Jun 192014
 
The confluence of social capital, servant & replicative leadership, and systems.

Social Capital.

Servant leadership ( upside down pyramid being the most apt visual )

Replicative leadership ( Level 4 )

Systems thinking ( a la, Senge, Kiyosaki, Gerber, Woodward, Brady, & others less well known. )

They do intersect, and confluence exists in a metaphorical “river” – this spark that connected them together for me came while reading a page in a remarkable book by H.W. Crocker III.

The author is summing up the Battle of Chancellorsville, talking about Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson and the aftermath of the tragedy which prematurely took the latter General’s life in a ‘friendly fire’ incident on the battlefield.

The quote is powerful :

“People matter, individuals matter; no system, however well-oiled, and no leader, however omnicompetent, can afford to ignore the importance of personnel and having the right people in the right posts.”

So so true. Major league level truth in a matter of a short paragraph!

Mr. Crocker then quotes General Lee …

(speaking to one of the Army of Northern Virginia’s chaplains) “He [ Jackson ] has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.”

To Lee, Jackson was far more than a subordinate officer. He was supremely trusted to handle the fires of war and the enormous task of leading a tired, under nourished, out-manned & gunned, and strongly individualistic group of men. Clearly, he was the right man in the right post; so to borrow a portion of the quote, “people matter, individuals matter …”

What came to be after this decisive Confederate victory quite likely would have been different if Stonewall Jackson, the “great and good” leader in his own right, had lived. Lee had replicated his impeccable leadership traits, skills, and courage in those within his inner circle – he was by definition, a mentor, a teacher, and a Level 4 leader. Yet, while the system in place within the South’s military was pulling victories from the jaws of defeat and causing President Lincoln much angst and soul searching, the system could not by itself replace Jackson. The personnel mattered too much, empowered as they were to take action and lead from the front.

Think about this. Live it out. Build strong social capital -those wide & deep relationships which are cultivated like that of the farmer in his field. Be the example. Live for those whom you serve. Align your personnel to their strengths, and build an iron clad inner circle. Yet, never lose sight of how valuable one person can be to the whole.

Jun 152014
 
(Father's Day edition) - 'Courageous' - 2014 Rascal's Guide to + Movies Series - Two

Just in time for Father’s Day …

… it’s my privilege to post a review, and a very strong recommendation, to watch the movie ‘Courageous‘.

Courageous is a terrific movie filled to the brim with truths in it’s moving, insightful, & heartfelt script. It will tug at your metaphysical heartstrings, and make you really reconsider if you are doing all you can as a man in serving your family.

It is very much the case that not all males are men; a man is created from the crucible of living for far more than a paycheck. He is molded by his culture/society, his local community, his friends, his pastor/spiritual leader, and his family unit. Some men run from their multi-pronged duties, some blame shift, some never mature … and then, there are some that fight back the ‘FLD’ (Five Laws of Decline), and serve their families with honour, with courage, with character, and with a determination to never quit on them.

This latter group is what we see emerge as the movie eventually reaches its plateaus of raw emotion & decision point(s). Without spoilers, the four lead characters each have to come face to face with situations which test their faith (or lack thereof), and put them square in the middle of a moral battlefield. Will each of them make the right decision(s)? Will they buckle under pressure? Will they put the lure of lesser things ahead of the greatness and glory of God?

This movie earns an A+ from this reviewer for multiple reasons – it rings like a tuning fork in the quiet room, for starters. It also is very real; we know these characters don’t exist in real life, yet you can surely see them in the faces & voices of your neighbors. Additionally, the movie doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult issues that may be considered “off limits” by those who don’t understand that one should have thick skin & a soft heart, rather than the reverse.

Who would’ve thought that an independent studio could cobble together the funds to put out such a quality film, one may ask? These folks in Georgia did. This movie doesn’t cut corners and it shows in the high level of acting skill, scenery, and quality of script-writing.

As we celebrate Father’s Day in our land, this is the best way I could show support for all the men in my life who are fathers (and for those who read this blog whom I don’t know!): put up a review of a movie which is a must-see (and must own) to sharpen their saw ( Habit 7 ) and use this movie as a sterling example of what a father should be.

All best!

