Week 19 – I love(ed) My Blueprint(s)

Did you ever stop to wonder how we ended up here? Here as in “HERE” doing what we are doing, living where we are living, loving that which we love, struggling with our struggles? Our path to the now has been creating as well as been created by “our blueprint”. Our belief system, our thought processes, and how we react to our environment. According to Mr. Haanel, we draw the environment to us, making it quite difficult to blame the circumstances surrounding us for our troubles. We can only blame ourselves.

This package of thinking we hold in our head (or – some may argue in our heart, rightfully so) that carried us here has been referred to as our “old blueprint”, with progress to a new way of thinking and living being dependent upon disposing of this faulty programming. I am not qualified to do this, but I am about to challenge how many of us think about this process (and I have to thank Daniel H. for helping think this through).

I remember sweeping the floor of a dingy auto body repair shop “free gratis” with the hope of being asked to stay around to learn the trade. My blueprint of that day is what carried me to a labratory as a graduate student in Electrical Engineering. I remember walking out of a wonderful Engineering design facility in Phoenix, walking away from a successful career, allowing my Blueprint to carry my young family and I back to Nebraska, to family, with me completely unaware that in a few short months I would be holding my father’s hand as he breathed his last. An experience I wouldn’t have if my Blueprint had not taken me away from that job.

So why refer to this past way of thinking in any sort of negative way? If I speak of my old blueprint in derogatory terms, somehow I am discrediting me, the me that got me where Me is today. Now I understand that there are things in life that any one of us would rather be without (or maybe with), but how about thinking in terms of “getting better” instead of “getting rid of”?

I love the old blueprint that took me from a slacker, barely passing my sophomore grade in highschool math to an A student in college calculus and physics. I love the determination my blueprint exhibited as I labored to build the house I now live in, have raised a family in and am perfectly happy to end my days in. I love the blueprint that took me from what could have been a depressing career repairing office equipment to a rewarding career designing world-class scientific instruments. I love the blueprint that took me from what could have been a drinking habit to maybe two or three beers per year.

There have been stacks of blueprints in my head. I love all of them, they all served their purpose. Each better in some obscure way than the previous model, each serving a need, taking me somewhere I needed to go. Our work in this MKMMA class is about learning how to change a blueprint, accelerating this change, and observing the things that need changed to achieve a goal. All VERY valuable, but for myself to abhor the old blueprint – I ain’t gonna do that. I love Me, warts and all.


Hah – you think you’re gonna change ME?

Now, I do know that the blueprint in there now will have to change. It has some issues which need resolved. Tomorrow it will be slightly different than today. The next day, different again. And as long as I understand that I am in charge of the improvements, and can significantly alter how I think about myself, where I am going and how I treat people, then I KNOW I will love the next Blueprint as well. The Big J. is helping us make these blueprint revisions much faster, and I am eternally grateful for his unselfish work.

The last line of my DMP is:

     “I love my life”

Does that mean everything is perfect? Absolutely not. But it is definitely getting better.


Week 18 – Ed Kinney liked me.

To summarize my experience to date with the MKMMA journey – I am happy. I have always been a positive sort of guy (OK – always is a stretch, but you get the idea) but I feel happier, more “tuned into” my surroundings, paying more attention to feelings than I did before this class. A day doesn’t go by that my wife & I make comments like:

Are you asking my expert opinion? (accompanied with some chuckling)

That was kind… (of you, or them).

That is OK, they are where they are supposed to be in their life.

Being content, happy with what happens. Happy knowing the outcome will be OK.

Last week we were to read an obituary or two each day. Presumedly to get us thinking in terms of our legacy, something I have never done much of. Then last Friday I awoke with this week’s blog in my head. I had not started thinking of what to blog, this was just “given” to me. Funny that I had written “Ed Kinney liked me” on a gratitude card a month ago, maybe Ed is reminding me that an important part of our legacy is the memories we leave with others. Memories of him certainly came back to me after all these years……

Ed Kinney was a farmer in central Nebraska. I met him when I was a young boy at my father’s gas station. Dad’s gas station was located on the edge of a town of maybe 130 people surrounded by corn farmers with a few raising cattle or hogs. The spot where everyone went to get their gasoline back in the days where we washed the windows & checked the oil and tires for free, when gas cost 28 cents a gallon. Ed was a life-long bachelor, lived in a run-down single wide trailer house and drove his tractor everywhere he wanted to go. Ed was no more than 5′ 6″ tall and kind of scrawny with the skin of his arms and face tanned dark brown from years under the Nebraska sun.

