Tuesday, May 11, 2021

My Magical Muse

Ever wondered how and where I get my ideas for these weekly blogs? 

AnswerThey just come to me

That might be oversimplifying things a bit, but on the whole, that is precisely how it happens. Once or twice a week (on average) a bolt of metaphysical lightning strikes my brain—and simultaneously my heart as welland somehow I just know that the subject idea that comes would make a good blog article (or not).

Click HERE to buy a copy
of Dr. JJ's Poetry
A very similar thing occurs in my work as a teacher and poet. As countless artists and musicians will attest, one's artistic "Muse" is a very real phenomenon. Back in 2012, I published an entire book of original poetry, and strange as it may seem to the uninitiated, nearly all of my best stuff just came to me.

That doesn't mean I don't have to do any work. It just means my work is greatly assisted and expedited—and the final product is infinitely better than it otherwise would have beenbecause of my Muse's timely aid and inspiration.

In other words, no artist paints, sings, writes, or otherwise performs alone. And no teacher teaches alone.     

Thus, once I have a main idea, topic, or title in mind, I am usually "good-to-go." Why? Because I have done enough reading, pondering, study, travel, and living to have dug a very deep well of knowledge, information, and insights that I can endlessly draw from to fill-in-the-blanks.  

When I began writing weekly blog articles last year, I worried a little bit that I might run out of ideas after a while, especially considering I have committed to this weekly exercise until I retire in the early 2040s.

But seeing as though... 

1). I've already published 211 articles since 2014 (including 37-in-a-row since last September).

2). I currently have a list of 25 new blog article ideas (over six-months worth), all of which just came to me.  In other words, I never actually sat down and consciously compiled a list of ideas to write about because I already had a surplus of ideas that my Muse delivered up free gratis. And lastly...

3). My Muse keeps sending me new ideas all the time.

Suffice it to say, I don't really worry anymore about running out of ideas.

For whatever reasons, my Creator blessed me with a rich portion of the "Gift of Gab," and my education and life's experiences have further expanded and enriched that generous endowment. Thus, for better or for worse—and YOU can judge whether it is the former or the latter—I simply don't ever run out of things to say or write. 

Furthermore, like any great subject, Self-Action Leadership is an inexhaustible resource, which is one of the many reasons I am so passionate about it and all of its related issues and topics. There is simply no end to the discussion when you are addressing issues of personal growth, improvement, and change.  

So what exactly is the source behind one's artistic, creative, pedagogical, or other inspirational "Muse"?

Scientifically speaking, we don't exactly know the answer to that question. Depending on one's personal and/or religious beliefs, an individual may attribute the genesis for such inspiration to a variety of different metaphysical, spiritual, or ontological means or sources. But regardless of the whats or wheres, there aren't many people who would deny experiencing metaphysical communication, intuition, or insights of various forms throughout their life's many experiences.

And THAT is the magic of my—and your—own, personal MUSE!  

In other words, no matter how scientifically inexplicable such experiences may be, anyone who has experienced metaphysical communication or insight in one form or another cannot in good conscience deny its existence, nor can they doubt its authenticity or legitimacy.

It is a very real phenomenon.    

Which "Inner Voice" do you listen to?
At Freedom Focused, we encourage self-action leaders to pay attention to this still, small, and often quiet—yet very real—metaphysical voice of insight and conscience that speaks to us from within. In our experience, doing so will lead you in the direction of growth, maturation, progress, confidence, and success in your personal and professional lives. Moreover, we have found further that the more we listen to and hearken to this voice, the more it will speak to us and guide us in the direction of our authentic callings and true purposes in life.

It is important to note that listening to and hearkening to this inner voice is not always easy.


Because its promptings typically urge us to act in ways that engender varying degrees of fear, pain, and confrontation. For example, the voice may urge you to face a fear, take a frightening leap of faith, exercise self-discipline, demonstrate humility and contrition, battle an addiction, limit your time (or cut ties altogether) with a negative friend or associate, initiate a difficult discussion with a colleague or loved one, apologize to someone you have hurt, or engage in any number of other thoughts, speech, and behaviors that, while clearly beneficial to you (and others) in the long run, will almost certainly be challenging for you in the short run.

It's not easy to take those kinds of steps in one's life. As such, most people avoid such steps most of the time—and some people avoid such steps all the time, unless there is intense external pressure to act. 

It takes a courageous self-action leader to take initiative all on one's own and thereby exercise the personal responsibility and proactivity required to move in the direction of positive growth, improvement, and change. But, since that is what self-action leadership is all about in the end, it makes sense that we would encourage you to pay attention to and heed your own inner voice of conscience and intuition.

This inner voice will serve as a positive and productive metaphysical guide in all kinds of decisions—both the saliently significant and the seemingly inconsequential—that you will face throughout your life and career.   

So... the next time "Jiminy Cricket" pops out of your pocket or leaps atop your shoulder to give you some advice, we invite and encourage you to pay the little critter a littler more attention than perhaps you have in the past. I promise you the result of doing so will be positive in the long-run, even it if might be a little challenging in the short run.  

-Dr. JJ

May 12, 2021
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA


Tune in NEXT Wednesday for another article on a Self-Action Leadership related topic.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, please email freedomfocused@gmail.com and say SUBSCRIBE, or just YES, and we will ensure you receive a link to each new blog article every Wednesday.  

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Finding Unity Through Common Sense & True Principles

Dear Reader,

As you well know, American Culture in 2021 is often saturated in anger, bitterness, divisiveness, vitriol, and violence. It is very sad because we are capable of being so much better than our present displays—speaking collectively and not individually.  

What is the answer to greater PEACE and UNITY? 

It's certainly not ideology or politics—I think most would agree on that. Ideologues and politicians—however well intentionedare, in fact, among the greatest sowers of disunity. Moreover, they consistently demonstrate little intention of real change, and most people are sick and tired of it. 

What then is the answer? 

Today's blog explores a potential solution to the problem of disunity (and its many causes) in America and beyond. At Freedom Focused, we suggest that our biggest problems—and the most authentic solutions to those problems—are not rooted in ideology or politics, but in education, natural law, and common sense.

The idea for today's article came one morning a few weeks back as I was listening to the radio while driving in my car. A song called "Love Like Crazy," by Lee Brice, was playing when the following lyrics jumped out at me, striking my brain and heart like lightning...

"Go to work, do your best ... tell the truth ... [and] don't outsmart your common sense."

 Doug Johnson, Tim James, Timothy A. James (songwriters)

Sounds sorta like a classic SAL anthem, doesn't it? The last part of the song especially stuck out to me.

