"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

The Big Rock Candy Mountains


The Big Rock Candy Mountains is the title of a hobo folk song (see below) about a mythical land, a paradise where all is “milk and honey” and wealth without work is possible. We all know that such a place doesn’t exist, yet all too often we yearn for results without putting in the required effort and desire to harvest without tilling the ground properly or tending to the crop.

To achieve what others do not you must be willing to do what others don’t. Hard work doesn’t guarantee success but it does increase the odds. However, some of the “hardest” work there is, judged by the reluctance of folks to undertake it, is to develop both hard and soft critical thinking skills: the ability, the skill set, that allows you to stand outside yourself, analyze yourself, write down and implement the how, what, where, and why of your goals, develop your life plan, work on your EQ (Emotional Intelligence), your ability to understand, direct, and manage your emotions and those of others.

Self-knowledge is the key to “other” knowledge for we cannot give what we do not have i.e. it is difficult to understand and motivate others if we are not first self-aware and self-motivated. As John D. Rockefeller said: “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” 

Closing Quotes:

“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” – Vince Lombardi, 1913-1970, Coach, Green Bay Packers

“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” – Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867-1959, 5’9”

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.– Colin Powell, b. 1937, Secretary of State, former 4 star general, 6’2”

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier, 1885-1950

The Big Rock Candy Mountains

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, “Boys, I’m not turning
I’m headed for a land that’s far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we’ll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains”

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There’s a land that’s fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
On the birds and the bees
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers’ trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
Oh I’m bound to go
Where there ain’t no snow
Where the rain don’t fall
The winds don’t blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats
And the railway bulls are blind
There’s a lake of stew
And of whiskey too
You can paddle all around ‘em
In a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin.
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in.
There ain’t no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws or picks,
I’m a goin’ to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the Turk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
I’ll see you all this coming Fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

Working Smart is Harder than Working Hard


Standing outside ourselves, seeing ourselves as others see us AND coming to fully understand the lens through which we see the world is a learned ability that must be cultivated. The expression “Fish see water last” helps us understand that our world view is so all persuasive to us, so all compassing, that we forget that other realities and other points of view exist. Traveling and seeing other cultures opens us to the myriad ways humans think and live and how much of what we consider a given is simply a cultural construct, one of many ways.

This all applies to our daily lives, both work and personal.

The most successful people in life are those who’ve mastered the skill of working hard AND smart. There are certainly times when “nose to the grind stone” is the most effective way to achieve a goal (it got me through my first year of Law School!) but if you do not look up on occasion to assess the bigger picture, all that you end up with is a flat nose and a worn out grindstone.

Working smart requires self-awareness. This can be frightening because it involves challenging long held assumptions and strongly held beliefs, repeatedly asking “Why?” at deeper and deeper levels. Many people find this unsettling, myself one of them (The Cave You Fear to Enter Holds the Treasure You Seek!). I often visualize my emotions as a way of gaining clarity; the process of self-examination seemed like staring into a blinding light that made me so want to look away. I was afraid that if I “took myself apart” to examine how my inner workings functioned, that I might not be able to put it all back together; if I shut off the engine (my internal drive) for maintenance, I might not be able to re-start it. In spite of these fears, I persisted and the result has been a happier, more balanced, contented life. I’ve chosen to spend much of my life as a task focused, goal driven, and achievement oriented personality. The process of self-examination has helped me avoid the classic letdown that can occur when a major life goal is achieved… and while satisfying on one level, leaves you feeling incredibly empty on another i.e. the “is that all there is?” syndrome (“The moment of victory is too brief to live for that alone.”)

Closing Quotes

“Extraordinary Effort is a requirement for success but knowing where to put that effort is even more important.” – NSC

“Thinking is some of the hardest work there is, that is why so few people do it.” – Henry Ford

“When you live for a strong purpose, then hard work isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.” – Steve Pavlina (presumably the “strong purpose” springs from a deep sense of self awareness about one’s role/goals in life and the meaning of life to that individual)

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier


Never Give Up on Your Dreams… is STUPID Advice!


Hey! I’m into motivation, positivity, optimism, inspirational quotes, and thinking BIG! I also am into self-awareness, being open to feedback, staying flexible, plus learning, evolving, and adapting on the fly and having a great Plan B. It is very possible to be overly fixated on a given dream or goal and lose sight of WHY we want that dream and how it fits into the overall context of our lives (The Bridge over the River Kwai effect).

Learning (mastering!) the delicate Art of Balance is a lifelong pursuit. I choose to frame it as engaging in a continuous and never ending process of “goal assessment/re-prioritization”, a much healthier perspective than “abandoning my dreams”. Believe me, I’m as stubborn and persistent as they come BUT I’ve learned that many dreams are mirages that do not deliver the promised nirvana (Madison Ave and our pop culture tend to over promise, under deliver + everywhere you go, you are still you) or that there are other, better alternatives or that I’ve changed and what I want/need now is very different than when I first embraced a given dream.

There is also a fair amount of chaos and chance in life; there is something to be said for embracing it. More than once my arrow has missed its mark but I’ve nonetheless found joy and happiness in the outcome; you might say I simply went to the arrow and re-drew the target so the arrow was dead on in the bulls eye!

Closing Quotes

“That which yields is not always weak.” – Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Dart

“Develop flexibility and you will be firm; cultivate yielding and you will be strong.” – Liezi, The Book of Master Lie

“For a flexible person, it is impossible not to reach his destination, because by using his ability to be flexible, he can easily define a nearer new destination!” – Mehmet Murat ildan

“What would you do if you couldn’t do what you want? – Something else.” – Marty Rubin

“A flexible mind has a better chance to think differently and take a unique path in the life journey.” – Pearl Zhu

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier