Future Journaling

Take a blank page in your Planner or journal, enter the date at the top, one year from now, IE: Nov 19, 2013, and write in the present tense. Write your thoughts as if you were reflecting back on the year that has just passed, and during which all your goals were met!

Suggested Reading List

  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey; published by Fireside Books ISBN: 0-671-70863-5
  • Principle Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey; published by Fireside Books ISBN: 0-671-79280-6
  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill; published by Simon and Schuster ISBN: 0-671-86441-6
  • Autoimmune Illness – Playing the Hand Life Dealt and Winning the Jackpot! by Barbara j. Mascio; published by Harmony Publishing ISBN: 0-9653612-4-1
  • The Holy Bible (or any spiritual literature)
  • The Three Phase Manual by Scott Ohlgren; published by NaviQuest Corporation
  • Connections: QII Time Management by Roger Merrill
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

I am an entrepreneur. I hereby give up my right to complain, base my life on what is not working, feel overly sorry for myself, indulge in a rich tapestry of excuses — and instead, commit myself from this day forth to the active pursuit of what is working. When problems occur, I don’t go into denial about it, but use them as springboards for becoming more resourceful. I can afford no more than 10 minutes per day for whining. Any more then that is costing me my dreams.

Signed and dated:

From “The Three Phase Manual” by Scott Ohlgren

Habits 4-7

The Public Victory

Moving from independence to interdependence
Habits 4-6

The Emotional Bank Account plays an important role.

Emotional Bank Account

  • Easy to Withdraw
  • One Withdrawal can wipe out many deposits – can even go in to the RED!
  • Basis for Trust

Six Major Deposits:

  1. Understand the individual
  2. Attend to the Little Things
  3. Keeping Commitments
  4. Clarifying Expectations
  5. Showing Personal Integrity
  6. Apologizing Sincerely when you make a Withdrawal

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

6 Paradigms of Human Interaction

  • Win/Win
  • Win/Lose
  • Lose/Win
  • Lose/Lose
  • Win
  • Win/Win or No Deal

Habit 5: Seek first to Understand

  • Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood — or — Don’t prescribe before you diagnose!
  • Use Empathic Listening
  • Diagnose before you prescribe
  • Don’t use autobiographical responses.
  • This Habit is smack in the middle of your Circle of Influence!

Autobiographical responses are:

  • Probing
  • Advising
  • Evaluating
  • Interpreting

Habit 6: Synergy

Definition of Synergy

  • 1+1=3 or 4 or 100 or …
  • It is the basis for Principled Centered Leadership
  • Fish for the 3rd alternative
  • Value differences! (IDIC)

Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw

  • Principle of Balanced Self-Renewal
  • 4 Dimensions of Human Nature
  • Physical (Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management)
  • Social/Emotional (Service, Empathy, Synergy, Intrinsic Security)
  • Mental (Reading, visualizing, Planning, Writing)
  • Spiritual (Value Clarification & Commitment, Study & Meditation)
  • Balance in Renewal
  • Synergy in Renewal
  • Upward Spiral – Learn, Commit, Do, …

The 7 Habits

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

Activity Matrix

Urgent Not Urgent


  • Crises
  • Pressing Problems
  • Deadline-driven projects, meeting, preparations


  • Preperation
  • Prevention
  • Values clarification
  • Planning
  • Relationship building
  • True re-creation
  • Empowerment
Not Important


  • Interruptions, some phone calls
  • Some mail, some reports
  • Some meetings
  • Many proximate, pressing matters
  • Many popular activities


  • Trivia, busywork
  • Some phone calls
  • Time wasters
  • “Escape” activites
  • Irrelevant mail
  • Excessive TV


No, this is not wedding announcement. But a hint of what each of us can be. Superman (and his lesser known cousin) can exist in each of us. (I’m NOT going to get into which one you want to pick. I am just NOT going to go there!)

Well, since this column is related to the Seven Habits, what do I mean? Think about it for a moment. Other then the super powers, what is the most notable characteristic of super heros?

Give up?

Try a little harder …



One word. Two syllables. Seven characters. Not much ink on a standard piece of notebook paper, even with how large _I_ write. One word, but so-o-o-o much meaning.

Purpose gives meaning to life. Purpose gives direction. Purpose provides motivation. Purpose is POWER. Think about a powerful person you know, not necessarily in a political or monitary sense. Powerful people create change in society. They are people with a personal vision and mission.

