November 27, 2005
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

      What are your plans for the holidays? Don't take a poke at me for using the term "holidays." It's appropriate.
      Cheri and I were in a high-class Southern California indoor mall over the weekend and were pleased with all of the stores that had "Christmas" advertising (by name) in their windows. Then, in the middle of the mall, we came to the "holiday tree," devoid of any trappings of Christmas. I could have been removed by security as I raised my voice to hollerin'-level and used incorrect language; "Merry Christmas!" Watch yer mouth, buster...
      I'm saying "holidays" because I mean the combo: Christmas and New Years, together. What are your plans for the holidays?
      Don't plan on having Sly over to watch the games; in fact, in the short run-up to Christmas, he won't be nibblin' on cookies and fudge. Eggnog and gingerbread? Forget about it, champ. Sylvester has other plans.
      December 3rd (that's next Saturday!) marks the moment when history will be made. In the next 38 days, Rocky VI will go from concept to can ("it's in the can" is film-talk for... we're done with the cameras). Once the magic in the cutting-room is finished, we'll all be looking for a ringside seat for the premier. Can't wait: Rocky - at 59 - with his shirt off, looking for a rematch. Cool.
      You've got to feel for the folks who live on the stage, in the lights. It's hard to exit, stage right. Just ask Daniel Radcliffe, who will be 17 on his next birthday... but is already over-the-hill regarding his lifetime role. I doubt that Harry Potter will morph into James Bond, allowing a long horizon of movie roles. He'll live among a generation who will always know him as Harry; someday, the Harry Potter reunion programs will play in the slot that the Brady Bunch occupies today. It's tough to have to retire at 17...
      Not Rocky. Sylvester Stallone has figured out how to script his way back into the action. The film will open with Rocky at the graveyard where Adrian - his "inspiration" - is buried. A few plot twists later, Rocky is back on his way to the title bout. As the pre-release puts it, "Rocky's wife has died, he's alone, he's an embarrassment to his son, he has nothing to lose and is desperate to not make a third act of his life go in anonymity." As the Miami Herald puts it, "Historians are calling it irrefutable proof that mankind has officially run out of good ideas." Comebacks are always a little dicey...
      Retirement often lacks fulfillment. Ask Garth Brooks, who "retired" in 2000 after selling more albums (100 million) than any act in history. Head down to Wal-Mart this Christmas... and find Garth's special release - "The Limited Series" - flying off the shelves, as a six-disc box set with 11 new songs, for all of the Garth fans who didn't retire when he did. Retired? Not on his tax return...
      Listen: something deep down inside of us longs to make a mark on our world... and to keep deepening that mark until we can't answer the bell for the next round. Peter Drucker was productive into his 95th year; some of his "best stuff" made its debut during his 90's.
      For some people, their legacy will be deepened... but a reprise. If the world needs Rocky VI - if you have more to give than your prior rounds have provided - go for it. If you've aged out of a kids' starring role, you've got to figure out what's next. How about you?
      Don't know what your plans are for the holidays, but let me ask you an even more important question: what are your plans for... beyond the holidays? What do you plan to do... with the rest of your life? Are you going for "Rocky XX," because you don't know what else to do? Is there a better script for "act three" that would deepen your potential for Kingdom impact, beyond anything you've done thus far?
      The Master's Program helps people confront the reality that they were made for more than just getting by. When one finds their unique Kingdom calling, their best days are always before them. Is 2006 the year you'll start down that path? Isn't it time you got serious about leaving your mark?

Bob Shank

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