Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - Don't be Wrong Long


"Mistakes happen. It's OK
to be wrong. Just don't be wrong long." 
Frank Day


Back in the 1980s I was Vice-President and Trust Officer at Trustmark National Bank. The CEO, Frank Day, was a great champion of integrity and attentive customer service. He taught that, given the nature of humans and machines, things will sometimes go awry. But when they do, it's imperative that we spring into action to address the problem and redress any harm done as soon as possible. Call today, not tomorrow. Go to your customer, tell him the truth, and figure out how to make him whole. Mr. Day's mantra still rings in my ears: "Don't be wrong long."

Sometimes the hardest part of fixing a mistake is acknowledging it in the first place. Pride kicks in and we stonewall. We sweep the problem under the rug, deny we did anything wrong, pretend it didn't happen, act like it's no big deal, avoid the person injured, or blame it on someone else. Each one of those reactions ratchets up the tension, exacerbates the damage, and increases the cost and difficulty of cleaning up the problem in the long run.
The old saying that "a stitch in time saves nine" is factually and mathematically correct, especially when it comes to personal relationships. Postponing reconciliation increases the infection and allows the wound to fester, making it nine or ten times harder to eventually heal. The sooner we own our mistake, reach out to the person aggrieved, and search for ways to make things right, the easier and less costly it is to patch things up.
Thank you, Frank Day, for teaching me this potent principle, relevant both in business and with people: "Mistakes happen. It's OK to be wrong. Just don't be wrong long."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - Perfectly Well-Intended and Totally Useless


"Don't ascribe to evil what can be attributed to well-intentioned stupidity."
James A. Owen

Orlando International Airport can be confusing, especially on busy days or when international flights arrive. For security reasons beyond me, arriving international passengers who have already cleared customs must still be cordoned off from domestic passengers. TSA undergoes unbelievable gyrations to effect this separation, and in the process they create a bewildering maze that can baffle even well-seasoned travelers. 

I returned home to OIA on a recent Sunday morning. The airport was jammed with theme-park and cruise-line tourists in the midst of their weekly shuffle: one batch coming in, another batch going out. International flights were still arriving, so that huge crowd was navigating the TSA labyrinth. In the midst of this congestion, I was approached by a Middle-Eastern gentleman asking in broken English for directions to "Terminal B, Level 2" where he was to meet his contact.
I had just been reading about the Good Samaritan in my daily scripture study, so I was eager to help him. I explained to my new acquaintance that "Terminal B" wasn't another building but only the south side of the main terminal building. We just needed to turn right when we exited the security area and walk a few dozen yards to get there. I was headed that way, I said, so he could follow me.
When we got to the escalators, I told him to go down one floor and he would be at "Terminal B, Level 2." He thanked me profusely and we parted. I rode the elevator down to the parking garage tunnel, feeling self-satisfied for my kindness to a total stranger. Not quite a "beaten and robbed and left to die on the side of the road" story like in the Bible, but nevertheless a small act of compassion toward a needy traveler.
It wasn't until I got to the parking garage that I realized I had turned the wrong way coming out of the TSA maze and I was in the "A" side of the terminal. I would have to go back up to Level 3 and across the building to find my car. But worse, I had left my new acquaintance in the wrong place. I raced back to help him but he was nowhere to be found. I hope he eventually found his contact. But to my chagrin, my well-intended act of service turned out to be totally useless.
        * * * *
There's a lesson here for all of us. Be careful who you hire or accept help from. Good intentions matter, but even the best of intentions cannot overcome ignorance, incompetence, or faulty assumptions. Laudable motives are great, but only when the person is also capable and well-informed. Whether we're performing acts of service or hiring professional assistance, we must look beyond good intentions.  

        * * * *

Scott Farnsworth is an Attorney at Law and a Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and President of two companies: SunBridge, Inc. - An international advisory group for financial advisors and estate planning attorneys and Personal Asset Advisors - a Central Florida based retirement planning group. He is an expert on Social Security Maximization and Tax-Free Retirement. Feel free to email Scott at to help you with your needs.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - A Blessing in Disguise


"Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away hunger."
Saint Basil


A story is told of an unfortunate sailor who washed off his ship in a heavy storm and found himself stranded on a deserted island. He expected to be quickly rescued but after a few days realized that no one knew he was there. He set to work starting a fire, building a little hut, and crafting some simple furnishings and tools to make his life more comfortable. Months went by. One afternoon he returned from foraging for food to find that his fire had destroyed his hut and all his possessions. In anger he pounded the sand and cursed God for abandoning him.
In a few hours, however, he was astonished to see an approaching ship coming to his rescue.
"How, after all this time, did you find me?" he asked.
"We saw your signal fire."
* * * *
I had a similar but far less dramatic experience recently.
Several weeks ago we scheduled and advertised a series of "Tax-Free Retirement Workshops" on different dates in several locations around Central Florida. Each event attracted a number of registrations, with the sole exception of the one at Lake Nona. NOT ONE PERSON - NOT A SINGLE SOUL - registered to attend that session. Previous workshops in the Lake Nona location had been well attended. Residents of Lake Nona were registering to attend the workshop, but in other locations. Why was there no response? There was no plausible explanation. Puzzled and disappointed, we cancelled that session.
As it turned out, the intended date of that session was Thursday, October 6, 2016. On that evening Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on Central Florida. If that workshop had remained on the calendar, we would have had a real mess on our hands. Instead, we were free to focus on keeping our families and homes safe. Someone, it seems, was looking out for us.
* * * *
Sometimes blessings come in strange packages that look like punishments or setbacks. Sometimes we are being cared for when we think no one cares. Perhaps we are always being showered with tender mercies that our physical eyes are unable to see. 

Scott Farnsworth is an Attorney at Law and a Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and President of two companies: SunBridge, Inc. - An international advisory group for financial advisors and estate planning attorneys and Personal Asset Advisors - a Central Florida based retirement planning group.  He is an expert on Social Security Maximization and Tax-Free Retirement.  Feel free to email Scott at any time to help you with your needs. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - Giving Voice to Gratitue - Expressing Appreciation


"Pro tanto quid retribuamus? For so much, what shall we give in return?"   
City motto of Belfast,


Being grateful for our blessings is an essential key to personal happiness. Of all the things to be grateful for, among the most important should be the people in our lives. Appreciation is the act of expressing gratitude to those we love. Through appreciation, we give voice to our gratitude. 

I'm grateful to my dear friend Nancy Kline, author of Time to Think and More Time to Think, for teaching me a simple and powerful formula for telling a friend, family member, or colleague what I admire or appreciate about them. She calls it "The Three S's."
Succinct: Don't go on and on, just say in a sentence or two a quality or character trait of theirs you like.
Sincere: Speak from the heart; be honest and real and don't try to overdo it.
Specific: Vague generalities ("you're such a nice person.") don't carry any weight-say precisely what you admire about them.

Giving gratitude by expressing appreciation is one of the sweetest ways I know to lift two lives with the same motion - mine and the person I appreciate. What an efficient way to make the world a better place!

In answer to the question, "for so much, what shall we give in return?" I say, start by giving appreciation; a succinct, sincere, and specific expression of gratitude to those you love.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - Planting a Garden is an Act of Faith, as is . . .


"It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season."

Kate Morton

I planted my fall garden this weekend.

As I tucked the fragile young transplants and the minuscule seeds inside the dark soil it occurred to me that planting a garden is an act of faith. We gardeners believe that the miracle of germination and growth and photosynthesis will happen yet again, that with a little water and sunlight and dirt, and a measure of tender care, these tiny seeds and seedlings will produce delicious food and beautiful flowers.
So, believing in things not seen, we move forward. Having faith means we see the unseen; then we believe; then we act. Our loving labor turns our vision into reality.
Thinking more broadly, I realized that many other endeavors are acts of faith.
Planning for retirement.
Starting a business.
Taking a new job.
Moving to a new city.
Enrolling in law school.
Building a new house.
Beginning an exercise program.
Getting married.
Having a baby.
All of these first steps - and a thousand more I could name - involve stepping into the unknown, believing that our efforts will return sweet rewards. A successful life requires moving forward in faith.
Then, thinking about gardening in an even larger sense, my mind latched on to this passage by L. M. Montgomery from the Anne of Green Gables series:
"It always amazes me to look at the little wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in 'em," said Captain Jim. "When I ponder on them seeds I don't find it hard to believe that we've got souls that'll live in other worlds. You could hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn't seen the miracle, could you?"
Just as I have faith that planting and nourishing a garden will yield an abundant harvest, I also have faith "that we've got souls that'll live in other worlds," worlds grander and far more glorious than this one. That faith leads me to believe in a future I cannot see, and then to act on the principle that my purpose here in this life is to prepare for the eternities.
I'm a "little wrinkled brown seed," yet I know in my heart that "there [is] life in them tiny things" and there are "rainbows in" me and those around me. I'm destined to become something of eternal significance, as are you and all my other brothers and sisters here on Earth.