September 28, 2011
A condensed version of a story back in September 2010, with a new one thrown in at the end:
Since I started this blog five months ago, I've talked a lot about personal experiences in hopes of providing a source of inspiration to others. I've also talked of religious topics and how those principles have been applied in my own life. Now I'd like to talk of one that's been on my mind for some time, an economic topic by definition, but one that I think we all experience in our daily lives. In doing so, I'll try to give some real-life examples so you get a sense of what I'm speaking of.
Wikipedia defines "Diminishing Returns" this way: "In economics, diminishing returns (also called diminishing marginal returns) refers to how the marginal production of a factor of production starts to progressively decrease as the factor is increased, in contrast to the increase that would otherwise be normally expected." In other words, it doesn't matter how much more gas we throw on a fire, it won't make any difference in the output of the heat. Another way of looking at it is strictly from an economic standpoint. Take our current economic crisis America is experiencing; massive unemployment, unprecedented spending to boost the economy, bailouts right and left. You get the point, right? We've thrown money at problems for nearly two years now and yet still, we're no better off today than we were then.
Now for a personal example. I was talking with my 85-year old Aunt recently here in Southern California. She's a retired public school teacher, having taught English and writing for over three decades. Recently, she decided she wanted something to do with her idle time so she approached a local school district to volunteer as a writing instructor for advanced placement English for high school students. However, because of the way our culture has evolved, she had to submit to the "application process" like anyone else would. This meant a background check, drug screens, you name it, and she had to go through it. When she went to get tested for drugs, the people there laughed like, "Are you kidding me? You? An 85-year old widow with over three decades of an unblemished teaching career?" Yep, she had to do it. On top of that, she had to submit to fingerprints. All TEN of them. But, because of her age, her skin has deteriorated to the point that the technician couldn't obtain a decent impression of FOUR of her fingers! The technician said, "Hmm…that's strange. That's never happened before." The result? My aunt's job as a volunteer teacher is on hold because the "system" says so. Why? Whatever happened to common sense? Judgment of character?
So, from a "diminishing returns" perspective, what GOOD does it provide for her, or anyone else similar to her, to have to play by the same rules as everyone else? The system says so and frankly, if you think about it, here's why. Imagine if you will, they did use their own judgment and hired her based on her credentials, only to find out later that she did drugs. Bam. Lawsuit from parents right and left. And therein is where the problem is with our culture. Everyone is so afraid of being sued for the slightest grievance and, because of one rotten egg in years past, everyone, including 85-year old ladies with spotless records and unparalleled credentials, get thrown in the same pot.
What you just read was a story posted on my blog back in September 2010, a mere five months after I started it and the associated Facebook page called Gusto. So, with that story in mind, the question begs itself; What does all this mean to you? Ahhhh, there’s the tricky part! Before I render my opinion on that, let’s give some background to all this, a conversation I had with the same Aunt I’ve mentioned in this story. Keep in mind, she may be 86 now on the outside but her mind is as sharp as a tack! A few months after I wrote this story I stopped by her home for a visit. We got to talking about the state of our world these days. To be honest, I was lamenting the fact that people seemed obsessed with self-gratification, they can’t wait to get their hands on the latest greatest gadget. Meanwhile, everyone seems to scurry around like ants, crawling over one another in a desperate search to reach the “top.” We’re being bombarded right and left every day with new technologies, it seems like we’re always trying to play catch-up. My Aunt was listening intently. I could tell she was absorbing this deeply. This is a lady with a stellar resume; first female from my home town in Kansas to graduate from the University of Kansas back in the 1940’s, with a degree in English Literature. A storied high school teaching career spanning over three decades in three different states. The cream of the crop.
When I finished, all she said were SEVEN words; “We have to get comfortable with confusion.”At that point, we both burst out laughing! It was such a profound statement, one I’ll never forget. But it’s taken me months to put those words in perspective. At first, my interpretation was probably like yours or anyone else’s. My brain was saying; “I guess I’ll just have to accept things the way they are.” Now that I’ve had more time to think about it, and reconciled her words with several more personal experiences since, what I think she was really saying is “We’ve come to a point where, no matter how much more we “get”, it’s not buying us more “happiness.” We should narrow our choices down to a few to find peace amidst the chaos.”