What exactly does it mean to not "Outsmart Your Common Sense"?

We live in a world that is drowning in information. Everywhere you turn there is a surfeit of knowledge, print and virtual media, and so-called "facts" being offered up by everyone and their Uncle Joey's cousin's brother's sister-in-law's colleague's former supervisor.

In the history of the world, information of all kinds has never been more voluminous or accessible than in the 2020s. Despite this fact, it seems human beings are as confused, distracted, bitter, angry, and perplexed as they have ever been—again, speaking collectively and not individually. 

As such, it seems clear that information alone is insufficient in getting us to where we really want to go in the long run. And where do we really want to go in the long run?

I think most people genuinely desire the same basic things in life. 

What are those things?

Answer: Safety, security, peace, prosperity, freedom, variety, meaning, purpose, personal and professional opportunities that engage and excite us, and deep, fulfilling, and lasting relationships with those we love and care for.

Ironically, the pathway to achieving these universal human desires and goals is fairly simple and straightforward (not to be confused with easy). In fact, I would argue that obtaining all of these highly desirable states of being in life is ultimately a by-product of consistently following basic, common sense principles of thought, speech, and actions over time—you know... the principles and practices outlined in the Self-Action Leadership Theory, Model, and Philosophy. In fact, the express purpose of the SAL material is to educate, inspire, and empower men and women, boys and girls, to do just that. 

The problem is that we live in a world where following basic, common sense principles of thought, speech, and actions are not always culturally en vogue and are viewed by many as being unsophisticated, outdated, or outright irrelevant. With more discretionary time on our hands—speaking collectively and not individually—than we have ever had in human history, there is plenty of time for people to get lost in intellectual black holes where neither light nor common sense are able to escape. The result is a cornucopia of ideas, theories, and practices that hinder more than they help, confuse more than they console, complicate more than they clarify, and tear down more than they build up.

What are these ideas, theories, and practices? That is a very good question, but we are not going to answer it for you—at least not specifically.


Because at Freedom Focused, our goal is not to take sides on specific issues, particularly when those issue are controversial. In fact, our purpose is not even to tell you what is right or wrong in your life. Doing that would, after all, be rather presumptuous on our part in light of the fact that we are neither your parent, pastor, or psychiatrist, nor your personal pen pal.

While we emphatically and unapologetically insist that a real RIGHT and wrong does in fact exist, we will never insert ourselves into your own conscience-imbued decision-making processes or assert that you must do (or not do) x, y, or z.

As an independent, creative, and free self-action leader, that's YOUR job!

Our job—and our sincere intention and goal—is simply to teach correct principles and then encourage individual people and organizations to effectively govern themselves in ways that are discreet, moral, productive, purposeful, and wise according to the dictates of their own consciences. 

Let's face it...

Our nation and world is divided enough as it is. Picking fights with individual persons or organizations on specific issues would, in our view, only add to the present state of hyper-divisiveness that plagues our land.

Moreover, the truth is that common sense gets neglected by persons and organizations on all sides of a given issue, regardless whether the issue is civic, communal, cultural, ideological, or political in nature. No person or organization is perfect. We all make mistakes and all have room to learn, progress, mature, and grow. Pointing fingers at others is always less productive than looking inward to how we can change ourselves; and SAL—as you well know by now—is all about self-change.  

At Freedom Focused, we aim continually for UNITY through
a commitment to COMMON SENSE rooted in TRUE PRINCIPLES
As such, we do—and always will—steer clear of specifics that would only serve to provoke and divide rather than to educate, inspire, and UNIFY. Instead, we focus on teaching general principles that are universal and (we sincerely hope) unifying in nature—and then invite others to make their own wise choices based on the simple, common sense-oriented truisms contained therein.

So instead of summiting our soapbox to give you an ideological or partisan lecture, we simply invite and encourage YOU to do the best you can to think, speak, and act in ways that respect other people and things as you abide by correct principles and uphold common sense. Don't make the mistake that so many in our supposedly sophisticated culture make—DON'T OUTSMART YOUR COMMON SENSE!

I know this formula of "True Principle-rooted Common Sense" works because it has worked in my own life. I was very blessed to be born into a family, community, and culture that valued sincere commitments to common sense living that was rooted in true principles. My parents, teachers, coaches, leaders, mentors, friends, and associates weren't perfect people—no one on this planet is. But they were good people who tried their imperfect best to teach me correct principles and then let me make my own life and career choices. And I love, respect, and thank them for it! The result was the perpetual expansion of my personal and professional growth and freedom and a greater sense of unity with my teachers, leaders, and associates. The formula works. I know it works because I have lived it—and will continue to live it until my dying day.  

Unity in our relationships, families, communities, organizations, cities, states, or nations will never be achieved through extreme ideologies or partisan politics. It will only come as increasing numbers of people choose of their own free will to pattern their lives after principles of truth, common sense, and complete personal responsibility in concert with mutual respect, regard, compassion, and tolerance for one another.

Join us and together we will unify around those things that all reasonable, rational, and realistic persons can agree upon. Let's all focus a little more on the principles and practices that will increase and enhance our personal and professional freedoms and a little less on what angers, embitters, and divides us. As we do so, may that freedom come into greater focus as it expands and flourishes both at home and abroad as a natural extension of flourishing first within our own hearts, minds, and souls.  

Rockin' the Stationary Bike in PBG
Lastly, may I include a quick side note/postscript addendum to last week's post...

This past Monday, I broke another personal record at 10K on the stationary bike, shaving three whole seconds off of my old Personal Record for a new PR of 15:55. I also peddled a mile under 2:30 (2:27) and two miles under 5:00 (4:58) for the first time on the stationary bike I've been riding at Palm Beach Sports Club in Jupiter, Florida.

PR's just keep coming for me here in South Florida.  

     And it feels GREAT!     

-Dr. JJ

May 5, 2021
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA


Tune in NEXT Wednesday for another article on a Self-Action Leadership related topic.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, please email freedomfocused@gmail.com and say SUBSCRIBE, or just YES, and we will ensure you receive a link to each new blog article every Wednesday.  

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Breaking Personal Records

Today I broke a personal record. 

          It was on a stationary bike at my local gym.

                     I gave a complete and total effort in the attempt.

                              It was enormously satisfying.

Self-action leaders are always focused primarily on
Intra-personal competition, meaning competition with oneself.

In my experience, there are few things more rewarding or fulfilling than doing better than your previous best at something. Accomplishing such a feat is, in my view, the summum bonum (the ultimate good) of intra-personal competition.

