Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Having a THESIS for LIFE

Over the past few months, I've been thinking of my career, my family's direction, our calling, our responsibilities and our commitments.

One of the things that we have been created for is community. We are social creatures and we need constant interaction with other people for nurture, development, and growth. It is within community that we find faith, love, morality, manners, social norms, etc.

As babies, infants, children, we were made to be receivers and as we grow up and mature as adults and parents, we become providers. There is a continued spectrum from being dependent, independent and being interdependent. As we grow older we not only grow less dependent on our parents and grow independent, our maturation also brings us to a place of interdependency where we realize that there is a give and take aspect within our community and society.

And this interdependency in a lot of ways is a calling, responsibility and a commitment we have to make to one another (as people of the human race on a macro level) but also within smaller levels as well including, family, company, city, state and other levels.

What is the best way to achieve these goals? Americans have a funny saying: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This motto gives us an brief insight into the freedoms we want as well as the freedoms we want to ensure that others have.

Christians, especially those of the reformed faith quote the Westminster Shorter Catechism answer to what the chief end of man is:

To Glorify God and to Enjoy Him Forever.

It is this underlying "thesis" that provides a Christian with direction and perspective to life. A realization that there is a God, that we were created by him and exist to glorify Him and to live not as hedonists, but as "Christian Hedonists" as Pastor John Piper so aptly puts it.

When you have this "Prime Directive" in life, education and learning, as well as calling and career takes a much different route than if you had no overlying directive. Education, career, family, having kids, money, society, etc. is seen in a much different way than if you believe something else. There is a difference when God is the center of life than when we place family, or kids, or education, or career in that center.

So what is your THESIS in life? How does it affect the way you live? How does it affect how you interact with other people? How does this affect how you spend money? How does this affect how you decide about family? How does it affect your view of kids? How does it affect your view of free time?

My final question is this: Are you consistent with your THESIS in life? I've had this debate with so many people that I've come to the conclusion that most people don't have a working THESIS for life, and if they did, they are not consistent with it.

So what is it? And are you consistent with it?

Leaving an inheritance (THESIS) for my children's children.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Mexican Fisherman

I was looking for this story after having read it in some book...:

here's the link to three different Fisherman versions. I'll leave you with one.

The American Dream

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

"How long it took you to catch them?" The American asked.

"Only a little while." The Mexican replied.

"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" The American then asked.

"I have enough to support my family's immediate needs." The Mexican said.

"But," The American then asked, "What do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats."

"Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then, senor?"

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions, senor? Then what?"

The American said slowly, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos..."

It reminded me of what I did last week before I caught a cold. Played some tennis, went swimming, spent time with my kids and took my wife out for lunch. I guess you can do it in a poor fishing village or pretty much anywhere. It's just a lot harder when you have a 200k-500k home mortgage, monthly car payments, 50-100k school loans, and other debt that you have to worry about. We have kept ourselves relatively debt free with the exception of the house payments.

Anyways, set a goal for your life. What would you like to be doing in 5, 10, 15 years from now? What's stopping you from doing it now? Plan ahead!

Asking for the promotion

Well, my last promotion was in July of 2008 and since then I've received annual locality pay adjustments. I finally pulled my production up past 120% and of course nearing almost two years without a grade promotion, I decided to ask my supervisor for the next grade promotion.

I got really nervous. My numbers spoke for themselves, but I still had that fear of rejection or something inside me. What if he said no? What if he thought I wasn't ready? Anyways, all that's history now. This morning I asked him and he agreed it was time for me to move on.

So, I'm finally back to where I was before I left the government and moved to China. Kinda like the stock market, kinda like a do-over, a course correction. Pay scales are actually pretty relative even though most of the federal government uses them. I actually started my current position at the same level as when I started at my first job. But this time around, I stayed.

In any case, I'm well behind if I stayed at my first position back in 2001. It took me nine years to "return" back to the same grade as when I left the government back then. It took me two years to attain this level back then. It took me nearly four years at the current job.

But believe me, I'm not complaining. This is like a dream job. Flexible, challenging, in constant contact with attorneys and inventors, seeing the latest innovations and a broad range of technologies... time with wife and the kids, time for study, time for church, family, and friends. Not to mention great pay. In contrast, my previous position required constant traveling, night time work, field testing, as well as seeing the latest prototypes and military technologies. But in terms of a holistic comparison, my current position certainly is heads above the rest with the possibility now of working from home (once I pass an exam).

As this stream of consciousness post come to a close, just wanted to encourage you to not be afraid to start over, go for the promotion, realize that work/career/job is more than about money, the journey and experience is just as important.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Net Worth: 2010 May (-7.04%)

End of month report for May 2010.

So a little bit of fluctation in our property price, investments were down about 5k or a 5% drop. We also put in 3k into the Roth accounts.

Other than that, we did fairly well this month despite the bleak financial outlook in the rest of the world. Oil spill, Euro/Greek crisis, North Korea, Thailand, China, and other stuff that I don't even hear about... espcially in Africa like Uganda, Nigeria, and the Congo... So keeping my global ears open while we prepare for our future and for our children and our children's children.