Psstt! (whispering) You want to know a secret? … Come over here…. (talking conspiratorially) We all can have it. Yep. All of us.

What does it take? Not much and a lot. The not much is what you already have: A brain, a body (healthy or not, hmm, probably could say that about the brain, too), an imagination, and dreams. The a lot is also what you already have: drive, determination, and the REST OF YOUR LIFE!

How do you get started? Easy – start dreaming. Decide what is important to you. Plan for it to come true. And execute, execute, execute!

In other words, Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind, and Habit #3: Put First Things First.

You practiced Habit #1: Be Proactive when you decided to take that power for yourself.

Another little secret: No one has the power to take it from you!

If you decide to be a superman or superwoman, there is no Kryptonite except yourself. No one can take it from you, unless you let them. Hmm… That means … if you have a purpose in life, and you are proactive, no one CAN stop you. Unless you let them.

Guess what? You have just become an unstoppable force in the world.

Wow! We just gained a second power! Maybe invulnerablity is not to far off…

Consider the story of someone who had a major impact in my life. A man with a purpose in life, who not only make a difference in life, but make a difference in how he died.

When I first met Coach Delserone, it was in an art class. Little did I know how important this man was to become. Coach Delserone was a good sized man. He was very much like the football players he coached. Big, strong, quick on his feet. He also had a heart, a mind and a powerful mission.

Over the years, I went from Jr. High School to High School and I saw him everyday in my art classes. Im not an artist, but he never let that stop me. He encouraged the meager artistic talents I had and praised me when I was able to do something that exceeded my limits and grew, no matter how small it was.

He was the same way on the football field. He never referred to the team as “the team”, but “my boys”. He helped the football players who were in trouble. He never had an ill word for anyone. He was an inspiration to us all, in quiet ways. We celebrated with him when he had his first child. His son. You could see the family values he had for “his boys” , were there in his home life. The football team adopted Coach Delserone’s son, as if he was one of them.

Time passed, Coach Delserone’s son was two years old. We were all struck by a terrible blow – Coach Delserone was diagnosed with Lou Gering’s Disease. This is a terrible wasting disease that slowly destroys your voluntary nervous system, and continues into your involuntary system, leaving your central nervous system intact, until one day everything shuts down. Your body slowly betrays you, and you are fully aware of what is happening to you. A terrible disease.

Coach Delserone was diagnosed at having about 6 – 12 months to live. We were all in shock.

Coach Delserone always told “his boys”, his son, his friends, and his students, “Never Give Up.” That had always been his motto. This is important.

I graduated and went on to college, but I stayed in touch with another teacher who was Coach Delserone’s friend. I later learned, that he lived on for several years. Even when he was forced to live in a wheelchair, he kept coaching. Even when he did not have the strength to lift his hand to shake yours on greeting, his eyes never lost their fire. He became an inspiration to us.

In his last year of coaching, his football team played against Hubbard, our biggest rival and State Championship contender. In the week before the game, the school almost held its breath. There were no banners, there were no slogans, just one phrase was almost whispered: “Win it for _him_.” When our team entered the field, it was in almost silence. No one expected us to win.

Hubbard never knew what hit them! Because one man had a mission in life to help others, this team with no chance to win, but a meaningful purpose, literally slaughtered a team that should have run right over them.

I could go on from here, but this man, with only voluntary control of his eyelids, with the help of his wife, wrote a book.

When I got word that he had died, I cried. I still almost do, whenever I think of it. Some in sadness, because the world lost a man I would call a saint. But mostly in awe and inspiration of what can be done in life, if you never let the fire go out.

Find your purpose, and make a difference. Be “super“.

NB: Special Thanks to Carolyn Hennings for editing assistance, especially on such an emotional issue for me.

Burn out

A common problem in our field. I’ve seen it chew up many good Systems Administrators over the years, and I’m sure it will take a corresponding toll on the NT SEs as well. Why?

No matter how good you are, there are always more fires, more machines to install/upgrade, more users to assist. It is the classic problem in just about any customer support position. No wonder SAs have a history of only being in the field for about 2 years, or in a company for 2 years before moving on. (I can not speak for NT SEs, but only time will tell…)

Long hours, fire fighting, unhappy users, emotional labor, and stress all add up to burn out in time. How do we avoid this?

