A Man, a Ledge, and a Plan

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In an effort to have a little fun this week, I thought I’d share a humorous little story from my childhood (you saw my #MondayMotivation Chalk Talk post on Tues, right?). This story is printed in a fun little book I did with my brother in 2015 called “Patio Wisdom,” which is full of humor and quite a bit of wisdom. My brother, aka The Patio King, was fearless. Fortunately for my Dad, he also appears to be both lucky and apparently indestructible! Enjoy this little diversion from the day’s seriousness and have a laugh on me.

Each year, Mom and Dad would pile us all into our blue 1972 Plymouth Satellite wagon and head for Colorado to escape the August Texas heat.

The trip began at “o-dark thirty” with Dad loading my brother and I onto a bed made for us in the back seat. We would drive all day, stopping at a small town on the border of Texas and New Mexico like Texline or Dumas, for a short overnight before the push into southern Colorado. We explored the Rocky Mountains, bouncing from KOA campground to National Forest campground in our Coleman Ticonderoga pop-up trailer.

There were plenty of adventures for young boys to have: exploring ghost towns, abandoned gold mines, tourist trap roadside curio shops, and even the occasional Native American pueblo or village. We panned for gold, rode horses, hiked remote mountain trails, and swam in icy mountain streams.

It was on one of those trips that I almost killed the Patio King before he could grow up, and it involved a granite cliff and a narrow trail. Well, it wasn’t entirely my fault, though I certainly had a hand in it—and not exactly a trail, either. It was kind of a ledge. Actually, it was more of a narrow crack in the rock. To me, however, it was a mountain trail heading up the cliff face for an easy climb.

There we were, on the rocky bank in a narrow ravine with a crystal clear mountain stream somewhere in the wilds of central Colorado: me, Tony, and Dad. We’d gone down to the stream to wash our hair and relax. Dad made sure each of us bathed in the icy water (hey, it was the Seventies, who knew?), and after we were clean he set about washing his own hair. In the few minutes that his eyes were closed and his hair full of baby shampoo, I spotted a crack in the rock wall opposite me and decided to see how far up I could climb. It looked like it went all the way to the top.

I told my brother to “wait here” and then started my ascent. It was easy at first and I was thirty feet in the air before I realized that the crack didn’t go all the way to the top. When I turned around to go back, there was Tony about fifteen feet or so below me, blocking my return. Just as I was about to ask Dad to get Tony to turn around, he saw us. As a father, I can now appreciate the thoughts going through his mind, but at the time I was thinking, “What’s he so bent out of shape about? I got this.”

Sure I did. Three stories above sharp granite rockfall, perched on a narrow 8 inch ledge, and unable to do anything but keep going up, we were in far more danger than we realized. You see, Tony refused to turn around, and the ledge/crack/trail was the only way down. I tried to get over the top, but couldn’t get a grip on the sandy edge. Dad kept his cool though, told us to wait, and hanging onto a pine branch to steady himself at the precipice, pulled us one after the other over the top and to safety.

It was a quiet walk back to camp. After he caught his breath, the only thing he could get out was, “Don’t tell your mother.”

We didn’t.

 


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams, Mickey’s Rules for Leaders, and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and writes for his own blog and GeneralLeadership.com.

 

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Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Road Poetry

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Been too long

Since I pointed the compass out of town

Too long since I raced the sun

It’s time to hear the engine whine

And listen to those tires hum


Like what you’re reading? Get more Patio Wisdom at the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Life is Like Coffee At Work

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Life is a lot like coffee at work: sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and sometimes you should just be happy to have it at all.

Having some perspective on life and being satisfied with “who you are” is the cornerstone of Patio King’s wisdom. If you can’t be comfortable in your own skin, you’ll waste energy on things that don’t matter and miss things that do. Reach for the stars, but don’t miss life wishing for something that can’t happen.


Like what you’re reading? Get more Patio Wisdom at the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Not a Good Day to Die

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Starting Bike
Photo by Johnny Davis Photography

While stationed in Germany, Tony attended the European Harley-Davidson Super Rally over Memorial Day weekend. It was Europe’s version of Sturgis, South Dakota, and that year it was in Austria. He’d had been recovering from a bout of bronchitis but he wasn’t going to miss what could be his last opportunity to attend a rally in Europe.