What is INTRA-personal competition, you ask? 

Intra-personal competition refers to competition with yourself—in contrast to competing against othersand is the essence of Self-Action Leadership. As a self-action leader, the goal is never primarily to beat someone else at something, even thought that may be a secondary or tertiary intention. The primary purpose of Self-Action Leadership is—and always will beto learn, grow, and progress PERSONALLY, which often involves eclipsing your own best performances from the past.

Unfortunately, we live in a world that is often overly obsessed with inter-personal competition, meaning competition with other people. In this culture, beating others and finishing #1 is viewed as being very important, if not essential. This pessimistic cultural paradigm may even posture second place as being "the first loser," with third, fourth, and fifth place, etc., carrying even lesser status.  

There is nothing inherently wrong with interpersonal competition. It can serve a variety of positive purposes, including spurring a self-action leader to become more intra-personally competitive. 

A primal problem with inter-personal competition, however, is that with very few exceptions there is always going to be someone bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, fitter, or more talented, attractive, or wealthy than YOU are. As such, if you spend too much time comparing yourself to others, you will find yourself perpetually distracted and/or disappointed in your own self-achievement, which not only hampers your individual performance, but is a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness.

In the wise and insightful words of Theodore Roosevelt: 

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

 Theodore Roosevelt

I learned this lesson the hard way back in high school and college as a competitive cross-country and track middle distance athlete.

Click HERE to read my prep athletic story

Fortunately, I did learn my lesson, and am now much more content with focusing on intra-personal competition as opposed to inter-personal competition. This fact helped make this morning's personal record all the sweeter because I wasn't competing against anyone else except my own previous best performances. 

So... what record did I break?

I broke my personal record (PR) for 10 kilometers peddled on a stationary bike at the local gym where I work out.  I joined the local gym about two months ago after moving to Florida. When I first started timing myself at the 10k distance, my initial best time was approximately 17 minutes and 30 seconds. But bit-by-bit, I got faster, stronger, lighter, and more ambitious and confident. As I did, my times got incrementally faster.

My goal today was to break 16-minutes for 10K. My previous best was 16:04. I gave it a complete effort from start-to-finish—man it always feels AMAZING to "leave it all on the track" like that—and managed to set a new personal record and just barely achieve my goal of breaking 16-minutes in the process.

What was my time?

15 minutes and 58 seconds (15:58.67 to be exact)—a 90 second improvement over my best effort just two months ago.

While playing this intra-personal "game" with myself over the past two months, I have gotten in better shape and lost nearly 10 pounds of COVID-19 and MOVING fat. I also feel stronger and healthier than I did after the prolonged moving process I experienced in January, February, and March of this year as we relocated from New Mexico to South Florida.  

Throughout this process, I had a lot of FUN using my IMAGINATION.

How did I do that?

In my mind's eye, I continually viewed myself as a world-class biker breaking actual world records. In truth, my personal best is far afield of any real world records, and always will be. But oh the fun I had in the process of focusing on my own personal improvement, health, and fitness along the way!

So while it may not have been a world-class performance when compared to elite bikers, it was unquestionably a Jordan-class performance when compared to my previous best efforts, which, as it turns out, has the potential to provide a similar positive psychological experience to my psyche. And I felt like a million bucks as a result.   

This experience—and the fun, satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy engendered thereby—is a classic example of a Self-Action Leadership exercise or endeavor. The goal of SAL is much more than merely getting better at something. Its purpose is to find creative ways to enjoy the process of self-improvement and have as much fun along the way as possible. Hard work doesn't always have to be drudgery. There are things we can do and steps we can take to sweeten the difficulty of a challenge, journey, or other opportunity. In the words of Mary Poppins: In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun, and the job becomes a game.

"In every job that must be done there is an element of fun. Find the fun and the job becomes a game."

 Mary Poppins 

When work becomes fun, you might argue that it is no longer work. So, the question now is... How might YOU get creative about your own work (or workouts). What might you do to add a little (or a lot) of fun to your own personal or professional responsibilities and pursuits, and thereby make them more enjoyable? Additionally, what might you do to focus more intently on intra-personal competition and less squarely on interpersonal competition as you do your job and work with and associate with others?

I promise you that focusing more on these two principles will go a long way to helping you be more happy, successful, and fulfilled as a self-action leader at both home and work. Moreover, it is certain to make you more competitive with others along the way... if that is what you desire. After all, UCLA's unprecedented success under Coach John Wooden was not achieved by focusing primarily on beating other teams. Wooden always tried to focus his players' attention on being their personal best and giving their all and then letting the score take care of itself. Wooden was actually more pleased with a loss than a win—if his players gave more effort in the loss. And just look at what happened to the Bruins win and loss record as a result!  

-Dr. JJ
April 28, 2021
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA


Tune in NEXT Wednesday for another article on a Self-Action Leadership related topic.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, please email freedomfocused@gmail.com and say SUBSCRIBE, or just YES, and we will ensure you receive a link to each new blog article every Wednesday.  

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Disciplining Your Disappointment

Life is full of disappointments.

No matter who you are, where you were born, or what your circumstances are or aren't in your life and career, I would argue that the statement above would ring true for virtually everyone who has ever lived. 

And ironically, those who are the most successful are often those who have experienced the most disappointments along the way. In fact, a primal reason such persons are so successful is usually because they were willing to try (and fail) at a lot of things along the pathways of their personal or professional ascent. It's the old "Babe Ruth" phenomenon. In other words, if you are going to hit a lot of home runs, you are almost certainly going to have a lot of strikeouts along the way.

Speaking of baseball, one of the best metaphors for the reality of disappointment in life is the baseball statistic of batting average. It is a great metaphor because while the numbers/percentages will vary, the concept itself is applicable to virtually all life arenas and career fields.

Most professional baseball players hit less than a .300 batting average—and they are the best in the world at their craft. That means most players only get a hit once in every three times they are up to bat. Even the very best batters don't hit much higher than .300, meaning they still get "OUT" a lot more than they get a hit.  

Consider another sport: Basketball.  The greatest player who ever dribbled was Michael Jordan, who famously said: 

"I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career; I have lost over 300 games. Twenty-six (26) times I was trusted to take the game-winning shot—and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed."

 Michael Jordan 

Lincoln with McClellan and his staff at Antietam.
Perhaps no American President faced more disappointments,
failures, frustrations, and dangers than Abraham Lincoln.
Yet he is viewed today as our most successful president!

Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a minister and veteran of the American Civil-War (Union), once put it this way:

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."  

