Corporal Alvin C. York silently led his squad of men through the thick underbrush and dense fog of the Argonne Forest early the morning of October 8, 1918. His regiment had been tasked with charging down Hill 223 and making their way across an open plain towards the Decauville Railroad. Their mission was to cut off this supply line in hopes of pressuring the Germans to surrender. But the plain had been surrounded by machine gun nests, and the Americans were besieged as they made their way across, the gunfire felling them in a way that reminded York of how the mowing machines back home sliced through thick grass. York’s regiment had become hopelessly isolated and pinned down. If they couldn’t silence the constant barrage of artillery and advance, other troops would soon easily be overcome by a German pincer attack.
The commander of York’s Company G, Captain E.C.B. Danforth, ordered 3 of his squads to attempt to slip behind German lines and launch an attack from the rear. Having already lost 7 from their ranks, 17 men – 4 noncommissioned officers, including York, and 13 privates – made their way into the mist and trees in search of the enemy.
U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usually called a "standard" in official U.S. government terminology). It is defined in Executive Order 10860. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With the November election upon us, I think it’s a time to talk about leadership, what a leader is and is not. The qualities of a leader and the qualities of an anti-leader. It’s a time to reflect on what makes and what breaks a leader, a time to take an objective look at the office of the presidency and America.
Leadership is not an office, you are not elected to leadership you are elected to the seat of power and trusted into to a leadership role. But like all leadership roles, like anyone who has ever been propelled into leadership knows. the office dose not make a leader, but the leader can make the office. Many a great man has been pushed into fought for and obtained a leadership role, yet failed to live up to the role. History has proven that the roll of leadership is nota role destine for all, it takes a man of a certain cut, a man that knows, by instinct, what leadership is. Yes we can and we do train leaders, we can help to mold leaders, but… Leaders are not trusted nor are they created, they are born.
We read of leaders that seemed to be manifested out of thin air, trusted in to the roll, we read of extraordinary men and woman who seemed to have transformed into a leader with in seconds.But if we look, if we pay attention to there past, we would notice that leadership was always apart of there being, was always there, is small ways, seemingly unimportant ways.
Can a non-leader, and anti-leader truly transform into a leader, can they become the President, the leader of the free world just because they occupy the seat of power? Can a non-leader truly become a leader? Can we trust in them to instinctively know what a leader is, what a leader does? Can a leader ever truly be a non-leader, can they ever disregard the seat of power, abandon the status of the leader of the free world?
This election is an election leadership, who, among the two, is a true leader and who is an anti-leader. Who has the ability to fill the chair of power, who has the ability to lead the free world, what man can truly be the leader we need, the leader that will take America in the direction of prosperity and truly restore American pride?
The office demands more than just looking presidential, it demands leadership. The office commands respect from the nation, but more importantly it demands respect from the one who will sit in the seat of power. A leader respects the office they have been given, they do not, smugly, hold the office, demanding it to respect them. They do not command from the seat of power, they lead from it.
This election the choice is clear, Obama has not respected the seat of power, nor had he respected the people who have placed him that seat. He has disregarded the laws of the land, the the people the law meant to protect. He has walked over the graves of our Founding Fathers and torn up the Constitution of the great land, he has been trusted into a leadership roll he was not and is not meant to occupy, he has made a mockery of the office and the Nation. Obama has turned the presidency into an office of self-serving interest. The nation and her people are after thoughts, his own self-interest are paramount in his decision making. Leaders are selfless, not selfish.
Is Romney better? Is he a true leader? Will he restore Americas pride and power? Will he fill the chair of power, respect it and the American people, will the Constitution once again be the law of the land, will the Founding Fathers regain the respect of the office? In truth, I don’t know, but I do know that Obama must not win again, America cannot stand four more years of his anti-leadership qualities.
This November vote for America, vote for our Founding Fathers, vote to restore the Constitution, vote because American deserves a second chance.
