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Why Not Me? – Chapter One


82 minute read

Chapter One

Unlocking Your Power

Key #1
Faith In Yourself 

Faith in yourself is the foundation required upon which to build anything you wish for your life. Once you truly believe in the fact that you not only have the ability to create any life you wish for yourself but that you deserve to have that life, then you will have started on the road to getting what you want. 

Believing you can achieve is different from believing that you are worthy of an achievement. It’s one thing to recognize your own talent and another to believe you deserve to benefit from your talents. Without the sense of self-worth that speaks to you saying “you deserve to achieve anything you set your sights on,” you’ll never take aim at the things you wish to do with your life. 

All people have self-limiting beliefs. The challenge is to realize that these beliefs are self-imposed; therefore, they can be self-removed. With the understanding that we get in our own way and with the faith in our ability to remove our self-imposed obstacles, we will then have the required foundation upon which we can stack up new skills, abilities, and knowledge. We must come to the point where we realize that, if others can achieve a particular goal, then “Why not me?”

Let’s boil this down. 

You must have faith that:

• The information in this book can give you access to the tools required to accomplish any goal you choose to set for yourself.

• You have the ability to learn the skills and develop the abilities necessary to get what you want.

• It is your God-given right to have the opportunity to be emotionally healthy, happy, and financially secure.

• You deserve the opportunity to be emotionally healthy, happy, and financially secure. 

• There is no reason at all for you to not have what you desire most. 

• What you want is 100% attainable. 

For your faith to grow, you must grow. Read and strive to understand the lessons in this book, and your faith in your ability and potential will build. Within these pages lies the wisdom required to put you in a healthy frame of mind. If you don’t have a successful mindset, you can’t be successful to any great degree. You must learn the difference between an enabling belief and a disabling belief so you can identify the thought habits that may be keeping your dreams from coming true. You must also identify the thought habits that keep you from dreaming at all. 

This book is full of both famous and original quotations that have powerful significance. If you read nothing else here, read everything that is in bold and you will grow at least a little. Each time you read this book, different messages will hit you and stick with you. It’s impossible to absorb all of this information in its entirety when first being introduced to the concepts. New concepts take time to sink in, so be patient and exert the effort to re-read this book many times over. You should also read many other books like this one as well. If you have trouble chewing through an entire book, don’t worry about it. This book is designed to double as a quick reference guide as well. If there is a particular topic that you wish to delve into, just choose the key that you wish to review from the index, and away you go. This book can be thought of as the Yellow Pages™ for success. It is best that you read it all, but if you just aren’t the type of person who can read an entire book, at least there will still be some value here for you. 

Each lesson learned will open new doors to understanding further lessons, and so on. Just because you are familiar with an idea, doesn’t mean that you have a full understanding of it. Ideas have layers. On the surface, you may recognize an idea. But as you peel off the layers and get to the core of an idea, you will find that your understanding will grow and deepen. The deeper your understanding is of a concept, the more useful it is to you. Even though I’m writing this book, my own understanding of its lessons continually get deeper and more meaningful as I read the same concepts written by other authors from other perspectives. I’m considered by many to be an expert on successful thinking; however, I only consider myself to be an apt pupil. There is always more to learn. 

The student strives to be the master, and the master realizes that he will always be a student.

 Chinese proverb

Key #2

Our lives all start out more or less the same, as a blank slate. Some people have greater challenges than others; some have better resources such as good parents or role-models from whom they can learn. Country or origin is certainly a factor, since there are more challenges in a poor country than a wealthy one (but not less opportunity). Regardless of circumstance, our lives all start out the same—a bright light, a smack on the bum, and a sudden gasp that is our first breath. 

Regardless of the relatively even starting line, we have successful people and unsuccessful people. We have people who had a terrible childhood, full of violence, pain, poverty, and low self-esteem, yet they end up living happy and fulfilling lives. We find privileged children with every economic and social advantage who end up as drug addicts and/or criminals and lead empty lives. The tabloids and entertainment channels are loaded with stories every week that prove this to be true. How is it that modern-day famous divas can end up in jail for drugs or drunk driving? How do multi-million-dollar movie super stars end up in jail for tax evasion? At the other end of the scale, how does a welfare mom end up as a billionaire author such as JKRowling? How does a sexually abused, dirt poor, African American woman become one of the most influential people on the planet, such as Oprah Winfrey?

It stands to reason that the components of both success and failure can be identified and therefore duplicated for our benefit. It also stands to reason that it isn’t your parents or the neighborhood you grew up in that determines your success in life. 

When things go wrong or our lives fail to meet our expectations, it’s natural to try to find someone to blame. The last person we want to point fingers at is ourselves. I’ve found that laying blame does nothing more than validate excuses and allow the unfortunate to fall into the “victim rut.” If the keys to success and failure aren’t the influential people who helped mold us into adults, then what are they? What makes some people succeed in living a happy life and others condemned to a life devoid of accomplishments and validation? 

The most successful people on earth all agree that the keys to getting what you want have nothing to do with the world around you. Instead, success has everything to do with the world within you. It is your internal circumstances, not your external ones that determine what shape your life will take. Once you have taken ownership of this fact, thus ownership of your own life, the whole world will look different to you. You will see opportunities where you once saw obstacles, and you will see the good in situations where you used to see only the bad. Ownership of your life is a critical key for you to accept and obtain. 

The intention of this book is to provide you with access to a full ring of keys that can unlock the doors that are currently locked tight. Some of these keys or tools you already have, and others may be foreign to you. For the keys that you already have, you will be able to polish off any rust that may exist. For the keys that you’ve never before considered owning, I hope that you enjoy having your shiny new keys jingle on your keychain. Once you have acquired a key, it can never be taken from you. They can and will get rusty if you don’t look after them, but you will never lose them. 

“The mind, once expanded, can never return to its original size.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes 

It is your field and your barn

Think of your life as a farmer’s field, with good topsoil and ample irrigation. We all own our own field (our own life), and we all have the same basic opportunity. However, good dirt isn’t enough to grow a good healthy crop! I think we can all agree that we need equipment, fertilizer, and fuel for the equipment. Of course, we also need some way to learn how to use, repair, and maintain the equipment. Once we have all of this figured out and we have a good crop, we then have to acquire more equipment and skills to operate the machinery so that we can harvest our crop. 

We’re not finished yet. We have done all of this work and still haven’t made a dime! We still need to acquire a grain bin to store our harvest and augers to move it from the combine to the grain bin and from the grain bin to the transport truck. Now we need to find the best place to sell our crop and decide on the best time to sell it to achieve maximum profit. 

So, what’s my point? What does this have to do with you? Let’s go back to the beginning. 

Your life is a fertile field; all of the equipment and knowledge required to get a bountiful harvest is within your grasp. Imagine a huge barn, the biggest barn that you’ve ever seen. In this barn is all of the equipment and knowledge required to harvest any crop you plant. You own this barn and its contents. It is yours, and nobody can take it from you. Now here’s the trick: it’s locked tight. Not even a safecracker or locksmith can open this lock. Nobody can open the lock for you. But you can open it any time you wish, because you have access to the keys! If you choose to learn how to claim your field and your barn as your own, then this book will supply you with access to your keys. Once you have the keys, it will be up to you to unlock the door, open it, learn how to operate the equipment, and decide to use your newfound resources to achieve your goals. Think of each key as a learnable skill. Each new skill you acquire will accelerate your life in any direction you choose. The more skills you have, the faster your life will move toward your chosen direction. 