My own, well-chronicled personal and professional journeys have been fraught with failures, disappointments, and delays, as previous blogposts have amply illustrated as follows...

Click HERE to read about Dr. Jensen's struggles with OCD, Anxiety, and Depression.

Click HERE to read about Dr. Jensen Career Crucibles

Click HERE to read about Dr. Jensen's Difficulties Dating in his article, My Rocky Road of Romance 

So what's the point? 

The point is that no one—and I mean no one—gets a free pass to authentic success. There may be exceptions to fame and riches (e.g. those who inherit or luck-into money or the limelight); but there is a BIG difference between fame and riches and authentic success. And I for one would infinitely prefer authentic success to unearned fame or riches.  

If you don't believe this is true, just ask anyone who has achieved any kind of authentic success over long periods of time in their life or career—and they'll provide you with a long list of failures, disappointments, and delays that they experienced along the way. While it is true that some people become authentically successful a lot faster than others, everyone ends up facing their fair share of ups and downs along the way. And often a person's greatest disappointments and failures come after one is already supposedly successful (like an MVP who continues to strike out or an already successful professional who faces a devastating setback). So while no one's story is exactly the same, all stories of authentic success share significantly similar patterns and themes.  

That's just the way things are.

Thus, if you desire to be authentically successful, you must learn to DISCIPLINE YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT.* If you don't learn and develop this critical skill, then you will eventually be overcome by frustration and discouragement and you will give up! 

Self-action leaders don't ever give up.

          When necessary, they wisely change course; but they never give up.

As such, we must learn to discipline our disappointment so we are strong enough to persist until we succeed when the going gets rough. And it's not a matter of if the going will get rough. It's a matter of when it's going to get rough, and just how rough things will get before we achieve a given objective.

So... how exactly do you discipline your disappointment? 

Good question!  

I suggest THRE (3) habits to practice that will empower your own capacity for DYD. 

Disciplining your Disappointment
throughout your journey prepares
you for success at the finish line.
Habit #1: Learn to expect that difficult, disappointing, and negative outcomes will occur in your life and career.

Habit #2Study the lives of authentically successful men and women.

Habit #3Continually affirm key statements rooted in both positivity and reality.

Let's take these three habits one-at-a-time... 

Habit #1:  Learn to expect that difficult, disappointing, and negative outcomes will occur in your life and career.

Practicing this habit will make it so you are less surprised when troubles do come. DO NOT confuse this habit with a cloudy outlook or pessimistic attitude. You should always "go to the plate" expecting to get on base—or even hit a home run. But being conscious of reality will help you manage the disappointment of the inevitable strike-outs. And remember that practice does not make perfect; practice makes progress. While we should always be aiming toward the ideal of perfection, we must likewise train ourselves to find joy and satisfaction in each imperfect, albeit progressive step of the journey.  

Habit #2:  Study the lives of authentically successful men and women.

Being conscious of the challenges that great people endured to get where they are will help you realize that your own challenges are "normal" and "okay." In addition, your will find perpetual inspiration from authentically successful men and women who were able to overcome their difficulties to earn great success.   

Habit #3:  Affirm key statements rooted in both positivity and reality.

Affirmations are powerful. Whatever you consistently tell yourself (believe) about yourself will have a strong influence on your daily results and ultimate outcomes in life. For example, when you go to the plate (literally or figuratively), think, subvocalize, and/or say things to yourself like: "I am an outstanding baseball player"; "I am going to hit a home run"; "I am going to make this pitcher wish he had thrown a different pitch to and/or faced a different batter than me."  Then, when things turn out differently than you had affirmed and hoped, encourage and re-affirm yourself with statements like: "It's okay; this happens to the best of 'em. I'll nail it next time by (fill-in-the-blank behavioral change)"; "I still don't have as many strikes as Babe Ruth!"; and "I'm so glad I'm not afraid to try."   

Unless you are an airline pilot, surgeon, or something where a simple mistake could prove deadly, the purpose of your life and career is not to hit 1.000. After all, hitting 1.000 is virtually impossible! The goal is to try and get as many hits as possible while effectively managing your emotions and disciplining your action-plans when you do strike-out.

By continually aiming for the positive while remaining ever-rooted in the reality of each moment (good or bad), self-action leaders can find themselves consistently rising to their potential. And in the process, you may just find that your own personal or professional batting average will end up being very competitive!  

-Dr. JJ
April 21, 2021
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA


Tune in NEXT Wednesday for another article on a Self-Action Leadership related topic.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, please email freedomfocused@gmail.com and say SUBSCRIBE, or just YES, and we will ensure you receive a link to each new blog article every Wednesday.  

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks


* 2000. Jim Rohn. Building Your Network Marketing Business (CD)

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Taking Pride in Doing the Right Thing

In the short run, a team, organization, or other entity can lie, cheat, and manipulate its way to a competitive advantage. 

But in the LONG run, the marketplace inevitably discovers liars, cheaters, and manipulators over time, and punishes them commensurately to their crimes—not necessarily in a court of law, but certainly in the court of public opinion and the buyer's guild. 

As such, it makes sense to develop an organizational culture up front that values doing the right thing early and always. And it is in the interest of everyone in the organization to take positive pride in consistently following that pathway.

What does it mean to do the right thing

The answer to this question will almost certainly depend on who you ask. And in truth, the right thing or action will sometimes legitimately differ from person-to-person and from situation-to-situation based on reasonably differing preferences and priorities. Thus, "situational ethics" does have a place in the overall calculus of moral reasoning. As such, there are often "exceptions to the rule" (see SAL Theory Corollary 1.3). 

However, without the aid of conscience and the guide of certain moral absolutes serving as immovable loadstars in moral matters, "situational ethics" can quickly become a slippery slope wending a person or organization down into the throes of moral entropy, organizational atrophy, and even financial failure.

So how does a person or organization balance the paradoxical (seemingly conflicting) reality and importance of both moral absolutes and situational ethics in one's life and career. That is a tricky question and is not always easy to answer. Nevertheless, Freedom Focused offers some core insights aimed at assisting any honest seeker of truth in the matter. 

"Do what is right, let the consequence follow" (-Anon)
Truth seekers quest after TRUE PRINCIPLES rooted in natural (or Universal) laws because they serve as general guides to right thinking, speaking, and doing. 

At Freedom Focused, we define true principles as: 

"Principles of personal conduct rooted in Universal Laws that lead to long-term happiness, fulfillment, inner peace, and Existential Growth."

