Failing forward

In 2000 John Maxwell wrote a book that helped me immensely. The book was Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success. All of Maxwell’s books have helped me in my leadership development, but this one spoke to me in new ways. Few people who write about leadership and motivation talk positively about failure. This book did that and gave me a totally different perspective on failure that I previously held. Not only did Maxwell talk about failure, he talked positively about it! Failure is not something to fear. It is something to embrace because it means we are doing something. We are growing.

Failure is something I know a lot about. I’ve had both small failures in my life and some really big ones. Like most people I have made poor decisions in the past that cost me. While they were painful, most of them were relatively minor and it was fairly easy to move on. However, some of my failures have been much greater and had a major impact on me and others.

My biggest failure was when we lost a business we owned in 2010. When we took ownership of the business it was thriving and profitable. It remained that way for a number of years until it went into a slow decline. When the economy tanked in 2008 we were not able to save the business. This was one of the most painful periods of my life because I knew much of the fault of that failure was mine. Mistakes I made in running that business brought about its demise. I later wrote a book about that experience called Mistakes: Avoiding the Wrong Decisions That Will Close Your Small Business. I wrote the book partly as therapy for me, but mostly to help the reader avoid the mistakes I made that might cause their business to fail. The book is only available as an ebook.

What helped me during that difficult time was what I learned about failure from reading Maxwell’s book. I knew that as painful as losing our business was, there was much I could learn. I had learned that failure is never final unless we allow it to be. I learned that growth can come from failure, and we can build upon our failures to enjoy greater successes later. I know, for instance, that I will not make the same mistakes in my auction business today that I made in that business back then.

If we remain afraid of failure we will never attempt anything new. We will remain stuck in our ruts thinking and acting the way we know is safe. Unfortunately, the world is changing so rapidly thinking and acting the way we always have is no longer safe. Eventually, we will be left behind. We have to be willing to take risks or we will never achieve the things we want to achieve. Sometimes when we take risks we will fail, and when that happens we need to learn to fail forward.

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Setting your goals for 2019

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to begin setting your goals for 2019. I am a big believer in goal setting and have done so for several years. I forget when I first began setting goals, but it started after I attended a Zig Ziglar seminar and heard him talk about the power of goal setting. I purchased his material (back then in was on cassette tapes) and began to work through it. I was amazed at how many of my goals I achieved and how productive I was throughout that year. I never looked back.

As part of preparing to set goals for 2019 I read an excellent book by Michael Hyatt called Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals. Part of it was information I already knew, but there was a lot of new material in it that will be helpful as I go forward. For instance, he references a study that demonstrated that writing one’s goals¬†boosted achievement by 42 percent. I have always written out my goals and knew that doing so was instrumental in achieving them, but I didn’t realize how much of an impact writing out the goals had on achieving them.

In another place he wrote that people lose their way when they lose their why. Again, this is something I knew. In every written goal document I write out what achieving this goal will accomplish. That’s my why, but it was helpful to have the author confirm what I was doing was important.

Goals should include every area of your life: business or career, family, self-care, personal improvement, financial, health, etc. They should also include short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. However, you do not want too many goals or they become overwhelming and unmanageable. For most people 8-10 goals a year should be enough, and depending on how far out you want to achieve that goal will depend on how much you have to focus on it that particular year. For instance, if a long-term goal is to have X amount of money in retirement savings then you probably don’t need to address that goal every week. You just need to make sure you are taking the steps to get you there and then check on your progress when you get your account statements.

On the other hand, if your goal is to pay off a debt as quickly as possible, you will need to stay on top of this at least monthly. The key is to not wait until the end of the year to see if you achieved your goal but to stay on top of it throughout the year and track your progress.

I have found that having specific goals help keep me focused on the most important things that I have identified as important to me. If you do not have a plan for your life other people will, and their plan may not be the best one for you. It also makes me more productive because I can go from one task to the next without having to stop and think about what I need to be doing. Ziglar used to point out that our most productive days were often the ones just before we left for vacation. We knew what we needed to do before we left, and we made sure we did them. Working in accordance with our goals gives us that same laser focus.

