Survivors of Hitler’s prison camps claimed one of the worst forms of punishment they endured was to be forced to dig a ditch, only to fill it in the next day and the cycle would repeat itself, day in and day out. “The overwhelming labor was not the worst part, it was simply because we knew it had no purpose.” said one survivor. The Nazis knew if you remove a person’s “why” you would crush their spirit. Successful people, businesses, ministries, families, friendships, and just about anything else you can think of are successful because they can tell you ‘why’ they do what they do. It’s often referred to as the vision, mission or purpose statement that clearly defines the purpose behind doing what they do. The more successful the entity is, I can almost assuredly guarantee the more specific and focused the ‘why’ is. Here are a couple of examples: (more…)
My brother will sometimes email me motorcycle accidents or some other extraordinary event caught on film from different parts of the world. They are sometimes dramatic in nature, but what is often more surprising than the event, is after the event. Droves of people walk past someone bleeding to death in the street with frustration that they are even in their path. Intentional overlook as a fight continues, one man kicks another in his lifeless face repeatedly after he has been knocked out. Multiple scenes like this have me asking the question, “How, how can onlookers ignore such travesties and not care?” Our country has its share of despicable acts, noted most recently with the “knockout game”. However, I believe most Americans would be in an uproar over some of the actions by those in other countries if they had taken place here. I believe we are still a Christian nation, or at least the values and empathy of a Christian nation still linger. So what about these other countries, why the lack of empathy? (more…)
Recently, with an upward potential of $300 million (+ or – a few hundred million,) our nation’s leadership unveiled healthcare.gov. It was to be the saving grace for all of our insurance woes, however, it’s a nightmarish blunder. Fundamentally, the program is doomed from a simple mathematics standpoint, but that’s not the purpose of this post. After the unveiling of the website, it was evident that it could not perform the most basic of its functionalities. The White House claims they had no idea the website was not ready to go live, but now it’s becoming evident that many knew, even top administration staff. That is a scandal, just without lingerie. (more…)
Over a decade ago, I found myself squinting at a lady twice my age as she was crying telling my partners and I that “Dallas doesn’t care about me – he doesn’t even say good morning when he comes in!” I hate to admit it, but she was partially right. My high octane working mentality made others feel like a unit of measurement. I once had come to the conclusion that if you clearly identified employee’s responsibilities into quantifiable measures and gave real-time data back to the employee, you would in essence govern them. Many factors of this practice are very useful; most people have a desire to know how they are performing. My error was undervaluing leadership. People have a yearning to be led, not governed. Governing and policing activities drain energy whereas leading creates energy. The tendency to police arises when you don’t clearly define goals and objectives. Concerns of who checked their personal email or took a personal phone call vanish in a well-led, results-driven environment.
In courtrooms all across the country, judges have asked defendants, “What is your defense?” To which many have answered “I was unaware I was breaking the law,” and judges always respond, “Ignorance of the law is no defense.” You see, “I was not aware” is not excusable in the court of law. The rule is, it’s your duty to understand the laws of where you live. Throughout history, the unspoken law of leadership has been similar: if you are in charge, it’s your responsibility to be aware. Today’s leadership in Washington seems to have a default answer of “I was not aware,” as if this statement exonerates accountability. “I was not aware” may be the truth, but as a leader it’s not an excusable excuse. If your people didn’t tell you, they are still your people.
Recently I ran a scenario nonchalantly by an associate at the end of our conversation, not expecting much of a response. I was shocked when he said “I have been in a similar circumstance, if you are having that scenario, let me give you some advice…” And he proceeded to steer my decision in a different direction that would ultimately save our organization hassle and lots of money. Once again I was reminded of the power of having advisors, a spouse, mentor, or coworkers that you can glean different points of view from.