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Leadership is something we hear about all the time, we can attend seminars, read books and articles and even blog post. Everyone seems have the solution to being a leader. To me it seems that the title of the book or workshop seems to be more important that the content of the book or workshop. The key to a multi-million dollar book is the title, not so much the content. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great books out there on leadership, but really, is there anything we have not already hear, read or seen, is there a new holy grail of leadership quality that we just happen to stumble upon?
Can there really be something we missed? I find it hard to believe, sure there are new challenges to being a leader in the 21st century, we have a world that is connected like never before, we tweet or thoughts the moment we have them and Facebook our likes for all the world to see. We have smart phones and tablets that keep us connected to the grid at all times, allowing us to “lead” at any given moment. We can bark our orders to all with one simple posting and we can “keep tabs” on our team with a few clicks of the mouse.
So sure there are new challenges, but has leadership really changes? New tools for a new world, but is being a leader harder today than 10, 20, 50, 100 or 1000 years ago? I think not, if anything, it should be easier. Think about it… Before the advent of cellphones and the internet leaders had to communicate face to face or through well written letters that would take days, weeks or months to arrive at its destination.
Case and point:
Ben Franklin the American Statesmen who helped define this nation, a founding father and great leader. He could not tweet the French monarchy and ask for help in the American cause, he could not pick up his cell phone and give them a little ring nor text them a question. He had only two options, write a letter and send it off, on a boat to France or pack up his bags and head there himself. Franklin did both. The letter first, stating his purpose and announcing his arrival and than he himself heading off. This was no 8 hour flight, it was a long and treacherous trip on a ship. Not a modern-day cruse liner, but a wooden vessel with very few comforts we would consider must haves.
The trip is only part of it, a lot could change in the time it took Franklin to travel from America to France, and he had no real way of knowing so. There was not onboard communication device to receive updates on the revolution back home. Franklin was flying blind, or should I say, sailing blind. By the time Franklin arrives in France the fight could have been over, the British could have defeated the rebels and his trip could have been in vane.
Sure, we may have times were we are flying blind, times we may feel as if we are on a ship sailing off to ports unknown, but we are never truly out of the loop, not in todays connected society. We few postings to our Linked In account, a few Google searches and before we know it, we have the latest rumors or tid-bits of information. Franklin had none of this, in fact, by the time he arrives in France, the French would know more about the revolution latest happenings than him.
Franklin would have to update himself once in France, based on old news, for even the “breaking news” in France would have been weeks if not months old. No instant updates or news feeds for Mr. Franklin, he had to use his intuition to read between the lines of the old news and speculate on the news yet to come. No fact checking or quick call to the home office to verify his information, nope, Franklin had to just wait for updates.
Franklin spent months in France, waiting for the perfect moment to ask the King for help, he used his time to learn and plan. His face, his words and actions represented the Face of America to the French.
Leaders today have lost the art of statesmanship, most have lost the art of communication, be it a political leader, corporate or community leader, we expect instant results with instant feedback. Look around you, how many people are attached to there smart phones and tablets. How many are afraid to make any decision on there own, how many do not like to wait, feel lost without being connected to the outside world. Leadership is the ability to think on your own, the ability to think of others, Ben Franklin had to do this on a daily bases, he had to consider the nation with out the latest polls to help him form a decision.
Sure he wrote letters home and waited for the reply, the lattes news on how the fight for independence was going, knowing that the news, at best, was weeks old. His decisions were based on facts that could not be easily verified and checked. Life was different, some would say less complex, less hectic, but was it really?
Leadership is not always being in the know, but sometimes its intuition, the gut feeling or reaction. Great leaders learn to trust themselves and others. The Founding Fathers had to have faith in Franklin, they had to trust that he would represent them well, but also trust that his intuition would serve them and the nation, a nation that was at war, fighting for its very existence. They had to do it based on blind trust, they had no ability to contact him via phone or text, the written word was all the had, and even that was delayed, old news, by the time it reached him. Our very existence depended on a mans intuition and his ability to be a statesman.
