From the “The Principles and Patterns of Building… Everything!”
A BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC Masterclass Series
Over the past couple of blog posts, we have focused on the primary topic: “The Principles and Patterns of Building… Everything!” In previous posts, we’ve covered four principles in the Law of Organization:
Dream. Imagine. Explore ideas.
Choose a single area to focus on.
Begin with the end in mind.
We did worksheets that helped us identify each of the four principles and we set at least one goal or objective to focus on. Now that we are organized in our minds, we know what we want and we have written it down, it’s time to transition into the second law, the Law of Preparation.
An Overview of the Law of Preparation
The Law of Preparation has four phases:
Evaluate your resources. What do you have around you to work with that will help you accomplish your goal or objective?
Brainstorm your options. After you’ve evaluated all the resources at your fingertips, what are your options moving forward?
Choose the best option. Now that you know what your options are, based on your resources, what is most viable? What is most believable and workable? What is realistic and doable right now?
Develop a plan. Learn how far out to plan. How often will you evaluate your progress? Who will you report to? What measurements will help you know how well you’re doing? How will you deal with distractions and disruptions? How will you know when to adapt your plan, if needed? How will you know how to adapt your plan, if needed?
Everyone Has Resources
Everyone has resources. A resource is any source of supply or support within your access or influence. It includes all means available to you. Your resources are all your available means: physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. Your resources are your keys of preparation. When you know what you have access to immediately, you can make immediate decisions if needed. When you know where your tools are, you won’t waste time wandering. The purpose of this blog entry is to help you identify your resources so you are ready to not only capitalize on unexpected opportunities, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to make opportunities for yourself from your own means.
When Eleanor Roosevelt was born in 1884, American industry was exploding. Born into connection and wealth to Elliott and Anna Roosevelt, Eleanor was exposed to travel, comfort, and financial stability throughout her younger years. But before her tenth birthday, recorded at the website firstladies.org, she would lose, to death, not only her mother and younger brother, but also her father. Only she and another younger brother remained to be raised by her strict grandmother on her mother’s side.
Despite the wealthy circumstances of her life, Eleanor was no stranger to the cruel shadow of addiction and infidelity inflicted on her family by her father who, before his death, struggled with alcoholism and drugs, two stays in asylums, and an illegitimate half-brother conceived with one of their family’s servants. Despite what others on the outside would call “privilege”, Eleanor grew up quickly. As a young woman and into her marriage and later life with Franklin Delano Roosevelt (a distant fifth cousin sharing the same last name), she committed her time, education, and influence to easing the burdens of those who also suffered the effects of addiction, betrayal, and broken lives.
In the preface of her Autobiography, Eleanor shares valuable insight into one of her guiding life practices which relate to the Law of Preparation:
Note that she doesn’t question whether or not opportunities will come; she refers to “when” they will appear, not “if”. They will come. They are inevitable. Also embedded in this little piece of wisdom is the key mindset of those who prepare: they use “whatever means [they] may have, however meager [those means] may seem.”
Preparation, then, is directly related to the resources--or means--at our fingertips and our potential to gather additional resources, not just when we need them immediately, but also as we anticipate opportunities that will arise unexpectedly or which we work to create for ourselves.
What Exactly are Resources?
A resource is:
any source of supply or support, or
any available means.
This is so big and vast we may hardly know where to begin! Let’s break it down into what I call hard and soft resources so we can get a firmer grasp on what is available to us both collectively and individually.
What Types of Resources are Available?
There are 2 primary types of resources: hard and soft. Hard resources are quantitative--that means they are countable or measurable, their limits are easily discerned because their boundaries are finite. There are 5 hard resources: time, money, energy, skill and abilities, and physical tools. Soft resources are qualitative--that means they are measured by quality, a far more difficult measure to standardize. Additionally, soft resources are not finite, they are infinite--they resist humankind’s attempts at measuring them because either the boundaries are unknown or the quality is subjective to the viewer. As we go, let me give you some examples of both hard and soft resources. By the way, this list is not meant to represent a definitive list, but rather serves to illustrate the difference between the types of resources available and give us a foundation so we can categorize our own resources later.
Let’s look at each set of resources more closely.
We all have hard, or quantifiable, resources. For simplicity's sake, I’ve boiled them down to 5.
Time: Let’s start with the resource of time--specifically earth time. It’s the easiest to measure, and the only resource we all share completely equally. Harvey MacKay said what we all know: “We all start out in life with one thing in common: we all have the same amount of time. It’s just a matter of what we do with it.” How do you use your time?
Money: In her book Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, Ayn Rand wrote: “Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” Money is an interesting and often emotionally charged topic. Its excess can be as equally damaging as its deficiency, few people ever find themselves satisfied with what they have, and the amount is constantly in a state of flux. However, it can be measured at any given point, so it can be considered a hard resource. As Rand indicates, it is a resource we universally acknowledge, the question is, how do you use your money?
Energy: While it can vary, not only throughout our day but through the stages and seasons of our life, we can get a sense of how much of it we have at any given time. We know when we feel energized. We can tell whether or not we are physically up to a specific task even though that same energy may vary from hour to hour or day today. We all have varying degrees of physical energy. How do you use yours?
Skills & Abilities: Larry Bird, the now retired professional basketball star and coach, said of skills: “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.” He recognizes that we all begin with a talent, this could be classified as a soft resource because it is unmeasurable or is subjective, but the skills and abilities that are developed because of talents are easy to discern. Skills and abilities are measured in business dealings by both degrees and certificates, and by related experience. All fields of study, work, and living--homemaking, entrepreneurship, parenting, art, science, technology, etc.--are blitzed with evidence of our or others skills and abilities. How do you develop and use yours?
Tools: Tools refer to any of the physical instruments we use from industry-specific equipment like the baker’s ovens to the data scientist’s computer models, and the astronomer's calculating machines. Each industry, each task, has tools associated with its trade requirements. Do you have the tools you need? Can you be creative with the tools you already have?
A Tool for Measuring Hard Resources
With the exception of time, hard resources are often in flux. They are changing. Money gets spent and needs to be replenished or reinvested, skills lay latent and need updating from time to time, tools break and need repair or a replacement. You get the idea. As you embark on a goal or objective you need to know what hard resources are at your disposal. This exercise may help:
Evaluating and using our hard resources give us countless opportunities for creativity, quick thinking, and resourcefulness as we prepare to accomplish our goals or work toward our objectives. But there are more assets at our fingertips: our soft resources.
Just like hard resources, we also all have a unique combination of soft resources. Again, this is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but it is intended to give you an idea of what soft resources look like and how they function in our lives. I’ve included 6: ethos, logos, pathos, desires & intentions, understanding & wisdom, and potential.
For greater clarity, let's briefly look at each:
Ethos: Ethos is your reputation and character especially as it relates to credibility. There is a difference between those who sound like they are in authority and those who are in authority because of what they have learned, practiced, and become. When you do choose to speak, do others listen, including those opposed to you? Are you known as the voice of reason and intelligence? Do others come to you for unsolicited advice because they trust you? These are the elements of ethos, and ethos is a vital, if uncountable, resource.
Logos: Logos relates to your ability to reason correctly and communicate effectively. Can people easily follow your train of thinking or do you lose people in your conversations easily? Are you able to be persuasive because of the order and sense of your speaking? When first practicing law, Abraham Lincoln was a great failure. He lost just about every case that landed in his inexperienced lap. Of his later influence in oratory and in law, Lincoln attributed his success to his study of Euclid’s Elements, a compilation of “a set of formal logical arguments based on a few basic terms and axioms, provided a systematic method of rational exploration that guided mathematicians, philosophers, and scientists well into the 19th century” (Britannica.com). As the story goes, Lincoln, after delivering an impactful speech, was asked by the Reverend John Gulliver in early 1860, to explain his unique speaking style. This is an excerpt of that event:
As the pair took their seats in the carriage, Gulliver asked Lincoln about his remarkable oratory skill: “I want very much to know how you got this unusual power of ‘putting things.’ ” According to Gulliver, Lincoln said it wasn’t a matter of formal education. “I never went to school more than six months in my life.” But he did find training elsewhere. “In the course of my law-reading I constantly came upon the word demonstrate,” Lincoln said. “I thought, at first, that I understood its meaning, but soon became satisfied that I did not.” Resolving to understand it better, he went to his father’s house and “staid there till I could give any propositions in the six books of Euclid at sight.”