Universal Laws, in-turn, are defined as:

"Natural laws that define reality and govern all naturally occurring forces throughout the universe (physical laws), as well as all long-term consequences of individual and organizational decisions (metaphysical laws)."

True principles help us determine what right actions are. They lead us to think, say, and do things that are RIGHT, while false principle lead us to say and do things that are WRONG. But what is the definition of "Right" and "wrong"?

Freedom Focused can help us in this regard as well, as follows:

: Thoughts, speech, and actions that result in positive and constructive long-term consequences for self and others.  

WRONG: Thoughts, speech, and actions that result in negative and destructive long-term consequences for self and others.

The KEY phrase in both of these definitions is, of course, "Long-Term."

At Freedom Focused, our agents take PRIDE in consistently doing the RIGHT things. And when we do something that is wrong (either individually or collectively) which we all do from time-to-time, we take action to remedy and rectify any negative consequences of our speech or actions and then immediately change course. Those are our social mores and corporate culture.  

PRIDE is an interesting word.

Positive Pride in Achievement
It can connote both positive and negative states of being or feeling. For example, a positive element of pride would involve feelings of joy and personal satisfaction at having given one's best effort or achieved something of significance, like graduating from college or landing one's first big job. Another example might involve PRIDE IN DOING THE RIGHT THING as mentioned above.  

Pride can also have a negative connotation, as when a person pridefully rejects sound reason, good advice, or warning signs by proceeding to speak or act in ways that harm oneself or others.

Why do we as human beings exhibit negative pride when the results of doing so inevitably prove injurious? Probably the biggest reason is because we don't want to admit that we are misguided, naïve, or wrong. But what is so bad about admitting that we were misguided, naïve, or wrong... if we actually are?

Why does our pride sometimes get so caught up in being (seeming) right instead of figuring out what actually is right? Especially when pride can lead us down into disaster, destruction, and despair while humility can lead us to the promised land of whatever we are endeavoring to achieve? 

I have learned from personal experience that if I am, in fact, wrong about something, it is infinitely easier to just admit to myself (and where necessary, others) this fact and then change course than it is to continue to pridefully pursue a flawed course and thereby have to endure the retinue of rueful regrets and consequences concomitant thereto.

It's worth noting here that my personal self-action leadership journey has been FULL of occasions when I was misguided, naïve, or wrong. In fact, there have been so many such times throughout my life and career that I can't even remember—much less count—them all! And I still have moments like that—and will until the day I die—a fact which helps keep me humble and reliant on the wise counsel, good advice, and sound direction of others' whose perspectives transcend my own in a given area or on a certain matter.     

It takes courage to admit you were wrong,
and then reach out to someone else for help.
I admit it isn't always easy to admit I am wrong about something. But in my personal view, it's sooooooooooo much harder to endure the consequences of not doing so! If I am pursuing a flawed course—and I know it—what's the point in continuing on other than to feed the fire of my own ego? Where is the pride in avoiding all the disastrous consequences of being arrogantly prideful? 

Why not take more pride in doing the right (and smart) thing instead of holding on desperately to some negative form of selfish pride simply for ego's sake? Why not courageously confront a moment or two of agonizing difficulty involved in admitting you were wrong, get it over with quickly, and then move on with the baggage behind you?

Those who courageously follow this pathway will discover that such moments aren't as bad as they thought they would be—and once it's over, you can move forward to a better, happier, and more confident and successful existence. In the end, this course offers a far bigger reward than its up-front price—however difficult that price may seem to be (or feel like) in the moment.       

If I am smart, I will candidly and courageously confess whenever I am in error and then immediately begin to pursue the correct course. But in order to accomplish that sometimes difficult feat, I must exercise HUMILITY. And as we all know, it's not always easy to be humble.  

What exactly is HUMILITY?  

At Freedom Focused, we define it as: "The ability to accurately see and graciously acknowledge the way things really are based on physical and metaphysical realities rooted in Universal Laws."

That's a mouthful; but in essence, humility means doing the RIGHT thing whenever we see and recognize TRUTH, whether we feel like it or not. That is not an easy thing to do! As a result, nobody is perfectly humble. I certainly am not! But we can always keep trying to see things more clearly—as they really are (instead of the way we wish they were)—and for those who do, the rewards of humility are immense over time. Moreover, the seeming rewards of holding on to one's pride amount to a pathetic pittance by comparison.    

At Freedom Focused, we take pride in doing the right thing. We recognize that however justified a person may feel in one's prideful feelings, it is unwise to speak or act pridefully. Why? Because in the long run, it is YOU that is inevitably hurt the most by your own pride. Thus, self-action leaders recognize that reality and facts must often trump their feelings, no matter how powerful or important one's feelings may be. In other words, self-action leaders discern the great truth that feelings are often momentary, fleeting, and impulsive; but True Principles and Universal Laws are immovable, irrevocable, and incontrovertible. Thus, they allow principles and laws to become their guiding North Star, rather than their emotions alone.  

The most successful organizations
effectively balance sound laws
with intentional & helpful mores

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.


If you absolutely insist on being prideful, try to be prideful about one thing and one thing alone... Take Pride in Doing the Right Thing! 

When a team or organization creates a culture that takes pride in doing the right thing, it actually becomes culturally shameful to do the wrong thing. And organizational or cultural mores that embrace consistently doing the right thing will prove more powerful and supportive than any formal rule, regulation, or punitive measure invoked by an authority figure. In the words of Èmile Durkheim, a French sociologist: "When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary; [but], when mores are insufficient, laws are unenforceable."

"When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary;
[but], when mores are insufficient, laws are unenforceable."

 Èmile Durkheim 

Wise leaders and managers spend most of their time and energy seeking to model and teach mores that value, reinforce, and reward TAKING PRIDE IN DOING THE RIGHT THING while discouraging and, when necessary, disciplining speech and behavior that embraces negative elements of pride. Creating such mores can prove time- and labor-intensive. But those who persist and succeed enjoy massive success and enormous satisfaction in their work in the long-run.

Be like Coach John Wooden...
Take Pride in Doing the Right Thing
Such leaders become like legendary basketball coach, John Wooden—a true champion and person of sterling character and unimpeachable integrity—who won an unprecedented and mind-blowing TEN (10) National Championships as the Head Coach of UCLA's men's basketball team in the 1960s and 70s. And if you'd like to tap more fully into the wisdom of Coach Wooden, he wrote several books in retirement; you can find them at bookstores everywhere.      

What are you doing TODAY to teach and model TAKING PRIDE IN DOING THE RIGHT THING in your own relationships, family, team, organization, community, or nation? 