Ed was a hoot. His volume levels were either whisper or shout and he was exuberant about life. When you spoke with Ed he looked you in the eyes, fully connected to every word you spoke. Although he never finished school (he may never have attended any for all I knew, his signature was limited to a crude “X”) he was masterful of his crops and the weather. Oh, and of his tractor.


John Deere 2020, or as Ed would say “trinny – trinny”. The one possession of value held by Ed. He drove it everywhere. His trips were timed to fit into his farming and the destination determined by the week’s needs, and they were day trips, meaning he spent most of the day at the lucky location. He would arrive at the gas station when the tractor needed some attention or he needed to pay his bill (this was the age when people got gas or an oil change or a tire repair, and left, with us attendants recording the transactions, no signature needed). His arrival was announced by much shouting and hollering and laughing, and usually some jumping or shoving for good measure. Although he didn’t have much, he lived a full life with many friends. Some people didn’t much care for this old man wearing bib overalls having spots of dirt or grime, old round-toe boots, unkempt hair and skin with the powdery Nebraska soil ground into the pores of his face. But Ed liked everybody.

He would be sitting in the shop listening to the other farmers bitching about corn prices or the weather or the latest government official, and when it got quiet for too long Ed would spring to his feet and holler “I’M GONNA KICK THE BUCKET!”, which was always followed by “tch, tch” a sound he made not unlike what a rancher uses when coaxing a horse out of the barn. Ed could jump up, land on his knees on the concrete and bounce back on his feet, then run up to you, usually much closer than most people are comfortable with, look you deep in the eyes and whisper, “how do I look, do you think I’m gonna make it?”. I cannot remember a day when Ed arrived and didn’t announce to everyone that he was gonna kick the bucket. If the group of farmers which we there when he arrived left, to be replaced by others, he made sure they knew as well.

I don’t remember when, but someone started a game we played with Ed, much to his despair. Since we knew he would be at the shop for the day we started hiding his tractor when he wasn’t paying attention. Out behind one of the buildings, or sometimes wedged between two pickups where he couldn’t get it out by himself. Ed would moan and holler and plead, all the while laughing or trying to shove someone against the wall as if this little man could strongarm them into releasing his prized tractor. Then one of us would take Ed to the local grocery store to help him pick up some essentials for the week (usually limited to canned goods and a loaf of bread).

Ed was the poorest person I have ever known, poor in the sense of not having any material things beyond his beloved tractor. He always wore bib overalls and boots, he was always dirty and lived in a trailer house that should have been burned to the ground. I remember one blustery winter day when he arrived and I thought he was going to loose his ears from frostbite as he only had a seed corn cap on his head (for those unfamiliar, the seed corn companies always gave baseball-style caps having their logo on them to the farmers as a way to advertise. Usually thin to keep one’s head cool in the summer sun). I had one of these stupid hats that was ugly green, quite heavy, fur lined & had earflaps. I gave it to Ed and you would have thought I was a long lost brother. He wore that hat every winter thereafter.

Then, when I was in high school, Ed kicked the bucket.

I don’t remember much about that spring, I suppose due to being too involved with school and more “important” things to worry much about than this farmer who wasn’t going to get to plant another crop. I stayed at the gas station the Saturday of his funeral to allow the older guys to attend. It turns out there wasn’t anyone who could remember a funeral in Wood River Nebraska with half as many people in attendance. It would seem that Ed spent his free days at other gas stations, other grain elevators, other shops, hollering and laughing and entertaining everyone. Jumping up and shouting  “I’M GONNA KICK THE BUCKET! tch, tch”. He had LOTS of friends.

It took a few years to sink in, but I think Ed taught me a few things. Not to say I am good at them, but I’m working on them.

          Look people in the eye when you talk with them.

          Everyone likes laughter. Make them happy.

          Be happy with what you have.

          Take good care of your tractor, it may be the only one you get.

Thank you Ed.

