Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Sweet Southern Hospitality

State Seal of the State of Florida
Centerpiece of the Florida State Flag
I am pleased to announce that Freedom Focused is moving from the Great State of Texas to the Sunshine State of...

FLORIDA!



And we are EXCITED about it!

This week's blog post chronicles my lifelong love of the Sunshine State, and the seeds that have been germinating for a quarter century that recently sprang up into the fruit of this exciting and welcomed step in my personal and professional life.   

When I was a little boy, age 11, my dad, grandpa, and older sister and I took a cross-country road trip from the Intermountain West to the eastern United States and back. It was the first time I had ever been east of the Mississippi, and the first time I ever saw the Atlantic Ocean. 

On the Mississippi River with my dad,
older sister, and Grandpa in 1991
One of the most memorable events of that trip involved eating supper one evening at a diner deep in the heart of Kentucky. Our waitress was one of the kindest, sweetest, and most friendly people I had ever met.

And that accent....

          Wow!

I may hail from Southern Utah, which is like the South in some ways, but I had never heard anything like that Kentucky woman's country drawl! The experience left an indelible impression on my little 11-year old mind and heart.

Dad explained to me that muggy August night back in 1991 that the waitress's attitude and demeanor was emblematic of "Southern Hospitality." As far as I can remember, that was the first time I had ever heard the term Southern Hospitality; and I would never forget it!

For many years thereafter, I began developing romantic notions about the Southern States. As a result, I deeply desired to go exploring beyond just Kentucky.

Years later, immediately after graduating from college, I fulfilled my dream to visit—and relocate to—the American South. My intentions were to spend a period of time there, "seek my fortunes," hopefully find love along the way, and perhaps remain until the day I died.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made because it was there—in Atlanta, Georgia—deep in the heart of the South that I met my beautiful, intelligent, and talented wife, Lina, who was from even farther south... in the Miami, Florida area. Lina was living in Atlanta at the time to study mechanical engineering at The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).  

Getting to live in the South and meeting Lina have been two of the greatest blessings of my life to date. And I've been blissfully enjoying lovely "Green Christmases" in South Florida ever since!

I have visited and traveled extensively throughout every Southern State, and the whole region has a special place in my heart. Georgia, in particular, will always be "On my Mind" because it was in the Peach State that I met my best friend, the love of my life, and the mother of our three (3) children. 

If you include Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Utah—a college professor of mine once rightly remarked that Utah is, in some ways, a displaced Southern State—I have lived in the Southern States for most of my life and therefore have a pretty good understanding of what Southern Hospitality is all about.  

More recently, I experienced an outgrowth of this phenomenon in my outreaches to leaders and coaches in college athletics.

To illustrate, check out a few stats...

In the spring of 2020, I sent marketing inquiries to over 5,000 coaches and leaders at approximately 150 colleges and universities in all 50 States. In response, 15 coaches and leaders replied back to request review copies of the SAL Textbooks. Eleven (11) of the 15 coaches — a whopping 73% — of them were from Southern States (east and west).

Then, of the five major football programs I contacted (Florida, LSU, Texas, and two northern schools that will go unnamed), I received nice letters back from either a Head Coach or Athletic Director from ALL THREE (3) southern schools.

The first letter I received—and arguably the most impressive—came from Head Coach Ed Orgeron. What made Orgeron's reply so singular and special was that it arrived only a few weeks after his team won the 2019 National Championship against Clemson at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on January 13, 2020.

Despite being the most famous college football coach on the planet (at that point in time), Orgeron still found time to reach out to little ole' me—a complete stranger he had absolutely no formal obligation to acknowledge, much less communicate with. I'll never forget the kindness, courtesy, and respect of Coach O's thoughtful outreach.

What a guy!  

Wearing my new Gators hat from
AD Scott Stricklin.  Go Gators!
The second letter came from Head Coach Tom Herman at The University of Texas, and the third was sent by Scott Stricklin, Athletic Director at The University of Florida. Both letters were respectful of my work and thanked me for reaching out. Stricklin generously went a step further and included a gratis Florida Gator hat as a gift to me.

I was impressed!

You can guess, of course, which schools I heard crickets from.  

That's right... the two northern schools.

I sent 13 hard copy letters to one northern school's Head Coach, yet never received so much as a syllable in return. I must confess that I had a good time pestering ole' -------, and so had to just chuckle at the fact that he was even more determined not to respond than I was determined to reach out to him. 

I was less humored by another northern team's snub. The reason for my chagrin was two-fold.

First, I used to be an enthusiastic and passionate fan of this particular team up north. I would talk up their football coaches, leaders, and players to anyone who would listen.