Tune in NEXT Wednesday for another article on a Self-Action Leadership related topic.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, please email freedomfocused@gmail.com and say SUBSCRIBE, or just YES, and we will ensure you receive a link to each new blog article every Wednesday.  

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Magic and Power of Synergy

You are probably familiar with the famous acronym T.E.A.M., which stands for: Together Everyone Achieves More

This cooperation cliche is often just that—a cliche. And while it makes a good classroom poster or workplace buzz word, rarely is it fully exposed for the priceless gem it really is. Indeed, there is enormous meaning and power in this simple statement. 

The acronym T.E.A.M is a simplistic encapsulation of another word that is likewise jam packed with meaning and power.

The word is: SYNERGY 

In the fields of leadership and human resources, SYNERGY is a term used to describe the possibilities and potential of human beings when they work together effectively and harmoniously. More specifically, it has been described as a process that unfolds when: "the whole [becomes] greater than the sum of its parts."* 

1 + 1 = 3 (or more)

According to Dr. Stephen R. Covey, when SYNERGY is unleashed, one plus one can equal more than two; and in some cases, much more than two. What exactly does that mean? It means that two or more people working well as a team can always accomplish more together than they ever could if they invested the same amount of time and effort separately

The phenomenon of SYNERGY can be seen in any relationship, group, team, department, organization, community, state, nation, or world when its respective members figure out how to work together effectively and harmoniously. Doing so is not always easy. But for those who succeed in spawning SYNERGY, any marriage, friendship, partnership, or any other kind of human relationship, team, or organization realizes heights that would be unattainable without it. Conversely, the absence of SYNERGY is just as noticeable, albeit in a negative sense. 

Think about it for a second...

From your knowledge and experience, what is the smoothest running organization that provides the best customer experience and service? Whatever your answer to this question might be, that organization has almost certainly figured out how to create massive amounts of SYNERGY as a result of their leadership, culture, systems, and practices.

My personal answer to this question would be two fold: Buc-ees and QuickTrip convenient stores. And if you have any experience with either of these two convenient store chains, you know immediately what I am talking about.

The SYNERGY is so strong at Buc-ees that whenever I get within parking distance of its big, adorable beaver logo, I swear the heavens open and multitudes of angels begin to sing. I suppose the fact that I love convenient stores about three times more than the average person deserves some credit for this seeming angelic chorus; nevertheless, the SYNERGY is thick and strong wherever a Buc-ees is built. And I've had to face up to the fact that angels simply don't sing as loud or long at other convenient stores.  Although much smaller in scope, QuickTrip convenient stores offer similar service, quality, and cleanliness. Back in 2012, I had a chance to conduct a professional training seminar for QuickTrip at their Corporate Headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was impressed at their facilities and the way they valued and treated their employees. The whole experience has remained a positive memory for me.      

What sets Buc-ees and QuickTrip apart from the hundreds of other convenient store brands throughout the United States and beyond? While there are many answers to this question (i.e. clean bathrooms, professional and efficient customer service, expansive customer-centric product selection, etc.), it is SYNERGY that ultimately drives the desirable outcomes that keep customers coming back again-and-again to these stores—and avoiding their competitors in favor of them.

The leadership, culture, systems, and best practices employed at Buc-ees and QuickTrip maximize the productivity and quality unleashed by their impressive array of human capital (managers and employees). They also tend to attract top talent because of their reputation for higher pay, standards of excellence, and brand supremacy. Yet, in the end, the people who work at Buc-ees and QuickTrip are just human beings like the rest of us. As such, the real difference can be explained in their capacity to consistently generate SYNERGY.  

SYNERGY is a driving force behind all above-average and superior team performances. And the same can be said of individual relationships, like marriages, friendships, and even business partnerships.

I never ceased to be amazed at the power of SYNERGY that has been unleashed in my personal marriage.

I do not have a perfect marriage; no one does. However, it is pretty good, and the productivity and progress that has occurred in our relationship, family, personal lives, and careers the past 13 years since Lina and I tied the knot on 8/8/08 has been a beautiful and productive experience. 

On our own, Lina and I each have individual talents, abilities, and capacities. Moreover, we are both capable of accomplishing significant things independent of each other.

However... as we have worked together effectively and harmoniously, the difference—meaning the surplus productivity, progress, and prosperity derived through cooperative SYNERGY—is noticeable and the results have been highly desirable in both of our lives.

In short, our mutual commitment to continually helping and serving each other as EQUAL PARTNERS has been an ongoing source of satisfaction, success, and of course—SYNERGY.

The united, proactive, and intentional convergence of our two separate lives, talent sets, educations, proclivities, and strengths has empowered us to get more done in less time, ease the stress and burdens of each other, and progress in our lives and careers far better and faster than we could ever have done all on our own. In fact, my own career wouldn't even exist—at least not in the same way—if it weren't for Lina's successful career. Moreover, Lina's career—to say nothing of our children's well being—would face a slew of added challenges and stresses if I was not able to be a stay-at-home Dad.

One specific, outlying, and memorable example of the power of synergy in our marriage took place shortly after we tied the knot in 2008. We were able to save $20,000 on tuition Lina's senior year of college (2008-09) at Georgia Tech because she was able to secure State residency by being married to me, a Georgia State resident. Later, Lina's successful career proved a primary driver of eliminating our combined student loan and business debt. 

Bottom Line: we continually help each other, magnify each other's strengths, and minimize each other's weaknesses; and the result is the creation of a huge amount of productive SYNERGY in our personal lives, professional careers, and family relationships.  

One of my favorite things about the creation of SYNERGY is that we as individuals can avoid some of the things we least like to do by helping each other based on our unique, individual competencies and proclivities. For example, I am not very good at, nor do I like: cooking, managing money, and doing taxes. Lina is better at these activities and doesn't mind them the way I do. On the other hand, I focus more on doing the dishes, taking out the trash, and attending to yard work—and I am more than happy to oblige in these ways in order to avoid the aforementioned tasks.

We both, of course, still have to do our fair share of hard and/or unpleasant work tasks on a regular basis. For example, I still cook sometimes and Lina still does dishes from time-to-time. Nevertheless, by completely committing to our mutual lives together and continually helping each other until the work gets done, much time is saved and enormous amounts of SYNERGY is produced along the way. The result of this SYNERGY is that both Lina and I are farther ahead in our lives together than we could ever hope to be separately. For this, and many other reasons, I dearly love Lina, and enjoy being married to her. 

"Thee lift me and I'll lift thee; and we shall both ascend together."

