Dec 302012
 

Role models. Heroes. Those who carry a positive burden.  Leaders.

These are descriptors that sum up proactively what I’m going to discuss in today’s post.

First, let’s discuss those whom should not be considered any of the above ** :

Actors/Actresses

Other celebrities.

Politicians.

Sports stars/athletes.

Mass media stars ( anchors, reporters, journalists.)

From my reading, listening, and associating positively, I have come to the foregone conclusion that the real role models, heroes, and leaders are those whom we can look to from our rich history and from the present day who aspire to live up to timeless values, principles, and resolutions which bring out, as Alan Loy McGinness taught us, the best in people.

These are those whom should be considered instead :

Entrepreneurs

Statesmen

First Responders

Social capital rebuilders

 Authors/writers

Why, for instance, would an entrepreneur be a role model for our culture/society?  Simple. He/she/they have stepped out from the crowd/herd, and built a business, nearly always from scratch, and by doing so, has put up a bridge between a problem identified and a likely solution.

Think of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Randy Gage, Carrie Wilkerson, & countless other entrepreneurs too numerous to name. These men & women were/are rascals. They made, and still are, making a difference by doing something to ‘dent the universe’, and not simply settling for their perceived lot in life, as far too many do by default (or due to following societal norms/conventional wisdom)

Social capital rebuilders – who/what am I talking about?  I am referring to those who have grasped that something is wrong with our society due to a lack of interdependent thinking, connectedness, bonds of true friendship, faith/hope, strong marriage, and model parenting. As these entail a vast percentage of what really makes someone happy, someone who embraces any or all of these should be a role model worth writing about, following, or studying; Edmund Burke realized this centuries ago, and today, Chris Brady, Tim Marks, Art Jonak, Oliver DeMille, Paul Zane Pilzer, Bob Burg, John Maxwell, Tony Dungy, & Seth Godin fill this bill very well.

First responders. That’s an easy one. Think of 9/11:  Every single man & woman who ran TOWARDS danger, knowing that they were serving others by upholding their responsibility, is automatically a qualification to be a role model, and a hero worth emulating. Unquestionably.

Authors/writers. Regardless of the medium/vehicle used to consume, study, and then apply the wisdom (paperback, hardback, audio, or e-reader), authors and writers should be applauded and properly recognized as role models for our citizenry. Thomas Jefferson once said that he couldn’t live without books, and there are many other fantastic quotes from history just like his; in short, do not let technology or entertainment distract you from consuming the words that these men & women put from their will, heart, and head into yours.

Lastly, statesmen/women. What a HUGE difference there is between this category and politicians!  Huge. The same yawning gap exists between a politician and a true leader. We are seeing this today in present day America & elsewhere in the West, especially when compared to those who practiced and understood public virtue and servant leadership from our past. These names should never be forgotten:  Thomas Nelson, Abraham Clark, & Robert Morris. All three of these men, along with their wives, were statesmen & women were heroes. Look up their stories: There’s nothing that changes the world more than these type of folks.

I hope this blog stirred something in your mind, your heart, and/or your souls. We must understand the true nature of those whom we pattern our lives after and define, learn, and then do our way to success with the right role models. The world as a whole badly needs true leadership, and these categories of citizens are those who have the most to offer.

** – There are always exceptions, I think of Joe Thomas, Ron Paul, Ronald Reagan, Andy Roddick, & Chuck Norris.

Have a fantastic night & week ahead!

Dec 232012
 

Culture. That word alone can be the theme of an entire book!  So, suffice to say, I will not be delving in too deeply, just skirting the word’s meaning/definition and tying it into the words ‘credential’ (-ist) & ‘consumer’ to form the core of this pre-Christmas post.

As the West has always faced its share of challenges, two of these are much more recent, and perhaps have eluded the radar of many citizens, those being the rise of an overly credentialist and consumerist culture. What are the definitions & tell-tale signs of each, one might ask?

Credentialist:  Someone who believes that they are an expert, and knows all there is to know based strictly on having various paper-based, classroom-focused credentials, whether a B.A., B.S., M.A., M.B.A., J.D. or post doctoral coursework.  A person(s) who believes he/she/they can make decisions for others who may not have as much schooling*

Consumerist:   A person(s) who, incidentally or otherwise, puts consumption of goods & services ahead of production; Someone whom does not anchor their consumption to what they can actually afford based on their production, but rather, uses credit to expand their income beyond their means to pay in the present without selling off their future; lastly, someone who does not know, understand, or ignores the vast difference between expenses & investment.