Apr 242013
 
'Four Corners' of Friendship

Friendship. So very important, yet so many don’t put a time value on creating, building, and bonding with others in a healthy, win:win friendship: Why is that?

This type of analysis could fill a research paper, let alone an entire book, so this post will necessarily only address at a high level. I am using some content gathered from my own reading & the majority from a seminar that I attended a few months ago where the speakers did a tremendous job weaving together  a tapestry of just what true friendship really is.

First core is to separate the underlying skill set of attractiveness from maintenance. Both of these are learnable, and do not require luck nor talent nor false flattery (or teeth whitener ūüėÄ ) – however, like with so many things in the consumerist, mass media culture, neither are taught all that well.

To Attract —-

Empathy

Responsive listening

Ask lots of questions

Keep good posture / stance & eye contact on the other person

Be likable & build confidence. Trust doesn’t grow overnight.

and …

Edification

Be a ‘good‘ finder at all times

Grace over law ( don’t correct )

Make the other person feel better after having been with you.

—- ¬†—- —

This paves the way so very well for the second core: ¬† To maintain —-

Enthusiasm

Be joyful & use big words to describe how you feel.

Focus on lending others your spirit ( especially if he/she/they are down )

Give ‘happy’

Encourager

Affirm the traits that you previously edified. (i.e., you admire how well the person speaks in front of people she doesn’t know; you think the person is very skilled in cooking steaks on the grill.)

Be a great ‘expect-or’ ( expect the best. Don’t reward mediocrity. )

Talk & share experiences, dreams, goals, & affirmations/resolutions together. Positive association is so very valuable.

—- —– —– —– —-

The talk started to wrap up through the discussion/listing of a terrific selection of books that buttress each of these four ¬†– please feel free to comment on this post if interested in any of the titles: ¬†Am happy to offer up personal testimonials/recommendations for them, as I’ve been blessed to have already read the vast majority of them.

The capstone was the visual of a graph of friendship achievement that looks very much like an exponential curve. In other words, the growth of true, principle based friendship may appear to be completely flat for quite some time, and you may be thinking, “Have I really helped this person know, like, and trust me (as a friend)?” ¬† ¬†The answer is: ¬†“Yes!” , and the pay-off, like any solid success or wealth building principle, is going to take some time to show up, but once it does, the reward will return so many blessings to your life.

Then, it becomes your responsibility to pay it forward into another’s life. Friendship isn’t Resolution 7 for nothing – it is central to ever-lasting, purposeful, resolved living.

Mar 232013
 
14

This was so eye opening to me, that I immediately had my next blog post topic!

So yes, we’ve all heard of rules before. Many times. Often. However, what about these kind of “rules” , those which have a strong root in past history, and can surely be re-applied as history’s rotating cycle has brought us into a ‘4th season’ and on the upcoming brink of a ‘1st season’ ? ¬† Most definitely worth discussing!

These 14 are derived from C.E. Sargent’s classic read, ‘Our Home‘ , which is a Top 100 recommendation on the TJed Teen/Youth list, thereby making it a must-read, regardless of if you grew up in this classical educational tradition, are now embarking on it, or will be in the future.

One/1 :  Embrace the New, then Embrace the Now.

“Those who pine away for the old will not succeed, nor will those who wait around for the old days to come back.”

Two/2 : Spend evenings and Sundays with family.

Community’s cornerstone is the family unit. When endless entertainment, excessive trading of time for money, dissolution of family, or other issues arise, it’s surely best to address these at the root.

Three/3 : Strengthen your selfculture.

This is the antithesis of popular culture; it runs counter to the concept of peer pressure (fitting in with the crowd, looking for approval, being right with others)

Four/4 : Articulate and write out your individual rules for life.

Who are you?  Leaders are not conformists, except to core morals & goodness.

Fifth/5 : The focus of families is on raising adults & the focus of education is to prepare young people to be good parents & informed citizens.

Opportunities abound to offer leadership and other crucial chances to impact society positively to those age 12 & up; responsibility is borne from the need to help the family succeed.

Sixth/6 : Meaning is a central component of learning.

Replacing the tunnel focus on ‘getting ahead’ & prosperity for self. Gratitude, mistakes as growth moments, & persistence shine through.

