Character Creates Opportunity® – Differences: Thursday, July 31, 2014

Our communities, our workplaces, and our homes continue to grow more complex and diverse.  There is a growing demand for more education and training to ensure we can better understand differences, learn to fully appreciate differences, and then begin to leverage those differences to move in a positive direction toward our objectives.

Over the last 20+ years, we have all witnessed the increased attention on and the “managerial assessment” of our ability to understand, appreciate, and leverage differences to make our schools and communities better and our businesses more competitive.  As our businesses and our marketplaces become more diverse, there has emerged a critical skill set of leaders; Leaders need to be able to recruit and develop diverse teams, create an environment where differences are valued and efficiently assessed, and then take action on those differences to deliver a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  These efforts have helped to make businesses more effective in the global marketplace.

What stands in stark contrast to our efforts in our schools, communities, and businesses to understand, appreciate, and leverage differences to deliver better outcomes, is our limited effort to do the same in our homes.  Our unwillingness to make a real effort to try and understand, appreciate, and then leverage our differences within the home is at the root of some of the most painful and heartbreaking family conflicts.

There is a great deal of information and practical experience that demonstrates we are so willing to work hard in areas outside the home to appreciate the differences of others, but in the home, the data on family conflict would show we are unwilling to make the same effort to understand the differences around our dinner tables. We are often quick to dismiss or trivialize, or in some cases become intolerant of, the very basic differences within our homes.  Some of the differences that form the foundation of family conflict are leveraged to build stronger teams in the workplace:

1)      Communication styles: Expressive vs. introverts, talkers vs. listeners

2)      Work strengths: Time and attention to detail vs. productivity to get things done

3)      Process: The methodical planner vs. the spontaneous decision maker

4)      Schedules: The night owl vs. the early riser

5)      Personalities: The “rebel” vs. the one that “falls in line”

6)      Generational mindset:  Old school vs. new school

7)      Individuality: The tattooed vs. the non-tattooed  (well, I am not sure that one fits yet)

Incompatibility or “irreconcilable differences” is the reason given for most family break-ups. Family conflict at the table This reason goes beyond marriages.  Incompatibility is at the root of parent-child conflict, in-law struggles, and the “exiled” cousin or uncle who disappears from the family radar screen.  Quite often, the genesis of our struggles in families is the devaluing or resentment of our differences instead of embracing and treasuring our differences to build something bigger and better than ourselves.  We would not tolerate a point of view in the workplace that says “we don’t like people to be different.”  However, in our homes, we are so quick and willing to enable differences to divide and break-up our family without first putting forth the effort to better understand those differences and hopefully, try and appreciate those differences to keep the family circle intact.

As we work hard to better understand, more deeply appreciate, and begin leveraging differences in our home and our workplace, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to build strong businesses and strong families.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Eternity: Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eternity. Some of us may have different views about the practical nature of our own personal journey through “forever” as a realistic timeline. I happen to believe there is an eternity for each one of us to experience and, like most things in life, it is our choice about how we experience that eternity.

However, for the purpose of today’s blog, I want to discuss a relevant and practical view of eternity in the form of the legacy we leave behind.

For a variety of reasons, most of us will not have our names in the history books, the world-record books, or any other well-known document read by millions in the next 100-200 years. [Except for things we do on an electronic medium via the web. Sorry, I just had to toss that in there as a warning to all of us that those regrettable emails, the photos that our moms would not approve, and those unkind, off-the-cuff comments online, will live forever. In the electronic world, the “e” does stand for a real eternity. In the workplace and among family and friends, we should all practice the discipline of “pause and think” before we hit “send” or update our “status.”]

Back on today’s message. Most of us have a real and practical knowledge of, and in some cases, vivid memories, of a few key people in the generations of our past. We certainly can remember parents, grandparents, and perhaps great-grandparents, but it starts to get real fuzzy after a few generations. Depending on our level of engagement with parents and grandparents, we may have memories of their friends, maybe coworkers and bosses, but for all practical purposes, there is limited personal knowledge beyond the family tree when we go back a few generations.