 Old Quaker Proverb 

Marriage, of course, is not always readily possible (or even desirable) for everyone, and even when it is, it comes with a measure of adjustment and difficulty. But when it works—meaning, when two people mutually commit to making it work—it can be a truly magical, rewarding, and satisfying experience. And I have experienced enough of this magic to give thanks everyday to God for my wonderful wife and life partner. And I will do everything in my power until the day I die to nurture, cultivate, perpetuate, and prosper this sacred relationship.

Does this mean marriage is always easy for Lina and me. Of course not! Does it mean we never disagree? No! If two people in any relationship never disagree, I would wager at least one of the two is almost certainly not thinking for oneself, or is failing to consistently speak one's own mind on matters that arise. Nevertheless, despite any and all difficulties or issues that arise, we have mutually committed—and even covenanted—with each other and with God that we will always value the sacred union of our marriage above and beyond any disagreement, no matter how seemingly pressing or significant in the moment. This conscious, committed, and mutual dedication to this common cause has thus far enabled us to successfully navigate any bumps in the road, and everyone faces bumps in the road of marriage. Lina and I certainly have. That's just real life.

I could go on to detail other, different friendships, relationships, and business partnerships that have been similarly blessed by the magic and power of SYNERGY, but I think you get the point.  

In summary, consider some of the secrets and obstacles to SYNERGY, as follows:

I will add to this list the importance of never giving up when the cause is worthy or the relationship or team is worth saving—and more often than not, it is

Whatever relationships, teams, or organizations you find yourself a part of, aim for SYNERGY. While it is not always readily achieved, it is worth continually working towards, striving for, and never giving up on. Why? Because if you are willing to persistently and patiently pay the price over time, the rewards of SYNERGY are rich, highly desirable, and include payments of compound interest.  

Much of what I have learned about SYNERGY has been a result of personal experience as well as reading the work of Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Dr. Covey rightly teaches that NATURE itself is highly synergistic, and therefore provides us with a plentitude of natural examples of its genius that we can readily observe and apply. He also teaches the possibility of intra-personal SYNERGY, and suggests that the pursuit of SYNERGY within ourselves—created among the disparate parts of our own mind, heart, body, and spirit—is as desirable and important as the pursuit of SYNERGY among others with whom we live and work. This principle is a vital component of the SAL Theory and SAL Model, and invites self-action leaders to approach the leadership of their lives holistically with a balanced focus on all aspects of their nature (i.e. constitutional, spiritual, moral, mental, physical, emotional, social, and financial)

To bolster your own understanding of SYNERGY, I recommend you begin by reading about HABIT 6 in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. In conjunction with having read this article, studying Dr. Covey's work on SYNERGY will provide you with a springboard that will propel your understanding and application of this incredibly valuable personal and interpersonal phenomenon. When properly applied, you will begin to see your own relationships and organizations become further impacted by the magic and power of SYNERGY. And the results will be truly transformational and life-changing in the very best of ways.  


Tune in NEXT Wednesday for another article on a Self-Action Leadership related topic.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, please email freedomfocused@gmail.com and say SUBSCRIBE, or just YES, and we will ensure you receive a link to each new blog article every Wednesday.  

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks


*  Covey, S.R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Fireside. Page 263.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Wonderful World of Books

Part of my new office library in Florida
"The [person] who will not read is no better than the [person] who cannot read."

 Mark Twain 

I have always LOVED books.

It is, therefore, with an unusual sense of gratification and pleasure that I pen today's post from my brand new desk in my new home office where I am nearly completely surrounded by the beautiful sight of my personal library.  

My family and I recently fulfilled a long-held dream of ours to relocate to South Florida. Moving is an exciting time in one's life; it can also be stressful. My experiences with moving have been unusually many and varied—even by our highly mobile twenty-first century standards.

To wit, I am only 41 years old, yet have moved 45 times to 42 different addresses in two countries, five different time zones, seven different states, and two provinces of Canada. 

It's been exciting... and exhausting! 

Suffice it to say, with a little luck, we won't be moving again anytime soon. And with a little more luck, the balance of our lives will not include many more moves.

It is upon reflection of these past experiences that I sit here at my computer in my new Palm Beach Gardens home office and take a literal and figurative sigh of relief to think that we are finally settled at least semi-permanently. And it is with a sense of joy and pleasure that I do so in my newly arranged personal library. After all, one of my favorite things to do every time we move is to rearrange my BELOVED BOOKS.  

Next to the sight of my beautiful wife and children and the picturesque aqua-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Florida, there are few sights on Earth as pleasurable and soul-satisfying as a vista of literary volumes—especially if said tomes represent my favorite genres of history, philosophy, theology, poetry, and leadership.

My love of books goes back to before I could even read.

As a six-year-old, I recall the day my neighbor—a gal named Emily Anderson—stopped by our house with her mother, Suzanne. Emily was a "Big First-Grader" and knew how to read; I was still in kindergarten and had not yet learned. Deeply attracted to her budding competency, I invited Emily into my personal office (playhouse under the stairs), handed her some paperwork I had retrieved from my Dad's office trash, and asked earnestly and hopefully if she would do me the honor of reading to me. She obliged; and I was both impressed and entranced by such skill.

How I yearned to follow in her footsteps!

With my Mama, as a First Grader
Soon thereafter, my family moved—one of my first moves in life—and I began first grade, which is where I learned how to read. I wasn't very good at first. My instruction at home had not included explicit details on phonics and my kindergarten experience had focused on pre-reading activities. In addition, I was an August birthday and on the oldest end of my class. As such, I was seven years old before I formally learned how to read. But I was motivated, so it didn't take long for me to get rolling. Part of my drive can be credited with the fact that I initially tested into the "middle" or average of three reading groups in my class. My best friend—Eric Driggs—tested into the top or above average group and I wasn't about to be left behind. It wasn't long before I advanced into Eric's group. 

Despite my slow start to formal reading, I was blessed to have been born into a family that loved books as much as I did. My maternal grandfather (1899-1964)—a professor of speech and drama and one of the top-flight oral readers in the United States in his time—built a personal library of thousands of books over the course of his life and career. And while he died 14 years before I was born, his books stayed behind in my grandmother's home where I was able to discover, relish, devour, borrow, and eventually annex some of them into my own library. In addition to Grandmother Smith's sizable personal library, my father—a career English teacher—also owned an impressive number of books for a middle-class man of the 1980s. Consequently, my childhood home—and in time, my own bedroom—was filled with books.