Leadership is not new nor has it really changed, the challenges are timeless and the values are eternal. The tools may have changes, but the underlining principals of leadership are universal and forever-in-a-day. This is why we so often look back in history to find examples of true leadership, Washington, Gandhi, Martian Luther King Jr. and many others. Books have been written and seminars given on the leadership styles od Jesus, the Art of War is still considered on of the best books on leadership, yet we still feel the need to try to separate ourselves, to pretend that our day and age is different, that our circumstances calls for new approaches, yet leadership qualities have not changes, they have remained constant and universal throughout history.
We may label them differently, give them updated descriptions but if you spend the time, look for the root of leadership, you will find that all leadership styles breakdown to the same basics:
– In self
–Intuition, gut feelings
-In a greater power
-When to take action
-When not to take action
Leadership in not new and improved because we have new tools, email, twitter, Facebook and Linked In are tools to allow us to lead, but the basics never change. Leadership is still about others, about placing yourself not at the front, but at the rear, not lifting yourself above others, but lifting others above yourself. A true leader is not elected to power, does not take or steal power, a true leader is elevated, raises naturally and humbled by the power granted to them by the ones they lead. The Founding Fathers understood this, and they lived it.
Benjamin Franklin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Words are powerful things; they have the power to change history, to create revolution and to mend broken hearts. I was reminded of this fact this morning when I gave the following quote to a friend:
There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.
The quote is a tab bit hard to understand unless you take the time to see the words as they are. When I first read it, I read it as only two things, stealing a diamond and knowing thy self. I missed the nuance of the punctuation, and of course my mind replace steal for steel. This friend also did the same, but in order to “fix” the problem they wanted to rewrite the quote, or better yet, reorder the words. They wanted
There are three things extremely hard: a diamond, steel, and to know one’s self.
Yes, it makes the reading a bit easier on us, but it is not what Mr. Franklin said, and not how he wanted it stated. For anyone who knows Ben knows that he loved the English language and was a master at it. I do not know for sure, but I would venture to guess that he placed the words exactly as he did for a very specific purpose. Regardless, his words should be represented as he stated them. Words are very powerful indeed, and rearranging them or substituting them can and often does cause issues.
Misunderstandings are often the result of misplaced or missed used words. The Founding Fathers understood this, and knew the power of the written word, the permanence of them and the importance of each word. The Catholic Church is known to spend years debating the simplest of words, knowing that a simple, yet very important distinction are between using one word over another. Nuances in communication is extremely important, politicians know this, this is why they hire speech writers and practice there talking points, a simple slip-up can cause them to lose the election. We often call the gaffes, but what they really are, are moments of truth.
Words, spoken or written have the power to shape our destinies or destroy our past. Historians understand this, they understand how they can write about our Founders, telling the truth, yet leading you to a conclusion that is anything but the truth. The omission of words alters the facts, but leaves behind the basic truth.
We recently saw this in the Trayvon Martian case. The news media played the tape, the call from George Zimmerman, but by omitting one seeming simple line of conversation, the narrative changed. Words have the power to unite or to divide.
It seems to me, that we have lost the art of words; we have simplified them, dumb them down and turned them into meaningless letters. For example, take the word “Fair”, we hear it almost daily, “Fair share” “Fair Play”, as is “All Americans deserve a fair share of the American Dream”. I agree, but I would venture to guess that my understanding of Fair is not the majorities understanding. Most would think of fair as equal, as in, if one person has the dream, to be fair about it, all should have the dream. Not so, fair does not mean equal.
free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge. (Source)
To be fair only means to offer the same,
Take your time, read the definitions and you will notice the nuance, the words have meaning…
We need to return to the day when words had meanings, when the power of words were understood and respected. How did we get to this point, I am not sure, I have my own theories, but they are just that, mine. I would place the blame on the dummying down of America, instead of keeping our standards high and expecting people to reach for them, we have lowered the standards, all in the name of fairness, so all can reach them. Our newspapers use to be written at the 9th grade level, now many are written at the 5th grade level, our leaders use to be statesmen, speaking and writing as such, but now they strive to be everydaymen. Our schools use to expect excellence but now promote fairness, is hopes of being inclusive and accepting of all, to offer a fair chance for all to excel, yet most will not.
Our Founders understood something we have seem to have forgotten, they understood that we all deserve a fair chance at success, but we all will not achieve it. They understood that my success is not your success that each person is unique, that success is individual, not communal that fairness does not equate to equal, and that the guarantee of The Pursuit of Happiness is not the same as the guarantee of happiness. Our Founders understood the power of words, and based on them a new nation was born, a revolution declared and lives placed in the balance to defend them.
The United States was and is a Nation based on words, based on the nuances of the words and many a brave man and woman have spilled their blood upon the ground in defense of those words.
So is it really a big deal if someone reorders or replaces a word, to simplify the words, to bring them down to make them more “accessible”, Yes, I think so, I think words have meaning, have power and purpose, and to lower them, to bring them down, even in the name of understanding, is wrong. Instead, we should be striving to raise ourselves up, to strive to understand and to learn. Our Founding Fathers, many of them self-educated, saw the power in them, understood the need for them and knew that this new nation would rise up to them, and defend them or die. Patrick Henry understood:
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! (Source)
Words have meaning… Words have power… Make your word count…
Bearing compass (18th century). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 4 Points of Leadership, like a compass, we need to make sure our leadership skills, our life skills are inline with the 4 main points on our internal compass. The goal of any leader, be they corporate leaders, group leaders or mom and dads, direction and clarity are important. The 4 Points of Leadership will help you set your compass to true north and help you to set your course to a leadership style of clarity and direction.
Point One: Environment
Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.
W. Clement Stone
The people and things we choose to surround ourselves with define us, they shape us and inform the world who and what we are. As my mother use to so, you are who you hang with, we choose to associate with like minded people, to frequent places filled with the atmosphere we thrive in. We do not often exit our comfort zone nor do we often drastically change our environment, we are creatures of habit and seek out comfort and security.
To set our compass to True North, to Clarity and Direction, we need to create an environment that is healthy and uplifting, we need to choose friends and associates that will help define us as productive and positive influences on our society. Our Direction needs to be one of upward movement, one set with the goal of creating a better world that we entered into. This includes \more that just donating to the local soup kitchen, it includes our actions and words as well. The simple act of teaching our children to say please and thank you, or to open the door for an elderly person. Respect and charity go hand in hand, and are all part of the environment we create.
Point two: Action
We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.
Abigail Adams (1744 – 1818), letter to John Adams, 1774
Actions speak louder than words, we all have heard this saying, most likely from our Mothers, and once again, our mothers were right. Actions do speak loader than words, in-fact actions define our words. It is easy to say “I will” or “Yes” or even “I love you” but if our actions do not back up the words, the words become hollow and meaningless. Yet, if we just do it, with out the words, the action stands on its own, becomes the truth with in the words not spoken. Actions are our currency, it is with actions that we gain trust and respect. And like money, we must learn when to spend our actions and on what. Well spent actions will provide us with respect and trust, where as miss spent actions or lack of action will deplete our account and render us morally bankrupt in the eyes of our creditors, our friends and family.
To set our compass to True North, to Clarity and Direction, we need to learn the value of actions, to see the outcome and consequences of our actions on ourselves and those who surround us. We need to learn that our words must be followed by our actions, and that our actions can and do define our moral character. We are what we do or don’t do. Our inaction is as important as our actions.
Point three: Laugh
A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.
~Henry Ward Beecher
Nothing in this world is beyond a laugh. We cannot take life or ourselves to seriously. Life is to short not to smile to enjoy and to laugh. Learn to relax and go with the flow, and you will learn that life is not all that bad. We all have run into that one person who seems to have the personality of a arm pit hair, they find no joy in any aspect of life, and fine no humor in this world. They see the world as a cold humorless place, a place that needs to be pitied not laughed at.
Before you condemn them, stop and look at yourself, are there times, moments or days that you too feel this old world is just in to sad a shape to laugh to enjoy and experience. We all could use a little more laughter in our lives, we all can light up a bit more and learn to make this world a little more bearable.
To set our compass to True North, to Clarity and Direction, we need to learn to find the silly in life’s stressful moments. We need to learn to laugh at the ridiculous and find the humor in the outrageous. We need to teach our children not to be offended so easily and to find the funny in the sometimes not so funny world. The world can be, and often is a cruel place, God has given us the grace of humor, it is up to us to use this gift to help make this world a better place, for ourselves and the next generation of leaders.
Point Four: God
God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.
Our being depends on only one Being,God, believe in Him or not does not change the simple fact that God is there and God is the Creator. God provides all that we need, but we must achieve it ourselves. We have faith in the outcome, but the work must come from within. We are not capable of achieving greatness without the graces of God flowing through us and within us. We must learn to respect and harness the graces God has provided for us, each to our needs, not our desires. God knows all our wants and provides for all our needs. Our wants and needs may not be the same, we may not understand the differences, but God does.
To set our compass True North, to Clarity and Direction we need to learn that God exist, truly exist and provides for our well being, but allows us to partake in the process, allows us to journey alongside the Creator. Our actions, words and desires need to be all for one purpose, glorifying God and praising Him for the graces He has bestowed upon us. Once again, believe in God or not, does not change the fact the God believes in you.
The 4 Points of Leadership can and should be thought of as the 4 Points of Life, a life lived well. Each person is a leader, a leader of there life, there family there destiny. We choose the path we wonder, we set our compasses on the prize we seek and we gather around us the ones whom we esteem and hold dear to ourselves. God allows us the freedom, grants us the freewill to choose the path we walk, always offering us the graces we need to walk the path with Clarity and a sense off Direction. It is our decision to take up His offer to to choose to walk the path alone. Leadership is not about going it alone, not about forging a new path or even about making a name for yourself, Leadership is about understanding, understanding self, others and your place in the universe, it is about understanding your roll in Gods plan, not Gods roll in your plans.
I thought I would share another found article….
post written by: Marc
10 Destructive Faults in Our Way of Thinking
The human mind is wonderful and powerful, but it’s far from perfect. There are several common judgment errors that it’s prone to making. In the field of Psychology these are known as cognitive biases, or fallacies in reasoning. They happen to everyone regardless of age, sex, education or intelligence.
Over the past few months I’ve become fascinated by these biases and fallacies, so I’ve read several books about them. Today I want to share ten of them with you. They are the ones I repeatedly notice myself and those closest to me struggling with. My hope is that you will use the information in this article to pinpoint these destructive patterns in your own thinking, and break free from them before they send you spiraling down the wrong path.
- Negative self-fulfilling prophecies. – A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that motivates a person to take actions that cause the prediction to come true. This kind of thinking often tears relationships apart and causes people to fail at their goals. Here are two typical examples: 1.) A man believes that his relationship with his new girlfriend is “never going to last.” So he stops putting effort into the relationship, pulls away emotionally, and a month later the relationship fails. 2.) An intelligent undergraduate in the field of health convinces herself that she “doesn’t have what it takes” to become a doctor, so she therefore never completes the prerequisites for medical school, and thus never becomes a doctor.
- Only taking credit for positive outcomes. – This destructive thinking pattern occurs when we take full credit for our successes, but deny responsibility for our failures. A perfect example of this can be witnessed in school classrooms across the globe. When students receive a good grade, they often attribute it to their intelligence and their excellent study habits. But when they get a bad grade, they attribute some of their failure to a bad teacher, an unfair set of test questions, or a subject matter that “isn’t needed in the real world anyway.” The bottom line is that in order for a person to grow emotionally, they must be willing to take full responsibility for all of their actions and outcomes – successes and failures alike.