So there we have it; a practical view of leaving a legacy is that we probably have a realistic chance that our grandchildren and our great grandchildren will remember us. I can remember a great quote from Cal Ripken upon his retirement from baseball, when he was asked, “How do you want to be remembered?” Cal replied, “Just being remembered would be nice.” In many ways, a great hope for all of us would be to “just be remembered” by our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I doubt any of us can recall whether a great-grandparent wore fashionable clothes, drove the finest car of the day, had a great watch, or some other material possession. At most, we remember, or we were told, whether or not they were involved in their family, in their work, and in service to a cause bigger than themselves. We remember if they were kind and helpful or mean and hurtful.

In terms of reaching our potential, it would be great to have a few generations along the family tree not only “just remember us,” but remember us as kind, helpful, productive, and committed to our family and to a worthy cause…the things that matter most.

As we think about leaving a legacy, here are a few practical considerations:character-creates-opportunity-2014-250-by-250px
1) We need to be intentional with our efforts to leave a legacy as there is a great risk of being forgotten. Like many important endeavors, intentional effort begins with a big dream or idea, followed by the very practical steps of making a plan and then the discipline to work the plan. Leaving a legacy within our families is too important to just “wing it.”
2) As the saying goes, our thoughts turn into actions; our actions turn into habits; our habits develop our character; and our character becomes our legacy. Leaving a legacy starts in our thought life. When our thoughts, that drive decisions and then actions, are grounded in principles like commitment, loyalty, and sacrifice, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to leave the legacy we all desire.

I wish you all the best in leaving the legacy you desire. It is never too early for us to start. We only have that great unknown which is “the rest of our lives” to make progress.


Harvest Time Partners, Inc. Launches a Children’s Book Series to Expand Its Line of Character-Building Products

Children's Books from Harvest Time PartnersChildren’s Books Reinforce the Importance of Principle-based Decision Making

Portage, MI (July 23, 2014)Harvest Time Partners, Inc. has created The Principles of Our World, a unique line of children’s books designed to help families and educators teach children about the importance of principles like courage, teamwork, and sacrifice. The Principles of Our World book series provides resources to help parents and teachers support children as they grow in a world that continues to become more complex, intense, and uncertain. Through lessons in principle-based decision making, the books aim to help children accomplish their hopes and dreams in a challenging and changing world.

Today, Harvest Time Partners, Inc., a rapidly growing personal- and professional-development company, is launching the first five books in the series with plans to launch one new book each month through the remainder of the 2014. The books provide parents and educators with the opportunity to read to young children (ages 4+) and to offer young, independent readers (ages 7+) a great addition to their book collection.

Sections of The Principles of Our World book series can be accessed from the company’s website at

The books are currently available through a growing number of retail stores and online at Each book in the series sells for $9.99.

David Esposito, author and managing partner of Harvest Time Partners, was inspired by his experiences as a combat veteran, business executive, husband, and father of four to create resources that remind families about the importance of principles like courage and honesty.

“We are excited to continue to expand our line of products to help build and strengthen character,” said Esposito. “As our world continues to grow more challenging, there is a need for resources that support and encourage families to learn how to more effectively deal with today’s realities. The Principles of Our World book series reinforces the importance of character and principle-based decision making as powerful means to succeed in today’s world.“

Harvest Time Partners, Inc. was created almost 20 years ago to provide support to individuals, families, and organizations on a variety of topics and subjects encompassing personal and executive development, team building, leadership training, and building a strong marriage and family. Harvest Time Partners provides character-building seminars, workshops, and custom programs designed to increase personal effectiveness, enhance character development, and strengthen the bonds of marriage and family. For more information, visit

Character Creates Opportunity® – Decisiveness: Thursday, July 17, 2014

Analysis-Paralysis is a common phrase describing the grind that goes on with over analyzing a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, or taken so late, it misses the intended opportunity. The first time I heard a similar expression – “He who hesitates is lost, Esposito!!”- I was a stutter stepping tailback trying to find an open hole in the defense to gain a few yards.

There is a cost to indecision and hesitation.

In organizations, families, and on the individual level, the cost is somewhat the same:
(1) Missed Opportunity. We miss the chance to capitalize on an opportunity. Whether it is a business deciding to acquire a new technology or a spouse deciding “the right time” for an important conversation, the window of opportunity closes pretty fast around the things that matter most.
(2) Drain on Energy. We spend a great deal of physical and emotional energy in the continual cycle of debate, discussion, analysis, and hidden agendas, that when we finally make a decision, we have limited energy to execute on it.
(3) Failure to learn. Benjamin Franklin once said, “The things which hurt, instruct.” In not making a decision, many times we postpone relevant learning and personal growth.

In an effort to encourage more efficient decision making, it is important we face a few realities:man with question on white. Isolated 3D image In the complexity of life, we rarely have all the necessary information, the facts are not always gathered, and quite often there is not a clear cut answer. Regardless, the situation still demands a decision and an action. If the decision is pretty straight-forward, then we better get in the habit of making them quickly and spending our effort in adding value in more complex areas otherwise we risk being replaced by a computer with an algorithm in work or becoming irrelevant in the home.

Assessing the complex situations and making the tough decisions is what we get paid to do in the workplace and what we are called to do as parents or guardians.

Here are a few suggestions to support and encourage decisiveness in our lives:
(1) Don’t wing it. That may sound counter to the above comments, but when we just “go with our gut,” we run a big risk of becoming “extinct by instinct.” We have a responsibility to be intentional with our effort and that requires thought to determine direction. Winging it is not responsible behavior with respect to the important things in life.
(2) Alignment. Our first checkpoint should be to ensure a potential decision aligns with our intent (insert whatever descriptor you wish to use: mission, purpose, core values, principles, etc.). If a potential decision causes us to compromise our intent, we should quickly and clearly make our “NO” really mean “NO” and move on.
(3) Sooner rather than later. Through a fair amount of very personal one on one discussions with individuals around issues in the workplace or in the home, combined with my own journey in the workplace and at home, most of us “shuffle our feet” too long in the grey zone of “maybe” or “someday” instead of YES or NO today. For the things that matter most, our organizations and our families will be better off with a YES or a NO rather than a “maybe” or a “someday.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

As we efficiently step up and make decisions to get “in the arena” of life, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach out full potential.


Character Creates Opportunity® – Family Engagement: Thursday, July 10, 2014

If I asked you, “what are the most difficult challenges you are facing today?” – What would you say?

Some may describe a particular relationship struggle in the home.  Others may describe a challenge at work in achieving a particular objective or dealing with a boss or coworker.  While others may describe some seemingly insurmountable financial difficulties either personally or in their business. Still others may have health issues that are all consuming.  Some may have lost purpose in their chosen career.  Perhaps others may describe a struggle with the past that continues to weigh them down.

What would you say?

Many of our struggles with work, finances, career choices, and even health issues have a natural ebb and flow throughout our journey of life.  If we gathered up all the academic research in human psychology, talked to countless numbers of “life-coaching” gurus, and reflected back on our own lives, we would all describe that despite our world growing more complex and intense, the most difficult and lasting struggles are still found in the home.  Family conflicts are the most heart-breaking of all of life’s toughest problems.dv1223092

When we separate out the “normal” short-term ups and downs, we come to a clear conclusion that most long-term, sustaining family conflicts have their beginnings during the major transition points in life.  Just to state a few of the obvious ones:

  • Transition into marriage.  “Two become one” is a lot easier said than done.
  • Transition into parenting.  Time, effort, commitment take on a whole new level understanding.
  • Transition for children to adolescence to adulthood.  Moving from “being taught” to “choosing to learn” is a responsibility that not everyone wants to accept.
  • Transition of parenting.  The parental struggles of purpose and meaning when grown children become exactly what we want them to be, self-sufficient to take on the world.
  • Transition of generations.  The grandparent struggle for purpose and meaning when grown children and grandchildren are actively engaged in the building of their own lives.
  • Transition of life & death.  The struggle with the loss and the legacy.

