Leave Foot Prints

“Stubbornness does have its helpful features. You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow.” — Glen Beaman

Stubbornness certainly has its up side. It’s like the famous Anon. said, “Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions.” While you are considering how relaxed you will be though, ponder Doug Floyd’s point, “You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.” The truth of the matter is that it can quickly get down right boring.

There is another snag that can seriously temp you to stick to the same ol’, same ol’. J. K. Galbraith described it this way, “The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.” Sure, thinking can be painful; but more to the point, it’s frequently hard work. As Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. ” If you were born tired and haven’t rested up yet, thinking probably just isn’t for you; but…. – and there’s always a “but.” This particular “but” was slipped in by Bertrand Russell who said, “In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”

If you are like many other folks, you may believe that you are doing fine and don’t need to bother hanging a question mark on anything. You may strongly feel that you are in good company and on the right road; but the famous Anon. had a bit of homespun wisdom worth a moment’s thought, “Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path;” and while you are on a roll with the famous Anon., don’t forget that, “Before you can break out of prison, you must first realize you’re locked up.”

Are you ready to make a break for it? If so, Dr. Seuss suggested the perfect strategy for you, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

If the notion of having your own thoughts and ideas causes you discomfort and anxiety, Tolkien had a helpful insight, “Not all those who wander are lost.” At the same time, John Locke had a further insight to help you make it through the transition to thinking for yourself, “New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.” People’s disagreeing does not mean you are wrong. It’s like the famous Anon. said, “One who walks in another’s tracks leaves no footprints;” and footprints of your own you will and should leave. As you leave your footprints along the road to thinking for yourself, Satchel Paige had what may be the only advice you need, “Ain’t no man can avoid being average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.”

Now you know so there you go.

Republican


Note that these 20 Reasons To Be a Republican are in no particular order and that it is not necessary to sign onto all 20 reasons. If you agree with or at least lean toward most of the reasons and don’t strongly disagree with the rest, being a Republican in 2020 is likely for you.

Reason 1: You believe that what is good for business is good for America. Policies and regulations that are pro business are acceptable, while those that are not should be eliminated.

Reason 2: Abortion is eval and immoral.

Reason 3: The accumulation of wealth by individuals and companies is a natural product of successful capitalism and should not be limited or penalized by undue regulation or taxation.

Reason 4: The nation’s natural resources are vast and should be available to and accessible by those who are in a position to maximize their use as a key driver of the economic engine.

Reason 5: You believe that buying, selling and possessing guns is an unqualified Constitutionally guaranteed right of every American adult and should not be limited or restricted through government regulation or policy.

Reason 6: You believe that global warming is largely a scientific myth and represents little to no future risk for the planet or for its inhabitants. In particular, it represents no significant threat to life in America.

Reason 7: You believe that America’s priorities and interests should always come first politically, economically and militarily on the world stage.

Reason 8: You believe that it is the responsibility of every American adult to handle the economic aspects of all of his or her personal health and welfare requirements and responsibilities and that it is not the responsibility of government to compensate for any shortfall that may occur.

Reason 9: You believe that criminals and those who break the law should be held strictly accountable for their transgressions and should be punished harshly and swiftly.

Reason 10: You believe that America is here for the safety, protection and freedom of its citizens and that noncitizens should only be permitted to enter or allowed to stay if they demonstrate their ability to assimilate into the American culture as productive participants who are economically self sufficient, putting no stress on government resources or services.

Reason 11: You believe that socialism is a serious threat to the American way and that the country has already moved too far toward socialist policies and programs. Government handouts have gotten out of hand and have to be rolled back.

Reason 12: Government should be there to support business sectors when economic conditions or events cause or threaten disruptions in the profitable operation of business units within those sectors. This support should be economic and not regulatory, unless reducing regulations increases the viability of those business units.

Reason 13: You believe that the personal privacy expectations of individuals are (with appropriate court oversight) subordinate to the information and data needs of law enforcement and other governmental security organizations pursuing criminals and other identified security risks.

Reason 14: You believe that labor unions have a negative influence on business and economic growth and that they drive up costs, limit the flexibility of businesses and stifle economic development. At a individual level, they protect incompetent and unproductive employees and tie the hands of managers and administrators who are trying to resolve problems and issues within their organizations.