Let us paraphrase this thought: 

Your life is an enormous field, and you own this field. On this field is a huge barn filled with all the tools you need to turn your field into whatever you wish it to be. You own this barn and its contents. 

Once you realize you already own your own life and you are in control of the direction your life is headed, it is up to you to accept the responsibility for the results. Only you can plant the seeds and reap the harvest. No one can do this for you. The concept of ownership is a scary one and requires courage to accept. The bigger you wish your life to be, the bigger the responsibility you must be able to accept. First comes the courage to accept responsibility for the result of your actions, and then comes the confidence in your ability to create positive results. If you are waiting for the confidence to come first, you are putting the cart before the horse. Confidence comes from seeing the positive results you have created, so you can’t have results until you have taken action. Courage is what allows you to take any action you have never taken before. 

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, you’re right, it is. That’s farming, and that’s life. If you want to get anything out of your life, you have to suck it up and do the work. Success may be difficult, but it is attainable! 

“Failure happens consistently to those who refuse to do what successful people insist on doing.”


Ponder this, it’s a key rule. Read it over again and again. Keep this in your mind. It is so very important for you to acknowledge this simple truth.

“If you do only what you need to do to get by, then get by you will. But the end results will not be outstanding or exceptional. You have to do what others don’t want to do to have an edge.” 

Donald Trump

Getting what you want isn’t easy, but it is simple. One thing is for certain: finding the keys to that barn of yours will take hard work, faith, and an open mind. If you’re not ready to learn, then you won’t finish this book or any other similar book. However, if you do finish this book and embark on a healthy journey to a more successful life, the hard work required won’t feel like hard work at all. Once you adjust your perspective, you will look forward to and enjoy the work ahead. 

Hard work is a fact of life. Laziness is a fact of failure, but here is the good news. The keys to opening the barn and releasing your potential are within your grasp! Your creator wants you to claim what is rightfully yours, but you have to do the work. Here’s how:

1. Believe that you own the keys, the barn, and all of its contents.

2. Be willing to learn how to find the keys

3. Have faith that you deserve the keys, the barn, and all the contents. 

4. Be willing to do the work to plant, harvest, and sell your crop.

If I still have your attention, then I suggest that you re-read keys #1 & #2 before you continue any further. I’m asking for your “hard work, faith, and an open mind.” What you have read so far creates the foundation for all of the other keys. The stronger that foundation is, the stronger your understanding will be of all the next keys. 

Key #3

If you are to adjust your way of thinking, you must first understand why it is you think as you do. We are all governed by paradigms. A paradigm is a set of rules that governs how you view the world around you. Have you ever heard of “thinking outside the box”? The box is your own personal paradigm. The walls of this box can be very difficult to move, depending on how rigid your belief system is. The more rigid you are, the less you will be able to adjust your mind-set. It is the fear of change that keeps us rigid. The only way to have something that you’ve never had is to do something that you have never done…so if you want something, you’re going to have to change. With increased confidence, you will find that adjusting your thinking doesn’t have to be scary. The more you learn, the more your confidence will grow. 

All people have self-made walls in their minds that limit their potential (paradigms). Successful people have simply learned how to take down most of the walls hindering their success, whereas most other people leave the walls standing. These walls keep our potential and our success at bay. Understanding that it is you who is holding yourself back, not your spouse, the job market, your boss, your parents, or any other external influence, is a huge accomplishment. If you give yourself permission to succeed and allow abundance to flow into your life, it will. You just have to remove the self-imposed barriers that we all have. With each self-imposed obstacle removed, your life will move forward at an ever-increasing rate of speed. 

“Definition of insanity: To keep doing the same thing over and over again, then expect a different result.” 

Albert Einstein

Key #4
Be a student

“Empty the coins of your purse into your mind, and your mind will fill your purse with coins.”

Ben Franklin

If this is the first book you’ve read on personal development, I sure hope it won’t be your last. It doesn’t matter how much you know. If you stop learning, you stop living a rich and meaningful life. According to author Stephen R. Covey, the seventh habit of highly successful people is to read “personal development” books constantly. The thing about “THE TRUTH” is that there is only one truth. There are different ways to express it, and this book is simply “the truth” channeled through the “Mark Meincke” filter. This book is designed to share wisdom with you in a way that has as much of an impact as possible. Every detail of this book is designed to maximize your ability to absorb the wisdom within; however, reading other related books will still increase the depth of your understanding. 

It’s critically important to continually sharpen your axe and to add new tools to the tool box. Here is a Canadian version of the story that Stephen R. Covey shares in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People :

Two lumberjacks were left in the finals of the Yukon’s annual lumberjack competition. One man was the reigning champion for three years running. He was a huge brute of a man who possessed such a ridiculous strength that none had been able to challenge him till this day. 

The challenger wasn’t a small man, but still he was only half the size of the champion lumberjack. When the final competition was able to get under way, the challenger looked calm as he simply sharpened his axe with great care. 

The competition was to see who could chop through twenty logs the fastest. It was a grueling task that took enormous skill, power, and endurance. Few men would be able to even complete such a task in a single day.

When the bell rang, the two brutes sprang into action and started chopping feverously. After the first log, the challenger stopped, pulled his sharpening stone out of his pocket, and carefully re-honed the edge. The crowd roared with laughter, and the champion grinned wide with confidence. There was no way that this challenger could win if he wasted time sharpening his axe after every log! 

After a few moments of sharpening, the challenger confidently went on to the next log. Once through, he repeated the task of sharpening his axe. After every single log, the challenger never failed to stick to his routine. As champion finished chopping through his seventeenth log, he was surprised to notice the challenger was at his eighteenth log! Suddenly realizing the importance of a sharp axe, the champ started working on his dull axe, but it was too late. The champion’s axe was way too dull and pitted to be brought back to a fine edge any time soon. 

The challenger won by two logs. 

Growth is a habit worth developing. If you start the habit of learning from your mistakes and seeking out wisdom, growth will soon become a healthy addiction. 

Quotes on Be a Student:

“The book you don’t read won’t help.”

Jim Rohn

“The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Fear can only prevail when victims are ignorant of the facts.” 

Thomas Jefferson

“Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”

Chinese Proverb

“There are three kinds of men:
Some learn by reading.
A few learn by observation.
The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.” 

Will Rogers 

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

Mark Twain

The more you grow as a person, the more you will achieve in both your personal and professional life.

You have to grow old, but you don’t have to grow up. Sadly, it’s all too common for people to stop growing, learning, and maturing at a young age, yet live to a ripe old age. 

Key #5
The Power of Perspective

To get what you want, you first have to see it clearly.

Success is a journey, not a destination. The keys can only be achieved by walking a path. I can only provide access, and only you can walk towards the keys. Walking towards the keys takes hard work, faith, and an open mind. 

Understanding the power of perspective is one of the most important keys you can acquire. The “maze” metaphor will help to provide an understanding of the power of perspective.

The “Maze” Metaphor

Have you ever seen one of those huge mazes that are made out of a corn field? They can be absolutely massive. Even with a map, they can take hours to navigate. 

Imagine being totally lost in a big maze. If only you had someone in a balloon above the maze who could clearly see all of the trails and dead ends so that he could guide you. With a little guidance, you wouldn’t be running into so many frustrating dead ends. Think of the principles within this book as tools that can assist you to see new opportunities purely because of perspective. You can bumble through the maze on your own, or you can accept help and navigate the maze much more effectively. Think of the relief you would feel if you weren’t running into dead ends all of the time.

