Character Creates Opportunity® – Home for the Holidays: Thursday, November 27, 2014

Throughout this week, many cars on the highway look like a tryout for the next “mayhem” insurance commercial with suitcases strapped to the roof, bags jammed up against back windows, and pillows propped up against seats as families travel to see relatives and make the long trek back home.

Whether we are returning to the home where we were raised, having others come back home, or visiting the home of close family or friends, there is something special about coming home.

Home represents a permanent mark on our identity.  In addition, as we grow older and hopefully wiser, home brings about the reminder of our most critical responsibility to society; to build and sustain a strong and stable family. Success in the workplace will come and go, our “15 minutes of fame” will come and go, and for most of us, an enduring impact on the global stage of history will be unattainable, but the effort we put forth in the home will always be a part of our legacy.

Home is also the place where we live through the full spectrum of our emotional experience from our greatest highs to our greatest lows. In between those extremes, we can dwell in that most unfortunate place called apathy, where we just “check-out” as the furnace of conflict and disappointment presents an appealing choice to just quietly endure while we emotionally move on to some other source of comfort and acceptance.

Throughout our lives, there will always be moments in time when we return home in some physical or emotional sense.  As an adult, we remember our childhood experiences in the home of our upbringing. As an “empty nester” parent, we remember what the home was like when it was filled with kids.  As a frazzled parent with growing children in the home, we have little time for reflection as we continue to be pounded on the anvil of schedules, to do lists, and the expectations of others. In addition, as a family struggles with the loss of a loved one, we remember the times of togetherness we shared before tragedy struck.

As we continue on our important journey to build and strengthen our character, there are moments like the holiday season where it is helpful to return home with a sense of thankfulness.Thankfulness

Making the choice to be thankful when we return home, physically and/or emotionally, for the holidays is an important step to build and strengthen our character for a few simple reasons:

(1)    Thankfulness consistently returns numerous positive benefits.  Volumes of research in academia and real-life experience demonstrate that people who are thankful are healthier, both physically and emotionally, have stronger relationships, and inoculate themselves from the negative effects of thinking about what we don’t have or harboring resentment or envy tied to what others possess.   Thankfulness keeps us grounded.

(2)    Thankfulness helps overcome the struggles of life.  There is no “perfect” home.  We all have and we all will continue to experience significant family conflict in our homes.  Just like the pain and discomfort associated with a new workout routine will eventually make our bodies stronger, with a sense of thankfulness, we will build our emotional strength to overcome the inevitable next family conflict.  Thankfulness softens the heart and opens a desire to understand instead of judge during conflict in the home.

(3)    Thankfulness helps us reach our full potential and helps those around us reach their full potential.  Do you enjoy hanging around people who gripe and complain?  Being thankful builds encouragement for ourselves and others.  It builds the foundation for all of us to reach our full potential.  Rather than getting sucked into the dark sea of negativity and complaint, being thankful puts our footing on solid ground to build a positive legacy in our home.

We are consistently drawn to come back home not because of where it is, but because of what it represents.  As we remain thankful in our home, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and help those around us reach their full potential.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Heading in the Right Direction: Thursday, November 20, 2014

We have all heard the expression “life is a journey, not a destination.”  Many times we forget that truth in the chaos of real life with necessary tasks, budgets, work projects, “Black Friday” sales, holiday events with families, and a host of other deadline driven items.  We have a tendency to forget that for all practical purposes, there is no finish line in our lives.  We continue to journey-on despite how many tasks we complete, goals we accomplish, or “bucket list” items we check-off.  We seem to find new, important items on the back page of our once completed check-list.

In addition to the realization that we will always be on a journey despite how many tasks we complete, at certain points in our lives, we realize that life is not a smooth ride:

  • As a young student, when school days move from recess and story time to homework, grades and standardized assessments that place us in the “average” bucket.
  • As a young athlete, when the tryouts and cuts come as participation moves from “everyone who signs up” to only those who can help the team win.
  • As a college student, when an education begins to cost real money and the once theoretical calculation of “return on investment” becomes a meaningful and relevant discussion.
  • In the workplace, when a steady job is not as predictable as we had hoped for and all the effort to do our best and perform well is met with “downsizing objectives” because of global competition and changing consumer trends.
  • On the home front, when the reality hits that “family” can bring about extremes of tremendous togetherness and joy to absolute loneliness and heart-breaking struggle.

In facing the reality of a steady flow of new items on our check-list and the “bumpy” ride we call life, how can we be most effective in dealing with the fact that life is a journey and not a destination?  Amongst the chaos of real life, we need to ensure our efforts are heading in the right directionfranklin_trees_01

Here are two practical steps to ensure we are heading in the right direction:

(1)    Determine the “right direction” for us personally.