If you want 2019 to be more productive and more beneficial to you and your family, begin now to set goals that will allow that to happen. I think you’ll be glad you did.

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Closing out the year

This past Tuesday night I had my last auction for 2018. We had a good turnout and an excellent sale. Now it’s time to enjoy the Christmas season and spend time with family and friends. It’s also a time to relax and spend some time planning for the upcoming year. Chances are you can’t shut down your normal work routine for a month like I can (It helps to have retired twice!), but it’s still a good opportunity to think about the year ahead.

I’m a big fan of setting goals, and this is the time of the year I think about my goals for the coming year. It all begins by deciding what I want to accomplish in the next year and years following and thinking through about how to achieve them. I’ve found that without specific goals it becomes too easy to drift through life, and drifting seldom achieves much of value. I’ll write more about goal setting in the next few days.

The holiday season is always a busy time for most people, but it’s still a great time to consider the many blessings you’ve enjoyed during the current year. Perhaps you can’t wait until the year is over. I get that; I’ve had years like that. Sometimes all you want is to start over fresh in a new year and put the current one behind you. Even then, there are things for which you can be thankful. As I think about the meaning of the Christmas season and the reason we celebrate it there is much for which we can be thankful. The birth of Jesus Christ can bring hope to every person if we’ll receive it.

Many of us stress over the gifts we’ll give to our family and friends. Let me suggest that in your gift giving give the one gift almost anyone will appreciate: your time and your love. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I think it’s important to make sure people know how I feel about them. I want to give my flowers to people while they are alive. I want my kids and grandkids to know how much they mean to me. I want my friends to know how they’ve impacted my life. The best way to make sure they know that is to tell them. When you give them the gift of your love you can be pretty sure they won’t take it back for a refund!

For me, the end of the year has always been a time of closing out the past and looking forward to a new, fresh start at the beginning of the new year. I grew up with an Etch-a-Sketch that consisted of a piece of plastic over a black board. To erase what you had put on the plastic all you had to do was raise the plastic up. When you did that you had a fresh slate to write on. That’s how I see a new year. We get brand new opportunities to do with whatever we please. The key to a happy, successful life is to do the most important things with those opportunities.

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Overwhelmed by an inheritance

A few years ago a gentleman I knew passed away. I knew he attended auctions and sold items in an antique mall, but I never knew how much he had accumulated over the years. He had never married, and his family lived away. They also did not know how much he had until they hired an auctioneer to sell his estate. One of the men who worked for that auctioneer later told me there was literally a path through the house with items stacked floor to ceiling in every room. Evidently, the garage was the same way, and they later found a storage unit that was also packed. It took 17 sales to dispose of the estate. What was even more incredible was the quality of the items this individual owned.

I worked the ring for 2-3 of those 17 auctions,, and everything that was sold was quality. Usually in an estate sale you’ll have quality items, average items and junk. I never saw a piece of junk in this sale. He had accumulated both quantity and quality.

Most people would have been overwhelmed if they had inherited an estate like that, especially if they didn’t know what all it contained which this family did not. Fortunately, they made a wise decision and called in someone who could dispose of the estate for them. They didn’t have to deal with the stresses of disposing of the estate. They passed that stress off to a professional auctioneer who was able to serve them well during a difficult time in their lives.

Chances are you won’t have to deal with such an inheritance. Most people don’t, but many of us are given the responsibility of selling an estate after a loved one dies. This can be a very stressful time, and it can lead to a lot of mistakes. Unless the estate is very small it’s often wise to bring in someone with experience in disposing of estates. This might be someone who does estate sales; it could be an estate buyer who will pay one price and take everything, or it might be an auctioneer.¬†

Why is dealing with an inheritance such a stressful time? There can be several reasons for this, and I have witnessed all of them.