Week 17.5 – I am one of a kind

In this chapter of “The Greatest Salesman in the World”, Mr. Mandino is trying to get us to believe that we are special, unique, valuable, a miracle. Some might argue that it is a miracle I have made it this far (in life, not the class…..).

This morning I awoke with the thought to put into this space filled with Masterful Minds something which would energize me, cut off the easy retreat to a life of comfortable indifference, to share my cards….

So be it. I am learning to not only listen to but to heed that inner voice, Mr. Intuition. So here goes, a list of all of my cards whichI have written regarding why I am special, perfect in every way. The proof of my uniqueness will be in your replies.

I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

I am an outstanding electrician

I shook hands with Harold Edgerton.

I have seen men wearing wooden shoes.

I have walked down the railroad tracks.

I have cried at a movie.

I have been an excellent manager.

I have been to the top of Pike’s Peak.

I keep a gratitude journal.

I rode on Goliath.

I scratched my name on the bluff above Rock Springs, Wyoming.

I can print black & white.

I know how a laser works.

I flew an airplane solo on my 16th birthday.

I have been to Holland.

I graduated from High School.

I am a good plumber.

I have cut down a tree.

I know how to use an oscilloscope.

I have a great sense of humor.

I lived at Stuhr Museum.

I have replaced the battery in a cell phone.

I am an excellent tutor to college (and high school) students.

I can ride a bike.

I saw The Blue Man Group.

I can type.

I have seen shooting stars.

I have repaired cameras.

I graduated from college.

Ed Kinney liked me.

I synchronized the carburetors on a Jaguar.

My mom is proud of me.

I crawled through the storm sewer.

I keep my cars clean.

I have been to Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

I am on the cover of TN News.

I have seen dolphins in the wild.

I have given a bird a bath.

I have a graduate degree.

I have grown orchids, keeping them vibrant for years.

I can be very creative with my test equipment.

I saved a bunny in the window well.

I am a great photographer.

I had $135,000 in cash in my Blazer (a story for another time).

I have unloaded barrels of oil from a semi trailer.

I can read a vernier scale.

I have seen a whale.

I can use a 10 key keypad.

I passed 3rd grade (barely).

I have disassembled & repaired computers.

I witnessed the births of my beautiful daughters.

I made coffee today.

I am good at math (much to the surprise of my teachers).

I have changed the oil in cars and trucks..

I have held a WWII Japanese sword.

I painted my blazer.

I gave the old man a ride home to get his car.

I make a great cup of coffee.

I have driven 140+ MPH on a motorcycle.

I won a cruise.

I can develop film.

I make friends easily.

I drove the PCH from San Francisco to San Diego.

I am a good mechanic.

I am good at painting the interior of homes.

I have a $20 gold coin.

I helped an officer in need.

I have been to the top of the Cabauw Tower.

I went pheasant hunting with my Dad.

I can read & write.

I can fly a model helicopter (sort of).

I climbed trees.

My dogs loved me.

I have seen several tornadoes.

I drove a State Patrol car (yet another story).

I designed and built a beautiful home.

I can cook.

I do an outstanding job of washing windows.

I am a skillful and safe motorcycle driver (see above).

I have fixed tractor tires.

I can repair refrigeration systems.

I know how a slide rule works (but I am not proficient at using one).

I can sew.

I visited Florida.

Puppies like me.

My name is on a patent.

I went to a Papal Mass.

I can write software.

I can fix almost anything.

I rebuilt an engine.

I am a good writer (my teachers would not believe this).

I am good at cleaning floors.

I am a terrific father.

I drove Doug to the hospital after he broke his arm sliding into first base (idiot).

I designed an IC.

I rode in a hot air balloon.

I did EMP testing on a military radio.

I can set an irrigation tube (a lost art).

I share my tools.

I have lots of friends.

I can repair tires.

I can design digital circuits.

I can draw.

I have replaced the battery in an iPod.

I am good at using a computer.

I am a great shot with a pistol.

I cut my hair using a FlowBee (and I look great).

I am great at finding my way around.

I designed a world-class light sensor.

I have held a luna moth (I didn’t even see one for over 50 years of my life, then this guy wanted me to hold him!)


Some of you will have similar cards, but there won’t be anyone claiming to have all of these same sentences on their cards. Which means, both you and I are nature’s greatest miracle.

We are all connected, all on a never ending journey.  And Yes, you are Perfect.