In other words, we’ve reached that state in our personal lives like that found in classic economic theory, the “Law of Diminishing Returns” has kicked in. This would summarize a core philosophy of what I call “A new way of thinking and living.” So instead of thinking we have to choose amongst 15 different kinds of laundry detergent when we go to the store, simply DECIDE on one and leave it at that, in SPITE of all the marketing efforts thrown at us to buy the “latest greatest” detergent with an exotic mixture of Fabreze and Downy thrown in for good measure. And don’t label or try to sell me an Ecru-colored shirt, when you can simply call it what it is; light brown. Am I oversimplifying? I think not! Yes, it’s certainly a tongue-in-cheek view, but perhaps you get my point.
I’ll summarize this latest “Ramblings” chapter this way; “Muaaaahhh! Keep It Simple Silly!”
September 17, 2011
“Sharing and giving.” The hallmarks of Facebook. When this page called “Gusto” was born in the wee early morning hours on April 9th, 2010, it was an epiphany of sorts, a spontaneous “flash” of inspiration. Ironically,“Gusto” isn’t an imaginary word for merely clever effect. He’s REAL, a name given to him by his father as a young boy growing up on a small Midwest American farm. From the beginning, and for many months afterward, the baby surrounded himself with a few dozen of his closest friends and family members. A place where some of his most innermost thoughts, feelings, and emotions could be shared openly.
As the months have flown by, the baby has grown and evolved into full adulthood, ready to take a leap of faith into an exciting world of mentoring and coaching, harnessing all the knowledge stored inside a heart and soul comprised of 52 years of a lifetime of experiences, both good and bad, but mostly triumphant and inspiring. All of that knowledge is about to be spread in a variety of ways; writing first and foremost, the book entitled “Inspiration at the END…Finding a NEW Beginning” is a dream unfulfilled, yet sure to come to light very soon in mass publication, God willing. The mentoring and coaching is a natural by-product of that dream, one that I firmly believe in. Today, what was once just a few dozen has grown to over 3,000 souls consisting of good people from one end of this nation called the “United States” to the other, but also scattered around the WORLD, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, the Philippines, Mexico, Australia, Russia, and numerous others. The associated website, gustoramblings.com, from which you are reading these words, has welcomed visitors from nearly 60 countries around the globe, representing people from all walks of life, of different cultures, different languages, and different religions. Today, there’s been just short of 10 THOUSAND views and readings of “Ramblings” in just short of 18 months, and well over 1.5 MILLION views of “Gusto’s” Facebook posts. Where does it end?
There is no end. How many people are there in this world? A lofty and ambitious mission? Certainly. Unrealistic? Did Edison consider it “unrealistic” when he invented the light bulb? When the Wright brothers discovered and invented flying a human being in the air? Let’s be clear, I’m NOT out to fix the world. The fact is none of us can. But there’s nothing we can’t accomplish TOGETHER.
LIFE to me isn’t meant to be “shared” in any other way other than from the “HEART.” Staying true to oneself, BEING yourself, is the ONLY way you should live. There are those who use colorful words, flowing styles, words of platitudes, lacking in originality, devoid of form, content, or substance. They use those words as punch lines in an attempt to gain favor. Not yours truly. I’ll give it to you straight and though I too will often use what some might call “big” words, they’re entirely from the heart. What you see is what you get. No illusions. Everything you read and see, both here and on my Facebook page is REAL. I’m not offering this to you as a form of self-validation or to seek your approval. In short, I AM who I am; a man who has much to offer this world and to YOU. All bathed in a light of honor, respect, dignity, courage, sincerity, integrity, truth, grace, and above all that, stands the biggest…humility. I’ve been humbled by events during this journey, some tragic. Some I stand in humbled awe at their triumphant best.
