– Do not despair, try writing a list of the positive things in life instead.

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I was having a cigar with a good friend recently where we were lamenting about the state of affairs in our government, business, and the country in general. It’s easy to be negative when events do not turn out as you expect them. However, I made the observation people tend to overlook the blessings in their lives, those events, however large or trifle, somehow had a profound effect on our lives. I then started to enumerate mine:

FAMILY – I was fortunate to know both sets of my grandparents, and one set of great-grandparents. I listened and learned from them. My parents were go-getters in business and in life generally; they were a hard act to follow. I was incredibly fortunate to find a wonderful woman who has put up with me for over 30 years. I quickly discovered when you take a wife, you also take her family and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her side. More importantly, I was present for the birth of my children, which was a life altering experience for me. To watch them grow up to become fine people, and graduate from school, that is hard to top. Both my wife and I made an effort to become an important part of their lives. It may have been hard work, but it was certainly rewarding.

ENTERTAINMENT – I was lucky to see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964 and watch their “Mania” turn into a phenomenon. Although I saw many rockers over the years, in 1968, I had the rare privilege of seeing Jimi Hendrix in Cincinnati and Rock and Roll was never the same for me. I also enjoyed different tastes in music and was lucky to have seen Frank Sinatra in person near the end of his career. I visited Las Vegas before it grew into a family environment and saw some great acts, including Don Rickles and the Smothers Brothers in their prime.

SPORTS – As a youth I watched hockey, basketball, football, baseball, and the Olympics. In football, two players left an indelible impression on me, Joe Namath of the Jets (offense), and Dick Butkus of the Bears (defense), both revolutionized the game. I also have fond memories of our High School football team, not just winning games but the camaraderie involved with teamwork. To this day, I occasionally have dreams of “suiting up” for a game. As to baseball, I was a Yankee fan as a kid (early 1960’s), but more importantly, I was privileged to witness the rise of the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati, culminating in World Series championships in 1975 and 1976. They had four MVPs on the team, a multitude of Golden Gloves and Silver Bats, many All-Stars, and four Hall of Famers (including Rose). I do not believe the world will ever see another team like this again, which is why my interest in baseball is waning. I was also privileged to coach Little League over the years, both boys and girls, and watch my kids grow into fine adults. One last thing, I was lucky to see the great racehorse, Secretariat, in the Kentucky Derby.

FISHING – I fished a lot in the streams of Connecticut as a kid, and did my share of salt water fishing, but it all pales in comparison to fly-fishing in a fresh water stream. I have had the rare opportunity to fly-fish in various parts of the country. North Carolina is where I currently fish, but I have a special place in my heart for Montana.

SPACE – I grew up watching NASA’s Mercury program and knew the names of all of the astronauts. This was followed by the Gemini and Apollo programs, culminating with landing on the moon by the crew of Apollo 11 in July 1969. The world was transfixed on the landing, including our household where we watched it on a black and white television set.

SIMPLE JOYS – Simple things have always taken precedence with me over opulent toys and technology. I’ve always been one to enjoy good conversation, a good hand-rolled Maduro cigar, and single malt whiskey which I discovered in 1978 in the Hotel Melbourne in Australia. Thanks Paul.

BUSINESS – Due to the nature of our business, I have been fortunate to meet with some of the true pioneers of systems and computing, including Les Matthies (the “Dean of Systems”), Tom Richley (the developer of the TOTAL DBMS), Michael Jackson (structured programming), and Robert W. Bemer (the inventor of ASCII code). Since our company worked with everything from mainframes to PC’s, people ask me what was my favorite computer. Some might be surprised to learn it was the DEC VAX/VMS mini which was way ahead of its time.

Beyond this, I was fortunate to have met a lot of people around the world through our consulting practice. Everyone from the executives in the boardroom to the people working in the trenches. I have met my fair share of charlatans, crooks, and just plain despicable people, but I’ve also met a lot of good stand-up people who wanted to make a difference. Although I’ve visited a lot of places, I have a fondness for Japan. Besides, they play great baseball there.

Our “PRIDE” product line revolutionized the systems world and opened the door to hundreds of competitors. I was fortunate to have been actively involved in the development of our Enterprise Engineering Methodology, Computer Aided Planning tool, and Automated Systems Engineering tool. Such inventions, along with my other consulting activities, gave me a rewarding sense of accomplishment.

POLITICS – Our High School class met Richard Nixon in 1971 in Washington, DC where he provided a tour of the White House for us. One year later I would be campaigning for him on my college campus. It was 1972 when the voting age was lowered to 18, and my class was proud of this designation. Since then, I haven’t missed an election.

MASONS – I was pleased to be raised a Master Mason several years ago, following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather. Although the fraternity is fraught with petty politics, as most organizations are, I have been pleased to meet some upstanding men of character along the way.

FRIENDS – When I was growing up, we moved around a lot. Along the way, I learned to cultivate a set of friends. Thanks to social media, I am still in touch with many of them even though they live far away. Most seem to enjoy a good cigar as I do. Even though I haven’t seen them in quite some time, I know I can lift up the phone and call them, and it would be like old times. Having a good friend you can trust and level with is priceless.

Some people measure their existence by the accolades and awards they receive or the expensive toys they wear or drive. I think it is a lot simpler than this. Instead, we should relish the special events we witness and the people in our lives. To be able to see the Big Red Machine or Neil Armstrong standing on the lunar surface is priceless, as is the birth of your children. These are epochal events affecting our character, priorities, and perspective on life. They do not come along often which is why we should savor them when they do.

Next time you get disillusioned with life, try writing a list of your blessings. As Clarence said, “You see George, you really had a wonderful life.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THERE IS MEANING IN YOUR HANDSHAKE – It is not a frivolous gesture, but represents something significant; your word.

LAST TIME:  WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS (OR IS IT WRONGS?)  – The misconceptions Americans have related to our personal rights.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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