- Believing we are immune to temptation. – We have far less control over our impulsive desires than we often believe. Sex, food, and drug addictions are extreme examples of this. Many addicts believe they can quit anytime they want, but in reality they are simply lying to themselves. But you don’t have to be an addict to be vulnerable to temptation. Lots of smart people end up impulsively giving in to temptation simply because it’s the easiest way to get rid of it. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. If someone wants to get rid of sexual desire, the easiest way is to have sex. If someone wants to get rid of hunger pain, the easiest way is to eat. Restraining from impulsive behavior in the face of temptation is not easy; it takes a great deal of self-control. So be careful, because when we have an inflated sense of control over our impulses, we tend to overexpose ourselves to temptation, which in turn promotes the impulsive behavior we want to avoid.
- Passing a broad judgment from an isolated incident. – An inaccurate first impression is a decent example of this one. It’s about our natural human tendency to evaluate a person or situation from a bird’s eye view, and then presume to know enough to pass a reasonable judgment. This happens a lot in the corporate working world. A newer employee might show up late to work after experiencing legitimate car trouble, but their boss immediately becomes suspicious that they are not committed and responsible, and treats them as such for several weeks thereafter. The obvious solution here is to look at the big picture before you start pointing fingers or making assumptions.
- Believing we can control the uncontrollable. – This thinking fallacy occurs when people begin to believe that they have some kind of direct influence or power over an external event that is completely random. It is especially evident in the minds of amateur gamblers; especially those who have had a recent string of good luck. For example, if you flipped a coin and asked someone to guess heads or tails, and they got it right ten times in a row, they might begin to believe that their good luck is confirmation that they have control over the outcome of each flip. But the truth is that there is always a 50% probability of their answer being correct, and their last ten guesses were pure luck.
- Ignoring information that does not support a belief. – Psychologists commonly refer to this as the confirmation bias. We as human beings naturally tend to look for information that confirms and supports our beliefs, and we tend to overlook information that does not. We are selective in the evidence we choose to collect so that we don’t have to challenge our way of thinking, because it’s easier not to. This destructive thinking trap is very common, and it can have detrimental effects on our productivity when we make big decisions based on false information.
- Beginner’s optimism. – Beginner’s optimism is the human tendency to underestimate the time required to complete an unfamiliar task. It occurs due to a lack of planning and research on behalf of someone who is excited about doing something they have never done before. In other words, when we get assigned a new task that we are anxious to get started on, instead of delaying the start time to accurately evaluate the level of difficulty and resources required, we simply guess and begin. Thus, our expectation of the workload is based on raw optimism instead past experience and reliable data. And it all backfires on us a little later when we find ourselves knee deep in work we were unprepared for.
- Rebelling simply to prove personal freedom. – Although more common in children, this thinking fallacy can affect people of any age. It’s basically a person’s urge to do something they have been told not to do, for fear that their freedom of choice is being taken away from them. This person may not even want to do whatever they are doing to rebel; however, the simple fact that they are not supposed to do it motivates them to do so anyway. The tactic of reverse psychology is a commonly used method of exploiting this thinking fallacy in others.
- Judging a person’s capabilities based solely on the way they look. – This happens thousands of times a day worldwide when one person assumes something about another person based on their immediate appearance. For example, someone might see a tall, well groomed man in his early fifties, wearing a business suit, and instantly assume he is successful and reliable, even though there is zero concrete evidence to support this assumption. Bottom line: You can’t judge a book by its cover.
- Trying to diminish losses by continuing to pursue a previous failure. – Sometimes called the sunk cost fallacy, this is a thinking fault that motivates us to continue to support a previously unsuccessful endeavor. We justify our decision to continue investing in this failed endeavor based on our cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, starting today, of continuing to pursue it outweighs the expected benefit. The logical thing to do would be for us to cut our losses and change our course of action. However, due to the sunk costs we have already invested, we feel committed to the endeavor, so we invest even more time, money and energy into it, hoping that our additional investment will reverse the outcome. But it never will.
If you can relate to some of these destructive thinking faults, and you’re interested in learning more about them, give these books a read. All three are equally incredible:
Photo by: Pejman Parvandi
I hope you found this article helpful…