Recently, I stepped out in a bold way on my Facebook page by offering something more than “sharing and giving.” The time has come friends for this baby called “Gusto”, the one born 18 months ago, the one who has rapidly evolved into a fully grown adult today, to stand on his own two feet by offering my expert advice, guidance, mentoring, and coaching in a professional way. I’m committed. Question is, are you willing to take it? Are you willing to make a commitment to yourself, an investment in your LIFE?
Here’s a glimpse of a philosophy, a way of living I’m suggesting for your thoughtful consideration. Consider our world since the dawn of the 21st century, and all that’s happened since; “9/11”, wars, global warming leading to weather catastrophes mankind has never seen before, political upheaval, and a global economic collapse that has been unprecedented in world history. There are no more fast and steady rules, no yardsticks by which we can measure the future of our world based on prior historical events. Every day it’s something new. As my 86 year-old Aunt said one day during an animated discussion I was having with her about these very same topics, as well as our instant-gratification society and the exponential growth of technology; “WE HAVE TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH CONFUSION.”
I found that statement profound on many levels. That was several months ago. After letting it resonate further in my mind and reconciling it with my own beliefs, I’ve come to this conclusion. “IT’S TIME WE GOT BACK TO THE BASICS.”You “see” it, “hear” it, and “feel” it every day on my Gusto Facebook page, a steady drumbeat of simplifying things; life has become way more complicated than we can possibly fathom or make sense of . We’ve made it that way. We, EACH of us, can also reverse this process. WHEN, not if, we start living and conducting ourselves in an INDIVIDUALLY fundamental manner that is a shining example of respect, honor, integrity, sincerity, kindness, dignity, courage, grace, and humility, our world will change for the better. Permanently. No more words like fear, doubt, despair, hopelessness, frustration, anxiety, depression, resentment, pride, ego, or fear.
It’s SO easy that I find it baffling we can’t all see that! Life really IS that simple! Now back to the beginning of this chapter before I close it, and its title. I could have called it “The King of Hearts…. Simplification trumps Complication.” And no, this isn’t about cards. This is no game. This is LIFE. Everyone who knows me well, either in person, through visiting this website/blog, or my Facebook posts, knows I have a lot to give to this world. It’s time we re-shuffled the deck and start fresh with our lives, individually, one at a time, practicing the principles I’m preaching. I’m just one player in that deck of cards….the “King of Hearts.”
Recently, I made a bold move on my Facebook page with the announcement of a newsletter called “Go for the Gusto in LIFE.” That was a little over 2 weeks ago and, so far, 87 people have decided they too, want to “get back to the basics” as I’ve described above. It’s a forum by which people can gather to share freely, learn from one another, and of course, to receive my own words of wisdom, advice, tips, and guidance, and for those who wish to take it a step further; to participate in paid private or group workshops designed to help those who WANT a jumpstart to a new way of living and thinking. It’s a commitment I don’t take lightly. So if you treasure the same values as many of us do; values like ALL of those I’ve described in this article and wish to rid yourself of those that plague you, then I KNOW you’ll join us. Make a commitment, a commitment to yourself, to your family, to your friends, to your WORLD. Nothing in life is more important than that!! Click here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/GustoRamblings?sk=app_123077107711598
Now, more than ever, I believe with all my heart and soul Margaret Mead’s famous words; “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the ONLY thing that ever has.”
September 6, 2011
Hi Debbie! This is Gus. Say, I heard you left us down here to fend for ourselves? What’s up with that? You’re the one that gave all of us a spark, the quick-witted playful one, and oh the zest for LIFE you had! Well, I’m sure you’re in a much better and safer place anyway, in the loving arms of the one who created you. Funny communicating with you in this way, right here on my blog and website, but I figured since you’ve been such a quiet and anonymous supporter of my dream in writing a book one day, it couldn’t be more fitting than right here, from where I’ll glean much of the material for the book. Fitting too, since the title I’ve had in mind for awhile is “Inspiration at the End…Discovering a NEW Beginning.” Now that your earthly life is over, you’re starting fresh up there in Heaven.