The guide in the balloon above is not smarter than you. If you were in a balloon above the maze, you could see the same thing as the guide! Once you get out of the maze, you will have your own balloon (it’s in your barn) so that you can help others navigate as well. 

For a practical example of the maze metaphor, just think about the last time you were on the phone, trying to give directions to a friend so he could get to your home for the first time. In your mind, you can see the “bird’s-eye view” of your neighborhood as if you were up in a balloon looking down on the streets, with a clear view of the correct path. Do you remember what it was like trying to convey the directions to your friend? Did you feel that your friend was a big dummy for not knowing how to get to your home? Of course not! Until the directions were given, how could anyone find your home? Once your friend has made the journey a few times, he will be able to picture your home from a bird’s-eye view as well, and then he will be able to pass on the directions to others. 

Everyone is looking for the same trails that get us to the same destination. Everyone wants to feel respected, loved, important, satisfied, and just plain happy. We are all in our own personal maze, trying to get through life the best we can. Those of us with balloons have the perspective to get through the maze much easier and with far more success. We all have access to a balloon of our own. We just have to realize it and take action to use it. 

So, as you can see, it is not brain power that has people taking the easy path through life; it is perspective, or point of view. Have you ever had one of those “ah-ha” moments? That moment where you say, “Oh! I get it now. I never looked at it like that before. Now it makes perfect sense.” You had a shift in perspective. What was once hidden suddenly became perfectly clear by simply adjusting your point of view. It’s like bringing binoculars into focus; with a slight adjustment, the blurry becomes clear. If you refuse to adjust the focus, of course you will never be able to see clearly. 

Early in my success, one of my closest friends asked me how I was doing in my professional life. I knew there wasn’t huge amount of money to show, yet, but I also knew that I was on the right path to a healthy income. So I answered honestly, “Business is awesome! I’m achieving all my financial goals ahead of schedule, and I couldn’t be happier.” Now this was true, but for him to understand this, he would have to already have the same tools I had that got me to this point in my life. Sadly, he hadn’t found the key to his own barn yet, so he was quite skeptical about my success. I showed him my records with my second year income on it. It was fairly large, and it was more than double the gross income of my first year. Doubling your income in a year is a huge accomplishment for any business owner but he wasn’t very impressed at all.

Although I was proud of my accomplishment and excited about the year ahead, my good friend told me what I had just achieved was no big deal and I was deluded if I believed that I was successful. He wasn’t trying to be mean; he just didn’t have the perspective to accurately see my business for what it was. He was in the maze, bumping into dead ends, and I was above in the balloon watching him, wishing I could help. 

Now, many people would have been so upset with a good friend telling them their dreams were pie–in-the-sky that they might have given up or been deterred. Luckily, I was confident that my friend’s negative remarks were just a product of a limited perspective. As it turned out, I was validated by tripling my second year’s income in my third year. 

I’m sharing this because, although I was not deterred by my friend, I was initially upset by his words. Despite my display of confidence, I still fought nagging doubts about my own ability. The last thing I needed was to be discouraged by a close friend. Fortunately for me, I had the right tools. I was able to ignore both my friend’s doubts as well as my own, and carry on. I used his doubt as a motivator to do well and to show him just how wrong his negative thinking was. It may not have been the healthiest motivator, but it did work. 

Today, it would be impossible for me to be hurt by a friend’s negative words. Through perspective, I now understand that the negative comments aimed at me have nothing to do with me. When someone attacks you, they are revealing weaknesses or fears in themselves. If you are doing something wonderful with your life and they feel that their own life is not wonderful, they will downplay your success so that they don’t have to feel surpassed. Sadly, it’s very common for our own family members to be the ones who downplay and trivialize our success. As my wife has often said, “Family is the first to see you fail.” Of course, this isn’t true in every family, but it is very common. Negative words have the potential to hurt the most when they’re from those closest to us. This is why it’s so important to be able to distance yourself from the harmful words of others. 

“Every obnoxious act is a cry for help.” 

Zig Ziglar 

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

Mark Twain

Key #6
The Perspective of Negative people 

A negative comment from an adult shouldn’t sound any different to you than a negative comment from a young child. If a four-year-old comes up to you and says, “You’re stupid,” although you may find this rude, you certainly wouldn’t walk away wondering if that kid was right. You are mature enough to consider the source, and because you realize that the kid just doesn’t know any better, you brush it off. When an adult insults you, it’s exactly the same; they just don’t know any better. When the insult is from someone who you love and respect, the same principal applies. By mastering this one perspective, you’ll release yourself from much resentment and anger. See each insult as if it has come from the lips of a young child who is having a temper tantrum. By seeing the negative person for who they are, you will be able to replace an angry reaction with one of understanding and even pity. 

“Resentment is like drinking poison, then waiting for the other person to die.” 

Carrie Fisher 

Expecting a negative person to care about your feelings, is like expecting a man to give birth; he just doesn’t have the right tools for the job. 

Key #7
Perspective of Failure

It is absolutely critical that you are conscious of how you view failure. Failure is a fact of life and a key ingredient to success. How you view failure is a critical skill that you must acquire to find the keys to your barn. 

Here is a portrait of an achiever that you might find interesting. 

• 1832 Failed in business; bankruptcy

• 1832 Defeated for legislature

• 1834 Failed in business again; bankruptcy

• 1835 Fiancée died 

• 1836 Nervous breakdown

• 1838 Again defeated in another election

• 1843 Defeated for US Congress

• 1848 Defeated for US Congress again!

• 1855 Defeated for US Senate

• 1856 Defeated for Vice President of the United States

• 1858 Defeated again for the Senate

Most people would have given up by now, but not this guy. Wait for it—

• 1860 Elected President of the United States!

This man was Abraham Lincoln. This is a fine example of the fact that you can not fail unless you quit. If President Lincoln ever lost his positive attitude and internalized his multiple failures, he would have never carried on in his political pursuit. He was never afraid of failing, only of quitting. His life story is also proof that your future does not have to be a slave to your past. 

Have you ever heard of Sir Winston Churchill? His history was a lot like Lincoln’s. Churchill had a political resume that was full of failures and missteps. Today, he’s remembered as one of the greatest world leaders in modern history. There are even political science courses dedicated to just him and his great success as a Prime Minister of Great Britain. 

Churchill’s multiple past failures were all due to the fact that he was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. His destiny was to be the Prime Minister, and any other function was not a proper fit for him. Once he was in a position that suited him, he excelled as an amazing leader.

If these great men allowed themselves to view each challenge and setback in their lives as “personal failures,” they never would have had the strength to continue. When most people fail, they internalize the failure and feel that the failed attempt means that they are failures. As a result, people suffer unnecessarily from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. Successful people realize that there is no such thing as failure; there are only desirable and undesirable results.

I’ve read the Lincoln example above in many different success books, and I fear that someone with the stature of Lincoln or Churchill might be a bit tough to relate to. So, let me share another, more personal, example, from a different angle. 

My own search wasn’t for political office, but only for a fulfilling life. I wanted a life that allowed my skills to shine; one that satisfied me. I traveled many different paths on this search, the first of which was when I joined the Army at the age of twenty. I knew I wasn’t a text book “Army Guy,” but I also somehow knew that I needed a path, and any good path was better than no path at all.