Here’s why I believe both of these to be challenges that require a firm and even-handed response:  Both are acting together, and in some cases separately, to erode the foundations of free enterprise and the traditions of the West which brought countries like the United States and Canada unprecedented prosperity.  How so, one might ask?

First, while I’d not say there is anything wrong with classroom based schooling, there is something wrong when men & women get credentials and any of these happen thereafter:

1. He/she/they cannot find a stable career that pays back the time spent in earning the credential(s)

2. The credential offering institution does not focus on entrepreneurship as a way forward.

3. The schooling leads to thinking which does not offer the student(s) the mindset to know and understand “How” to think, rather than just “what” and/or “when”.

4. The debt burden for attaining the credential(s) puts the student in financial bondage.

5. The credentials lead to a way of thought that says “I earned “X” , therefore I am smarter than you” and I am immediately qualified to make decisions for everyone else.

6. The schooling does not recognize or teach that values like creativity, tenacity, innovation, humility, character, & purpose matter, and always will matter.

Second, while every one of us is a consumer of goods & services, putting consumerism on a shelf and almost considering it a religion to be worshipped, that is where the common, every day need to consume crosses over into the challenge for us to recognize, face, & counter-act. Here’s why this matters:

1. Consumerist culture alone pushes too many citizens into financial bondage to credit card companies, banks, leasing agencies/firms, marketers, advertisers, & Hollywood/NY/Miami celebrity trends.

2. Seed corn/wheat is a metaphor for having money always available to invest in oneself. (no, I’m not talking about 401(k)s and stocks) – when one is a consumer above most/all else, he/she often not only has no seed in reserve, but actually OWES seed to someone else — i.e., a bank!

3. Compound interest is the 8th Wonder of the World in some respects, and not only does it have such a label, it is also, sadly, a mystery to the majority of citizens, who haven’t had financial education in the K-12 (conveyor belt) schooling (and often not much more, if any, in undergrad or graduate professional track curriculum)

4. Consumerism often puts pleasure and short term thinking well ahead of happiness and mid to long term vision.

5. Being that there is a gigantic difference between investment & expense, it is crucial to grasp the concept of delayed gratification, and how buying books, listening to audios, attending seminars & conventions, and the like is an investment in one’s MIND, and therefore, has a return that cannot be measured in mere dollars and cents alone. Expenses come and go out of one’s wallet, and often draw a person(s) into bondage to others, especially if compound interest is involved, without the same return.

6. There is nothing at all amiss with having fun, and entertaining oneself; however, restoration and serving others is far more valuable than just spending money to have temporary fun, esp. if its seed wheat, on something that is often not remembered even a week later.

To bring these both together and tie to the response needed to counter-act the challenges posed, I offer up some thoughts, and some references to other sources.

Response A : Read. History will show that many many great men & women did not have so much schooling, yet they were highly educated. If you don’t read much, or at all now, start small:  15-20 mins./day-night, and build a habit. Trade those 15-20 for wasted time already in your day:  while waiting for an appointment; while (in park!!) in a traffic jam; by turning off the radio or TV in a 1:1 ratio to time spent in a book.

Response B : Listen. Audios (CD, mp3, vid clips, webinars) are golden. Learn from someone else’s experience(s) – especially someone who may not have any press clippings, however, he/she has the ‘fruit on the tree’ and has earned the responsibility to lead, and thus is worth following.

Response C : Associate positively. One can spend time most anywhere and for any amount of time, yet, is it in an environment where education is primary, and does it encourage personal growth and change that will ripple outwards into society?

Response D : Pay it forward/Serve others. If you have read a great book, listened to a fantastic audio, or been to an event that inspired you to find your purpose, sharpened your vision, and taught you principles and not pragmatism, bring someone else with you next time!  Give that book or audio to a friend(s) who may be struggling with life’s circumstances.

Response E : Do not confuse schooling and education. Being in school is one thing, but is the student coming out on the other end of the tunnel with an education?  Therefore, look into a self-directed/liber education, and understand how many in the West had just such an education and changed the world ( Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Franklin, et al. )

Response F : Use an acronym like “Y-D-I-L” as a financial education tool.  Y = You, Inc. Invest in your mind first, always. D = Debt. Pay off all consumer debt as quickly as you can, ahead of saving or investing in non mental things. I = Investment. This is the classic type of investment that the conventional wisdom teaches; nothing wrong with it, however, it comes after the first two letters. L = Lifestyle. Be a consumer last. Of course, you have to eat and buy clothes, and shop for a place to live with a roof; otherwise, never let an advertiser, PR specialist, the mass media, or a celebrity/sports star convince you to part with your hard earned income to “look like” him/her/them.

