trombones build character.


Reading Time: 2 minutes. 

As I am sure it is hard for many of you to believe, I was bullied as a grade schooler…as a middle schooler…as high schooler…and even as a Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. I can remember as far back as 3rd grade when my closest “friends” would wait for me, and my trusty duct taped bungee corded trombone case, with rocks in hand. The last 100 yards to the entrance of General Billy Mitchell Elementary were my equivalent to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. With my trusty trombone in one hand and my hand-me-down Nikes strapped to my feet I would dodge left and right, up and down as a heavy barrage of incoming rocks flew directly towards me. The goal of the Germans…I mean my friends, was to hit my trombone case and knock it out of the clutch of my hands, however, more often than not they hit me. Once I was able to successfully (on some days) or unsuccessfully (on most days) navigate my way to the entrance, I was met by an eager group of soldiers/boys (the ones that had most likely missed me with the rocks) ready to push me into a large pricker bush, which was conveniently placed right next to the entrance. I would proceed to bounce in and out of that bush until the bell rang and we were all let inside; that bell was a godsend.  Over time, I was able to adapt to these hellfire mornings by timing my arrival to about 30 seconds before the bell rang and than proceeding to sprint to doors in an effort to make it to class in time (I got real fast). Nevertheless, that dash was also a challenge, because more often than not my trusty trombone would find a way to break free from the duct tape and bungee cords and end up sprawled out onto the concrete. I often wonder if I would have been safer or “cooler” without that trombone…

My “friends” and I could tell you countless stories, about how I was bullied and picked on throughout my entire life, some of it maliciously and other times out of “good fun,” although I very rarely found it fun. It went even as far as sacrificing my two front teeth one rainy morning due to some “inadvertent” bullying. You can imagine how heart broken I was not having to carry my trombone to school until they were fixed.

Although getting picked on or bullied has its negative consequences, the positive that is born from it is often overlooked.

I truly believe I would not be where I am today without the help of my bullies and trombone. At a young age I was forced to learn to think critically, make wise choices, and be brave because my life, and the life of the trombone (what little was left), depended on it. My goal, then, was to find a way to be accepted. So instead of giving up and cowering in a corner, I did everything I could to stand out academically and physically amongst my peers. I worked harder and longer to ensure I could develop what limited talent (compared to my peers) I had, into something at least above average. Survival of the fittest, right? When I failed or succeeded, and people proceeded to tell me what I can’t do, or that I “sucked,” it made me work harder, and eventually achieve more.

It was not until very recently that the amount of positive feedback I receive began to out weigh the negative. And frankly, I am worried about how I am going to handle that shift. I thrive off of negative energy, because it is always my goal to find a way to turn it into positive energy; It truly has been the catalyst to all of what I consider to be my successes.

Although my goal to become “accepted” has long since past (result = unsuccessful), as I found it to be an idea (at an early age) which was truly unbounded, I have come to realize that it had a purpose during its time. Without bullies there is no acceptance goal, because everyone is equally cool, and everyone is safe. But the world does not work that way, there will always be someone faster, stronger, smarter, wiser, or richer than you, and because of that there will always be negative energy (it’s science i.e., protons and neutrons); it’s the balance. Bullies are a part of that balance, and will be to the end of time, so instead of investing time in finding ways to stop bullying let’s start investing our time in ways to overcome, grow, and thrive from it. Otherwise, we may find ourselves unprepared or unseasoned which could lead to getting beat up in a really bad way.

Life’s not about being safe or cool, its about taking risks, pushing your limits, making a difference, and carrying a trombone.

Be Wise.Rigged.Brave.



Be Industrious, not a SLACKER.

Reading time: 3 minutes.


I recently read an interesting blog post. Dave Ramsey reposted a bunch of statistics from a best selling author Tom Corely at

Proverbs 10:4 says, A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. ESV

To be diligent means being industrious with steadfast application, and a showing of care and conscientiousness in one’s work.

Slack means to be loose and limp.

The Tom Corely blog post:

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week. 23% of poor do this.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% for poor.

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% for poor.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% for poor.

8. 80% of wealthy make happy birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for poor.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor.

12. 79% of wealthy network 5 hours or more each month vs. 16% for poor.

13. 67% of wealthy watch 1 hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% for poor.

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% for poor.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up 3 hours before work starts vs. 3% for poor.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% for poor.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% for poor.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% for poor.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in life-long educational self-improvement vs. 5% for poor.

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% for poor.

———————————————————-End of Corely’s post ————————————————-

There is a lot to think on here, and even more to talk about concerning the income gap between the rich and the poor. But I am not going to write on that today, rather I am going to take the list and look at it objectively.

Reading through the list, I found that I do about 3/4 of what Tom Corely has listed as the things the wealthy do every day (some do not apply to me because I do not have kids). So what does that mean? Does it mean I am not wealthy…or does it put me in the middle-class? Or does it prove my hand is slack at times…I will be honest, my hand has a tendency to be slack at times, but regardless I am still rich…in happiness.

It’s not my goal to be wealthy, but it is my goal to be successful at everything I pursue, when I earn success, I am happy. The great thing about success is that it is subjective, and the best thing we can do is define it for ourselves and not let others define it for us. If obtaining some wealth is a part of that journey,  then so be it; the more I have the more I can give (financially). If it is your goal to be “wealthy” then what is listed above are all great ways to help yourself achieve the goal of being financially stable. The list can also act as a great resource to use when building balanced checklist for your life. The actions cover a portion of the Physical, Mental, Spiritual, and Social balance I believe everyone should strive for.

To attain balance and achieve success in anything we choose to pursue, we must remain diligent. The endurance it takes to accomplish goals can be tiring. But I can guarantee it is not as enervating as what someone in poverty or that has unbounded debt experiences daily.  We do not choose where we are planted or how fruitful the soil in which we are planted in can be, but we do have choice when it comes to making the daily decision to continually get better. If you are not working to get better you are getting worse! 

One final thought: In no way am I trying to say all who are poor are slackers. The majority of poor people are not slackers, just planted in tough environments of cyclical poverty and poor decisions. However, there are a lot people who are poor because they are slackers, that see no problem with being lazy (limp) and/or taking hands-outs. Nevertheless, it is not my job to sit and judge them for the reason they are poor. It is however my duty to serve them, unconditionally, not matter my present financial situation. 

Deuteronomy 15 says, You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land. ESV

Sometimes the process of getting better involves sacrificing things you believe you are entitled to. Be industrious (like your great Grandpap was), do not be a let your hand have any slack, even if it means surrendering things you enjoy (i.e., comforts) for an extended period of time. Do not forget to remain balanced.