Here are a few suggestions to support and encourage Intentional Family Engagement to more effectively deal with the tension that occurs through life’s most critical transitions:

(1)    Regroup:  Whether it is a marriage that has fallen off the tracks or families seeing a lack of care and concern, someone needs the courage to be the catalyst to “gather around the table” and raise the issue.  Avoidance is not a healthy option.  We don’t need the brilliance to come up with a solution, just the courage to start the discussion.

(2)    Understanding: This time (as we all probably fell short the first go around), genuinely try to understand the other person’s point of view.  Too often we are continually angling to have our point of view “win.” For perhaps the first time ever, focus all effort on trying to understand the other person’s point of view to a level that we can describe it back to them to his/her satisfaction.  Then and only then, should we proceed with raising our point of view.  It has been my experience, that when I have done this, my supposedly “brilliant” point of view was not even relevant to the real issue at hand.  Understanding is the most critical step along the path to resolving family conflict.

(3)    Seek a new direction.  Albert Einstein once said, “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”  We need to come to the reality that the quick fixes that may have worked in the past, are most likely irrelevant today.  A new direction, anchored on timeless principles like honesty, loyalty, and commitment, should be our rallying cry.

If the three points above don’t work for you and when all else fails, just take the advice of one of my children who has a discerning heart to sense conflict in our home and simply have the courage to say, “I need a hug.”  Believe it or not, there is an overwhelming amount of research to show that a physical touch can break down walls of conflict in the home.  Even when tensions are high, both sides in the home should find the courage to touch.  It has been shown to make all the difference in getting on the right path to healing the wounds suffered during a family conflict.

As we develop the courage to regroup, seek understanding and a new direction, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to effectively address the most difficult of all of life’s struggles, family conflicts.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Building Strength: Thursday, July 3, 2014

Exercise provides a tremendous benefit to our physical and mental health. David Running

We all have probably experienced the pattern of a rigorous workout routine or some sort of physical activity followed by sore muscles in the next day or so.  With some consistency over time, we build greater strength and endurance to take on even greater physical challenges.  Combined with good nutrition, our body has a great process for tearing down muscles with exercise and then rebuilding stronger over time.  With a stronger body, we could all live a healthier more abundant life.

The same basic concept on building physical strength can be said about the process to build and strengthen our character.   There is some exciting emerging science in the field of neurobiology that describes a similar process in our minds that supports mental health and in turn, healthier relationships and the foundation for greater personal impact.  Dr. Daniel Siegel from the UCLA School of Medicine and co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has been doing some amazing research on how we can more effectively wire our brains to improve our own self-awareness, our empathy for others, and our collective sense as a family, a team, etc.  Mental activities like our feelings and thoughts flow as patterns of energy within our brains.  Our brains actually change connections and those connections grow stronger in response to our thoughts and the focus of our attention.  The process is called neuroplasticity.

Our character is built and strengthened when our thoughts, decisions, and actions are based on principles like honesty, courage, and loyalty.  When we consistently choose to have principles guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions, we are fundamentally changing the mental maps of our brains.  We begin to hard-wire and strengthen the most effective pathways to endure the ups and downs of life while heading in a healthy direction to build strong relationships in families, the workplace, and our communities.  Over time, we create and strengthen the patterns to be honest, courageous, forgiving, and faithful, no matter what the situation, based on the physical changes taking place in our brains.

The reverse is also true.  When we focus our attention on thoughts, decisions, and actions of deception to take the easy way out, hiding the truth to avoid embarrassment, or running from the tough conversation, we physically change our mental map.  We build strength around those connections in our brain to make deception, avoidance, and dishonesty the well-worn pattern of our behavior and our character is weakened.  When we encounter the need for courage to have the difficult, but necessary conversation, we avoid it and take the easy way out because we have strengthened our brain to go down that path.

Just like my inconsistent workout routines over the years, I can see seasons of my life where I developed well-worn mental maps in both areas.  Perhaps you can also.  The great news is, we all have the choice to get back on the most effective path.   Just like beginning a new exercise routine, it is a little painful at first, but once we build the pattern, the strength follows, and we start feeling better.

As we anchor our thoughts, decisions, and action on principles, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to hard-wire our brain to take the most effective path to health in our relationships, our businesses, and our communities.