I had barely scraped through high school with a vocational diploma, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that if I dove into the three-year commitment of the military I would be a better man at the end of that path than taking no path at all. I knew that the world would at least see me as a man of some courage who could finish what he starts. Serving coffee at the local donut shop wasn’t going to provide that for me. I didn’t know where this path would lead, only that it would lead to a better place than the donut shop. I made the leap of faith, joined the Army, and went beyond my three-year commitment to do a total of five years. I not only finished what I started, I stayed on a little more so that I could accomplish more goals within the Army. I wanted to do a UN Peace Keeping tour of Croatia, so I signed on for longer than my initial commitment. 

This path was not the right path for me, nor was the next one, or the next seven paths after that. However, instead of feeling lost, I knew that none of the wrong paths were a waste of my time. Each path I traveled provided me with new skills and new lessons about life and about myself. 

Regardless of the frustration of walking so many of the wrong paths, something deep inside me wouldn’t allow me to feel discouraged even though I was quite mediocre at most of the paths that I had tried thus far. I knew I had talents; I just wasn’t sure what they were or how to express them. Every negative experience, every failed attempt, was a lesson that taught me how NOT to live my life! It was only with this knowledge, and by the elimination of other paths, that I was able to get on the path I am on now. If I had ever adopted the victim mindset, and said, “Why do I suck at everything I try? Why won’t life just give me a break and let me be happy?”—if I had ever popped my thumb into my mouth and let myself topple over into that “Victim Rut”—then I never would have grown; I never would had been able to have the amazing life that I now enjoy. 

I was mediocre at the other paths, because they were not the right paths. Once I had realized my own strengths and accepted my weaknesses, I was then able to choose a path that was appropriate for me. Just because you don’t have a talent for math, doesn’t mean you don’t have a talent for football. We all have our talents; it’s just a matter of accepting and acknowledging them.

• Everybody is bad at something! It’s impossible to be good at everything. 

• Everybody is good at something! It’s impossible to be bad at everything. 

We have to accept our strengths and our weaknesses in an objective way. You simply can’t worry about your weaknesses, since we all have them. The trick is to focus on your strengths and either shrug off or overcome your weaknesses. 

“Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat.”

Mary McLeod Bethune

Key #8
Fear of Failure 

Kakorraphiophobia is a killer! This fear is often so great that people never even attempt to dream about a goal, because the possible consequence of failure is just too darn scary. To erase this fear, you must learn to embrace it. Failure is something that you can’t avoid. Failure will happen from time to time no matter what you do, so why worry about something that you can’t avoid? It’s like being obsessed with death; death is coming to all of us, but if you focus on it and constantly worry about it, you will never be able to focus on and enjoy living your life. Don’t worry about the unavoidable; just learn to deal with it. Failure always has a valuable lesson to teach, so don’t be afraid of it. Pay attention to it!

When you goof, don’t beat yourself up. Just shrug your shoulders and ask:

1. Why didn’t this work?

2. Does it work for other people? 

3. How can I learn to make it work?

4. Does this goal really suit me? Do I really want to achieve this goal? 

If the answer to #4 is YES, then work on answering the other three, and try again to achieve your goal. Answering these questions will give you clues on how to improvise, adapt, and overcome the issues that have kept you from success. 

If the answer to question #4 is NO, still answer the other three questions so that you can grow. Then move on to something else. Please read these four questions again and again until they are embedded in your mind. If you keep these four questions in your mind, you will be able to begin to let go of your fear of failure.

You should never be afraid to fail, but you should always be afraid of not trying. Just as with life, you should never be afraid of dying but afraid of not living life to its fullest. Remember what Mel Gibson said in Braveheart? “Every man dies, but not every man truly lives.” Okay, maybe that’s a bit corny, but it’s still true nonetheless. Humans are the only creatures on earth that live with regrets. If you wish to live your life without regrets, then you have to do your best. By doing your best, you will not leave any room for regret. 

“God doesn’t call on us to be successful; he calls on us to try.”

Mother Theresa

I believe Mother Theresa has a good point here. I’m not advocating failure as an option—not at all. What I will say is that you cannot allow the “fear of failure” to be an excuse for not trying. 

It’s better to fall on your face after you have put your best foot forward, than to not ever take a step and live a life of regret. 

Key #9
Overcoming the Fear of Failure

This fear can be beaten. The one surefire way to beat the fear of failure is to simply do your best. If you truly put your best foot forward and give it your all, then you will never have to be ashamed of failure. There is nothing wrong with screwing up or falling short. It’s inevitable! If you are being criticized for this failure, don’t get defensive. Just take it on the chin and be confident in the fact that you did your best. Usually, you will be able to figure out where you went wrong and correct the situation. If you DON’T do your best, and you fail as a result, then you will have something to be ashamed about. 

Another way to release yourself from the Fear of Failure is to not do things for the approval of others. The fear of letting other people down is a strong driver for the fear of failure. If you are able to set this aside and replace it with a fear of letting yourself down, then you will be able to relieve much of the pressure. Again, the only pressure you should feel is the pressure to do your best, not to please others with your performance. You can’t control other people, you can only control yourself. If others decide to smile and offer approval, then you may consider that to be a nice bonus. You can’t make people happy, nor can you make people like you. You can act in such a way that people will be more likely to be attracted to who you are, but it is still their choice. You are powerless to change this fact. The best that you can do is to be your best, and it’s human nature for most people to respect a person who is doing their best.

Robert Kiyosaki has a “Top 10” list for why people fail. 

1. Laziness

2. Bad habits

3. Lack of education

4. Lack of experience

5. Lack of guidance

6. Lack of focus

7. Lack of determination

8. Lack of courage

9. Bad attitude

10. Bad influence from friends and family

Robert is the best selling success author on earth, so I would suggest that his list has some serious merit. The good news is that you have the ability to change any of the above points and overcome any adversity in your life. Strive to remove each of the above “top ten” points from your life one by one. With each point removed, your life will surge forward with ever-increasing speed. 

“Success is moving from one failure to the next with enthusiasm.” 

Sir Winston Churchill

Anthony Robbins writes, “There is no failure, only results.” I love this concept. With this philosophy, being afraid of failure is sort of like being afraid of the boogie man. If failure doesn’t exist, then there is nothing to fear. Every successful person who I know or have read about subscribe to this philosophy on failure, and thus aren’t afraid of giving a full effort toward any project. One fellow I know who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars refers to his two bankruptcies as “market research.” A failed company is not a failure at all. A failed company is simply an expensive education on what works and what doesn’t. 

“Failure is the tuition that you pay for success.” 

Walter Brunell

If you fall flat on your face, you have not failed. What has happened is that the actions you have chosen to take have produced a negative result. When negative results occur, you simply have to step back and analyze the results so that you can adjust your actions for the next attempt, thus enabling yourself to produce a different, more positive result.

Another tool in overcoming the fear of failure is to realize that you have nothing to lose. Whatever it is that you are trying to get—you already don’t have it! If you try to achieve something and you don’t achieve it, you are no worse off. You already didn’t achieve it. From this perspective, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, regardless of the goal that you have set for yourself. I find great encouragement in this line of thought, and I hope that you do as well. 

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones and Gregory Scott Reid wrote a great book called Positive Impact. In this book, they narrate a story that relates. Here is an excerpt from this wonderful book:

It reminds me of a friend of mine. A week or so ago, we were having lunch together at a restaurant. We spotted this beautiful woman there, and my friend said how much he’d love to go out with her. I suggested that he go over and ask her out on a date, but he said, “What if she says no?” I said, “She’s already not going out with you, so you have nothing to lose here. In reality, you can only gain a date.” 

