Category Archives: Be different

Sustained Effort Makes Things Work…Rock Steady

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”
Winston Churchill

Throughout most of the 90’s, we held concerts at our water park in Central Florida. Water Mania was a new water park and was hardly a match for the much more established competitor, Wet-N-Wild. We did not have a big budget and needed to do something to make us stand out. So at great risk, we decided to hold concerts at our massive wave pool.

As a revenue source, it was unreliable and often times very costly. On one concert alone, we lost $50,000. The chance of rain was always a threat. The chance that not enough people would show up to cover the cost of the concert, was always a possibility.

As a security risk, it was challenging. We had to have scuba divers underwater in the pool to make sure nobody disappeared underneath the carpet of inner tubes. Our friendly water park staff had to make the transition to becoming tough security enforcers typical of concerts.

As a marketing tool however, it was effective. We were up against bigger attractions with multimillion dollar ad campaigns. It did not work over night but over the years, it did what it was supposed to do…it put us on the map. Many people who would have otherwise not visited our young water park, made their way out to hear the bands. For some, it is their first memory of the park and it eventually helped make Water Mania an icon in Central Florida.

scan0001Bachman Turner Overdrive

Kenny Loggins

Molly Hatchet

Bad Company


Greg Allman

The Outlaws

Little Feat

The Marshall Tucker Band


We closed Water Mania after twenty years of business in 2005. During the years that we did the concerts, we were constantly evaluating the risk reward tradeoff. It was tough on our family and staff but in the end, it was worth it. Sometimes simply sustained effort makes things work and it is not always clear while you are in the middle of doing it, that it is a good idea.

Consider your children. Sometimes it just seems like it is too hard to keep them pointed in the right direction, day after day after day. And then one day, they are gone from your home and on their own. At that point, you will know for sure what you already suspected…that every ounce of energy that you spent in their protection and development was worth it. Sure you have had a few bad nights and sure there will be more in the future but your effort made your family a family…you put your family on the map. You did your part…and it was worth it.

Would I do concerts again if I had a chance to start over? I would like to say yes but there is not enough rain insurance in the world to make my wife happy about it…so I guess the answer would have to be no…It was a dream that it happened and something that I will never forget. Sustained effort is what most of us need to achieve our dreams. Rock Steady.

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I Played In A Rock Band!

“I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you are uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.”
  Ashton Kutcher


I recently met my three college buds for our annual fishing trip in Florida. We have been doing this for more than two decades and are amazed each year when we are able to pull it off. Our wives not only allow this opportunity but encourage it because they know how good we are for each other. We play cards, fish, cook our own meals and talk about life’s challenges. Each of us comes away with a new zest for moving forward in a positive way with the things that are before us.

This year I planned something special. One of our group is an excellent guitarist who played professionally when we were young. I hired a band to come one night and asked them to let him play with them if he wanted to which they agreed. I kept it a surprise and as we prepared to finish fishing on the lake, my friend heard the sound of an electric guitar and said “that’s a live guitar”. I then told them what I had done and the rest of the evening was great. We cooked steaks and gator tail and listened to our own private band.


As the evening drew to a close it came time to get my friend to play with the band. As much as we encouraged him to play, he just wouldn’t do it. In an effort to loosen him up, I put my fears aside and jumped up and joined the band. Soon one of the other buds came up and played the bass and we had the time of our lives. I think that secretly it was something that I had always wanted to do and when the opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t resist.

My moment of glory turned out to be a happy moment for everyone involved. I think everyone enjoyed seeing me step out of my comfort zone and make a fool out of myself. The band played along and helped us and the folks watching stomped their feet and got in to the music. I am quite sure I wouldn’t sell any tickets but it made me feel great and my kids are sure proud of their father for trying something new.


Think of the things that you secretly would like to give a try before this journey is all over and step out of your comfort zone. It will put some rhythm back in your step and your true friends will be proud of you!

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Some Messes Are Better Than Others (A Lesson that Washington D.C. Could Learn)

“No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that the person sitting  across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”
Madeleine Albright



Recently my one year old grandson came to visit us in Florida. His mother made a cake for everyone with birthdays in March and, though the cake was delicious, the sweetest part of the evening was watching our grandson discover icing! Without concern for the mess he would leave behind, he just enjoyed his discovery almost as much as we enjoyed watching him discover it!

There is such a thing as a good mess and it is so much more tolerable than a bad mess. When I turn on the news at night it is so disturbing. Can the mass of egos and dogmatic fighting get any messier than what we see in Washington D. C.? Because I know that history has seen many a good man and woman go there to bring reason and common sense back to this country, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to operate in such an environment. Where are the diplomats, where are the servant leaders, where are the peacemakers, where are the grandfathers and grandmothers who know better?