Week 17 -Grandpa, when I grow up I want to be……

Funny thing, children can know exactly what they want to be when they grow up, but as adults we generally forget. Sometimes intentionally forgetting that which we dearly wanted as a child but have dismissed for any number of reasons. I can’t do that, I don’t have the money, nobody will believe me, I am too old, I am too ………………..


Cement. We slather a coating of cement over our dreams to smooth out the edges and make us look like everyone else. Of course, once in a while we catch a glimpse of one of those fortunate souls who have figured out how to shed these cloaks of anonymity. We see a glimmer of hope, and usually our percieved reality snuffs it out before we can protect the delicate flame, smoothing on another layer of cement to make us look “normal”.

When I started this journey with the Fabulous Mark and Dynamite Davene I was sort of drifting along without a definite purpose. When asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, I was at a loss to answer. Mr. Hanscom asked me repeatedly as if he was poking the cold embers of a fire long out, searching for a spark.

In 1989 at the age of 32, with a family to take care of, I developed a dream. We had moved back to Nebraska to be closer to family but I needed a job more solid than what I had been able to find. My dream was to be a Professor of Engineering at the University. I have always enjoyed helping students with their studies and seem to have a knack for explaining things in a way that “clicks” with the student. I could see this as becoming a passion, a love of teaching. So, back to Grad school.

Only to discover that it doesn’t work as expected. Teaching doesn’t seem to be valued nearly as highly as research which brings money into the University. The absolute best Professors from a student’s point of view didn’t correlate very well with those having the highest credentials and most research contracts. Then I discover that if I receive a PhD from this school, I would most likely not be allowed to teach there (we want to bring in fresh knowledge). The dream quickly faded. Kept ever so faintly alive by helping children of friends with their studies both at High School as well as University levels. (OK – I did get the graduate degree, and a great job, but those are not “dreams”)

So as Daniel prodded me for my big dream I kept drawing a blank. I felt there were some pieces floating around in my brain but they didn’t seem to fit together in anything resembling much more than graffiti. Then in one 24 hour period it all came together.

Our reading of the Master Keys this weeks talks about intuition – read it carefully, then again, and again. Listen to the quietness, let it “flow”, be open, be at peace, keep doing your sits daily, and BAM. There will you be, slapped in the face with an idea. Just like Mr. Smee in the movie “Hook” when he says, “Cap’ain, I’ve ad an apostrophe”.

My wish for all of you is to keep with this class, keep up with the work, be kind and listen for that dream. It is whispering………….

Day whatever of a never ending journey. I love my life!

Week 16 – Musings

After nearly a week of struggling with a cold, I am trying to get a handle on things…


Our world can always use a little kindness. It got a big dose this week as the MKMMA Team poured out kindnesses and watched diligently for it in others. Random acts of kindness performed with abandon. It makes me feel good to know I had just a little part in this.

On occasion at the fast food drive-thru I have paid for the car behind me and then hoped I can get my food and drive away before the folks behind me discover the good deed. My wish is that they will pay for the car behind them, and on and on. It probably stops when the car behind owes more than the one at the window. I know I have paid 3 or 4 times what I ordered for the car behind me. I always decide I am going to pay for someone else’s meal before I know who is behind me. Sometimes I get nervous when a van pulls in behind me…..

The MKMMA Team is over 1/2 way to the finish line. A number of folks we started with have decided this course wasn’t for them, I wish them all the best. For those of us who have stayed with it I often wonder what fabulous changes will happen in our lives. I personally have grown tremendously over the last 16 weeks and Dr. J has instilled in me some habits which I am going to try hard to retain. Daily readings, control of my thoughts, looking for virtues I need to improve upon, thinking of where I want to go in life and just plain treating people better – mom would be proud of me.

And there is still more………………….

Week 15 – Where are we heading?

At any given time do we really understand where we are heading? At the park I can walk in a straight line towards the water fountain but may step in a mud puddle along the way. Starting in a different direction to avoid the puddle will have me miss the fountain completely if I walk in a straight line. At an early age we learn to “navigate the curves” to go from where we are to where we want to go while missing where we don’t want to go. Continuous correction of our trajectory.

