November 20, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

      It's Showtime! That declaration is a symbolic one, but it rings a bell inside most people these days. Before Showtime!, it’s all rehearsal; Showtime! declares the start of the "main event;" it leads to the "finale," which marks the end of the performance proper. Showtime! says that the lights are up, the audience is assembled... and it's time to execute with excellence.
      In American life and culture, the next 42 days are the most important of the year. Less than 12% of our annual hours are represented in this last six weeks of 2006, but they're the ones that matter most.
      Professionally, it's make-or-break time. Your last half of the last quarter lies before you; you'll make or break your numbers between now and the New Year's parades. It's no time to hang out the "Gone Shopping" signs; you'll either throw confetti or a conniption in January based on what you do now...
      Financially, your 2006 fiscal fitness will be manipulated between now and the time the e way and expenses another, creating a slightly-modified tax story for April 15th enjoyment. Avoid those decisions? Sure... but have your checkbook out come Easter.
      Physically, the 10 pounds that came home with you from vacation are destined to become 20 as you suffer from parties and paté, balancing diet and dessert in social settings aplenty. You'll join the masses who make weight-loss their January resolution if you lose your grip and load your plate. You've got six weeks: will there be more of you in 2007, or less?
      Oh, yeah... did you forget all those relationships that don't have dollar-signs attached? Friends and family are waiting in the wings for you to RSVP. They've cut you slack, knowing that you're busy... but, you've got to overlay your invites with your calendar. You've reached that marvelous place in life when a controlled coma might be more fun than back-to-back holiday galas, putting you in MapQuest mania -connecting the dots between your Aunt Claudia's potluck and your colleague Charlie's white-elephant extravaganza (which was last-year's memory-maker, still generating chatter at the company's Super Bowl pizza party). Evenings of small-talk, revealing the absence of stimulating soul mates among your closest contacts. Set the countdown clock; just 60,000 minutes until the Show's over. Tick; tick; tick; tick...
      Just 1000 more hours of 2006; all those goals for the New Year are playing catch-up as your wind-up activities bunch-up around your wrap-up. Get the holiday cards out (can you still say "Christmas" when your list includes clients and multicultural neighbors?) Update the gift list (any way you can find out what they already got for themselves on Amazon?) Find some way to get your "wish list" out without sounding presumptive (can you avoid the return-frenzy on the 26th, just to get what you really wanted in the first place?) Who can afford sleep with all of these urgent assignments piling-up on you in the waning hours of 2006?... tick... tick... tick... tick...
      It's Showtime! Maybe it's time to get off the Yuletide Express treadmill and put a little sanity in your eggnog. How about calling "dibs" on a few hours before they're all gone, and...
      - Come to the Thanksgiving table with a note card bearing your handiwork, with a thoughtfully prepared "Top Ten Reasons for us to say 'thank you, Jesus' in 2006."
      - Go behind the love-of-your-life's back and get 'em sprung from work (or, kids) to do a long-lunch for two in an out-of-the-way, seldom-enjoyed setting... with no strings attached.
      - Target the oldest member of your extended family, and arrange a nationwide conference call with kids, grandkids, siblings, nephews and nieces... just to make their day.
      - Identify the five people closest to you who are not on a first-name basis with Jesus ... and invite them to come to church with you for Christmas (maybe you could introduce them...)       Let's declare 2006 the year-to-end-all-years: it's one year closer to Eternity, and it's Showtime!

Bob Shank

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