Reason 15: You believe that “clean energy” is an oxymoron and that the country runs on coal, natural gas, oil and electricity and that nothing should be done or permitted that restricts or threatens the supply or use of these essential fuels.

Reason 16: You believe that America should set and control any rules or regulations relating to its international trade and commerce and that it should not participate in any multinational agreements that limit its flexibility or actions or delegate final authority to any body or panel not under its control.

Reason 17: You believe that pursuing America’s interests and strategic advantage should take priority over maintaining solid and cooperative relationships with other nations in general and with its allies in particular.

Reason 18: You believe that pure research along with cultural and social initiatives and enterprises are not an appropriate focus for government interest and resources and should be pursued and supported by private and charitable groups.

Reason 19: You believe that the country is basically doing fine and that nothing significant needs to change. Tinkering with our strong country and its thriving economy would only serve to weaken the country internationally and risk a serious recession if not worse. It isn’t broken, thus there is nothing to fix.

Reason 20: You believe that if Democrats and liberals were to get control of the government, they would pursue policies that would throttle the economic engine and throw the country into chaos both internally and internationally. This would threaten the very survival of the nation as we know it.

Secrets Of Proactive Leadership


Secrets Of Proactive Leadership

1. Proactive leaders are cautious without becoming paralyzed by the potential downside of action. They pursue their goals continuously but incrementally, testing/evaluating progress toward the goal. This approach assures movement toward the goal without exposing the organization to unnecessary and avoidable jeopardy. They don’t play it safe but do play it cautiously.

2. Proactive leaders focus most of their time and energy on organizational stability and goal attainment. They minimize time and energy absorbed by worrying about unlikely contingencies and maintaining the status quo.

3. Proactive leaders make decisions and take action thoughtfully but quickly. They don’t delay or postpone decisions or actions, try to avoid or defer doing what needs done, and they don’t hesitate or proceed reluctantly. Their actions and reactions aren’t impulsive or ill considered. They are, instead, decisive and timely.

4. Proactive leaders don’t shirk or avoid responsibility and have little tolerance for people who do. They are committed to the welfare of the organization and to its mission. From the perspective of personal responsibility, they do everything they have agreed to do to the best of their ability and accept additional responsibility to the extent necessary to assure the organization’s success.

They may decide that they are unwilling or unable to continue accepting the responsibilities they have agreed to accept. In that event, they will be up–front about their decision and in the meantime, they will do what they have agreed to do at the highest level of which they are capable. The organization always gets their best effort.

5. Proactive leaders take calculated risks and carefully considered chances with hard resources such as capital and soft resources such as political support. Before taking such risks, they first determine the cost to the organization of paying the hard or soft resource bill if their action is unsuccessful. Next, they determine the extent of total organizational resource reduction that could result from having to pay that bill. How much worse off would the organization be if the bill is paid? That is “X” or the downside cost of action. “Y” or the upside benefit of action is similarly calculated in terms of the level of increase in total hard and soft resources if the action is successful. Action then gambles “X” against the possibility of “Y.”

Two additional factors are then considered: the likelihood of getting “y,” and how much the value of “Y” exceeds the value of “X.” They don’t gamble a lot to only gain a little.

For the proactive leader, then, taking calculated risks with organizational resources means that the potential value of attaining “Y” justifies the risk of having to pay the downside bill (X). In either event, contingency plans are in place to manage the outcome.

6. Proactive leaders have a high tolerance for and acceptance of differing personalities, traits and characteristics, personal styles, individual values and beliefs, and for the idiosyncrasies of people. Similarly, they easily manage fluctuations in people’s moods, points of view, and interests. Alternatively, they have little tolerance for sub–standard work, less than complete attention to the task at hand, or lackluster performance. They always give their best effort and expect others to do the same. 7. Proactive leaders expect others to do things correctly, to give everything they do their best effort, to succeed. They are surprised when people make mistakes, give things less than their best effort, don’t succeed. Since they expect success, they assume personal responsibility for mistakes of others, lackluster effort, non–success. Their first take on the situation is that they haven’t been smart enough or skilled enough to effectuate the right outcome. They then work with the person to identify the deficiencies, to modify their (the proactive leader’s) performance so that they better facilitate the person’s success.

Of course, the Proactive leader occasionally determines that a specific person either can’t or won’t perform as expected no matter what is done but typically, the proactive leader assumes shared responsibility for assuring the success of others.