Lincoln’s ability to organize his thoughts and present them to others has become iconic. Vestiges of this great art remain in American high schools today as the Lincoln-Douglas debates and are used by the National Speech and Debate Association among other notable associations.
Pathos: Pathos refers to the strength of your connections and the depth of your humanity. It includes your ability to “read the room” meaning to accurately assess the mood of a given person or group of people and respond appropriately. Going back to the example of Abraham Lincoln, we see an illustration of the full effects of his influence by developing all three of these soft resources--ethos, logos, and pathos:
“One of Lincoln's greatest strengths as a lawyer [ethos] was to take complex cases, parse out the key points, and simplify it in court [logos]. This and his talent for offering persuasive arguments [logos] while reading the mood of the jury [pathos] was of great benefit to him during his law career. His simple, friendly, and relaxed demeanor [pathos] was also helpful when speaking to witnesses or during cross-examinations.” (rosenfeldinjurylawyers.com)
Desires and Intentions: Desires and intentions include what you want, why you want it, and what you are willing or able to do with it. It’s just that simple despite its deeply private and often complex nature. What you want and why you want are powerful motivators. Because it is difficult to measure, I label it a soft resource, but resource it is all the same.
Understanding and Wisdom: Understanding and wisdom take a great deal of intention to nurture. They include how you correctly interpret and use the knowledge you have and is evidenced by choices, behavior, and use of judgment. It is doing the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time, with the right knowledge. What could go wrong?!
Potential: Who can measure another human’s potential? Who can even measure their own?! This is why life is so sacred. Man can neither weigh nor measure the value, influence, or potential of anyone else’s life--including their own. This is beyond any person’s ability and belongs solely to God.
A Tool for Assessing Soft Resources
To help you categorize and assess the quality and strength of your own soft resources, this may help:
Let’s close out this blog with a quote by Ken Robinson, a British author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts, who reminds us that:
Our soft resources are the power tools of our influence and productivity. Though they’re often hard to accurately measure from outside eyes, we have a great capacity to know ourselves, our thoughts, and our intentions through honest, frequent, and kind self-evaluations. Maybe, while reading this or doing the exercises, you’ve thought of some hard resources you’d like to develop or increase that will help you reach your next, most important goal. Maybe you’ve recognized a deficiency in your soft resources that would enable you to reach that next objective if addressed. Whatever your challenges or lack there are also assets, tools available right now, and opportunities to use what’s right in front of you. Don’t forget or diminish them even if they aren’t ideal or as much as you’d like right now.
This Fall--Septemberish or Octoberish--I’m looking at dates to host BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC’s first-ever overnight workshop/retreat in Utah Valley, Utah! We’ll have a fantastic lineup of impactful workshops, yummy food, a movie night, and a gift for each attendee. We’re still putting together the pricing, location, and agenda because, well...this is our first! We’d love to know not only if you’d be interested in meeting the BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC team but also if you’d like a chance to learn from some incredible mentors and thinkers. What are some of the topics you’d like to know more about as you are learning to create a more beautiful life? Where are you stuck and need greater support or inspiration than you have now? What would you want to talk to me about, if anything?
Please message me! I’m on Instagram at beautifullivingsystems and at the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please get ahold of me; I’d love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…
Heather Roberts Butler
Founder and CEO of BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC