Life Lessons

Life Lessons

by Rick Tocquigny

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Life brings successes and failures, joys and adversity, to each of us. It’s what you do with these experiences that shapes the person you become.  

Through true stories, readers will discover sixteen simple life lessons that will motivate and inspire. These simple truths will: make decision-making simpler; provide courage to pursue passions; give eyes to see new opportunities; offer tools to conquer challenges; and equip with the ability to find joy in each moment.

Author, blog-talk radio host, and renowned speaker Rick Tocquigny delivers truly motivational messages tailored to help people overcome life’s discouragements and find the blessing in each day. Tocquigny’s message is infused with grace, joy, and faith.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400320042
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 04/16/2012
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 112
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

RickTocquigny is CEO and Chief Servant of Artbeat of America and Gracefully Yours Greeting Cards. His time and talents are also spent as the host of the popular blog-talk radio show Life Lessons, and as the chair of the Proctor & Gamble Alumni Network Publishing and Speakers Bureau.

Read an Excerpt


By Rick Tocquigny

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Simple Truths
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1999-2

Chapter One


The year was 1963, and third-year coach of the young Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry, was looking for a better way to recruit talent. Using the most sophisticated IBM computer, Landry was able to work with eighty of the three hundred different football skill variables his assistant coaches had given him to consider.

Tom had learned from his coaching mentors at the New York Giants. He took the three hundred variables and transformed them into a language that college coaches and scouts could comprehend. Narrowing down to five tangibles, Landry formulated key words that defined his selection process:

Since players' weight, height, and speed in the hundred-yard dash were measurable, Tom did no further evaluation with these statistics.

The thought for this systematic approach started in 1960, the Cowboys' inaugural season. Along with Gil Brandt, the Cowboys' talent coordinator, and Tex Schramm, the general manager, Landry and the computer-aided draft forever changed the face of the recruiting process.

There was always a sense of urgency to find a better way. In 1961, the Cowboys chose Don Meredith of Southern Methodist University for his quick, accurate arm and flashy, fluid style—attributes that were not included in their first IBM program.

Meredith, who passed away in 2010, was a rare sort, both as an athlete and as a humorous person. He was a friendly guy from Mount Vernon, Texas, just a hundred miles east of Dallas. He was also an all-state basketball player, a 4-H state champion in shrub judging, the star of a oneact play competition, and class president. Somewhere along his journey, he picked up the nickname of "Dandy Don."

To Coach Landry, Don Meredith didn't seem well prepared, at least not by Landry's standards. He realized how casual Meredith was during their first blackboard session.

"Tom would draw a play—say 'brown, right, 34,' which means the fullback carries to the left. Then he'd erase it and ask me to draw it. By then I was twitching all over. At SMU, we just lined up in a spread and I got the ball and threw or ran. We never attacked a defense. It never occurred to me that it made any difference to what the defense was doing. But that was the whole thing with the Cowboys' system. It took me three years to learn how much study and dedication are necessary to be a pro quarterback."

As the Cowboys' draft system unfolded, it became a competitive tool that separated the Dallas franchise from other clubs. Future Hall of Famer Mel Renfro was in the freshman class for this system. Scoring high on the five key intangibles, Renfro was a cinch first-round choice in Landry's eyes ... until November 22, 1963, that fateful day when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. With his normal intensity, Mel had built himself to a peak for his Oregon Ducks finale against archenemy Oregon State. When he learned that the game was postponed, his anger combined with sadness mounted, and he rammed his fist through a plate glass window at his residence.

The initial reports that Mel Renfro had severed a nerve and lost feeling in his thumb alarmed Landry. All teams passed on him in the draft, and Landry waited to confirm that Mel would be okay. The Cowboys eventually snagged him in the second round. In the years to follow, Mel Renfro became the standard of a proven Cowboys draft system.

And that following year, the system brought forth "Bullet Bob" Hayes, two-time Olympic gold medal track star; future All-Pros Ralph Neely and Jethro Pugh; along with the incomparable South Carolina halfback Dan Reeves, the eventual head coach of the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.

Above All Else:

The INTANGIBLES of character, quickness, competitiveness, strength, and mental alertness must be regarded as critical to winning.

Chapter Two

Life Lesson #2


"This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends." —John 15:13, MSG

Veronica and Angela Cartwright, popular actors of film and television, have thrived as sisters, helping each other evolve as family, professionals, and friends. Even though partitions of blue and pink once separated their childhood bedrooms, they always had each other's back.

The Cartwright family moved from Bristol, England, to Los Angeles, California, via Canada in search of a better life. In fact, it was Mrs. Margaret Cartwright's dream to live by the sea, ideally in a warmer climate than Bristol. Although she had no clear intention to pursue show business, when Margaret Cartwright learned of the Lola Moore modeling agency from a neighbor, she was interested. Lola found immediate opportunities for both of Margaret's daughters, Veronica (six and a half years old) and Angela (three and a half years old).