Funny too in this way. The last time I saw you in person was at the funeral memorial held in honor of someone else we both know, Willie Ramirez, a fellow graduate of our old high school, Torrey Pines near Del Mar, CA. You had to leave early that day back in May 2010, leaving the services early there in Carlsbad, CA. headed for your beloved Jamaica. I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to speak privately, though we stayed in touch from time to time via that other communication tool we ALL know so well, good ‘ol Facebook, the place where I started calling you “Dynamo Debbie”, an apropro nick since you always lived your life in a dynamic way. And without that wonderful social medium, I would have never gotten back in touch with you following our high school graduation 34 years ago. I want you to know I appreciate all the words of encouragement you’ve given me over the past couple of years.
Speaking of high school, you remember that time we were flying down I-5 in my ’74 Ford Maverick? Me and your old pal “MJB” in the front seat, you and John Laidlaw in the back seat, the windows down, our hair flying (back when I HAD some :), the music playing loud, and laughing our asses off. Good times. I knew you only for a couple of years during the final years of high school from ’75-’77, but your presence was a welcome breath of fresh air in my life, like I’m sure it was for so many back then.
Fortunately, it was my honor to see you again at our 10 year class reunion in San Diego. By then, I’d gone back to Kansas but upon returning that weekend, it was like I never left. You were one of the hosts that night as I recall, and given your natural talent for coordinating such an event, it was a perfect evening. But, I must tell you, I’m sure you stuffed the ballot box that night when you announced in front of EVERYONE that I was the dubious recipient of “sexiest receding hairline.” Come to think of it, given your ornery nature, I’m ALSO certain you had something to do with another dubious distinction I received when we graduated from high school, stuffing the ballot box THEN when I was voted “class flirt” along with someone else we both know, whose name will remain anonymous for privacy reasons!
Well my friend, I must go now, but before I do, I just wanted to say this; you may be gone from us here on earth, but your smile, your zest for life, and your loving nature will ALWAYS be with us. And for that, on behalf of my-self, your fellow ‘mates from Torrey Pines H.S., the 1977 Falcons, the “Class with CLASS”, ALL of your friends, and family, THANK YOU and may you rest in peace…until we see each other again on the other side.
~ Your friend...Gus Rowe
September 3, 2011
I’m on a mission. A mission to HELP others. Since the launch of a tab on my Facebook page called “Go for the Gusto in LIFE!” on September 1st, 2011, I’ve received some feedback from some of you, the overwhelming majority of which has been positive. Still, there’s a sense that the concept I’m proposing about “new ways of living and new ways of thinking” has been met with questions, and perhaps some skepticism, as to what my intentions are. This latest chapter in “Ramblings” is intended to answer any questions and dispel any skepticism about my mission. I can assure you, unequivocally; this is NOT a scam, a trick, a game, or whatever one might wish to call it. I don’t operate that way. To put it simply, I’m quite serious about this. I’ve never been more certain in my life about my purpose in this world.
You may have surmised at this point where I’m heading with this. Call it mentoring, life-coaching, advising, guidance, or whatever, it all means the same. Furthermore, I firmly believe I’ve established a reasonable amount of credibility and trust, at least with respect to how I choose to share of myself on Facebook. And speaking of credibility, some may ask, “Why YOU? What makes YOU the expert on how I’m supposed to live MY life?” Before I get into detail on that, let me make something clear, and I can’t put it any more bluntly than this. I have no “formal” training in “coaching.” Zip, zero, nada. That’s why this post is called “My Truth.”
