Sunday, August 12, 2012


I now share something with quite a few of the Tour de France riders this year—a tack that caused a flat tire. Mine, unfortunately, also caused me to crash. As I was finishing a 30-mile ride on Tuesday evening, I turned left onto Apex Peakway going about 20 miles an hour. I did what I normally do—I turned my wheel and leaned into the turn. Rather than turning, my tire slid out from under me, I hit the pavement, and the person behind me ran into me as I slid across the road. 

I later found this thumbtack in my tire. A front tire that is flat or has low pressure doesn’t give the necessary traction to facilitate a turn and thus led to my crash.  Other than some bruises (including a nice tire imprint on my right butt cheek) and some road rash, I am fine. The other rider messed up his chin, but did not get any stitches and is fine as well. Our bikes were unharmed and we rode together again on Saturday.

As I was tipping over and starting to slide, I remember thinking, “Not again!” and “Why me?” I was mad at both myself and the situation. I felt rather put upon. I also felt bad that I had caused someone else to be hurt. Generally, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

As we grabbed a bite to eat afterwards at Rudino’s, the wife of the guy who crashed into me said something like, “It could have been worse.” That was scant comfort, but I had to admit she was right. Over the next few days, I thought about what she said while listening to folks jokingly call me clumsy and recommend that Susie take out more life insurance on me.

Should I have been more thankful that nothing serious happened? Or, depressed that this stupid thing had happened to me? While a few bruises and scrapes are not that big of a deal, the principle applies to much of life. Pollyanna or Eeyore?  

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Folks often seem to think Paul is saying be thankful for everything, but that is not the case. He is not telling me to be thankful that I crashed, but to be thankful that the consequences were mild.

Going back a little farther in the chapter and including verses 16 and 17 yields these commands – Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks. Those are three things that I find hard to argue against. I need to do a better job of incorporating all three into my daily life.

No, I am not Pollyanna. But, I do have MUCH to be thankful for. I will concentrate on being more aware of those things.

Besides, the crescent-shaped bruise on my cheek is sort of attractive…

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I didn’t build that

A number of folks have joked to me over the last couple of weeks something along these lines. “Obama says you didn’t build that business you co-founded.” Generally, I’ve laughed off the comments or said that I’d like to see the full context of the quote before commenting. Beneath the surface, however, I have been offended. We’ve worked really hard to create Principled Technologies.

Here is President Obama’s quote in more context (from here--the full quote is worth reading):

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The Olympics seem to be awash with political ads of Obama trying to put this quote in a more favorable context and Romney doing the exact opposite. My opinion was somewhere in between—I could see what Obama might have been getting at, but at the same time I was offended that he was belittling what we have accomplished. I did build that!

On my flight back from California last week, I was reading a book by John C. Knapp—How the Church Fails Businesspeople (And What Can Be Done about It). It included the following, written well before Obama’s line:

Abraham’s acknowledgement that his wealth comes from God is echoed throughout the Old Testament in the refrain that it is arrogant to take credit for one’s own success. There is little room for the modern ideal of the “self-made” person. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

This morning at church, my pastor used the same scripture in his sermon. Gulp. I am guilty of taking credit for my own success.

I don’t think that Obama was calling for us to give God credit for our success, but the end point is the same. Whatever success I (and you) have had is due to the help of many others, and ultimately to God. I am blessed and have been blessed and need to keep that in mind. At best, I can use the line from the old Shake and Bake commercial, “And we helped!”