Veronica became the face for Kellogg's cereal, gracing television commercials and box tops. She was cast in a number of popular movies such as The Children's Hour, Spencer's Mountain, and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Veronica also performed in four different roles on Leave It to Beaver, including Violet, the first girl to kiss the "Beaver." She also starred as Jemima Boone in The Daniel Boone Show. She was featured in the movies Alien, The Witches of Eastwick, and The Right Stuff and more recently in the TV series Eastwick.

Angela vaulted into our living rooms as Danny Thomas's stepdaughter, Linda Williams, on Make Room for Daddy. She then starred as Brigitta Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, followed by a starring role in television's Lost in Space as Penny Robinson. She has appeared in TV movies and established herself in the art world by authoring three books, including Mixed Emulsions. Along the way, acting never got in the way of sisterhood.

It was important to be resilient, especially since you could not count on winning every role at every audition. Thick skin and mental toughness were two key ingredients.

One sunny day, that "thick skin" experienced a different sort of test. It all happened during a priceless time of imaginative childlike play. Having received Annie Oakley outfits complete with fringed dresses, guns, and holsters, the girls had created their own backyard horse-riding stable. With Veronica as the trainer and Angela playing the horse, they would practice their jumps and hurdles. On that fateful day, Angela slipped and skinned her chin. Mom patched her up, Veronica took the scolding, and The Danny Thomas Show's writers altered the script to include a reason for the skinned-up face. Still bearing a tiny scar from that horseplay, Angela claims, "You simply learn to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep going."

As the girls grew up, their taste in colors and fads varied. Showing her individuality, Veronica decorated her room in avocado and white with Andy Warhol-style posters. Wearing avocado-green dresses and shoes as often as possible was also a part of "Veronica's way."

"This was the way I wanted to do things," Veronica says. "It was a time of finding yourself and being different."

Angela preferred the bright colors and psychedelic look of Yellow Submarine and Peter Max. Her room sported hot pink carpet with orange accents.

The accumulation of those precious, colorful stories is what makes a sibling relationship substantial. And it's not just stories that frame Veronica and Angela's personal experiences; they have built a friendship around the simple acts of listening and encouraging each other through the ups and downs of being children, teenagers, young women, adults, and parents.

The destination for these two sisters is happiness. For the Cartwrights, everything comes from knowing that you have taken the time to stay emotionally connected. When you choose to sustain a relationship, you make the time to meet, you allow happiness to catch you, you maintain tradition, and you are present to bring joy. With true relationship comes mutual respect, open-mindedness, and a lifetime of knowing what makes the other tick.

Life isn't without pain. People move on and eventually pass away. Nothing is sweeter and more comforting than the sound of a loved one's voice amid the season of sorrow. Angela and Veronica have also managed to have substantial influence in the lives of their offspring. By intentionally living in close proximity, they can inspire the next generation and expand their family traditions. You can do the same, wherever you are ...

Above All Else: Family members support each other THROUGH THICK AND THIN. Investing yourself in these relationships allows the true self to emerge—whenever, however.

Chapter Three

Life Lesson #3

BURN THE UNDERBRUSH Success May Be Waiting on the Other Side

Always do more than is required of you. —five-star general George S. Patton

In your life of work, you will hit phases when you know that a promotion, raise, or special goal is within your reach yet you grow disgruntled and impatient. When you have toiled diligently to build a body of work but feel like throwing in the towel, consider that true success may be right around the corner.

There is a legend about a general who came upon his troops, the army disenchanted, disparaged, whipped. He believed that his division felt isolated and endangered by the enemy. The general knew that they were geographically close to other regiments, separated by only a dense growth of small trees and shrubbery. To lift his troops' spirits and let them see the might of the vast army, he then ordered burn the underbrush.

When his orders had been carried out, his division of soldiers discovered that they were not isolated, as they had supposed. To their surprise, they saw that they were a part of one mighty army approaching near victory. With their courage revived, they marched forward in triumph!

Above All Else:

Consider where you have been and what you have accomplished. Then burn the brushwood of self-doubt, overeagerness, mistrust, and separation! YOUR SUCCESS MAY BE MUCH CLOSER THAN YOU EVER CONSIDERED.

Chapter Four


Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this. —Psalm 37:5

In 1988, Jim Hayhurst Sr., a forty-seven-year-old former Procter & Gamble professional and advertising executive, became the oldest member of the Canadian Expedition to reach the summit of the tallest peak on earth, Mount Everest. Jim's book, The Right Mountain: Lessons from Everest on the Meaning of Success, tells the riveting story of his 29,028-foot journey, filled with life-threatening experiences that forever changed Jim's life.