I rode my bike this week listening to my ITunes. When I finished my workout at home and got off my bike there was a song playing that had a great beat. I found myself dancing in my yard. I felt so happy and almost carefree. I looked to see if my wife might be watching but she wasn’t. I would have loved it, if just for 60 seconds, she would have slow danced with me in the yard.

Maybe the good men and women in Washington need to take a breath, let down their hair or toupees and relax. There are pressing and important issues that are nearly impossible to solve, especially if everyone left their common sense and respect for people back in their hometown. If however, we could take the politics out of it and just remember how good it was to be around our friends back when we were young in our old neighborhood before life got so difficult and our opinions got so ingrained…if we could just stand still for a moment and have the grappling hooks of agendas and self righteousness removed from their deep entrenched place in our sagging pectoral muscles…if we could see our adversaries as our friends with just differing opinions…maybe we could have a reasonable discourse that actually solves some of the nearly “impossible to solve” issues facing our country.

I bet that many of our politicians have things in common that they never get to enjoy together because of the tension and partisanship that engulfs Washington. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day during a session of congress they just started playing “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Stairway to Heaven” or maybe had a “bring your grandbaby day”. My guess is if we could get these men and women to back up as far as they had to in order to find common ground, we might be able to access their brilliance in governing in a way that eventually moves us ahead as a country. We need to get them to a spot where they can laugh at themselves when they do a numbskull thing instead of trying to justify or rationalize it. For example, I, without shame, readily admit that it was folly for me to recommend, when I served on my high school student council, that we put cameras in the bathrooms to try and catch those students who were smoking. See…now the whole world can join me at laughing at myself and it didn’t feel so bad.

If we made a mess of things but it was with all of us trying together using common sense and working from common ground, I guarantee that it would be a much more tolerable mess than the one we see the country making now. Remember that whole “Love thine enemies” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” thing? That philosophy actually requires people to make significant personal sacrifices. It requires people to be peacemakers. My definition of a peacemaker is somebody who gives all that is required but more than what is fair and expects no compensation for the difference.

Come on grandpas and grandmas that serve in Washington…you know better. Be the first to reach out to your enemy and make them a friend. Save our grand kids. Save our Country. We can’t have our cake and eat it too but we can dip out of the same bowl of icing and have some fun together and make this country shine again.

bennieHighFive Your Life Principle: Grandpas and Grandmas in Washinton D.C. get together and show the world your wisdom and maturity. Dance a jig and share a salad or burger with your adversary and save the world.

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Otis the Pig

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
Winston Churchill

Otis was a gift from someone. He needed a home and I guess we wanted a pig. He started out in a pen but kept breaking out. Finally I stopped trying to contain him and just let him wander around our farm with the cows and chickens. Soon he took up residence underneath our old frame farmhouse and the Otis legend began.

photo (10)Can you believe this guy lived underneath my home?

Otis was just friendly enough to come when called, especially if it meant that it was time to eat. After most meals, any leftovers were taken outside and given to our hungry friend. You could hear him making his way from under the house seemingly with great effort. He would eat almost anything. He grew into a huge animal. A good scratch with a stick on his belly would soon cause him to roll over in a state of pig ecstasy. His hair was stiff and tough. There wasn’t anything cuddly or warm about him other than he was constant. He was always there. He wasn’t “kept” there…he was there because he wanted to be there.

What can we learn from Otis the pig?

Define yourself and don’t let others define you. It is that simple. I imagined him being a pig in a pen and Otis saw himself as a noble pig…a worthy pig…a…well, maybe I am taking it too far…maybe he was just a hungry pig but he still did not let me define him. He let me know how it was going to be until I finally said okay, be what you want to be.

We should do the same. Everything around us is trying to define us or describe us…to gauge our potential or likelihood of success. Everyone around us tries to define what our success should look like. Be bold. Define yourself and while being courteous and kind to those around you, choose your life and live it. Make Otis proud.

HighFive Your Life Principle: Be brave and define yourself or others will try to do it for you.

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Crossing the Wrong Finish Line….New Year’s Resolutions.


How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.

Benjamin Franklin

As I neared the finish line of my first ever half marathon my adrenalin overcame my fatigue and I felt like I got stronger. I wanted to finish well and I felt a surge as I got closer and closer to the line. When I got there I realized that I had misjudged and I was not at the finish line at all but still had another full block to go. I had to do a quick mental and physical adjustment and finally finished the race at the correct finish line.