Response G : Understand the value of production. Study, think like, and learn from entrepreneurs. Even better, become an entrepreneur!  What you learn from the transition from employee-ship type thought to ownership type thought is priceless; there’s no dollar value that can be placed – it is that important to the future of our culture and the restoral of the Western world that reigned supreme for centuries.

 

Nothing but the best to one & all. May you find your North Star, and put service ahead of self!  Blessings & good will to my readers. 🙂

Dec 192012
 

… must understand, study, and learn from history.

That is the unvarnished truth. Yet, the West, especially America, has drifted from this truth, and the results have been evident.

For instance, while I had top of the line results in my history classes from K-12 (conveyor belt) & in my undergrad (professional track), I never learned much about the Sumerians; I only recall a very limited discussion from a class in middle school.

So, when I learned the the first known reference to the word ‘freedom’ was from clay tablets dating to the Sumerian era, it was a new discovery. How grateful I am to learn and grow on a self-directed educational journey that covers so many genres!

During the reign of Urukagina, in roughly ~2,350 B.C., one of the tablets referred to (slightly paraphrased from the translation), “Make manifest to all, by means of the written word.”

What possible impact does this have 4,300+ years later?  Plenty!  While there is nothing wrong with having fun ( after all, it is one of the 8 F’s 🙂 ), too much entertainment at the expense of learning and true education has caused many citizens to lose touch with their roots. And, in many cases, whether intentionally or unintentionally, a large number have also outsourced their thinking, and are relying on others who often do not have their best interests in mind.

The sooner this is counter-acted through intentionally living for excellence by sharpening the saw ( Habit 7 ), the better off we will all be as citizens, voters, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and friends.

Have a great evening!

Dec 162012
 

With all credit to the self-directed education that I have embarked upon over the past 2+ years, I have been blessed to learn so much that I never did while I was part of the conveyor belt & professional education tracks that I earlier completed.

One such example is a man whose historical leadership in the genres of economics & finances is Fredric Bastiat.

This partial quote from his 1840 essay, ‘What is Seen and What is Not Seen’,  tells so rich a story, it forms the core of this post:

“In the economic sphere, an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not  only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.”

One reason why sensus plenior thinking is crucial to a revival of thinking (as opposed to reacting) is that it goes well below the surface – i.e., what is not “seen” , and it helps us understand the long run effects of a decision. Decisions clearly always have consequences, and the question to ask of your boss/manager, your leader, your elected office holder/politician, and/or your own self is:   What other effect(s) will show themselves that you have not considered?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 152012
 
Monthly Movie Recommendation for Eagles & Climbers – V

Today’s blog post is the fifth in a monthly series that I plan to post for the rest of 2012.  I hope all the readers of this blog find as much inspiration, value, & encouragement in these as I intend there to be :) November’s movie recommendation from the vault for eagles ( those who soar! ) & rascals ( those climbers who strive to be part of the 5-10% riding the success curve of LIFE ) is 1984’s original script by Robert Mark Kamen, which ended up as the film known world wide as   ‘The Karate Kid‘.

As this is yet another movie that’s been released well over 20 years ago (28! believe it or not, ’80s fans), there’s not much new I can share about the characters, favorite scenes/lines, or otherwise, however, my specific intent is to tie the script’s premise into the LIFE mantra of the 8 core F’s and/or the MFC‘s 13 resolutions for LIFE. I’d say it goes without saying that Daniel ended up living intentionally for excellence by the time the movie’s credits started rolling!  🙂

As with any movie, song, poem, or other medium, it is quite often when one looks below the surface level (“waves”) with his/her thinking that you unearth much more meaning, applicability, and messaging. Oliver DeMille  calls this ‘sensus plenior’ , or metaphorical/depth thought. Applying this thinking is so much more powerful and useful when on a journey of leadership growth, personal change, discovery! Daniel’s journey from semi-confident ‘Jersey home anchored teen to emotionally & physically scarred California transplant teen is rather jarring, however, I am quite sure that many in the world, America/West, or elsewhere, have been through something like what he experienced on screen.

Notice how much his life changed for the better once a coach/mentor (and, additionally in his case, a father figure/replacement) entered his life?  Why don’t many more of us listen twice as much and talk twice as less and grow/learn/prosper as he did?   I’d say the root reason is that society/culture teach children -> teens things entirely backwards!   It should be ‘Define’ -> ‘Learn’ -> ‘Do’  rather than the more commonplace ‘Do’ -> ‘Learn’ -> ‘Define’. What does this excellent teaching movie show us about the 13 resolutions ?   Let’s dive in!