8. Proactive leaders accept people as is. Their goal isn’t to change anyone. Rather, they focus on encouraging and facilitating in ways that enable each person to achieve optimal performance within the context of their skills, abilities, and interests. Concurrently, they expect people to expand and improve their capacities and are ready to help with that process however they can, within the resources and constraints of the organization. People aren’t expected to change but are expected to grow and develop as organizational participants. 9. Proactive leaders aren’t stingy with praise nor are they lavish with it. They are quick to recognize and acknowledge the successes and accomplishments of others but don’t confuse praise with simple good manners. Please and thank you and noting that someone did a good job or was helpful are not examples of praise. They are, rather, merely examples of good manners and are integral to the proactive leader’s habitual deportment. Alternatively, praise is an intentional and thoughtful action which privately or publicly acknowledges and commends excellence. Proactive leaders reserve praise for exceptional or extraordinary performance, never missing an opportunity to praise when individual or group performance meets that standard.

10. Proactive leaders understand that holding people responsible and accountable on the one hand and blaming and accusing them on the other are not the same. Holding someone responsible is a performance standard. Holding them accountable is a performance expectation. Alternatively, blaming and accusing imply negative opinions and perceptions of the individual. To blame someone or accuse them represents a pejorative assessment of them. Blaming and accusing are always subjective and personal while responsibility and accountability are performance elements that can be objectively evaluated and, if necessary, adjusted. Since the individual or group are accountable for their performance, the level of responsibility extended to them may be increased or decreased, depending on their performance.

To blame or accuse are counterproductive and incompatible with proactive leadership. Holding people responsible and accountable are key elements in the proactive leader’s approach with people. It starts with holding himself (or herself) responsible and accountable and then simply extending the principle to everyone else in the organization.

11. Proactive leaders resist the temptation to either focus on what is not going well or on what is. It may be a function of human nature to attend mostly to the negative or to the positive, depending on ones personality. Proactive leaders understand that this is not a simple matter of choice or personal preference. The key to success is seeing that neither focusing on the positive nor on the negative is advisable. At a more fundamental level, the reality is that the organization is continuously transitioning from a past state to a future state. The primary responsibility of the proactive leader is to affect the transition so as to actualize the desired future state. To do this, the task is to reduce and eliminate the disparity between the present and future states, without redefining or compromising the future state. Focus then needs to be collectively on the cluster of elements that affect the future state either as contributors or as Detractors, understanding that neither is more or less important than the other. Focus must be on the gestalt.

12. Proactive leaders demonstrate their respect for and are pleased by the successes and accomplishments of others. The key here is twofold. They both respect the achievements of others and actively demonstrate that respect and the pleasure they experience when others do well. Respect in this context includes holding the person and the action or accomplishment in high esteem, feeling delighted, and actively expressing approval.

. . . . .

Proactive leaders are cautious without becoming paralyzed by the potential downside of action. They pursue their goals continuously but incrementally, testing/evaluating progress toward the goal. This truth introduces the twelve secrets of Proactive Leadership. This article reveals these secrets and shows you how to incorporate them into your leadership practice.

Greatest Leadership Principles

ockell, Leslie and Adrienne Avila. The 100 Greatest Leadership Principles of all Time. New York: Warner Business Books, 2007.

Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and discipline.

A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see. – Leroy Eimes

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’ sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit … This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done. – Peter F. Drucker

A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not. – Anonymous

Nobody rises to low expectations. – Calvin Lloyd

A community is like a ship: Everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm. – Henrik Ibsen.

Return to Cleveland

This story starts when I was seventeen and if the truth be told, even more full of myself than most seventeen-year-olds. There I was a senior in high school and on an airplane flying from Columbus to Cleveland. It was a very big deal; but before I get too far ahead of myself, a little perspective is necessary.

At my high school, I had some status: class president, a good student, a drummer in the marching band and teacher’s pet, at least for a couple of the teachers. Life was good, at least as good as it gets when you are seventeen.

Let me sharpen the perspective. My senior class had a grand total of 63 students and my hometown had 900 residents, assuming everyone was home. We did have one traffic light and a courthouse, if you were thinking there was nothing special about the place.