This year as you are contemplating personal goals for 2014 consider a few following suggestions:

1. Make sure your goal is the right one for you…the correct finish line if you will. This takes a little more pondering and thought but should be ultimately much more meaningful. Instead of having a goal to lose 50 pounds, a better goal might be to live a more healthy lifestyle which includes exercise and eating healthy foods. It may include joining an organization such as Weight Watchers and attending faithfully their meetings.

2. Keep your goals short, simple and concise. A long drawn out explanation of support and reasoning and details of how you are  going to accomplish it could be written in a journal if you have time but in your new resolutions, precision and clarity in as few words as possible will probably work better for you.

3. Include in your resolutions a goal of gratitude. Thank you cards and expressions of love will bring you ample peace and love in return.

4. If you are a check list person give yourself a break. The goal is not to have a resolution and then check it off. The goal is to enjoy and grow from the process of achieving your goals and improving your situation.

5. The time line of a year is just something to help us wrap up our goals and tie a bow around them. It seems to help us to have a timeline but let’s remember that life is our timeline. Goals and resolutions that help us renew our zeal and zest for life are helpful. There is value in re-energizing and starting fresh. There is deeper value in finding a groove where your life gradually lines up with your philosophies  of life where what you feel and think are what you do and say.

HighFive Your Life Principle: Use the New Year to start fresh and continue the work of lining up your actions with your thoughts.

Tell a Story

“As His Manner Was”

Reading from the “Good Book” is a great source of inspiration and wisdom. In the New Testament in the book of Acts chapter 17 the Apostle Paul is described in a way that should give all of us pause to think. It says:

“And Paul, as his manner was, went unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.”

In other scriptures regarding Paul it says:

“Paul was pressed in the spirit and testified that Jesus was the Christ.”

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God”

There is no question that Paul was a worker…a person driven by his new knowledge of the Savior and a person that did not have any time to waste. He sought out opportunities to engage and to testify and those around him knew that about him…therefore the descriptor “as  his manner was” was a simple observation by those who knew him.

You and I also “have a manner” about us. You should not care about what people think or say of you but that does not mean that people don’t think about or speak about you. What are people saying about you? What would follow the statement:…. And (your name here), as his/her manner was, did ………what?

Would they say that you are honest, hard-working, pay your debts, are nice to people who don’t deserve it..would they say that you are a peacemaker..a person that gets it done?

Or would they say that “as your manner was”, you didn’t return what you borrowed, you were once again not on time, you were not prepared, you stretched the truth, you didn’t do what you said you were going to do….need I go on?

Doing the right thing is not to make sure that people speak kindly of you. Indeed, sometimes doing the right thing makes people speak unkindly of you.

We do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. When you make the right choices your character and your good name will be whispered and then shouted out even if nary a word is said. People who cross your path will just know that this is your “manner”…the way you are and that it is good.

The HighFive Your Life principle: Stand by your principles and choose the right things in life regardless of the chatter around you. Your “manner” will speak for itself.

Tell a Story

When Do I Follow the Tracks?

 The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost


On a recent outing to Moab, Utah we rented jeeps and ventured over incredibly beautiful rocky hills. You could easily see the black tire tracks of the many who had traveled there before. As we climbed the steep hills in the lowest gear in four-wheel drive we often times could not see the ground in front of us. We had no idea what waited over the precipice but only knew that there were tire tracks that lead us there and continued over the horizon. It was very unnerving at first.

Over time we began to trust the tracks more and more and we picked up speed and became a little more daring. What a blast we had following those worn trails over those rocks. It is an experience I won’t soon forget.

While there is wisdom in following well-worn paths that lead us safely through life, we also need to be careful that we don’t miss the opportunity to make our own paths from time to time. It is not necessary to discard centuries of time-tested principles to always chart our own new course. However, we should, as an equal principle in life, sometimes take the road less traveled and leave our own tracks on this earth. As in most cases, there is a balance that must be struck between opposing principles. Finding that balance is part of the invigorating challenge of life.

My dad used to always tell me as a child to be different. As I have grown older I see the wisdom in his counsel. He was not telling me to abandon all common sense and isolate myself in my own little world. He was telling me to live life to its fullest and to not be afraid to chart my own path. I think it is good counsel for all of us. Thanks Dad.

HighFive Your Life principle: While there is wisdom in following well-worn paths that lead us safely through life, we also need to be careful that we don’t miss the opportunity to make our own paths from time to time.

Tell a Story