Copying trigonometry equations
from my older brothers' math
textbook as a first grader in
sunny Mesa, Arizona
Many of my choicest childhood hours were spent in blissful solitude surrounded by wonderful stacks of books in my grandmother's home, my own home, or any other library (public or private) I could find. And the beauty of it all was that no one ever pressured me to like or read books; I freely discovered the passion all on my own by the simple fact and virtue that piles of books were made readily available to me by my parents and grandparents. It is, in part, for this very reason that I have now accumulated a one-thousand book personal library of my own—because I want to provide the same opportunity to my own children.

Perhaps avid readers of the Freedom Focused blog have asked themselves: How does Jordan keep coming up with different topics to write about week-after-week-after-week? Well, now you have an answer. When you have traveled as much and read as widely as I have, the well is deep and the memories are thick and rich!

And the cool part is that there is nothing inherently special about me; but everything is special about BOOKS! As such, there is nothing stopping you from diving in more deeply and widely yourself... beginning TODAY! Perhaps reading this article will inspire you to do a little more reading in your own personal and professional life.

I highly recommend it!  

Of the one thousand books I currently own, there is one that is dedicated in particular to this subject. I found it as a young boy scanning the shelves of my Grandmother Smith's home library in Centerville, Utah.

The book is called The Wonderful World of Books, edited by Alfred Stefferud. On its front cover, it reads: This book can change your life and the lives of those around you. With its help you can win greater success and happiness, benefit from the treasuries of the world's wisdom and knowledge, explore fascinating realms of adventure and entertainment and make valued new friends... all through the magic of reading

This book of short essays incorporates the wisdom of nearly seventy (70) different authors who expound upon why books can be among our greatest friends, provide us with enormous personal and professional pleasure, help us become better people and citizens, and learn to read more effectively. It is a wonderful reminder of the diamond mine of information contained in the world's greatest books. I do hope that introducing this unique book's title and contents might spur your own thinking about how you might further tap into the riches available to you through the written word. 

Too many people, upon completing their formal education, stop reading seriously. And in the age of the Internet, too many people spend most of their reading time online consuming virtual print that has little authentic educational value and does not edify the mind or uplift the heart or soul.

This is sad.

          It is also preventable.

Hyrum W. Smith
Co-Founder of FranklinCovey
Originator of the Franklin Day Planner

My late uncle, Hyrum W. Smith, co-founded FranklinCovey with Dr. Stephen R. Covey. A few years ago, I interviewed my Uncle Hyrum for an entrepreneurship textbook project I was working on. The final question I asked in the interview was: "What advice would you give to young college students interested in becoming entrepreneurs?" Assuming his answer would have something to do with motivation, hard work, persistence, or handling rejection, his answer surprised me.

He said:

When I was just a boy, my father had me memorize a statement that said, "You cannot think any deeper than your vocabulary will allow you to think." If you really examine anyone who has been authentically successful as an entrepreneur—or in any other field—you will discover they have a large vocabulary. As I reflect back over my career, I attribute much of my success to a love of the English language and my commitment to read deeply and widely, and to study speech and language. Anyone who wants to be successful in this world has got to read books, and lots of them. This requires a willingness to set aside electronic devices, social media, video games, and other distractions, and the discipline to stick to the task of reading—even when it seems boring. In order to learn independently of others and expand your vocabulary, you must pay the price to spend time with good books, including the dictionary. There is no other way. The size of your vocabulary will, to a large extent, determine how much success you enjoy—or don't enjoy—in your life

        Hyrum W. Smith

Suffice it to say, I have learned the spot-on truth of my uncle's words throughout my own life and career, and they ring ever truer as the years go by. 

My college "Vocabulary Journal"
When I was in college, one of the most important work tasks I ever undertook (by far) was to diligently keep a vocabulary journal. 

When I would come across a word I didn't know in a textbook or elsewhere, I would write it down in my vocabulary journal. I would then look up the word in the dictionary and copy down the definition and other relevant information about the word. Sometimes I would also include a "practice sentence" using the word in my own way.  

This particular task was NOT an official assignment. It was simply something I knew in my own mind and heart would be a very smart thing to do. And you won't be surprised to hear that this activity has been far more valuable to me in my life and career than 99.9% of the official assignments my professors required me to complete.

Side work that a student proactively pursues on his or her own often ends up being of far greater value than anything a professor formally assigns one to do. Thus it is that the "quality" of a person's formal education is usually determined more by one's own passionate pursuit of learning than the quality or reputation of one's professors—or the supposed prestige of a particular school.

To illustrate this point, consider the following example...

Both of my degrees (a bachelor's in English and a Doctorate in Education) are from obscure, non-prestigious schools. Nevertheless, I'd wager that the quality of my own personal education can beat most (if not all) Ivy Leaguers (or culturally equivalent) in my field. Why? Because the quality of my education was not determined by the schools I attended or the professors I had; it was determined by a conscious choice backed up by concrete, consistent, determined, focused, and persistent (extra) effort on my part.


I'm not here to tell you what books to read. That's up to YOU to decide. However, just for starters, it couldn't hurt to provide a few of my favorites—just as examples of some of the books that have impacted my life the most, and that could likely bless your life as well, if you are willing to discipline yourself to begin seriously reading one (or more) of them.   

Happy Reading!  

Thirteen (13) Books that Have Influenced Dr. Jordan Jensen's Life the Most

1. The Road Less Traveled.........................by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

2. Further Along the Road Less Traveled.........................by: M. Scott Peck, M.D.

3. The Road Less Traveled and Beyond..........................by: M. Scott Peck, M.D.

4. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.........................by: Dale Carnegie

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People.........................by: Dale Carnegie

6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.........................by: Stephen R. Covey

7. The Lessons of History.........................by:Will & Ariel Durant

8. The Greatest Secret in the World.........................by: Og Mandino

9. Hamlet.........................by: William Shakespeare

10. 101 Famous Poems with a Prose Supplement.........................Edited by: Roy J. Cook 

11. Man's Search for Meaning.........................by: Viktor Frankl

12.  Self-Leadership: The Definitive Guide to Personal Excellence.........................by: Christopher P. Neck, Charles C. Manz, and Jeffery D. Houghton

13. The Holy Bible


Tune in NEXT Wednesday for another article on a Self-Action Leadership related topic.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, please email freedomfocused@gmail.com and say SUBSCRIBE, or just YES, and we will ensure you receive a link to each new blog article every Wednesday.  

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks



My Magical Muse

Ever wondered  how  and  where  I get my ideas for these weekly blogs?  Answer :  They just come to me .  That might be oversimplifying thin...