunities to become obsessive as everything becomes more con venient and so much more easily accessible. People now need counseling for everything because they’ve become so overly obsessed. It’s important that we work harder than ever to bring more balance to our lives.

You Can’t Be Afraid To Discard: Often times it’s how quickly you can define and discard your losers that makes you a winner. I have read that the psychological impact of losing is thought to be twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining. Hence the reason most of us are scared to try new things or afraid to throw in the towel on an existing commitment. We’v been told our whole life not to be a quitter, but I don’t agree. In fact the most successful and happiest people I’ve come across in life are the ones who are the quickest to quit what they don’t like and move on to find something that works better. I now constantly look at my investments and ask myself if I would be a buyer or invest in the same knowing what I know now. If the answer is “no” I liquidate. In the past I would sit in the losing position trying to justify my decision and continue trying to make a round hole fit into a square peg. Ironically many of my best decisions in life have come fro m my decision to discard. I met my wife, my best friend, by discarding a relationship with someone else. I created my business by discarding a different career. The list goes on and on. I’ve come to believe getting rid of the bad cards is perhaps the most important part of building a strong hand. I’ve learned to allow myself the uncomfortable luxury of changing my mind.

Disagreements Are NOT Personal Attacks: I’m not sure where life changed or how society has moved to thinking everything is a personal attack. In fact it’s tough to hire anyone these days who can take even the slightest bit of constructive criticism. Look at how personal the recent elections became, while in fact our country was founded on a difference of both religion and ideologies. Just because someone doesn’t agree with your thoughts or perspective doesn’t mean they are launching a personal attack. I’m starting to think social media is somewhat to blame as it allows people to bully without the repercussions of getting punched in the face. In addition the algorithms aggressively help to fuel the fire. If you click on one story about a particular political issue, you are soon bombarded with hundreds of articles and opinions voicing similar views. Next thing you take ownership of these thoughts without fully understanding both side of the argument. When someone comes along and challenges your new found genius and you are unable to fully or successfully rebuttal, you feel backed into a corner and come out swinging. I jsut think we need to remind ourselves it’s ok for people to disagree with our opinions and ideologies. It is clearly dividing our country and putting our kids in a very precarious situation

Love the Process: Everyone wants to win the trophy or be “the man”, but very few have the ability to grind it out and make it happen. The reason is because most don’t enjoy the everyday “process”. It’s the everyday grind and “process” that wins the prize. Everyone wanted to be Michael Jordan, Joe Montana or Tiger Woods but nobody wanted to do the work or put in the everyday grind and commitment that made them so successful. The people who get really good at basketball are those who enjoy doing dribbling and layup drills. Successful online business owners don’t just enjoy making money; they enjoy doing things like writing articles or managing ad campaigns. Everyone wants the outcome, but in order to be motivated to work towards it, day in and day out, you have to learn to get enjoyment out of the process.

Working Smart Is More Important Than Working Hard: I’m certainly not discounting the fact “working hard” is an admiral trait, but working smart and being consistent is a much more important ingredient for success. A great piece of advic e is “we are what we do consistently”. Hard work is important, but you won’t accomplish much by working hard for a while, getting exhausted and giving up. To achieve something great, you have to be able to enjoy it on a regular and consistent basis. This means you need to pace yourself; work as hard as you’re able to sustain, not so hard you get burnt out. It’s very obvious that even if you’re determined that nobody will outwork you, you still have maximum limits regarding working hours; and there’s always someone who’s willing to sleep less than you. Think about it like this, many people work hard, but only a few become really successful.

Allow Others To Help: I had an old football coach give me some worldly wisdom a few years back. He had fallen off a ladder while painting some 30-feet in the air during the summer off-season. The fall almost killed him and landed him in ICU for several weeks. When he got out of the hospital everybody in the community as well as former players and students where coming by his house to offer help and assistance. At first he was extremely frustrated because he wanted to try and start rehabilitating and doing all of the things for himself. But he was a strong Christian and learned through his belief that it wasn’t only about him. People wanted to be a part of his rehab and needed to feel like they could be of assistance and offer help. Accepting help is actually giving others the gift of being able to take action and show love to you when they might otherwise feel helpless. Letting others help you is allowing God to work through others and helping to humble our hearts. “I will bless those who bless you.” Genesis 12:3a

It’s Not A Problem Until It’s A Problem: This one is fairly self explanatory in the fact most “big problems” start as something extremely simple and of little concern. Not addressing the issue or giving it proper attention allows it to become a major problem.

Invest In Yourself: I recently asked a golf professional, who is a close friend of mine, what would be the best way to spend $300 on technology for an average golfer to improve his game. His response was, “lessons”. That answer clearly caught me by surprise as I was looking for a new driver, new golf gadget, etc… Interestingly there’s been a ton of improvements in education and ways to improve our techniques and thoughts. Unfortunately many of us overlook the obvious and fail to invest in ourselves, fail to pay a coach, or to attend a motivational conference. We will send our truck in for a tune-up or the regular oil-change, but won’t invest in the regular maintenance of ourselves. I remember Mark Cuban once saying the most important investment we can make is in ourselves. If we can keep our minds and body healthy we can continue to generate income. If we don’t take care of ourself mentally and psychically there’s a very strong chance our personal money making machine will have to be shut down for an extended period. I know many of us often get caught up in investing in our children or our businesses, but investing in ourself truly makes a difference in our life, our well-being, and our ability to thrive and perform to the best of our ability. The extent to which you invest in yourself, mind and body, not only shapes the way you interact with the outside world, it often reflects the opinion you have of yourself. Therefore your future is in large part determined by your willingness and ability to invest in yourself today.

Don’t Over-Coach: Its been said many times, “Simple almost always beats complex…” I’ve also learned that “over-coaching” denies others one of the greatest life lessons and character development opportunities available, the development of decision-making skills and learning to live with the consequences of their own decisions and actions. Even though you may have the best of intentions, by trying to dictate all that happens you aren’t letting the people you love take control and grow as independent individuals. In the sporting world “over-coaching” is perhaps one of the most common mistakes and most deadly sin. You have to know when to back away, take off the reigns and let the horse run!

Nothing Worthwhile Is Ever Easy: I heard someone once say that when people are asked late in life what are some of their most memorable moments, the general response was always something that was extremely difficult: Raising their children; Completing a marathon; Climbing a mountain; Building a business, etc… The point is it was never anything easy like buying a new car, buying a house, etc… We often get caught up in thinking we can ease our pain or comfort ourselves by buying a classic car, new watch, or new house, when in the end it’s generally the things we really struggled with and at the time found to be extremely difficult that ultimately provides the most meaning. Think about it… it’s always when we sell that house, farm or business that we sit back and think about all of the fantastic team and life building experiences and memories that were made during our struggles. Unfortunately we are in such a big hurry chasing the wrong things that we tend to miss many of them as they are passing by…

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

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