Focus on what you can control--anything can happen if you try

The economy has been going backward-to-sideways long enough. It is time to recover.

I believe that life is like a pendulum that sometimes swings slowly and sometimes swings too fast, but it always swings. We cannot exist in a static state; we either go forward or we go backward. During those times when we try to stand still, believe me, others are moving, and they will pass us. There is no such thing as a static state in life, or in business.

We face big problems, of that there is no doubt. Deficits at all levels of government and ridiculously high healthcare costs are the first two that come to mind. These are problems that cannot be solved by us individually. Realistically, the best we can do is to make sure that our controllable environment is stable and secure—our families, our jobs, our companies.

Words of wisdom

My grandmother had a saying, “If you watch your pennies, you can leave your dimes alone.” I understand this a lot better today then I did when I was playing marbles in the third grade.

I think the wisdom of her words is appropriate now, and it applies to a lot more than just pennies. We have to be responsible for the things that are of a size and scope we can control. We have three powerful assets—our time, our health, and our free will. We can’t stop time, and as it passes, so will our health. That pretty much leaves us with free will, and what we choose to do today. Tomorrow doesn’t count, only what we do today.

As we all know, it isn’t always easy to make the right decisions. It is a test of willpower. Please ask yourself, “How can I get inspired?”

I have a few suggestions that are on my mind now more than when I was age 20. I get inspiration from the legacy of my parents and the values taught me, from my kids’ smiles as they believe I can do no wrong, and from the Fightin’ Irish and the Packers, when they win. Oh yes, and from my faith.

What will inspire you to do the right thing? Is it desire for possessions, the need for basic survival, financial ambition, and vanity? Who knows? Whatever it takes, please be inspired to take control of the environment around you and make it better. I am amazed by examples of successful people who have continued to bring their “A” game. Michael Douglas’ struggle with cancer comes to mind. He is fighting a noble fight, without complaint, and with dignity. Also, I just watched a Brian Williams interview of Bruce Springsteen. Despite being members of the AARP and suffering the loss of their lifelong friend and drummer, Danny Federici, “The Boss” and the E Street Band rock on. Springsteen describes his approach as “obsessive and oppressive.” He delivers the same passion and excellence to his work that he did before he was a success. He believes he owes it to himself and the public. And he’s right.

Take John Wayne’s brave fight at “The Alamo.” Anything can happen if we try. Here at the Contract Packaging Association, we are bringing our “A” game to the Annual Meeting, which will be Feb. 24-27 at Loews Ventana Canyon, a great venue in Tuscon, AZ. Our speaker line-up is terrific and our spouse program continues to gather steam.

Until I see you, may the wind be at your back!

Contract Packaging Association President John Riley can be contacted at jriley@contract

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