So it was: the Patio King found himself on a Sunday afternoon recovering from a crazy night of bikes, choppers, beer, bonfires, and making new friends in a field in Austria. While sitting on a picnic table enjoying the bright sun and the view of the Alps, he began to cough. When he couldn’t stop coughing, he stood up to try to get some air. He bent over, again in an effort to clear his lungs, still coughing like he’d forgotten to breathe.

Tony woke up lying flat on his back, with a crowd gathered around him and a US Army medic nicknamed “Medic Mike” kneeling over him. Tony blinked and then looking around asked, “uh? What’s up?” Astounded at the rapid recovery Medic Mike replied, “Dude, you died!”

His friends then relayed the story. Apparently while coughing he’d collapsed and had respiratory failure which led to cardiac arrest. After bystanders noticed him blue faced and without a pulse, Medic Mike saw the commotion and sprang into action. He cleared Tony’s airway and performed CPR to revive him.  No one knew for sure how long he’d been down, but probably no more than three minutes.  It was then that the realization that he’d actually been dead for a few minutes struck him.

But you can’t keep the Patio King down, so he looked up and paused for a moment, blinking hard. Tony then asked for a beer. “That is when everyone knew I was going to be OK,” he said later.


Like what you’re reading? Get more Patio Wisdom at the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Parenting Advice from a Six Year Old

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Parents get advice on how to raise their children from lots of sources–sometimes that’s from their kids. One of my very favorite stories about my brother happened when he was very young, perhaps four or five, but certainly no older than eight. In the 1970’s there were few real shopping malls in Fort Worth. When we went shopping with Mom, we all piled into the blue Plymouth and went downtown to one of the city’s larger department stores like Cox’s or Montgomery Ward’s.

Mom and Dad always taught us to be gentlemen and to hold the door for ladies, so when Tony arrived at the door to the Leonard’s department store ahead of a lady shopper, he sprang into action.

plymouth-satellite-custom-station-wagon-03Even as a very small boy, it seemed my brother was perpetually in trouble. His exuberance and curiosity usually got the better of him, and so he broke things occasionally (well, a lot). It was fairly common when we were young to hear a parent roaring from another part of the house that Tony had broken something. Candidly, the broken things around the house weren’t always his fault, but it happened often enough that everyone in the family seemed to think it was. For my part, I was happy to let him take the blame instead of me! Tony would get his revenge, however, if only by accident.

Gentleman Tony dutifully held the door open for our mother and the lady shopper. Taken in by the cute little boy holding the door, the lady shopper turned to my brother and exclaimed loudly enough for Mom to hear, “My, what a lovely thing to do! What’s your name, young man?”

My brother pulled himself up to his full three and a half foot height and, beaming, replied with the name he’d been called so often he believed it to be his own, “Tony Dammit!”


Like what you’re reading? Get more Patio Wisdom at the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Today Is Going To Be Good

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20160212_071531

Two pages of obituaries today and I was not in them going to be a good day.


Like what you’re reading? Get more Patio Wisdom at the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Outstanding In His Field

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Back at Texas State Line

I’m going to go stand outside so, if anyone asks, I’m outstanding.


Like what you’re reading? Get more Patio Wisdom at the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Knuckle Busters Teach Lessons

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If at first you do not succeed, then you should do it like I told you in the first place.

Remember that wisdom is hard won, usually through a few bloody noses and broken bones. For the apprentice, the wisdom from the man with scarred knuckles could keep said apprentice from having the same scars. Of course, if the apprentice doesn’t listen…

There’s a lesson for the master and journeyman as well. If someone allowed you the chance to scar your knuckles to win that wisdom for yourself, then it could profit your apprentice to suffer the same knuckle scrapes. The trick is not to let the apprentice get truly hurt. After all, if the apprentice gets laid up, who’s gonna get the coffee?


Like what you’re reading? Check out “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Bike Patterns

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Astride Bike

Had a friend tell me long ago that I didn’t buy motorcycle parts, I bought patterns. I’ll be damned if I don’t hear his voice every time I try to buy something nice for my bike.