  1. There is such a large amount of items that the task of disposing of them is overwhelming. You do not know what things are worth, how you can best sell them or you don’t live close enough or have the time to properly deal with them.
  2. Various family members are at odds regarding who should get what items. This often happens when there is no will. The executor can easily get caught in the middle with no way of making everyone happy. At such times, the fairest way is to sell everything at auction, and family members can buy what they want.
  3. Sometimes people have such an emotional attachment to items in the estate that it’s painful to consider selling them. At such times it’s often best to stay away from the auction while the estate is being sold. I conducted one auction where the family moved out of state and told me to send them a check when the sale was over. They did not want to be present for the sale.

Fortunately, family members do not have to be overwhelmed by an estate. Again, hiring someone to dispose of the estate relieves the family of much of those stresses.

As an auctioneer I will, of course, suggest that having an auction is often the best way to dispose of an inheritance. Unless the estate is very large like the one mentioned earlier, everything will be sold in one or two auctions so it’s done quickly. The market will determine the prices for which the items will be sold. After the auction you will have a final settlement sheet showing the amount of the sale and all expenses that will be helpful for your records. Often, personal property needs to be sold in order to get the house ready for market, and an auction can make that happen quickly. Of course, the real estate can also be sold at the same time at auction which allows the estate to be closed every more quickly.

If you have inherited an estate that you need to sell I encourage you to contact a local auctioneer to see if having an auction is the best alternative for you. If you live in southeast Indiana or northern Kentucky, feel free to contact me. I would love to talk to you about how our company might be able to serve you.


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How to make an absentee bid

Most auctions accept absentee bids. Sometimes these come from people who live some distance from the auction and are only interested in an item or two, but most of the time they come from local people who have other commitments when the auction is being held. I’ve sold items to people in California and Tennessee from auctions I’ve done here in Indiana, but most of the absentee bids I’ve received have come from local people.

Absentee bids usually come when people look at the auction listing on or the auctioneer’s web page. They see an item they like and contact the auctioneer for more information. If they like what they see and hear but cannot attend the auction, they give an absentee bid. This is the maximum amount they will pay for that item.

Some auctioneers will start the bidding at that amount. I don’t. Sometimes a person will tell me where they want to start their bidding, and I honor that. Otherwise, I will try to get a bid from the floor and then start bidding for the absentee bidder from that point on. If no bids come from the floor, I will set in the person’s absentee bid at an amount we have previously agreed upon. This ensures the absentee bidder is not penalized for not attending the auction.

Some auctioneers will bid up to 10 percent above the maximum bid for the buyer. I do not do that. I once had a person leave a $200.00 bid on a stone jug. It sold for $205.00. When I told her she did not get the jug she was a little frustrated saying she would have given a little more. I explained she gave me a maximum bid, and that was as far as I would go. The next person might have gotten upset if I had exceeded their max bid. Don’t assume the auctioneer can read your mind as to what your max bid really is. At least with me, whatever you tell me is your max bid is the most I will bid on your behalf.

If you are interested in giving an absentee bid, do not wait until an hour before the sale to do so. I’ve come home after a sale to find a call on my phone from someone who wanted to bid on an item. Try to get your absentee bids to the auctioneer as early as possible. Another reason for doing so is there might be two or more people who want to make the same absentee bid for the same amount. The one who makes the bid first will have priority over the others.

Some auctioneers will require an absentee bidder to provide a credit card number in case he or she is the winning bidder. I do not do that although I might in certain situations. If the buyer wants to pay by check, he or she should expect to wait several days for the check to clear payment before the item is shipped. Also, there will be shipping charges added to the final bill. I always take the item to the post office to determine the exact cost to ship it before calling the buyer with the final cost, and when payment is made the item is shipped.

In most cases, making an absentee bid is safe, and most auctioneers will not take advantage of such bids. It is a great way to purchase something at an auction you can not attend.

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I’m very thankful

My post the day before Thanksgiving encouraged my readers to take time to think about things for which they are thankful. I took my advice and saw once again how blessed I am.