By following the “Principle of Balance”. In the Seven Habits parlance, it is the core of “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw”. Habit 7 ties all of the habits together and builds the strength we need for our lives. It also can renew and rebuild a life that has seen a few, or too many, hard knocks.

What is Balance in our lives? Quite simply it is TAKING the time, to do all those things you need to do to balance out your life. In our careers and society, with all the demands being placed on us, there will never be enough time to “have the time to do whatever”. If we remember the first three habits:

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First

They provide the foundation for self-mastery. I believe this is the key. If we have self-mastery, we take responsibility for our lives and actions (Habit 1), know what we want in life (Habit 2), know how to do (Habit 2) and are doing it (Habit 3). By taking the time to decide what we want in life, and setting out course, we will move directly in to Habit 7. If we have purpose, we can not avoid Balance. If we have Balance, we have purpose and mastery. Sound like something an old Eastern Master of Philosophy or Martial Arts would say? Well, that may be true, but it is also the same thing the Christian Bible says. As well as the Koran. And the Tao Te Ching. Not to mention more modern works as well. Why does this keep coming up? Because it works! And builds strong lives and strong people.

If you have that balance, fight to keep it. Balance is never something you “just have”, it is something you have to fight to have. But anything worth having is worth fighting for. This is actually the easy route in the long run.

If you do not have balance, this is the tougher road. It is the one I am traveling.

If you are a fellow traveler on this road, welcome. You have picked a tough one. But one with many valuable lessons and experiences. Some of them I am glad to have had, even though the better road would have been to keep the Balance and proceed forward.

It is tough to overcome imbalance in your life. The problem with imbalance, is that it is an easily self-perpetuating situation. One that can rob you of your personal power. I know, this is the second time for me. I guess I like falling off of wagons. 😉 The first time took a wake up call of Infectious Mononucleosis (mono). I recovered and rebuilt. This time, I fortunately did not need a wake up call, but saw the signs. Unfortunately, this one is tougher. The first time I was not married and a home owner with all that comes with it. Nor was I a consultant, and all that it entails.

Why am I spilling my guts to all of you? Well, I stood in front of many of you and claimed to be a “expert of sorts” on the 7 habits material. Whether or not I wanted the title, I claimed it by standing in front of you claiming to believe in the material. So I have to be honest with all of you. I’ve been out of balance for almost four years, and walking the edge of burn out the whole time. (OK, so I’m slow at waking up.)

Because of this, I am working on getting back away from the burn out stage. Not an easy road. How does one do this?

Well, by getting back to the basics. For me, that is re-immersing myself back in the 7 Habits material. (Now you understand why I am studying the material and encouraging others to do so.) Where do I go from here? For me, it is to return to my various studies, mostly philosophical and spiritual, some physical. In this way I am starting to feed 3 of the four areas we all have, the mental, spiritual, physical, and the social/emotional. The latter one is being partially filled by my wife, Charrie. It is also being partially filled by “talking” to all of you in this fashion. It enables me to give a piece of myself to others. I have a lot of work to do, but I hope this message will help some of you, as it does me. I helps me by reaffirming myself to my purpose and committing myself in front of my peers. I have a lot of work and welcome all of you to join me on my journey. All of you have a journey to travel, and I hope that your journey is filled with Balance and Purpose. (And don’t forget the fun along the way!)

Introduction to the 7 Habits

Briefly, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” (7HoHEP) are a framework to help plan your life. The Seven Habits, in conjunction with other concepts help provide a holistic way of looking at your life, values, roles, goals and relationships.

The Seven Habits are:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin With the End in Mind.
  3. First Things First
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood
  6. Synergy
  7. Sharpen the Saw

These habits provide us a process to move ourselves along the Maturity Continuum, starting with Dependence, moving to Independence, and finally, Interdependence.

Let’s take a short look at this. Starting with Habit 1, we have pro-activity. Proactive is the state of mind that says, “I am responsible for my situation, or my response to it.”

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. Were do you want to go? Not just today, but in the long haul.

Habit 3: First Things First. These are planning and execution. We want to expand, grow, and generally have fun.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win. I will not win at your expense. BUT … I will also not lose to satisfy you. I will not be hard-nosed, nor will I be a martyr!

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, THEN to be Understood. This order is not accidental. By taking the proactive stance of listening first, we allow the other party to express themselves, without them feeling they are competing with us for expression. Once they feel they are understood, then we have all the time in the world to express ourselves. They are ready to truly listen, as we truly listened to them. Now we have a real foundation for problem solving.