Like what you’re reading? Check out “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Plans C, D, E, and F

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On the jobLife is full of plan B, a lot more plan C, and the occasional plans D, E, and F.

Success in life is due to a combo of luck and hard work.  When luck fails, you have to be able to work harder!  The Patio King has always been willing to work hard to make ends meet. He also understands you can’t always get things “you’re way”…life is not Burger King…so those Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe talks about are honest ways to make a living. For those willing to work hard, there’s the satisfaction of a job well done—and a paycheck to go along with it. Of course, men like the Patio King are the ones who do those tough and unglamorous jobs, to make life pleasant for the rest of us.


Like what you’re reading? Check out “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Black and Chrome Rocks

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Bike at SunsetYou can never go wrong with black and chrome.

This one always makes me smile! The Patio King inherited my Dad’s love for all things “motor,” and he’s good at it! I can work on machines, and do it when I have to do it, but PK really loves getting his hands greasy. In his life he’s had a lot of jobs working on cars and bikes, and it’s not uncommon to find a bike in various stages of assembly in his back yard, his garage, his kitchen…

Really, though, it’s the love of the open road and the thrill of being astride a powerful machine that I think thrills him. Too bad Jack Kerouac has moved on to the Great Route 66 Diner in the Sky–I think he and the Patio King would’ve gotten along famously!


Patio Wisdom is a humorous book to inspire the unconventional and traditional mind alike. Find “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Thank You Thieves and Buyers

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Two years ago, I lost everything of monetary value, either stolen or sold. I’ve never been happier in my life than I am today.  Thank you to all the thieves and buyers.

When you are down on your luck, it’s easy to blame others. It takes a big man–and a hearty helping of God’s grace–to see adversity as a blessing. So it was the Patio King posted this comment on his Facebook page, after bad luck and maybe even some less-than-good decisions took a bite into the stuff he possessed.

Instead of seeing a lack of “stuff” as a handicap, the Patio King found it an opportunity to be free. That kind of thinking is often in short supply, especially for those who have much. It reminded me of the story of the rich young man in St Luke’s Gospel. In the Gospel story, Jesus asked a rich young man to give up his riches to follow Him, but the young man walked away sad because that was hard for him to do.  If we can give up everything and still find happiness, then I think we’re living a good life. It means we value our relationships and the ordinary pleasures of life much more than we value the “things” surrounding us.

That’s Patio Wisdom in a nutshell.


Patio Wisdom is a humorous book to inspire the unconventional and traditional mind alike. Find “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Being Here–And There, Too

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On the town…with the Patio King. I wonder if we can find Miss Subways?!

No matter where I go, I always find myself there.

The Patio King has always been a master at being “in the moment.” While I was rushing around from place to place, he always seemed to have the mindfulness to be present where he was, and with those around him. Good advice for all of us–find yourself where you are!


Patio Wisdom is a humorous book to inspire the unconventional and traditional mind alike. Find “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Patio Wisdom:Plans C, D, E, and F

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On the job. The Patio King knows the value of hard work!
On the job. The Patio King knows the value of hard work!

Life is full of plan B, a lot more plan C, and the occasional plans D, E, and F.

Success in life is due to a combo of luck and hard work.  When luck fails, you have to be able to work harder!  The Patio King has always been willing to work hard to make ends meet. He also understands you can’t always get things “you’re way”…life is not Burger King…so those Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe talks about are honest ways to make a living. For those willing to work hard, there’s the satisfaction of a job well done—and a paycheck to go along with it. Of course, men like the Patio King are the ones who do those tough and unglamorous jobs, to make life pleasant for the rest of us.

Like what you’re reading? Check out “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Introduction to Patio Wisdom

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Last year, I edited and co-wrote a book with my brother–the Patio King. He has a great sense of humor and I thought a book with his humor, awesome photos, and a few stories of my own would speak to people. Let’s just say the response has been underwhelming.

The content is just too good to let languish, so I began blogging the book over at PatioWisdom.com, and in the interest of reaching another audience I’m going to cross-blog it here as well each Tuesday.  It’s not “leadership” per se, but the Patio King has a unique view of life and some poignant and even inspiring thoughts–with a little quirky humor thrown in for good measure. So, without further adieu…

image2This blog is about life’s lessons and humor…seen through my own and my brother’s eyes. Tony, aka Patio King, and I grew up together, albeit 4 1/2 years apart, and standing us side by side you’d be forgiven if you didn’t realize we are brothers.