Second, in addition to sending dozens of combined letters and emails to coaches and leaders at this school over the course of the entire year (2020), I also sent FOUR of my SAL Textbooks, which set my own wallet back several hundred dollars.

Textbooks aren't cheap!

And the SAL Textbooks are no exception. Despite these gratis gifts and numerous hard copy letters and emails, I never heard back from a head coach or athletic director at either university up north.

Interesting, isn't it?

And even more fascinating is the fact that one northern coach actually sent me a nice card in response to a previous query I had sent him back in 2006 during his time coaching at a different school that was deep in the South, yet he failed to extend the same courtesy after moving north to coach a different team.

Uncanny, isn't it? It sometimes seems as though the hospitality in the North mirrors Midwest mercury in January!  

One of the things I have learned through my entrepreneurial experiences is that getting rejected is preferable to getting ignored.

Why?

Because a rejection still acknowledges your existence; but getting ignored makes you feel like a non-entity, which is a viscerally demeaning and enervating experience. Consequently, I'd rather be rejected than ignored. While getting rejected is never fun, getting ignored feels a whole lot worse.   

Now... I'm sure those coaches and leaders in the North who snubbed me are all "good guys" who love their families. And their capacity and accomplishments as coaches and leaders are noteworthy. That's a big part of what led me to follow them in the first place. Moreover, I recognize I am a NOBODY in their eyes.

But... I am ostensibly just a nobody to the coaches at LSU, Texas, and Florida also; so why the difference in courtesy and respect in response to my written queries?

Southern Hospitality is a Warm & Welcoming Phenomenon
It Makes People Feel Comfortable, Capable, and Confident
It's gotta be Southern Hospitality!  

Perhaps character plays a bit of a role as well. After all, one of the most important SAL lessons I've ever learned is that a person's character is best unveiled not by how they treat a romantic interest, superior, celebrity, or other VIP, but by how they treat a subordinate, service worker, homeless person, or a nobody—like me!

The good news about Self-Action Leadership is that Southern Hospitality doesn't have to remain exclusively in the South. It can travel anywhere human beings choose to embrace the SAL attributes of kindness, cheerfulness, courtesy, warmth, and respect. 

The Boys from the North aren't the first high profile persons to ignore or reject written requests of mine, and they won't be the last. Rejection (and getting ignored) is just part of being an entrepreneur.

I accept this reality.

          I don't like it.

                    But I accept it.  

If you can't deal with getting criticized, doubted, dismissed, rejected, ignored, misunderstood, underestimated, mocked, or made fun of, you won't make much of an entrepreneur. For me, all of these things have actually been a hugely positive force in my life, career, and relationships.

Why?

Because instead of discouraging me, it always accomplishes the exact opposite: it provides a turbo boost of added fuel to my desire and motivation, which then doubles, or even triples my determination to succeed. It seems, in fact, that the more I fail to succeed in the short run, the more spectacularly I end up succeeding in the long-run. Such a course is admittedly not an easy pathway to tread; but it is certainly rewarding in the end—making it a journey entirely worth pursuing.      

Furthermore, when it comes to that very natural, human urge to seek "revenge" on an opponent who has disrespected, rejected, ignored, or beaten you, there is no greater revenge than success.  

Success is the Greatest Revenge

I learned this lesson years ago, after being rejected 130 times by 80 different women over the course of 13 long years of interesting and adventurous, but largely deflating dating experiences. At age 28, I finally won the heart of a woman—from Florida, no less—who is better than the woman of my dreams.

That ONE success was worth all of the pain, suffering, and wait that accompanied the seemingly endless failures. In the words of Country Music Band, Rascal Flatts: "God [really did bless] the broken road, that led me straight to [Lina]."  

Click HERE to read details of Dr. Jensen's ROCKY ROAD OF ROMANCE

I didn't like getting rejected or ignored romantically. In fact, I liked it even less than I like getting ignored or rejected professionally. Yet the pain of those rejections fueled my eventual success with Lina. 

Click HERE to read details of Dr. Jensen's CAREER CRUCIBLES

Some of the greatest pain I've ever experienced came in the realms of romance, or, in the words of the Immortal Bard, in the throes of "despised love" (Hamlet)—a circumstance which became frustratingly familiar to me between the years 1995 and 2008. Yet out of that pain and rejection came an unquenchable desire, motivation, and determination to succeed... and not just in romance; but in every area of my life.