Seventh/7 : Spend time serving the less fortunate/vulnerable in society.

Service ahead of self (entertainment all the time) and boredom are moved aside. This creates real community and rebuilds social capital.

Eighth/8 : Marriage as a central, vital project/focus.

This evolves from putting working & parenting ahead of your spouse. Family is strengthened, tying back to the fifth rule above.

Ninth/9 : Pursue & complete a true leadership education.

Also known as an ‘Impact’ education, this replaces 1:1 the previous focus on job & career / professional track. Initiative, ingenuity, tenacity, creativity, and persistence, amongst other skills/values are at the core.

Tenth/10 : Entrepreneurship.

A must. Period. Even for those who have apparent security in their job/career, many find that the security translates to prosperity or fulfillment. The views of entrepreneurs changes over the seasons; the best to emulate is “build(ing) a business to change the world.”

Eleventh/11 :  Produce wealth.

The best time to produce wealth? Build it when the community, including your family (to maintain standard of living), your country, and society need it the most — in times of economic calamities and challenge. The response is to become a producer, which is far more valuable than a dependent, victim, employee, or consumer.

Twelfth/12 : Developing Creativity and Inventiveness.

Doing so helps address society’s problems & ties back to the 11th rule in producing something(s) of value. Opportunity springs from challenges in offering people what they need, as well as want, even in times that it seems far more difficult to do so.

Thirteenth/13 : Inner resiliency.

Winston Churchill is a wonderful role model for this rule. He was able to remain optimistic and enthusiastic even when life was very very hard. Leadership dovetails perfectly here with effecting positive change.

Fourteenth/14 : Growing your ambition.

Being clear to define ‘ambition’ in the right context for the season/time, as either/both of these > ¬†Making sure the right side wins. Making sure the right changes happen.

The quality of the education and leadership determines at the heart what will result from the winning side’s victors and after the change(s) take place.

 

Did this information hit you as mentally hard as it did me? ¬†I have come to believe more and more that the times we are in are far from what the self-anoited ‘experts’ are saying is a ‘great recession’; on the contrary, it is far, far deeper than that. However, without reading, studying, and listening, let alone associating with those who also do these things, its clear why a fair number of those in America & the West have agreed, at least on the surface.

Comments are most welcome. Thank you, as always, for reading, and God Bless.

————————————————-

* Chapter 7 in the terrific book, ‘Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens” was my primary reference for the above; some of the comments below each rule are mostly my own, tying in from other books.

Feb 282013
 
How much are you reading?  How much are you growing?

‚ÄúThe keys to life are running and reading. When you’re running, there’s a little person that talks to you and says, “Oh I’m tired. My lung’s about to pop. I’m so hurt. There’s no way I can possibly continue.” You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running. You will how to not quit when things get hard in your life. For reading: there have been gazillions of people that have lived before all of us. There’s no new problem you could have–with your parents, with school, with a bully. There’s no new problem that someone hasn’t already had and written about it in a book.

Will Smith

 

********
Reading. Such an imperative activity for making one’s life better, yet why aren’t more in the West making it a habit? ¬† There are many reasons, although I’d posit that the vast majority of them are dressed up excuses which are actually reasons to read, once unraveled and consider in depth.
So many of us know Will Smith by his many many successful movies, perhaps his old TV show, or even his time as a music mogul, rapping with DJ Jazzy Jeff ūüėÄ ¬†However, were you aware of his love of reading, and how much he values it? ¬† The quote is powerful in its own right, and its shines as a truth beacon.
How often have we spoken with, heard, observed, or been pulled into an unfamiliar or tense situation in any area Рsay with a friend, a manager, your kids, even a perfect stranger, and not been able to handle it well?  Would not having read some world class books on people skills, leadership, faith, or history have given you the tools to learn from those who had those same situations in their own lives?    Undoubtedly!
I strongly urge all readers to think about this – please don’t react; think. Self-improvement, personal change, and lifelong growth don’t just happen: ¬†They require intentionality, determination, focus, humility, and courage. None of these are talents, though, they are skills, learnable skills. The question that you have to ask yourself tonight is: ¬†Am I willing to make a difference in the lives of everyone I encounter, and in my own mirror, and start to read from quality books?
I hope the answer is ‘Yes!’.
May you be blessed in your days ahead.
Thank you for reading.
Feb 162013
 
Is the entrepreneurial community the future of business?  Thoughts of the Day

Something to closely think about as 2013 moves full steam ahead:  What is the future of business in the West, let alone the world?