We all know, I most of all and which I’m fully aware of, that there’s a large number of people out there in this world who are offering their services in order to restore and rebuild happiness, peace, prosperity, joy, and a feeling of general fulfillment in your life. One can start rattling names off their tongue easily, they’re everywhere; Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, just to name a few that come to mind immediately. There’s thousands, maybe tens of thousands “out there” at your disposal. More importantly, many you may already have knowledge of through your Facebook page. Perhaps you’ve even sought some of their services. If so, and you’ve found ways to further your personal growth by doing so, then I’ll be the first to say congratulations. I’m sure many of these experts have had formal training themselves, although I’m also certain the reason why they’re so effective at what they do is what they already possess INSIDE; a history of personal experiences, both good and bad, the lessons they’ve learned from them, and the natural talent to pass those lessons on to others, including perhaps you. My point is, WITHOUT that talent and skill, all the “paper” certificates and credentials in the world mean nothing. There’s NO substitute for experience. Period.
Which brings me to my next point, actually an example of what I just wrote. 33 years ago I went to college, thinking what I would learn in a classroom and the little certificate I obtained after 5 years of hard work with a degree in Business Administration and almost a minor in Psychology would be my ticket to the world. And while it certainly helped, what I discovered several years later was something most people aren’t aware of. It wasn’t what I learned from a textbook in college so much as it was from the whole EXPERIENCE of interacting with professors and other students. Turns out, LIFE is like that! Funny? No. It’s nothing more than hard truth.
And so, after graduation, the REAL world hit me square between the eyes. Over the course of the next 33 years, I gained experiences not unlike you or anyone else. I’ve failed, sometimes miserably, took wrong turns, made wrong decisions, and poor choices. I’ve also achieved what some might call unparalleled success in life. So today, right NOW, let me be also very clear and truthful about something else. I’m not what one would consider a “wealthy” man by any stretch of the imagination. What I have instead is better; the rich rewards of another opportunity at life, something that I passionately cling to like a magnet with every fiber of my soul. Truth is, I’m happier now than I’ve been in decades, and consider myself more of a success than I did several years ago when I was a banker and farmer grossing six figures a year. What I’ve lost over the past three plus years in a material sense has been MORE than made up by what I have left; an incredible will to HELP my fellow brothers and sisters in this world, a deep and unabiding love for LIFE, a sense of humility that knows no bounds, the wisdom and knowledge of a set of rich and colorful life experiences, the lessons I’ve learned from them, and applied to my life in a practical, positive, and effective manner. It’s also very important you know that everything you see here in this blog, on my website, and what I’ve created on Facebook has been done ENTIRELY with no outside assistance. I’m doing this my way.
So while I don't have "formal" training in coaching, what I do have, like YOU, is what's INSIDE; a lifetime of experiences and lessons. Fortunately, I’ve also been blessed with the God-given ability to take those lessons and pass them on to others in both verbal and written fashion in a practical sense, using real-life examples. To me, that's more valuable than what any classroom can provide. I have complete confidence I can deliver. However, I wish to also share that, despite that unwavering confidence, I’m fully aware I’m not perfect and don’t have all the answers. I’m therefore taking a pro-active approach in furthering my “formal” education in the mission I’m on. If nothing else, it adds mortar and cement to what is already a solid foundation. It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude and courage to hang with the “big dogs” and I’ve proven myself through ACTION time and time again, I can hang with the best. But, make no mistake, even the big dogs like Mr. Robbins or Mr. Dyer have bad days and shortfalls just like you and I!
In 20+ years in my career as a banker living in a small town, it wasn't long before I discovered my methods weren't for every client I had the pleasure of interacting with. People come and people go. Sometimes, they move on to greener pastures. Similarly, I'm fully aware that who I am today and what I'm suggesting may not be for everyone. And I'm old enough, wise enough, and thick-skinned enough to understand if you choose not to accept my way of thinking and living. However, if you have the courage and willingness to experience something NEW, if you WANT something different, if you WANT positive change in your life, if you WANT a unique perspective on how to achieve that which you deserve, then I’m CONVINCED you’ll be a part of this mission. Stay tuned, the mechanics of how we’re going to accomplish our mission together is coming soon! May God Bless and keep EACH of you with good health, happiness, peace, and love….always!