I eventually did succeed in romance and marriage, and have, for the past twelve years, enjoyed one of the greatest single blessings of my life to date—the flowering and maturation of a deep and growing relationship anchored by an eternal commitment to my beloved Lina. Second only to Almighty God, I owe everything to Lina. Aside from being a better man because of Lina, she has, more than any other person on the planet, made possible my own greatest hopes and dreams. I will love her forever for her goodness, kindness, companionship, selflessness, generosity, faith, and love.

Truly, Lina is one in ten million—at the very least.

And the COOL thing about having kids together is that I get to see Lina and all of her wonderful qualities in each of my children every time I see them. It is an incredibly bonding and binding phenomenon the purity and majesty of which I—wordsmith though I am—remain completely incapable of adequately explicating.  

And now... I'm gonna do something a little jr. highish, but I'm not above taking a cue out of my teenage playbook when the right moment calls for it, so here goes...

I'd like to dedicate a couple of songs—written by a couple of smooth Southerners—to my wonderful wife and best friend, Lina Marie Jensen. Mr. Moore and Bentley say it even better than I can. And they sing it far better than I can.     

Click HERE to watch the music video of Kip Moore's Hey Pretty Girl

Click HERE to watch the music video of Dierks Bentley's Woman, Amen

.........................

I don't believe in "revenge" in the negative sense of hurting my opponent. I don't want my opponent to fall or fail. I merely want to succeed myself, and help others do the same, including my opponent (if my opponent wants my help). Thus, the best way to get revenge on my opponents is to succeed myself, and hopefully inspire them—and others—to do the same along the way.    

Statue of Mohandas Gandhi
in Mumbai, India
I've written previously about some of the "healthy discontents" (Emerson) I harbor about human beings and organizations in this world. I have likewise written about how these discontents have continually driven me on a lifelong quest to heed Gandhi's advice to: "Be the change I wish to see in the world."

My experiences with rejection and getting ignored are good examples of this. And while I myself sometimes have to say "no" to individuals and organizations who are not a good fit for my inner or outer personal and professional circles, my goal is to always treat others better than I was treated along the way. This includes respectfully rejecting (when necessary) and never ignoring people or failing to acknowledge them—even if I choose not to embrace their requests.

There are consequences for failing to acknowledge the existence of others, or otherwise treating human beings (no matter who they are) disrespectfully or dismissively. For example, I used to be an avid fan of a team up north and would sing their praises to anyone who would listen.

I don't do that anymore.

Instead of cheering for that team up north, I now cheer for Coach O's LSU Tigers deep down in the blessed bayou. He gave me a reason to cheer for him beyond the football field and training room. In the process, he earned a new fan, and I now talk him up whenever an opportunity arises.   

Coach O treated me with kindness, consideration, and respect. And I rewarded him with my loyalty as a fan. Coaches ------- and ------- and ------- were completely dismissive of my work and me. Consequently, they have lost an avid fan and enthusiastic advocate on their behalf.

Now... I recognize that losing little ole' me as a fan isn't going to hurt either team up north; moreover, my desire is not to hurt them. I don't seek after the kind of revenge that hurts others. I seek revenge borne of personal success myself. And I also seek to help others along my way. But sour the minds and hearts of enough people with arrogant and condescending attitudes or behaviors, and it just might have a noticeable impact over time. And while I'm certainly not perfect, this fact is something of which I continually remind myself.

Bottom line: The way you treat people matters. And as self-action leaders, we really do reap as we sow over time

I can't control the way others treat me; but I can control how I treat other people. As a result, I can learn from the omissions, commissions, and missteps of others and strive to avoid making the same mistakes myself.

Southern Hospitality and Winning

Geaux Tigers!

          GO GATORS!!    

                    Hook 'em Horns!!!   

Another fascinating phenomenon is that there seems to be a connection between Southern Hospitality and WINNING. After all, LSU, Texas, and Florida have won SIX (6) National Championships in football over the past two decades, while ALL the teams up north combined have accounted for only ONE (1) National Championship in that same time period (Ohio State in 2014).

Southern Schools Dominate
Collegiate Athletics
Of the past 60 National Champions in Football, Baseball, and Men's Track & Field, 48 of them—an astounding 80% of the gold medalists—were Southern Schools, mostly from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) or BIG-12 Conference. In other words, the recent contest between North and South at the highest level of collegiate competition is not even close. And a similar pattern emerges in a number of other sports as well.  

Just two nights ago, a Southern School (Alabama)—the program that has won more National Championships in football than any other NCAA team in the modern era—crushed (by a score of 52-24) the great northern school (Ohio State) in the College Football National Championship. And if you go back to the year 2005, guess who has won 15 out of the last 16 National Championships (94%) in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision's (FBS) most prominent sport (football)?