A very simple exercise is to ask ourselves the question, “How would we want others to describe us if we were not sitting around with them?”

    • As a student, how would I want a group of teachers and students to describe me?
    • As a family, how would I want my spouse or children to describe me to their close friends?
    • In the workplace, how would I want my coworkers and customers to describe me?

The answer to those questions will help set our compass to the “right direction.”

(2)    Focus on taking small steps, anchored on principles, in the right direction.

No matter what direction we declare for ourselves, ensuring our day to day behaviors (small steps) are consistent with principles like honesty, understanding, perseverance, loyalty, will be our most effective means to deal with the “bumpy” ride of life and still keep heading in the right direction.

    • As a student, taking small steps like participating in class, asking questions, taking time to complete assignments vs. cramming.
    • As a family member, taking small steps to listen before passing judgment, encourage instead of belittle, serve instead of take, let forgiveness replace bitterness, ensure thankfulness trumps taking for granted.
    • In the workplace, taking small steps like looking out for the team’s best interest vs. our own, being proactive on getting additional training instead of remaining anchored in outdated skills, speaking up on issues of integrity and respect vs remaining silent.

In a world that continues to grow more complex, ensuring we consistently take small steps in the right direction will help us remain highly effective along our journey of life.  As we guide our small steps by principles like honesty, loyalty, and courage, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to set a strong example for others to follow and help us all to keep heading in the right direction.

Character Creates Opportunity® – The Cost: Thursday, November 13, 2014

We all have a few areas in our lives where we wish things were “a little better.”

Perhaps it is the sales of a certain product line at work, a tough relationship with a disappointed customer, the grade in a difficult subject in school, the strained relationship in our home, or the social trends in our community.  Toss in our own personal financial situation or our growing waistline and I am sure we can all find an area or two where we wish things were “a little better.”

Reaching a sense of fulfillment and emotional health in knowing that we actually made progress in doing “a little better” is going to take some effort.  That effort usually involves a change in behavior. We are all familiar with Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Nothing happens without change.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, the question that needs to be addressed is, “what is it going to take” to get “a little better” in that important area of our life?

Many times we know, or someone tells us, what that small incremental change in behavior needs to be.  In places like work and school, there is usually a consistent roadmap to follow and we just need to step-up the effort and deliver.  There is a cost of time and effort, but it is pretty predictable and the choice to follow the roadmap is ours to make.

The more difficult decisions are in the areas that really matter in the long haul of life, like our close relationships and the legacy of our efforts and accomplishments.  This is where there may not be a clear roadmap and the near term costs may seem quite high:

To mend a strained relationship, many times we need a desire to be reconciled rather than to be proven right, we need to shut-up and seek to understand as oppose to giving our opinion, and/or we need to extend favor when the natural tendency would be to fight back.

To impact our legacy, many times we need to sacrifice in the near term to ensure a brighter tomorrow.  Whether that is saving today vs spending to have some money for the rainy day that will come, grinding it out in a job so that those closest to our care can have opportunities we did not, or taking a risk and following a different path than we were “supposed to follow.”

As we all consider the costs in these big and important areas of life, we need to be reminded that there is a relatively small cost of trying and failing when compared to the significant cost of regret that comes with not trying at all. Multl Generation Family Walking Along Autumn Path With Dog

We will build and strengthen our character as we keep “trying” and our Character Creates Opportunity® to do “a little better” in the big and small areas of life.  Based on my experience and the experience of so many around me, I want to extend a word of encouragement to those who continue to try; Keep getting after it, it is worth the cost.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Year #1: Thursday, November 6, 2014

Key dates in our lives such as anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, and other personal dates of meaningful accomplishment or quiet bereavement are helpful to support a deeper reflection on the important things in life.  They also provide an opportunity to reassess our progress on our journey towards reaching our full potential.

The purpose of today’s blog is to reflect back on just over a year of writing to support the importance of building and strengthening our character as the critical catalyst to reach our full potential.

At Harvest Time Partners, we believe that Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our hopes and dreams and this weekly blog is one of our platforms to provide support and encouragement to others striving to reach their full potential.

Why is character so important? 

In order to answer that question, it is important to reflect back on some universal truths in our world.

(1)    In life, we will experience both ups and downs, great highs and great lows. Whether it is in school, work, our community, and certainly in our homes, we will encounter situations that provide us with an opportunity to grow.

(2)    In life, there are always 3 aspects to our experience:

a SITUATION: There is our present situation.  Many times, our situation is beyond our immediate, personal control like the weather, an emergency customer call on a Sunday morning, a reckless driver, an outburst from an individual in an overwhelming situation, etc.

a GAP: There is a gap, a moment in our consciousness that forms our response to the situation.  The gap could be a split second or a long period of time.

a RESPONSE: There is our response to the situation.