Resolution 1 – Purpose:   Daniel, not wanting to leave NJ, had to discover his purpose after being dropped in a very unfamiliar environment.  It took him a while, however, once he did, his life improved immeasurably.

Resolution 2 – Character:  Integrity x Courage.  Mr. Miyagi & Daniel’s mentor-student tag team covered very neatly! The mentor was a man of few words, and high integrity ( the scene with Daniel discovering the old newspaper articles & medals is raw and powerful! ), whereas the student developed the courage to confront his “goliath” over the span of numerous training montages.

Resolution 3 – Attitude:  Daniel’s was in dire need of an overhaul. His mother didn’t discuss the cross country move w/ him, and without his friends, and with no father figure while his mother worked a lot, we see that his self-talk was in the bottom of the barrel. However, as he met, dated, lost, then patched things up with Ali, and became very close to Miyagi, his attitude did an almost full 180!

Resolution 4 – Vision:  When the subconscious mind (‘elephant’) & conscious mind (‘ant’) are not aligned, one’s ability to achieve, to realize goals & dreams, and to have a positive affirmative vision of victory is stifled. Daniel clearly had to work through this during the film, and Miyagi’s calm and cool demeanor, and hidden lessons served as just the tonic that the young teen needed.

Resolutions 5 & 6:  PDCA + Scoreboard‘ing:   Having the plan & do of training for the karate tournament truly served a huge role in the student’s progress towards his mentor’s highest aspirations. The scoreboard of 3 points for a win?  Very clear. Being able to consult with his mentor during the training montages, and later, this tourney?  Allowed the ‘check’ and ‘adjust’ steps to take firm grip and lead to the wins on the scoreboard!

Resolution 7 – Friendship:  Daniel and Miyagi’s relationship during the movie very neatly covered this resolution’s core. It became beyond clear to the viewer during the scene after Daniel obtained his license & stopped over at Miyagi’s for birthday cake 🙂

Resolution 8 – Finances:   Lucille, Daniel’s single mom, made clear early on that there wasn’t much room in their California budget for karate lessons at a ‘good school’ – and how well that turned out for Daniel!!  It doesn’t take chasing money to get what you want; it takes having positive energy and cultivating your time doing the right things.

Resolution 9 – Leadership:   A leader casts a positive vision, has influence, is purposeful, and serves. Undoubtedly, Mr. Miyagi meets this definition head-on. So very often, the leaders in our lives are those who have no titles, no positions, no credentials, and no press clippings.

Resolution 10 – Conflict Resolution:  If Daniel, let alone his tormentors (Johnny, Tommy, Dutch, Bobby) only knew about the five/5 steps, so much would have been better for the new kid from Jersey at his new high school.  Not to mention Sensei Kreese, who taught violence as an answer well ahead of resolution to one’s issues. Miyagi’s family culture in Okinawa taught this resolution quite well, minus what we later find out in the sequel!

Resolution 11 – Systems Thinking:  Once someone grasps this kind of thinking (a la, Peter Senge, Chris Brady, Ray Kroc, Orrin Woodward, Sam Walton), it changes your perspective on everything. Daniel was able to grasp, after Miyagi’s admonition on the deck, how the “wax on, wax off” , “paint fence, up! down!”, “sand the floor. sand the floor” , & “paint house. Not up, down. Side, Side” connected to karate. It felt, looked, and sounded like just a bunch of hooey until the switch clicked on.

Resolution 12 – Adversity Quotient:  This one undoubtedly applied. As a review, AQ = IQ x EQ x WQ.  Putting aside IQ, as that side of Daniel wasn’t brought out in the script, it was clear that his EQ was in great need of repair, renewal, & insight from a mentor. Mr. Miyagi was clearly a father figure for him, and over the months that passed, with all the training, and friendship, the EQ became whole by the final scene at the tournament.  Lastly, Daniel’s WQ was improved along the road that the young man traveled from his arrival at the California apartment complex to the All Valley Under 18 tournament’s many matches.

Resolution 13 – Legacy:  Legacy cuts across personal, public, and leadership achievements, and is tied to the 8 F’s as well. Daniel’s personal growth under the wing of a wise mentor led to public achievement, and he was able to grow into a Level 2 Leader. His family life, faith, friends, fun, following, & fitness also grew as his legacy was shaped from the opening scenes in NJ to the final music as the credits rolled.

 

I hope this review resonates, enlightens, and makes the readers think and ponder. All the very best to everyone, and may your life be enriched on your growth journey!