Habit 6: Synergy. The whole is greater then the sum of the parts, or 1+1 is greater then 2. We utilize habits 4 and 5 to find a better answer to our situation, thus allowing both of us to get all we wanted and then some!

And finally, Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. The habit of renewal and balance. Here is where we keep ourselves “sharp”. No just technically, but mentally, physically and spiritually.

Engagement Announcement

Originally emailed/posted in January 1995:

I've lost some email and snail-mail address, and I'll probably get my
mail spool flooded so here goes:

(Hold nose and diving in!)

                 As of          Nagumpisa noong ika
       January 8, 1995          8 ng Enero 1995
                   We,          Kami,
       Charrie Balagot          Charrie Balagot
                   and          at
           John Mascio          John Mascio
would like to proclaim          gusto naming ipahayag
     our Love for each          ang aming
    other and announce          pagmamahalan sa
       our Engagement.          isa't-isa at ang aming
                                pag-iisang dibdib.

OK.  Now that I've opened the flood gates on my mail spool, here's
more info!

Date: July 29, 1995 (tenative)
Where: Warren, Ohio.

The other language is Tagalog, which is the Filipino language.
So, yes, my wife-to-be is from the Phillipines.  And yes, I'm starting to
learn it.  Fortuantly, all of her family, including the part still in
the Phillipines, all know english, so I do not need to get an emergency
crash course before the wedding!

OK.  Now that I've opened the flood gates on my mail spool, here's
more info!

Date: July 29, 1995 (tenative)
Where: Warren, Ohio.

Please send me your addresses/phone numbers.  We are going to have small 
family-and-a-couple-close-friends wedding to keep the costs and insanity 
down, but we will be having an informal reception back here in Dallas 
about 2 weeks after the wedding!  Please get me your addresses and I'll 
get out invites when we get it planned!

First and foremost:  Thanks for all of your well wishes.  It means a lot
to me and us!

Second:  The other language is Tagalog, which is the Filipino language.
So, yes, my wife-to-be is from the Phillipines.  And yes, I'm starting to
learn it.  Fortuantly, all of her family, including the part still in
the Phillipines, all know english, so I do not need to get an emergency
crash course before the wedding!

Lots of details, skip if not interested:

We "met" via a personal ad in the Dallas Observer.  I was tired and frustrated
with my then current dating situation, and happened to have a DO around.  So
I said what the heck, can't get worse!  Fully expecting it to fail.  I called
two that looked interesting, and Charrie was the only one to call back.  This
was about early July.

We talked off-and-on for a bit and then dropped out of touch for a bit when I
changed jobs.  Neither of us expected much, she lived in Tyler, and I in 
Dallas, about 2 hours apart.

Early November, we actually met in person.  She is a physical therepist, and
was doing contract type work for her company to help nursing homes and such
when they were either short handed or over loaded.

Well, that put her in Dallas for a while, so she called me, and durng the 
course of our conversation, I learned she was here, and so we met and went 
out for dinner, and hit it off!

Well, about T-day, we decided to work on a more serious relationship, but
both of us were playing it real easy and not pushing for anything in 
particular.  And by New Year's, I almost asked her to marry me, but
was not quite ready.  So a week later, I asked!

(Me in my rocking chair, obviously pensive about something)
Charrie: (quietly)  What's wrong?
Me: mumble, mumble...  shrug.
Charrie: (quietly)  What's wrong, John?
Me: (in a quiet voice, stumbling) I...I want you to be my wife.
Charrie: (either unsure, or did not catch it)  What?
Me: (in a stronger voice) I want you to be my wife.

Charrie proceedes to run around to get in front of me, plops on her
knees to look at me face to face:

Charrie: Are you sure?  Are you serious?
Me: Yes.

Charrie:  Then you know my answer!

And Charrie proceedes to attack me and my lips need a retread!


Our plans for the weding is to have a small, mostly family wedding
back in the church I grew up in, and the same one my brother was
married in.  We will have a slightly larger formal reception
there, then a big informal reception back here in Dallas for everyone.
  We are tenitivly going to get married
July 29, but we have to see about her parents' and sister's visas to
come to the US.  Other then that, we are deep in to planning!

About mid-June, we will be moving into a house over in the Garland area.
It's about 1/2-way between our work places.  Later this year she will
be looking for a job in Dallas.