Growth without risk is impossible but taking fool-hardy risks leads to destruction. You can increase your risk tolerance and help mitigate the effects when a risk plays out by building reserves. You can further enhance the one and guard against the other by creating Super Reserves.
2020 has not been a good year for many people. The number and enormity of disasters are jaw-dropping. [“Disasters”]
At the top of most peoples’ list would be the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Then there are the wildfires that have burned and continue to burn millions of acres of forest, as well as hundreds of homes, in California, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest. And let’s not forget the hurricanes that have devasted the Gulf Coast and caused damage throughout the Southeast. In fact, as of this writing, we have tied the record for the most named Atlantic storms in a season at 28. Add to that the derecho that tore through the midwest, destroying crops and farm buildings, killing 4, injuring dozens, and leaving thousands homeless. [“Disasters”]
The activities that lead to a strong, healthy body give us a strong, healthy brain as well. Unfortunately, some experts have found that about 1/2 the activities we engage in lead to improved brain health but the other 1/2 are detrimental to a healthy brain. Doing a little more of the healthy activities and a little less of the unhealthy ones, add up over time to major improvements.
My mother died from dementia, more or less. That wasn’t the official cause of death but a few days before she passed, a doctor told us how her brain had shrunk. She forgot how to swallow so she could no longer eat or drink anything and, then, she forgot how to breathe.
Her dementia was genetic, caused by a specific recessive gene, which can lead to hyperhomocysteinemia – too much homocysteine in the blood. We found that out years before her passing when she first began showing the signs of memory loss. Once we discovered that it was a genetic trait, I went to my doctor to be tested. I have the same recessive gene. I found it interesting that, in the report, the doctors labeled it “the family curse”.
When our little girl was stricken with a debilitating stroke, we were devastated, as you might imagine. Having no family nearby, we relied on our good friends. They took over much of the care of our older daughter and gave my wife and me much-needed support. In particular, someone – I don’t remember who it was now – gave us some important advice. “You have to take care of yourselves,” he or she said, “if you are to give her the best care. You cannot care properly for your daughter if you let yourselves get run down.” We did small things, such as taking turns going outside for a short walk, trying to sleep when we could, and eating to keep up our strength. It wasn’t anything big, but it kept us going, kept us from collapsing in on ourselves. Outside of the medical help, it was the best advice we received.
Moving from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset helps you progress up the hierarchy of needs to self-actualization. You must experience having enough at the lower levels of physical and emotional needs in order to move to higher levels and towards self-actualization.
How Many Tomato Seeds?
The presenter at a conference held up a ripe red tomato. She asked the audience, “How many seeds are in this tomato?”
The participants imagined cutting open a tomato and tried to estimate the number of seeds inside. They began calling out answers. “500”, “700”, “1000”, “5000”, “10,000”.
Quietly, the presenter said: “There are enough. Enough to save for planting next year and enough to give to my neighbors so they can have tomatoes as well. Next year, they’ll have enough seeds to share with more people. And I will share with others, too. How many seeds are there? Enough.” 
We are told it is “up to us” to make the healthy choices. But our culture and environment are typically slanted to make the healthy choices the most difficult. In the end it is up to us — we simply need to be aware of what we are up against.
Now it was July, 1961. The Packer players had had the entire off-season to mull over their humiliation in that final championship game. They assembled at training camp, eager to polish their skills, advancing them to a higher level, ready to avenge their loss and show the world how great they really were.
Vince Lombardi, the Packers’ head coach, had other plans.
“Gentlemen,” he said, holding up the object they knew intimately well, “this is a football.” [Maraniss]
To build an Excelerated Life of self-actualizing, to develop and increase your potential, you must start with a deep, firm, rock-solid foundation. You can begin to strengthen your foundation by raising your standards
“I’ve upped my standards. Now, up yours.” ~ Pat Paulsen
A Wise Man And A Foolish Man
” . . . a wise man . . . built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house. But it did not fall because it was built on rock.
. . . a foolish man . . . built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house. And it fell with a loud crash.” ~ Matthew 7:24 – 27 (ERV)
Your space is filled with Stuff, your calendar is crammed with activities and your To Do list is running off the page, yet you still have an empty place inside – a void and a feeling that something is missing. You can be overwhelmed with Stuff and constant activity yet still be running on empty. Perhaps you need to build a reserve.
Coming Up Short
My wife and I had recently moved to Greenville to be closer to my new office, where I had been hired for my first job as a computer programmer. In those days, men wore coats and ties to the office, so I needed to buy dress shirts. We were shopping in a local department store and I found some nice shirts on sale.
I picked out a couple that I liked and carried them to the check out counter. But I had miscalculated the cost and when the clerk rang up my purchase, I realized to my horror and embarrassment that I didn’t have enough money to pay the bill. As I felt my face flush with shame, I had to admit to the sales clerk that I was short of cash and left one of the shirts for him to return to the rack.
If you want to pitch a tent, you don’t need to think about a foundation. But if you want to build a lasting structure, you need a solid foundation. Do you want your life to be like a tent or a tower? 
Sharpen The Saw
Imagine you are walking in the woods and you come upon a woodcutter busily sawing at a tree. As you watch, you can see he isn’t making much progress. It’s obvious that his saw is dull.
“Why don’t you take some time to sharpen your saw?” you ask.
He glares at you. “Sharpen the saw!? Can’t you see I’m too busy sawing?!?” [Covey]
Stephen Covey shares this story in his book, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, to illustrate the 7th habit, which he calls “sharpen the saw”. This habit encircles the other six habits and enhances them. It is a focus on the fundamentals of self care.
Excelerated Self-Care™ — taking excellent care of yourself — is a self-full act. You must care for yourself if you are to be of service to others. You cannot give what you do not have.
Carol [*] felt like she was on the edge of a precipice where she might plunge over at any moment.
She was bone-tired. She climbed into bed exhausted every night. And she woke up exhausted every morning. It was all she could do to drag one foot, then the other, to plop on the floor.
On top of the chronic exhaustion, Carol never felt well. She had a dull, throbbing headache much of the time. Her mouth was dry, her skin was dry, her hair was lackluster and dull. Her stomach burned. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt really good.
Having reserves is a state of being. Having a reserve is a state of mind. Both are required to free us up to pursue the Excelerated Life™.
Building A Financial Foundation
Most Thursday mornings, you can find me at United Ministries, an agency in downtown Greenville dedicated to “serve, transform, and empower those in need toward achieving self-sufficiency.”  United Ministries offers a number of different services to assist the homeless, the unemployed, and those mired in poverty.
I volunteer in the Employment Readiness program. Those enrolled in this program are unemployed or under-employed. They go through a week-long training related to the job search and, after successfully completing the program, they work with an employment counselor.