Could a concept melding entrepreneurship, in some ways historically considered to be someone(s) who is a lone wolf (-ves), and community, which by its very definition is plural, be the path forward, the ‘Ho Chi Minh‘ trail out towards prosperity, purpose, and to fulfill our potential as born geniuses who have been covered in ‘glaze‘ ?

My answer:  Most definitely.

Why?

Think about it. When you take the ‘edge’ off of the perceived risks of entrepreneurship as compared to its alternatives by mixing it with community, which is rightly perceived as a team who has come together to make the individuals forming it stronger ( ‘iron sharpening iron’ ), you get a potent combination, do you not?

Taking this a step further, we live in a completely new age/era – we are well past the years when people were looked at as mere hands to build widgets while not exercising independent thought; we’re also beyond the time where huge corporations and other big entities dominated the landscape, and everyone felt secure in giving up autonomy and trade it for perceived (false) security. And, are we also not well past the time when your only entrepreneurial pathway was to sign a big stack of papers, putting your entire future on the line, to get a loan to build a business from scratch?

Again, my answer is:  Most definitely.

The issues we have in order to grasp this is to replace traditional thinking, traditional sources of information, and traditional habits for what is already working well. Going back centuries into history, we find that Edmund Burke opined about entrepreneurial communities in his time & place; he called them ‘little platoons’, although he was living in a time when agriculture was still the dominant industry. ¬†Talk about having foresight! ¬†So, now that we live in a time when the internet connects us all, and the ‘six degrees of separation’ have been shrunk to four, is there any reason why the little platoons of yore cannot become the dominant business model of the 21st century?

These communities can & will comprise of men & women who want to learn together, grow personally by applying better quality information into their day to day lives, leverage their investment into their minds by pooling those perceived risks of being an entrepreneur, & al l the while, being the ‘glass cleaners’, the ‘candles in the dark’ for society.

What kind of non traditional, non conformist thinking, information, and habits will be an asset to those who voluntarily choose this path forward? ¬†Let’s ponder for a few:

 

1. Putting aside that winning means someone else loses (‘zero sum’) and trade it for Level 4 thought / Habit 4 from Covey — win:win

2. Tossing aside entitlement and victimology for earned results & personal accountability

3. Understanding that big institutions/entities no longer can effectively offer security, govern society, or be on the cutting edge of thought.

4. Over time, replacing mass media sources ( satellite/cable + radio, FM/AM, newspapers, magazines, et al.) with specialized information culled from the very best in entrepreneurship & community building. ¬†This is a branch off the crucial “Define. Learn. Do” tree that is a base law of success.

5. Realizing that schooling & education are not one in the same. There is nothing at all wrong with conveyor belt & professional track schooling ( K-12 & undergrad/grad/post grad ) so long as they are supplemented by self-directed education, also known as liber/liberty/TJed.

6. Building the habits of associating positively, putting others ahead of yourself ( ‘service before self’ ), reading, and listening.

7. Studying entrepreneurship and applying the skills that these men & women use in your day to day lives within the community (while learning, studying, & growing oneself) & outside of it the rest of the time by practicing top notch people skills.

8. Being very clear on the massive difference between investment and expense. ¬†(using the “Y-D-I-L” equation goes a long way to help make this simple. )

9. Putting mental fitness and physical fitness on the same level playing field. Both matter; a LOT. This seems so simple, yet why do so many not put money into their minds, yet spend so much money on gym memberships?  The latter is very useful, but the former is just as much.

10. Paying forward what you learn inside of the entrepreneurial community with others. Learning is best applied when you teach/coach/mentor someone else who is not yet part of the community with you. The old way would be to ‘hog’ what you know, thinking it would be a competitive advantage; this is Level 3 thought at best, and perhaps Level 2; ¬†Only Levels 4-5 are useful in this developing model.

 

Thank you for reading today, and I hope & trust that this post made you pause, ponder, & stretch your mind. Nothing but the best to you on your journey!