It happened that one of those couple of teachers I mentioned was responsible for the plays that were presented by students once or twice each school year. My teacher’s pet status partially depended on having a role whenever it was play time. I still don’t quite understand how being in those plays seemed to automatically mean that I would also participate in speech contests, but it did.

Well, one of those contests involved writing and memorizing a speech on democracy. The writing part was tough but successful, with a lot of extra help from the history teacher. – No, pet status with the history teacher was not in the cards. – . At any rate, the speech got written and the memorizing part was no harder than learning a part in one of the plays. I was ready for the contest.

I was to compete in one of the seven districts in the state. I think there were three or four rounds leading to the final round. You do recall that I was full of myself, don’t you? I think I had just assumed that I would probably win, so I was neither surprised nor impressed When I was given the democracy medal at a school assembly.

That should suffice for perspective. My mother and I were flying to Cleveland for the state contest. Two points are enough to let you get the full picture. First, the contest was in a downtown hotel where I had to wait for a half hour or so until the contest started. I was sitting with the other contestants who seemed to me to all be sophisticated city kids. Does fish out of water clarify the picture? I think it was my first experience with being totally intimidated.

Second – and here’s the kicker – I left a full paragraph out of the middle of my speech. And to make the kick even straighter to the gut, one of the judges told my mother after the contest that I would have easily won, but omitting the paragraph was an automatic disqualification. No trip to Dallas to the national contest for me.

I never made it to Dallas, but I did get another crack at Cleveland. Granted, it took twenty years, but my day came. I was invited to give a presentation to 200 or so sophisticated city folks at the very same hotel where I blew my chance to make the trip to Dallas. I have given talks from Las Vegas to Boston; but none were quite as sweet as my return to that downtown hotel in Cleveland.

I’m probably supposed to draw some profound conclusion or share a witty insight from my teenage stumble but nothing profound or witty comes to mind. Perhaps you might expect to learn how much I learned and grew from my humbling Cleveland experience. Sorry to disappoint. The best I can do is to assure you that now and then the stars do align, as they did for me the day I returned to Cleveland. – Count on it.

Now you know so there you go.

A Nation of Suckers

In these days of fake news and intentional misinformation, it’s easy to wonder if anything we read or hear is true. Maybe even more alarming is our inability to know who to believe, who to trust. And of course, that is the point of fake news and misinformation. The goal is not so much to get us to believe false this or untrue that as it is to fuel mistrust and doubt: mistrust of our political leaders and doubt about the intentions and motivations that underpin our government and institutions.

In The Fine Art of Baloney Detection, Carl Sagan was definitely on point when he counseled, “Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us — and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.”

It’s harsh but certainly self-evident that “If you don’t control your mind, someone else will.” John Allston points out the obvious, but it has gotten to where even the obvious is suspect. In testimony to this sad state of affairs, William Safire advises, “Never assume the obvious is true.” At the extreme, we get to where we mistrust what we hear, what we see, what we think; and if the insidious erosion of trust persists, we come to distrust our personal judgment and our self-confidence falters.

There is an antidote for this insidious erosion of trust, but I doubt that many would think it is an easy medicine to swallow. The first dose is to give up our reliance on group-think. “Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” I don’t know who said that first and doubt that it matters much. The value is in being reminded that we are responsible for what we think, what we believe, and just because lots of well-meaning folks have signed onto the trip does not make it okay for us to thoughtlessly follow. Anatole France assures us that “If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” It’s also true that if fifty million people think or do a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. It’s up to us to guard against being just another one of the fools.

The second dose serving as an antidote for this insidious erosion of trust is to give up on our habitual reliance on simply accepting the perspectives, views and opinions of people with the loudest voices or the most followers. Let it suffice to remind us of Buddha’s advice, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it — even if I have said it — unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

The third dose is perhaps the hardest to swallow. Grace Hopper argued that “The most damaging phrase in the language is, it’s always been done that way.” Variations on the point are mental crutches such as “I’ve always thought…,” or “I’ve always believed…, ” or “Everyone knows….” The notion is that once I think or believe anything, that’s the way it is forever.

Granted, it’s being consistent; but as Bernard Berenson cautioned, “Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.” Or perhaps you prefer George Bernard Shaw’s take, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Even so, Glen Beaman has a point, “Stubbornness does have its helpful features. You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow.” Unless you are content being pulled along by others, there is nothing for it but to take your medicine – all three doses – the only antidote to insidious group-think.