I’m thankful for being raised at the time I was raised. It was a time when a kid didn’t have to wear a helmet to ride a bicycle. It was a time when you could drink water out of a water hose instead of a bottle you bought at the store. It was a time when kids went outside to play rather than wearing out their thumbs playing video games and talking on their cell phones.

I was raised on a dairy farm which meant I had chores to do every day. By the time I was around 8-9 I was driving tractors and trucks through the fields, plowing and disking the fields and raking hay. I spent many hours each summer in the hay loft stacking bales of hay. Today, that would probably be considered child abuse and some nosy neighbor would call Child Protective Services. It wasn’t child abuse; it was how young people learned how to work for a living rather than think society owes you a living.

I was raised in a time when boys carried knives to school and everywhere they went. Every man and boy had a knife in their pocket, not for protection, but for work. In high school it wasn’t uncommon to see loaded guns in vehicles. Interestingly enough, there were never any mass shootings at schools or anywhere else. I wonder what’s changed.

I’m thankful to have been raised in a church where I was taught right and wrong. I admit I did not always do what was right, but at least I knew when I was doing wrong. We were taught morals and respect for one another. Like many in my generation, when I reached my later teens I veered away from those teachings, but there came a time when I returned to them. Many young people today have no religious training to come back to when life gets difficult, and, believe me, life will get difficult for everyone at some point. I worry about those who have no moral compass and no religious instruction to return to.

Fifty-two years ago I married my wife. I had just turned 18; she was a year older. Everyone told us we were too young, and it would never last. I think we proved them wrong. I’m thankful to have married a woman who wouldn’t run off the first time we had a bump in our relationship, and there have been bumps. There always are, but we’ve worked through every one of them.

We had two children who have given us seven grandchildren. I’m so thankful for every one of them. What a blessing! I could write a multi-volume book on all the ways they have enriched my life.

I’m thankful that we’ve had no major health issues and are able to do much of what we want. I’m thankful we have a comfortable home in which to live, food to eat, and a reason to get up every morning.

Most of all, I’m thankful for my relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I invited Him into my life at a very low point in my life. I’ve received His forgiveness of my sins and I’m confident of my future because of Him. I’m thankful that He called me into the ministry which has allowed me to touch the lives of many people through my pastoral ministry, my work as a judicatory minister and my books and seminars. Today, my ministry includes my work as an auctioneer which gives me the opportunity to help people in difficult times in their lives.

No blog post could include everything for which I’m thankful. I didn’t have time to mention my service in the Navy which taught me discipline, the various careers I’ve enjoyed, the education I received later in my life than most of my peers, and a host of other things.

I hope you found things for which you are thankful during this Thanksgiving season.


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2018 has been a mixed bag for our family. We’ve had both high and low points throughout the year. I’m sure many would say the same thing. A few people I know have said they will be glad when this year is over. They’ve mostly had low points. I understand how they feel because I’ve been there.

As we approach Thanksgiving I encourage you consider the things for which you are thankful. As often said in recent years, Thanksgiving has become the forgotten holiday. We go from Halloween to Christmas. Some of my neighbors have already put up their outdoor Christmas displays, and I’ve heard several say they’ve finished their Christmas shopping already.

I’m not sure why we have made Thanksgiving the forgotten holiday. Maybe it’s because many are not as grateful as they might be. When I see and hear some of the things that people say it’s obvious they are not grateful for living in a country that affords them so much freedom. Many young people seem especially selfish and entitled, and when things do not go their way they respond either by rioting or running to their “safe place.” With such an attitude it’s hard to be thankful for what we do have.

Sometime during Thanksgiving day sit down and begin to make a list of the things for which you are thankful. You can make a second list if you want of things for which you are not thankful, but I bet you’ll find the thankful list will be longer. Take at least a little time between football games and dinner to talk to your family about those things that make you thankful. If you are a Christian like me be sure to thank Him for the blessings you’ve experienced this past year. If you don’t believe in God, thank Him anyway. It won’t hurt!

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts and for following me. May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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