What seems like a LONG time ago, The Big J. challenged me to ditch my nice watch and instead replace it with a compass. Dang. I like my watch. Timepieces in general fascinate me. Well, at least those with a dose of mechanical fiddlybits inside. WatchSpring01One can look at a coiled watch spring tightening and unwinding, tightening and unwinding, over and over, shrug the shoulders and say “cool”. But have you ever held a watch spring in your hand? Unless you have tugged on one and accidently turned it into something looking more like a slender parasite you will have no understanding of how delicate they really are. They are mechanical marvels. How someone can take a thread of spring steel and turn it into a smoothly decreasing radius curve is beyond me. Well, maybe one or two, but thousands of them? And cheaply enough to be included inside a watch selling for less than $50? Crazy.


Anyway, The Big J. says to get rid of the watch. So, I get rid of the watch. A quick trip to the discount store uncovers an inexpensive camping compass – perfect. Now, how to attach it to myself. I am enough of a nerdy Engineer that a piece of wire around the wrist probably wouldn’t raise any eyebrows at work, I know for a fact that having socks of different colors won’t even elicit a casual response. However, given my superior sense of fashion (well, at least for an Engineer) I went with a watch band. The band being attached to a watch with a dead battery. Cool.

When asked what time it is I can now show someone my wrist, and say that while I haven’t a clue as to what time it is, I do know where I am going.

Then something interesting happens – I wear my “good” watch one day, and everytime I look at it my mind is thinking of my compass! Another case of trickery by that teacher of ours who knew this would happen! My wrist will never be the same. I think I have only been without my compass two days in the last couple of months, my wife thinks  I can save a fortune on watches.

Back to the curved path in the park….

I am beginning to think of my BHAG (Darren Hardy’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal) as being at the end of a convoluted path. This class taught by the Fab Davene & Mr. J. had us trying to figure out where we want to end up in life, what we lovingly call our goals (disguised as a Definite Major Purpose). Most everyone by now has something written down, some did this quickly, some (like me) took a fair bit of time. Recently I have been questioning the DMP I have in place as it at times doesn’t seem to invoke the earth shattering emotion it did initially. I am beginning to realize that while I may have a valid, genuine goal, the path to it is not going to be a straight line. I need Captain Jack Sparrow’s crazy compass. Wait, we all need that. Because the path to where we want to end up is a convoluted mess and most of the time appears to be lacking a map.

Yesterday another chunk of cement fell off when I realized one of my goals which is beginning to loose its luster IS real, but needs to be looked at in a different context. A new path.


Ah – once again The Big J. comes thru, the map is buried in our subconscious! Yup, it is there with all the detail necessary to have a smooth trip to our personal Nirvana. My problem is the window I have to look through is so damn dirty I can’t read the map very well.

How could I have spent so much time worrying about having clean windows in my car while allowing my connection to my real self grow so weak? Oh well, even a filthy car can be brought to showroom condition with enough elbow grease.


Day 102 of a 182 day journey,  stay the course……

Week 14 – We fall, and we get up…

I greet the first day of 2016 with my 6 month old granddaughter smiling at me, happy, content, full tummy, warm house, clean clothes, no worries. How blessed we are.

This evening I watched The Good Lie, a story of the journey of 7 children torn from their home in Sudan during the war fought there in the 1980’s. I find it hard to write this after seeing just a glimpse of what others go through to live in the country we take for granted. Makes me feel like Scrooge.


The determination of these children to persevere against staggering odds sets an example for anyone who thinks they are fighting an uphill battle. They had a pretty well defined goal in mind:

“I want to live, I do not want to die.”

To see a hungry child give a portion of what little food they have to someone in worse need, where they gave when they didn’t have any to give, and later received in abundance reminds me to be generous. Give knowing we will receive. Being reminded of that which we take for granted, that which others don’t have, it makes my list of goals seem almost selfish. I have this feeling my list will be changing.

Barefoot children in a war torn country, hungry, sick, carrying a Bible, and singing. I will hold that vision of their positive attitude next time I feel the world is against me.

I seldom watch TV, and have probably only watched two movies this past year. However, I must give a sincere Thank You to the Big J. for guiding me to watch this movie. I think some cement fell off tonight.

The Big J. is a good Chief.

We fall, and we get up.

We fall, and we get up.

We fall, and we get up.

We fall, and we get up.

We fall, and we get up.

We fall, and we get up.