He’s tattooed and leather clad…I’m aloha shirts and khakis. He’s pony tails and blue-collar work…I’m military crew cut and Air Force officer.

But despite the outward differences, we have many of the same values. We also share a deep affection for faith, for family, and for Texas.

What I hope to share in these pages is Tony’s wisdom, born of a hard-working life, and a little of my own life lessons as well. All with a hardy dash of humor and a lack of taking ourselves seriously! After all, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, and our circumstances, when things are rough, then we’ll never have the fortitude to smile when things are good.

My brother has always been a free spirit, and throughout his life Tony has simply charted his own course. He has our family’s notorious stubborn streak, as well as a very creative mind and sharp intellect to go with it. Some might see the sometimes leather and tattoo-clad exterior and underestimate Tony.   That would be a mistake.

My brother is a big­-hearted and talented man. He’s worked hard his entire life, often at multiple jobs in order to make a living. We served together in the Air Force for four years, although in different units. During the time I was learning my craft as a junior officer in Idaho, he was repairing Air Force vehicles during the week and riding motorcycles around Europe when he was off duty. Tony completed his service in Germany, mustering out with the rank of Sergeant. A man talented at working with his hands, he’s been (in no particular order): a car mechanic, a paint/body mechanic, a bartender, a plumber, an oil field worker, a custom motorcycle assembler, a motorcycle mechanic, a custom green house assembler, and a line cook in a food truck. He’s traveled all over Europe and America, mostly by motorcycle, and had some amazing experiences. In another age, he might have ridden with Jack Kerouac.

We grew up in 1970s Fort Worth, Texas, as part of a working class family. Dad was a draftsman at General Dynamics and Mom was a teacher at our neighborhood Catholic school. We went to the same school, so Mom had both of us as students for the sixth grade. Tony inherited Dad’s love of all things “car” as well as his artistic talent. He also inherited Mom’s capacity to dream big and love deeply. The world we grew up in was much simpler than it is today. It was a place where young people went outside and did things: a universe we explored on our bikes and later in our cars.  We explored together a lot, and then as I grew older I left him behind more than I should have.  Looking back now I wish I’d brought him along a lot more.

Somewhere along the line, Tony picked up the nickname “Patio King”—from a party, I believe. To this day, whenever I hear that nickname I immediately picture my brother on the back porch with a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon in his hand, surrounded by friends and telling stories.

Tony might offer an explanation for his wanderlust or maybe none at all because it’s none of your business, but he’s my younger brother so that gives me some license to try to explain.  I believe his passion comes from a zest for life. Tony has always wanted to immerse himself in life—in short, to live fully and completely. He’s always been curious about how things work, which led to a lot of machines ending up in pieces in our garage as we were growing up. What’s more, he’s been brave enough to try and figure it out on his own. He’s certainly lived and loved at full throttle. The number of people that call him “friend” is testament to that courage and passion.

The words in this book are Tony’s thoughts, quips, and photos over many years, with a couple of my stories thrown in for good measure.  I have to say that I’m glad you’re my brother, Patio King.

Like what you’re reading? Check out “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Patio Wisdom Tuesday: Get Something Done

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Don’t get mad at me for yelling at you: Go get something done.

When you have a bad day at work, or anywhere for that matter, you have two choices to deal with it: get angry and stomp around, or get something done. I prefer the latter!  You can’t control other’s thoughts and words, let alone their actions, so why let someone else steal your joy away. Get mad, get over it, then go get something done.

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Like what you’re reading? Check out “Patio Wisdom” in the Lulu Store and at Amazon.

Check Out My Newest Blog: Patio Wisdom

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Announcements, Books, Patio Wisdom, Pure Inspiration

Check out PatioWisdom.com! I’d originally intended the blog “Patio Wisdom” to be a static page as an intro to the book by the same title. Patio Wisdom is a fun book I believe will inspire young men, and can be an inspiration to any one who’s a student of the School of Hard Knocks. Life isn’t always fair, but it can be fun!

I had fun doing the project with my brother. I hope you’ll enjoy the blog!