Regardless of what happens, he can’t fail! He will either get a date or he won’t. There is no failure; there are only results.

Key #10
Fear of Success 

Fear of failure is a critical challenge to overcome, but what is equally common and more difficult to understand is the fear of success. 

The fear of success can be just as powerful as the fear of failure. Fear of success stems from people’s deep belief that they don’t deserve to have what they want. The main difference between fear of failure and fear of success is that:

• The fear of failure is often a conscious fear. People usually know that they are afraid to fail. 

Fear of success is usually an unconscious fear. People rarely realize that what is holding them back is the thought that they don’t feel worthy of actually getting what they want. 

When people who have low self-esteem unexpectedly succeed at something, they will typically react in one of two ways:

1. They will either have the sudden realization that “success is not an accident,” and they deserve to succeed. And thus, they go on to further accomplishments. 

2. Or, they will refuse to believe that they actually deserve to have what they have just achieved, and they will often lose what they had just gained.

One of the motivators for fear of success is the responsibility that comes along with it. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Once you achieve a higher level than you are accustomed to, you are then obligated to maintain your new status. If you don’t maintain your new status, you might fear that others will think your achievement was just luck or a fluke you didn’t deserve. 

The higher you climb, the farther it is to fall. Scary stuff isn’t it? This is why it is important to understand that you not only deserve to achieve but that you have the ability to maintain your success. It is also important to remember that we should attempt new and bigger things for our own benefit and not for the approval of others. It is our responsibility for us to constantly learn and grow as individuals. 

It’s healthy to realize that you have to grow to succeed. Once you have grown, you can never regress. Wisdom can not be unlearned.

The point is that success is the proof of your growth, and growth can never be taken away from you. Growth is a lifetime asset! 

The fear of success has been the greatest challenge on my own personal path. When I first started to achieve, I had the nagging feeling that I was “faking it.” When someone would give me a pat on the back, I would feel that I had them “fooled” into believing that I was a capable, successful person. I was in success denial. I just didn’t understand or believe I deserved my accomplishments or that I was capable of even greater accomplishments. 

It took a few years of doing really well both professionally and personally to gain enough perspective to see that I am successful. Once I realized I actually deserved my accomplishments, a weight was lifted. And my successes, both personal and professional, started to multiply at an increased rate. It wasn’t easy to believe that the only limits on my life were set by me. It’s not easy to take responsibility for our failures or our successes. 

Until you are able to take responsibility for both your failure and your success, you will always be dragging an anchor behind you on your path to having the life you want. 

Quotes on Failure:

• “Fear can only prevail when victims are ignorant of the facts.”

Thomas Jefferson

• “Failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”

Jim Rohn

• “The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized—never knowing.” 

Jim Rohn

Key #11
Criticism is a Wonderful Gift

It takes a big person to accept criticism. Often, people are not able to distinguish between constructive and destructive criticism. Consequently, all they hear when they are criticized is an attack on their character. 

Constructive criticism comes from a person who cares about you, and this person hopes to help you by shedding a light on what they perceive to be a shortcoming. This criticism is coming from a positive stance and is intended to deliver a positive message. By accepting this information, you are respecting their opinion while not necessarily agreeing with it. By realizing that you are not being attacked, you will be able to remain objective in your decision to agree or disagree with the criticism. 

Destructive criticism contains a negative message and comes from a person who is trying to tear you down. If they are trying to tear you down, it isn’t necessarily because they don’t care about you. When one feels a need to attack, it’s usually because they are insecure and feel a need to be superior to you. As with constructive criticism, there is no need to fight back. Just give their opinion the level of respect it deserves and decide to agree or disagree with the criticism. Just because they are coming from a negative stance, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any merit in what is being said. 

We shouldn’t shy away from opinions that challenge us. None of us is perfect; therefore we all should be open to criticism. Criticism is a gift that gives you an opportunity to grow. 

Key #12
Its never too late 

If you are worried that it’s too late in your life to start making changes for the better, then let me ask you to consider this: 

The sun is going to come up tomorrow morning whether you want it to or not. Time passes without any thought given toward us humans. If you wish to make the most of life, you can’t let a single day pass without growth, regardless of your age. If you are still alive tomorrow morning, you will be a day older whether you like it or not. Don’t waste your day—for as far as you know, it could be your last. If you have thousands of days left, then remember that time is a limited resource, and that it’s meant to be used wisely. Time is incredibly precious, and non-renewable, so be cautious to not waste it. 

I once heard a sixty-year-old woman saying to herself, “I wish I would have bought a coffee shop when I was still in my fifties. It’s just too late to get started now.” When I heard this, I asked her what her plans were for the next twenty years. She looked at me with a slightly puzzled look and answered that she wasn’t really sure. She wasn’t even sure that she had twenty years left in her life. I replied to her, “Nobody can be sure that they even have tomorrow left in their life, but you also can’t be sure that you won’t. Time is going to pass regardless, so if you don’t have any better plans over the next twenty years, you might as well go out and buy that coffee shop as soon as possible. You can always sell it later, but at least you won’t end up as an eighty-year-old woman full of regrets.”

Consider the story of Colonel Sanders, and his KFC™:

Starting at the tender age of sixty-two, Colonel Sanders devoted himself to franchising his famous chicken. He drove all over the country cooking batches of chicken for restaurant owners and their employees. If the reaction was favorable, he entered into a handshake agreement on a deal that stipulated a payment to him of a nickel for each chicken meal that the restaurant sold. By 1964, Colonel Sanders had more than 600 franchised outlets that provided his chicken in the United States and Canada. That same year, he sold his interest in the company for two million dollars to a group of investors. However, he remained a public spokesman for the company and traveled all over the world on behalf of the chicken that he had made famous. By the time he died at the age of ninety, Colonel Sanders had traveled the world several times over promoting the chicken empire he had founded.

Prior to the age of sixty-two, Sanders was operating a service station in Corbin, Kentucky. Sanders began serving his secret chicken recipe to travelers who stopped at his service station. As this was a service station and not a drive through, he served his customers on his own dining table in the living quarters of the station. Most people wouldn’t have taken their conviction even this far, but Sanders believed in himself and in his recipe. As a result, he died a man of great achievement instead of great regret. More importantly, he lived fully and happily as a result of pursuing his goals.

Key #13
The Victim Mentality (Ego at its Worst)

Things don’t happen to you, they happen around you.

If you are wounded during battle, the wound you have received was nothing personal. The person who pulled the trigger didn’t shoot you because of anything you did. They shot you because it was their job to do so. The rifleman had no idea of who you are, and he had no notion of you whatsoever. 

If you are a woman and you suffer through a rape, the rapist’s violent actions were not a result of anything that you are or did. You didn’t provoke the assault in any way; the rapist’s intolerable actions were a result of his massive faults and insecurities, not yours.

When something horrible happens to us, we must take care to not let the action redefine who we are. If you are diagnosed with cancer, the worst thing you can do is to start calling yourself a cancer victim. What you are is alive, so act alive. If you have cancer in your body, and you’re still breathing—then you are already a cancer survivor. You don’t have to wait for remission to be a survivor; you are a survivor from the moment you get the diagnosis. Choosing to be a survivor instead of a victim will put you in the correct mental state required to travel forward toward perfect health. The choice of a positive state over a negative state is always available to you regardless of the circumstance. 

There are countless stories of detainees from Nazi death camps who where in good spirits and who never gave up the hope of survival. The people who were fortunate enough not to be murdered and who maintained the choice of staying in a positive state were the ones who managed to survive starvation and death. If a death camp survivor can refuse to be a victim, then you certainly can as well. 

If you are feeling sorry for yourself, then try to imagine someone who has dealt with far worse circumstances yet never complains. These people understand that they have the power to choose their state of mind. 

Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, teaches us that it is our attachment to our ego or our false sense of self that fuels the victim mentality. Being a victim is like being a part of an exclusive club that awards us with the attention of others. When you are a victim, you rush to any willing ear that will let you tell your story. What you are seeking is sympathy so that your self-made label of being a victim will be reinforced. 

The victim mentality is a very strong negative mental state. Being in this state causes you to constantly lay blame or point fingers at others. Victims don’t want to see that they can choose to not be a victim. Unconsciously, they want the sympathy, the attention of others, and the affirmation from others that they are victims—and therefore special. 

Being aware of the victim mentality will cause it to melt away inside you. Being a victim is a notion that comes from the ego, and when you are aware of your ego, the ego then disappears in proportion to your level of awareness. 

In all choices of positive over negative, you are choosing to be aware of your ego. The ego is always manifested by negative energy, and therefore it always has a negative effect on your life. The more aware that you are of the difference between positive and negative speech, actions, and mind-sets, the more able you will be to choose the positive option. Every time you make the choice to be positive, you are making a decision that is free of your ego. Choosing positive over negative is choosing happiness over misery in your life. When you are living a happy life, any lives you touch are lifted by your mere presence. When you are living in misery, you are bringing down anyone who comes in contact with you. 

The victim is always miserable, and the world is always against him. The victim sees enemies where there are only friends and treachery where there is only compassion. 

The victim believes that the whole world revolves around him. If he gets a flat tire, the tire company sold him a faulty tire, and they knew better. They just wanted to get rid of their defective stock, so when they saw him coming, they took advantage of him. They knew full well that it was no darn good! The victim is now going to be late for a meeting because of those crooks at the tire shop. 

If a non-victim gets a flat tire, he just sorts out the problem and moves on without a second thought. The non-victim is likely to not even bring up the flat-tire story to his wife as it was a complete non-issue. The victim, however, will add the flat tire to the long list of other situations where he believes he was cheated. The cumulative list of resentment is incredibly toxic and unhealthy to the victim. Even the physical health of the victim will be affected by the massive negative energy. Being in a constantly negative state diminishes the immune system, leaving victims susceptible to illness. The unavoidable illnesses are then interpreted by the victim as proof that they are special and are singled out by the world to be a doormat. 

When you meet a victim, simply try to be aware that they are enslaved by their egos and they just don’t know any better. They can’t see the negative effects that are caused by their mind-set. The victim can’t take responsibility for negative results, but can only lay blame on others. Negativity is blinding in all of its forms and manifestations.

Father, Professional Development Trainer, Author

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Malign Neglect: What Calgary’s Water-Main Break Reveals about the Failure of City Government

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From the C2C Journal

By George Koch

The rupture of Calgary’s biggest water main revealed more than the problems of aging infrastructure. It showed a civic bureaucracy unable to provide basic services or fix things when they break, and a mayor eager to blame others and scold citizens for their selfishness in wanting city services in return for their tax dollars. Above all, it laid bare the increasing tendency of governments to neglect their core responsibilities in favour of social policy fetishes, and to sidestep accountability when things go wrong. Clear, competent, mission-focused public servants are a vanishing breed, writes George Koch, and governing a city is now mainly about keeping city workers, senior officials and elected politicians happy.

As the enormous task forces of the U.S. Navy steamed westward across the Pacific Ocean in the final year of the Second World War, aiming ultimately for Japan but with some of the most vicious fighting still to come on islands like Okinawa and Iwo Jima, commanding admirals issued orders that any man who fell overboard would be left behind. No ship was to slow down for search-and-rescue; nothing was to get in the way of the mission. Several weeks ago, during one of the Stanley Cup semi-final games, a player was hit hard, fell to the ice, got up with difficulty, hobbled towards the bench and disappeared down the “tunnel”. The game went on, uninterrupted. Here too, the mission – entertaining millions – took precedence.

But when two municipal workers on a crew attempting to repair a catastrophic infrastructure failure in a major North American city are injured, the work immediately halts. Although the broken item serves a function vital to civilization and life itself, the mission of restoring water supply as quickly as possible becomes secondary. This happened 10 days ago, a week after the rupture of a high-pressure water main in Calgary had sent water shooting up out of busy 16th Avenue, triggering frantic 911 calls and initiating a “one week” repair saga that as of this writing is still weeks from completion.

Mission failure: The rupture of Calgary’s high-pressure water main on June 5 flooded 16th Avenue and threatened the city’s water supply; repairs were halted for a day after two workers were injured, an excess of caution that led to anger and frustration over the city’s basic competence. (Sources of photos: (top) Acton Clarkin/CBC; (bottom) CTV News)

The two injured workers were taken to hospital (thankfully, with non-life-threatening injuries) and the repair work eventually resumed the next day. But the interruption, piled atop days of confusing, contradictory, self-serving and at times seemingly false explanations and promises from senior city officials and embattled mayor Jyoti Gondek, generated further mistrust and anger among Calgarians over their city bureaucracy’s inability to operate the basics and get things fixed when something breaks down. The safety stand-down came on the very day the city had originally promised to restore water service, a time when every hour was precious, when the sacrifices by city residents and businesses were still bearable, when a return to normality seemed imminent. So why imperil the mission with nearly 24 hours of navel-gazing?

Though soon forgotten as new problems arose, the decision is emblematic of governments’ misplaced priorities, subordination of their core mission to their social policy fetishes and confusion over whose interests they exist to serve. Governing a city appears to have become primarily about keeping city workers, senior officials and elected politicians happy. Above all, to shield them against real accountability. Residents and businesses – the people who vote and pay the bills – are basically problems to be managed.

Built in 1975, the Bearspaw South feeder main draws from the Bearspaw Water Treatment Facility on the Bow River (bottom) and supplies 60 percent of Calgary’s drinking water. (Sources of photos: (top) The City of Calgary Newsroom; (bottom) Environmental Science & Engineering)

A few key facts for readers distant from Calgary. The 2-metre-diameter Bearspaw South feeder main burst its concrete casing on the afternoon of June 5. Installed in 1975, it draws from the Bearspaw Water Treatment Facility on the Bow River in the city’s northwest, and normally supplies up to 60 percent of the city’s drinking water. The break required the city to rely on a much older but very reliable plant drawing on the Glenmore Reservoir, which dams the Elbow River in the city’s southwest. The rupture prompted Stage 4 water restrictions with various bans and recommendations (more on that below), including a call for Calgarians to collectively cut the city’s water consumption by 25 percent, to 480 million litres per day. People immediately responded and, within several days, the city was reporting a water surplus. (For those seeking more details, the Calgary Herald has logged the key daily events.)

From the beginning, the city’s attempts to explain things did not quite add up. The water main had been inspected and tested regularly, officials said, or at least once for sure, and had received “maintenance” as recently as April. Most people probably assumed this involved physically examining it from the inside, then subjecting it to excessive pressure to see if it would hold, and patching up any weak areas. But all that would require first draining a pipe that, after all, 1.6 million people depend on every minute of every day. Later it came out that the line had last been drained and inspected in 2007.

So then it was explained that sophisticated external sensors had not detected any leaks in the most recent inspection. But then someone pointed out that catastrophic failures of an entire multi-layered structure of inner concrete core, steel piping, wire tension coils and outer concrete don’t usually begin with small leaks. And then someone else let slip that the line’s robustness had been confirmed by modelling, i.e., relying on theory.

“This pipe is only at the halfway point in its life cycle,” lamented Sue Henry, Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency. “By all accounts, this should not have happened, but it did.” But others pointed out that the 100-year-lifespan claim was itself bogus. Lines of this type, said Tricia Stadnyk, Canada Research Chair in hydrologic modelling with the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, are rated to last 50 years. And the Bearspaw South line was built…49 years ago. (The lifespan issue gets even worse – more on that below.)

A story full of holes: City officials said the water main had been inspected and tested regularly, and that no leaks had been found; experts pointed out a catastrophic breakage of the line’s multi-layered structure would not likely begin with small leaks – and it emerged the line had not actually been drained and inspected since 2007. (Sources: (left photo) The City of Calgary Newsroom; (right image) The City of Calgary Newsroom)

Gondek, for her part, extended her track record of blaming anyone but herself by claiming the disaster could have been averted if only Alberta’s UCP government had “paid enough attention” and not denied Calgary the money it desperately needed for preventative maintenance and repair. The implications of her claim didn’t quite gibe with city officials’ assurances that the line was considered just fine. And Alberta Premier Danielle Smith shot back that Gondek “has never asked us for funding to repair their water supply infrastructure,” and that the province is providing the city with $224 million to allocate as it pleases. Others noted it was never a question of money at all, because Calgary has generated successive annual budget surpluses but either spends those funds on more congenial pursuits or carries them over into future years.

Still, for a few days it seemed as if water service would be restored within, or very soon after, the promised one week. But on June 15 it was announced that line inspections (which apparently had occurred in the physical world and not merely in city officials’ media narrative) had found five more “hot spots” – i.e., potentially calamitous weaknesses. The repair timeframe was abruptly extended to three to five weeks, well into July. And with that, the City of Calgary declared a State of Local Emergency.

Pointing fingers: Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek blamed Alberta’s UCP government for denying Calgary the money for maintenance and repairs; however, Calgary had never asked for such funding, and in any case received $224 million this year to allocate as it pleased. (Source of screenshot: The City of Calgary Newsroom)

There is an emergency in Calgary – and virtually every city across North America and the Western world. At least two types of emergency, actually. The first type is the open, at times almost gleeful refusal to focus on the basic responsibilities of municipal government. Such as paving roads – Calgary’s are notoriously cracked and potholed – instead of removing lanes from busy thoroughfares and lowering speed limits in order to create still more unused bike lanes. Or ensuring that public transit facilities are clean and safe for law-abiding users, as opposed to all-but abandoning buses and C-Trains to drug addicts, while still pushing for funding of the next multi-billion-dollar transit line.

Many Calgarians have grown exasperated at such neglect and indifference, and quite a few are paying close attention. One letter-writer to the Calgary Herald pointed out that aging water infrastructure is a well-known problem in civic government circles, noting that the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association in 2014 set the goal of getting “unaccounted for” water down to 10 percent of total treatment plant outflow. While that figure seems unsettling enough, five years later a third-party engineering report estimated that Calgary was losing 17-28 percent of all its treated water. While some of that was for fighting fires and some was theft, the majority was believed to be leakage. That makes it sound like very few of those “100-year-rated” lines had ever been inspected, tested and confirmed sound.

Core failures: As in many Western cities, Calgary’s leadership refuses to focus on the basic responsibilities of municipal government, like fixing potholes, clearing snow or ensuring public transit is safe and effective; it prefers building bike lanes people don’t use and planning the next multi-billion-dollar transit line. (Sources of photos (clockwise starting top left): Dave Gilson/CBCRachel Maclean/CBCPostmediaMatt Scace/Postmedia NetworkNick Blakeney/CityNewsRebecca Kelly/CBC)

The staggering water volume implied by that percentage range – and worse, the toleration of the problem for at least a decade – evokes a deeply disturbing decrepitude analogous to the massive leakage from oil pipelines in the dying years of the Soviet Union or the chronic tapping of oil pipelines by thieves in Nigeria. Neither is a place Calgary should emulate. The 17-28 percent range is also, coincidentally, similar to the amount of water Calgarians are now expected to conserve. If Calgary’s pipes didn’t leak, we’d hardly have to conserve water at all even with the city’s biggest water main down. “It’s time,” declared attentive letter-writer Guy Buchanan, “to rethink projects such as the Green Line LRT project and concentrate the $4-billion of reserves that council is hoarding to fortify life-sustaining infrastructure.”

This fiasco is, unfortunately, just one example of an operating mentality averse to focusing on dreary real-world problems. The City of Calgary also hates clearing roads in winter and, every year, whenever it snows hard, the warming Chinook winds fail to arrive on schedule and streets remain snowbound, chaos erupts and the excuse – every single time – is that the city lacks the money and equipment needed to plough its roads and, in any case, does not have a “bare pavement policy.” These words come out of the city spokesperson’s mouth right about the time that private-sector operators wrap up clearing streets and sidewalks at private condo developments and old folks’ homes, have restored Walmart and Safeway parking lots to pristine expanses of black pavement, and can all head to Timmy’s for a well-deserved round of late-morning dark roasts and crullers.

The second type of emergency is what has been termed the “crisis of competence” that is afflicting not only governments but utilities and complex systems in general. Put simply, two generations of experienced technical specialists, managers and tradesmen have been gradually retiring, quitting in disgust or getting purged from organizations that now prioritize adherence to internal process and conformity to progressive ideology over the nuts and bolts of keeping systems running, heeding numbers that don’t lie and respecting unforgiving physical reality. The incoming cohorts, meanwhile, often don’t know what they’re doing and don’t want to learn, hiding their ignorance behind a veil of virtue-signalling arrogance.

Crisis of competence: Experienced technical specialists, managers and tradesman have been leaving or getting purged from organizations that prioritize conformity to progressive causes like ESG and wokism over the nuts and bolts of keeping systems running. At bottom, engineer James Buker, a retired city waterworks employee. (Source of bottom photo: Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia)

The National Post’s Jamie Sarkonak had a good column on this over the past week. “Today’s students can’t read as well as their predecessors; workers are increasingly hired on non-meritocratic basesmedical errors and aviation ‘safety issues’ are on the rise,” Sarkonak wrote. “Meanwhile, decision-makers are often so risk-averse they struggle to decide anything. At small scales, everything still works. But at large scales, the effects can be disastrous.” His piece also references a more detailed description of the phenomenon in the Palladium online journal.

As luck would have it, Calgary’s water main debacle produced an archetype of that vanishing breed. James Buker was an engineer in what used to be called the Waterworks division from 1975 to 2016, serving as head of water transmission and distribution for much of the period. Following the Bearspaw rupture, Buker told journalists that such an event became foreseeable after a similarly catastrophic though less damaging water main rupture in 2004. Excavation revealed that pipe had deteriorated to “talcum powder”, as Buker described it, in barely 20 years. This in turn led to the conclusion that the precast concrete used in an entire generation of city water infrastructure installed between 1950 and 1990 was insufficiently resistant to corrosion from soil. Buker was present for the installation of the Bearspaw South line in 1975. The problem, in other words, was well-understood. By some, at least.