In this all too formulaic world, where we seek quick solutions, easier paths from point A to point B, and answers to soothe our own wounds related to career, marriage, and relationships, the lessons from Jim's climb to Everest's summit can be yours too. The secret to using lessons is to apply the learning in a personal, individual, unforced manner. The experience of age is about finding the best lessons that build your own layers of wisdom and looking at the shadows that people cast upon themselves.

LESSON ONE: Take on the world in bite-sized pieces.

Early on in the acclimatization trek for Everest, Jim realized that he and his Canadian Expedition colleagues were facing a 120-mile walk and climb before they even got to the real action of Mount Everest. Ever felt overwhelmed? Jim felt that the task at hand was insurmountable, but he understood that he had reached a plateau in his life and there was literally no turning back. In his own mind, he broke the 120-mile route into bite-sized pieces and focused on them one step at a time. He viewed his trek as evolving from a hike to a climb and reflected on personal successes in his past where he had broken the whole apart to understand the elements.

LESSON TWO: You can't go full tilt all the time.

Considering that life lessons are a part of your ongoing training, understand that different stages of your life require new acclimatization. Always pace yourself for change and know when to take breaks. For Jim, the Mount Everest experience meant a reduction in air pressure and oxygen, which generally leads to disorientation, confusion, lack of coordination, and a possible fatal fall.

Like Jim, you can push yourself to go farther and faster—but not if you are unaccustomed to the climate. And that climate may mean a new job, marriage, stepchildren, and everything else life throws at you. Slow down. You can't absorb the change in one giant gasp.

LESSON THREE: Understanding your core values will help you make decisions more easily.

Pulmonary edema and cerebral edema, caused by reduced oxygen and air pressure in the lungs and brain, are two of the most life-threatening illnesses facing climbers of Mount Everest. Jim was faced with his own limits and considered the possible loss of his life in this journey. In life-and-death situations, your core values (what means the most to you) will become vividly clear. We all face different choices like this, both big and small. The critical learning is what we can observe from others in order to build upon that wisdom and optimize joy along our path.

If you don't plan on having a mountaintop epiphany, at least take some advice and proceed it at your own pace. Seek to understand your individual core values so you can gauge your own contentment and happiness.

Consider your own trek and the value system that comes from within, but also understand how your values evolve with time. While simple in nature, your core may be dialed down to faith, family, and fun, but your cafeteria of values could extend to:

advancement at work • authority • cause • community involvement • community of faith • creativity • control of your destiny • diversity • gracefulness • family • faith • financial independence • fitness • integrity • leadership • leisure time • personal growth • personal reputation • prestige • responsibility • security • tithing • tradition • travel • variety

Draw from this list of core values or add to it—use it as your life lessons dashboard. Evaluate each new lesson, each new curve in the road, and each new undertaking against the dashboard.

Above All Else:

True success is the attainment of goals through bitesized steps and without compromising your CORE VALUES.

Chapter Five


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. —Romans 12:12

Life is full of accidental lessons. Sue Lundgren, a young, athletic friend from Boulder, Colorado, suffered a very serious bicycle accident. With broken ribs, collarbone, and wrist, coupled with a fractured pelvis, Sue was hurting all over. The painful recovery process included many months of confinement in bed.

When the doctor had completed her work and was taking her leave, Sue asked, "Doctor, how long will I have to lie here helpless?"

"Oh, only one day at a time," was the positive answer.

The long-suffering patient was comforted not just for the moment, but at many times during the succeeding weeks as the thought, Only one day at a time, came back with its quieting influence.

Only one day ...

What if we could teach our children to use each day more effectively with a new perspective on time? In rapid-fire world, can we teach our families, our communities, and the nation to be quick to listen and slow to anger? To look at only this day and our actions within it?

Teaching patience starts by exhibiting a little more patience ourselves. Like Sue Lundgren, we can learn that the soul of perseverance cannot be beaten. The patience she exhibited to her family and friends stands out as a testimony to overcoming adversity. In record time, Sue was back to life, working her way out of difficulty. Challenges had been put in her path not to stop her but to call out her courage and strength.

Above All Else: Out of difficulty and adversity grows a more patient and wise person. With a little patience and a lot of tenacity, you can OVERCOME EVEN THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES.


Excerpted from LIFE LESSONS by Rick Tocquigny Copyright © 2012 by Simple Truths. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Troy Johnson....................5
1 Always Look for Better Ways....................10
2 Stick Together Through Thick and Thin....................16
3 Burn the Underbrush....................24
4 Climb the Right Mountain....................28
5 Cycle Through Adversities....................36
6 Don't Let the Parade Pass You By....................40
7 Do What You Like; Like What You Do....................46
8 Be Transformed by Travel....................52
9 Embrace the Vintage Years....................58
10 Be Mindful....................66
11 Stand Still....................70
12 Listen to and Trust Your Inner Voice....................74
13 Right Time, Right Place....................78
14 Roses and Thorns....................84
15 Naturally....................90
16 No Pockets....................100
About the Author....................107

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