You guessed it: Southern Schools!  

It's pretty remarkable when you start taking a close look at the facts and stats on this subject.

So, to all you good-ole' Southern boys and girls, I want to say "Thank You" for treating me—a nobody as far as you are concerned—with so much courtesy and respect. I really appreciate it! It does not go unnoticed. And it means all the more because you are so successful yourselves. I always remember these sorts of things, and I believe karma will be kind to you in the long run for your character and courtesy.    

Now...  I am nobody's fool. I have traveled to all 50 U.S. States over the course of my life and career to date. So I know from first-hand experience that there are all sorts of people (the good, the bad, and the ugly)  everywhere you go. The South does not have a monopoly on kindness, cheerfulness, courtesy, friendliness, respect, or athletic success—even if it comes close in that last category (SMILE). Moreover, we all know that nice guys don't always finish first.

Nevertheless, I've also experienced enough of the patterns shared above to know that given the choice, I will always choose to live and work (first) in the American South! And apparently 11 out of the 15 coaches and leaders currently reviewing the SAL Textbooks feel the same way!  

God bless the Sunbelt!

I am pleased beyond all description to announce that in just a few weeks' time, my wife, family, and I are off to the great southern State of Florida, which is where we will establish Freedom Focused headquarters for the next two decades, and where my eventual successors will likely continue operating from into the foreseeable future beyond that.

The fruit of our upcoming move to Florida began as tiny seeds planted long ago.

When I was a little boy in elementary school, I developed a fascinating fixation and fun-filled fantasy about South Florida. What makes it fascinating is that my daydream was both triggered and cultivated independent of any family members, friends, or teachers. No one in my inner or outer circle (at that time) had any connection to South Florida. Part of this growing fixation stemmed from my love of College Football and the famous Orange Bowl, played every year in Miami since 1935.

In fifth grade, we were assigned to write a unique fictional story. After we finished our stories, our teacher and other adult volunteers helped us bind our books in a makeshift manner to look as if we had created our own, published children's book.

My story was called "The Tale of Two Twins" and was the first "book" I ever wrote and "published." It was a story about two twins (inspired by my older twin brothers whom I greatly admired). From somewhere I cannot recall, I had heard the name of a city in South Florida that absolutely entranced me. The city was "West Palm Beach," and was therefore the city I chose for the setting of my story. I had never been to West Palm Beach before. Nor did I know anything about it, other than my (correct) assumption that it was close to a beautiful beach. Despite this fact, a very real metaphysical pull towards that part of the country began tugging on me like a magnet. 

Fifteen (15) years later, that same magnetic pull led me to marry a woman who grew up just two hours south of West Palm Beach. And seventeen (17) years later I would find myself on West Palm Beach itself one evening basking in the refreshing waters of the gorgeous Atlantic prior to teaching a professional seminar in West Palm Beach the following day.
Jordan & Lina Jensen Family
Homestead, Florida

December 2020

In coming weeks, my family and I will be moving to within a few miles of West Palm Beach, where we will set up Freedom Focused headquarters in the Sunshine State for GOOD!

We can hardly wait to get back to the South, bask amidst the blissful beaches and other natural beauties and bounties of the Sunshine State, and then do our best to spread the felicitous, infectious, and positive personality and cultural traits emblematic of Southern Hospitality in every other direction possible and as far and wide as we have opportunity to do so throughout the rest of our lives.   

Through my work with Freedom Focused, I am hopeful and determined to make Southern Hospitality more contagious throughout other parts of the country and world. 

Perhaps someday, "The South" will even be synonymous with Self-Action Leadership.   

I thank "The South" and its wonderful citizens for teaching me the art of these noble human characteristics and virtues, and pledge my everlasting commitment to share that kindness, caring, courtesy, hospitality, and respect with others wherever I go and to otherwise give my all to "be the change I wish to see in the world."

And now... back to my jr. high playbook for one final dedication. This time to The South herself! 

Click HERE to listen to Buddy Jewel's Sweet Southern Comfort.  

....................

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn about a NextGen 7 Habits and Road Less Traveled.  

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, just enter your email address on the upper right hand side of this page where it says: "Follow by Email." Then hit "Submit" and follow instructions from there. Doing so will provide you with a FREE article from Freedom Focused in your email inbox each and every week of the year on Wednesdays

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbook Volume I

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbook Volume II



No comments:

Post a Comment

Education, not Politics, will Save America

Present-day partisans, pundits, and citizens  alike too often value politics above education. For better or for worse—and it seems increasin...