But the inversion of priorities that sees the city authorize spending on ugly cactus-like plants for roundabout verges or cartoon-like bas-reliefs of leaping trout in dank freeway underpasses, and the extirpation of men with a mindset like Buker (or another retired city engineer who revealed that 2007 inspection date mentioned above), are not the kinds of emergency Gondek or other public officials have in mind when they declare one. Their kind of emergency mostly involves increasing their powers to boss the rest of us around. In their minds, the critical task is getting the citizenry good and compliant, in this case focusing us entirely on water conservation, so that we don’t ask too many questions about how the work is going and we blame ourselves when “we” fall short.

Hectoring and lecturing: When the state of emergency was declared, local media focussed increasingly citizens’ compliance with water restrictions; the mayor lectured Calgarians on the need to “dig in and do a little bit more”. Shown at bottom, people filling their water jugs at the city’s emergency supply trailer. (Sources of photos: (top) Helen Pike/CBC; (bottom) The Canadian Press/Jeff Mcintosh)

This is more than a rhetorical flourish. Following the state of emergency declaration, local media coverage shifted emphasis from the situation’s technical aspects to water conservation and more water conservation. Multiple articles were devoted, for example, to showcasing how residents in bedroom communities like Airdrie, which draw their drinking water from the city, were “rallying” to cut their water use.

Gondek has been lecturing Calgarians as if we are schoolchildren or simpletons, noting “how well you’re doing” and “when you need to dig in and do a little bit more.” She urged businesses to ask employees to work from home because this, after all, “would save them the time of having a shower in the morning and no one has to worry what they look or smell like, for that matter.” The mayor, though, always turned up looking good, and there were no reports she didn’t smell good.

Going by the city’s rhetoric, the crisis was largely about our failures. As if a construction company owner worrying he’ll have to shut down the jobsite and lay off his workers because the “Stage 4” water restrictions have forbidden welding, applying hot tar or even using glue due to the purported fire hazard is being narrow-minded. As if the costly disruption to thousands of businesses employing tens of thousands of people can just be shrugged off. As if a retired business owner who laboured for 40 years to afford a decent house in a good neighbourhood and now wants to enjoy gardening – and who, after all, pays many thousands in property taxes and water fees every year – is being selfish in worrying that her plants will die. As if receiving water from the City of Calgary is a gift, a privilege the city has every right to withdraw.

Water, water everywhere: The clampdown was based on a fear the city would not have enough water to fight a single major fire, this in a city posting daily water surpluses of 100 million litres, with two rivers (including the Bow River shown at top), two large reservoirs (including the Glenmore Reservoir shown at bottom) and multiple small water bodies to draw from.

Governments today appear to have only two basic states: immovable indolence and unchecked panic. When the first state trips over to the second, a machinery of absurd over-reaction kicks in, including costly campaigns to eradicate phantom risks. The clamp-down on industrial fire hazards was so severe that a reported 800 Calgary construction jobs were at risk of shutdown. The city feared it would not have enough water to fight even one major fire. This despite posting daily water surpluses as high as 100 million litres and having available two rivers, two large reservoirs and dozens of smaller water bodies to draw upon with pumps. The blanket ban on outdoor fires wasn’t lifted even when it rained four days in a row.

The postmodern world’s inability to rationally assess risks and balance possible risk-reduction measures against foreseeable costs and benefits includes a blindness to the principle that too much caution itself creates danger. Every additional precious hour lost during the water main repair process – such as through that nearly day-long safety stand-down – placed additional weight on the 92-year-old Glenmore facility. It was considered an engineering marvel of its era and its feeder main has proved better-built than anything installed in the last 50 years. But if it failed too, Calgary would be without safe drinking water. People might actually die.

Of course it is great – stirring, in fact – how Calgarians rallied almost as one and did what needed to be done under inconvenient circumstances. Limiting water consumption has been a topic in every conversation; people really do care. The same civic-mindedness was shown during a brutal cold snap last winter, when southern Alberta’s electrical grid became overloaded and the system operator was on the verge of ordering rolling blackouts. People responded within minutes to an urgent request to shut off unneeded lights and electrical devices, and the problem passed. But if a whole city’s population can instantly do the right thing on more than one occasion, why can’t that city’s government also do the right things, like paving roads and inspecting aging water mains?

They don’t make ‘em like they used to: The water main break forced the city to rely on the 92-year-old Glenmore Water Treatment Plant (right), built on the north side of the Glenmore Reservoir (left), an engineering marvel of its era.

In the same spirit, I’m certain there still must be dozens, hundreds, even thousands of earnest and well-meaning city managers, tradespeople and technical specialists who know what they’re doing and would love to focus on just getting the job done, if the internal culture would only let them. The repairs are getting done – even if it’s with the help of a small army of private-sector “partners” – so the entire city payroll can’t be incompetent.

But if the Bearspaw South rupture had been felt and not merely declared to be an emergency, then the repair work wouldn’t stop for two injured workers. As Star Trek’s Mr. Spock liked to intone, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” All good progressives used to nod in rhythm to that line; but either the present-day City of Calgary is from a different other planet, or the “many” whose needs must be met aren’t actually the city’s residents.

It’s worth noting that the same progressives who now worry about two injured workers more than 1.6 million city residents were happy to destroy anything and anyone who got in their way during Covid-19. Those questioning the narrative were cast aside like used Kleenex or crushed like cockroaches. The (futile) mission of “stopping the spread” took precedence over everything: the economy, the individual, religion, social relations, common sense, basic rationality.

“Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” said Star Trek’s Mr. Spock (left); the same progressives who used to nod in agreement to that line seemed more worried about two injured workers than the mission to repair infrastructure critical to 1.6 million Calgarians. Shown at right, a Japanese kamikaze pilot in a damaged single-engine bomber over the U.S. Aircraft Carrier USS Essex, off the Philippine Islands, November 1944. (Source of right photo: Rare Historical Photos)

But when it comes to civic infrastructure, the mission doesn’t top the priorities list. Unless the real mission is something other than what is stated. If the mission is to avoid accountability, to go back to the way things have been for the past 30 or so years, and to save the faltering political career of a deeply unpopular mayor, then it all makes a kind of sense. Bringing in specialists from the private sector (from the oil and natural gas industry, no less) to help get them out of the mess, as they quietly announced about 10 days into their week-long repair job – “our best and brightest”, as Gondek put it without any apparent self-awareness – should be seen as confirmation of their desperation, not as a hopeful sign they’re about to change their ways.

George Koch is Editor-in-Chief of C2C Journal.

Source of main image: @cityofcalgary/X.

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Protecting the right to vote for Canadian citizens: Minister McIver

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Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver issued the following statement in response to Calgary City Council’s vote to extend the right to vote to permanent residents:

“Yesterday, Calgary city council passed a motion advocating for permanent residents to be extended the right to vote in civic elections. Alberta’s government has been clear since the beginning: only Canadian citizens are able to vote in civic elections. That will not be changing.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms the right of every Canadian citizen to vote and to run as a candidate. This right extends to voters in municipal, provincial and federal elections.

“Protecting our democracy is of the utmost importance. Our provincial election legislation, like the Local Authorities Elections Act, has also been clear since its inception that voting is a right of Canadian citizens.

“Alberta’s government is also ensuring that voting is accessible for more Albertans. The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act proposes to enable special ballot access for any voter who requests it, without having to provide any specific reason such as physical disability, absence from the municipality or working for the municipal election. The ministries of Seniors, Community and Social Services and Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction are also making it easier for individuals to obtain the identification Albertans need for a variety of services, including the ability to cast a ballot.

“Our government will continue to protect the integrity of our elections and make sure voting is accessible for all Albertans who are Canadian citizens.”

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