(3)    How we fill the GAP will determine our potential and our overall emotional health.  In the GAP, lies our character.  We are not confined to a stimulus-response type paradigm like animals.  Our unique human qualities provide us with what Viktor Frankl described as “the last of the human freedoms,” the freedom to choose our response to our situation.  We possess the potential to rise above our situation by using the GAP between our situation and our response.

At Harvest Time Partners, we believe our character is Standing in the Gap® between a situation and our response.  Our character is our inner voice (our internal compass) that guides our thoughts, decisions, and actions.  When we guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions by principles like courage, loyalty, honesty, teamwork, and commitment, we build and strengthen our character.  As our character is strengthened, we widen the gap to develop our most effective response.  Our most effective response will eventually lead to an improved situation, a pathway to reach our full potential, and our emotional health…and the cycle continues with every situation.

As we consistently build and strengthen our character through thoughts, decisions, and actions based on principles, we develop the habits to fill and widen the gap in order to consistently deliver an effective response, regardless of our situation.  Our principle-based response will eventually produce an improved situation which has a positive impact on ourselves and those around us.

It is in the gap between a situation and our response where we have the opportunity to reach our full potential.  Our character is Standing in the Gap® and this is why we believe that character is the critical catalyst to reaching our full potential.

How does this play out in the real world?

As an employee sitting down with a boss and receiving a difficult performance review.  We can blame the boss, the company’s product line, global competition, or we can rise above and fill the gap with thoughts, decisions, and actions to understand where we fell short, perhaps work smarter and/or harder, and increase teamwork, in order to prepare to improve performance in the next cycle.  In doing so, we position ourselves to reach our full potential.

As a student, we all have received a poor grade every now and then.  We can blame the teacher, say the curriculum is irrelevant, the “system” stinks, or we can rise above and fill the gap with thoughts, decisions, and actions that identify our mistakes, commit to receive help earlier, study more, and persevere towards our goal of graduation.  In doing so, we position ourselves to reach our full potential.

As a struggling family (all families go through difficult times), we can blame a sibling, our spouse, parents, or we can rise above and fill the gap with thoughts, decisions, and actions based on loyalty, commitment, and understanding in order to deliver an effective response to repair the damage and rebuild the bond of family and close relationships.

As we face situations in life, there is a gap between that situation and our response.  character-creates-opportunity-2014-250-by-250pxHow we fill that gap will determine our potential and our overall emotional health.  Our character stands in the gap and our Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential.

I look forward to providing these weekly updates in the months and years to come.  Please feel free to reply to this post or send me an email at with any thoughts or comments to help improve the impact of this project.  Thank you for your help.

The Principles of Our World Children’s Book Series Wins a 2014 Tillywig Brain Child Award — November 2014

Children's Books from Harvest Time PartnersPortage, MI (November 5, 2014)Harvest Time Partners, Inc., is pleased to announce that its children’s book series, The Principles of Our World, has been honored by The Tillywig Toy & Media Awards with a 2014 Tillywig Brain Child Award, a prestigious recognition that is only associated with products of “high educational value.”

The Principles of Our World book series is designed to introduce children to the importance of principles like honesty, teamwork, and courage. Each book’s main character, like The Principle of Sacrifice, Hope, and Compassion, is illustrated specifically to visually interest children in the book’s content and to assist parents and educators in sparking conversations about real-life issues. All of the books support and encourage children to make more effective decisions in their everyday lives. The Principles of Our World book series helps to build and strengthen character—and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our hopes and dreams.

Tillywig’s mission is to provide retail buyers, news media, parents, and consumers with product information and reviews of superior children’s products available in today’s marketplace. The Tillywig Brain Child Award is given to exciting products that energize the mind while seamlessly blending fun and learning—an endorsement of excellence that is recognized by both consumers and retailers of children’s products.

David Esposito, author and managing partner of Harvest Time Partners said, “We are honored that our children’s book series, The Principles of Our World, was selected to receive a 2014 Tillywig Brain Child Award. Our products have been developed to help parents and educators guide children in the importance of principles like honesty and teamwork as they navigate the complexity of life today. We are grateful for the recognition of the prestigious Brain Child Award.” 

The Principles of Our World book series is perfect for parents and educators wishing to introduce young children (age 4+) to the importance of character and principle-based decision making. The books are also ideal for young independent readers (age 7+). The books are available online at and through a growing number of retail stores.

About Harvest Time Partners, Inc.

Harvest Time Partners, Inc., a rapidly growing personal- and professional-development company, 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

About Tillywig Awards

Tillywig Awards provide retail buyers, news media, parents, and consumers with product information and reviews of superior children’s products available in today’s marketplace. Tillywig supports a rigorous evaluation process where products are used by a number of testers in an observed focus group format. Product testers and observers come from all walks of life and a broad range of ages.

The full list of winners is posted online at