Why is it that some people are always upbeat and positive, with an optimism as clear as a cloudless sky? What gives them the power to override stress, recover from failures as if they never happened, and continue to perform at top-notch levels?
Research indicates that there seems to be an ineffable – indescribable – nature of humans that allows peoples to be set-back, knocked-down or pushed-back and rebound – bounce back – just as strong as before the incident that caused stressful or negative feelings or behaviors. Psychology Today says, “Research shows that, on average, human beings are hardwired to be more optimistic than not. It’s an admirable quality, one that can positively affect a person’s mental and physical health.”
Resilience is the individual capacity to withstand, recover, grow and function competently in the face of stress, adversity and changing demands. It is a capacity that studies show can be cultivated by people that gives them this leadership quality enabling superior performances. Leadership factors that are affected, that make people resilient are optimism, cognitive problem-solving skills and goal achievement.
In other words, resilience can be cultivated – built, sustained, supported and reinforced within each one of us to effectively control our behaviors – our optimistic attitude – regardless of the daily situations we encounter.
The benefits of being a highly resilience leader include:
- Increased confidence;
- Improved judgment and problem-solving abilities;
- Focus and performance under pressure;
- Improved coping skills
- Decrease in depression; and
- Enhanced relationship building and reduced anxiety.
Following a five-year study, the U. S. Navy teaches the following four area, or domain, of human beings that can improve optimism, attitude and overall performance.
Four Domains of Resilience
Domain #1 – Mind
The mind – controller of all our thoughts and behaviors – is the foundation of the combination of the four domains of resilience. With the mind, we can use resources and foster emotional, cognitive and active coping strategies.
Using our mind in an enthusiastic and positive manner, we can reinforce resilience with these thought processes.
- Build and sustain an optimistic attitude regardless of behaviors around us
- Laugh, especially at ourselves, maintain a sense of humor in leading
- Engender flexible and positive thinking
- Ensure awareness of negative thoughts – change how you think about them
- Manage your emotions with mindfulness, relaxation techniques
- Build and maintain self-esteem and self-confidence
Domain #2 – Body
There has always been a mind-body connection in relation to our emotional intelligences and behaviors. Both can be affected in a positive manner, physical manner.
Embrace the ability to adopt and sustain the healthy behaviors needed to enhance health and well-being. Study after study reinforces the fact that a physically fit body enhance greatly performance and studies support these reinforcing resiliencies.
- Maintain a physical fitness and exercise program – three times a week for 1 hour minimum
- Become involved in physical and recreational activities
- Power nutrition, healthy eating habits, with a disciplined limited intake
- Restful sleep – 7 to 8 hours a night support feeling energetic and vibrant
Domain #3 – Spirit
Spiritual Intelligence has become a positive leadership ideal that supports the proven techniques of emotional intelligence, physical intelligence and academic intelligence. Leaders need a sound awareness of their own spiritual nature and the spiritual nature of those they lead. Cindy Wigglesworth’s SQ21: The Twenty-one Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, and Blackaby Brother’s Spiritual Leadership provide some great insights into building and sustaining the spiritual nature of our body and mind.
The Spirit Domain encompasses the following attributes:
- Value clarification, and Core Value Convictions;
- Spirituality: faith and prayer; and
- Religion and altruisms
Domain #4 – Social
The social nature of mankind enables us to initiate, maintain and use social resources and connections in order to build strong, esprit de corps and relations with those with whom we work and lead. Enhancing our social domain enables Maslow’s belonging hierarchy of needs.
Building the social domain means going way beyond the popular social media avenue that promote self-photographs and other forms of entertainment. It is more about making connections, such as the business term of Networking, as well as leaders building positive relationships with those in their organization.
Reinforcement of the social domain entails:
- Time management and family involvement;
- Cultivating friendships;
- Participation in community activities and events;
- Building leadership relationships – building esprit de corps; and
- Positive reinforcement and mentoring
The National Center for PTSD created a Response to Stressful Experience Scale (RSES) to determine factors that people can follow to cultivate resilience in their daily lives. The following are just six of those factors.
Resilience – how to get it and keep it
- Positive outlook – Optimism; always poised; keeping emotional control of oneself
- Spirituality – Faith; prayer/meditation; value system; purpose and meaning of life
- Active Coping – Find creative ways of problem-solving – don’t give up; face your fears; expect to handle problems and bounce back
- Self-Confidence – expect to handle problems and work through challenges
- Learning and Making Meaning – find strength in meaning, vision and mission of life
- Accept limitations and circumstances – know what can’t change
PTSD is not just about recovering from combat. It is also about overcoming traumatic events that happen in our daily lives. These events can be anything that disrupts our daily routine, minor or major. Understanding the Mind-Body-Spirit aspect of ourselves combined with a social network of support is crucial to building and preserving individual resilience.
Keep the Resilience Quest Alive!
* The information contained in this article is taken from the U. S. Navy Task Force on Resilience that is the result of a five-year study on ways to improve resilience in Navy personnel. It is designed to improve readiness, resilience, and reduce suicide in the Navy. The information is invaluable for anyone suffering from a traumatic event in their lives.
In my previous article on the Foundations of Happiness, I mentioned the Natural Law and the Cardinal virtues as foundational to the happiness of man.
The following is from the book The Real George Washington – The True Story of America’s Most Indispensable Man by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. Brother Mason Washington’s leadership at the Constitutional Convention was significant, whereby when speaking under the rules of order, all remarks were spoken directly to Washington. He felt his purpose was to listen and only speak when necessary.
His unspoken, non-verbal communication was a superior influence on the members of the Convention. Washington’s character was impeccable with a strong belief in God and the relationships of man under the Natural Law. There is a distinct connection of unspoken assumptions between the Foundations of Happiness, a virtuous society of man, and the Pillars of the United States Constitution.
Pillar #1. The Constitution recognizes the existence of natural law. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson referred to the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Natural law recognizes the distinct and direct connection between God and the natural order of the earth and of the people on earth. The concept of unalienable rights is based on the natural law and man’s natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Pillar #2. The Constitution is based on the principle that all citizens of a republic nation must be virtuous and moral. Only people of virtue and a high moral standard are capable of freedom. This natural law ideal is the basis for the Golden Rule described in the biblical book of Matthew. Ben Franklin in one of his writings proclaimed, “As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need for masters.”
Washington, as stated above, was a virtuous man who had deep feelings about the need for morality and virtues among Americans. In a communication to Lafayette he wrote that the Constitution would protect America’s constitutional government as long as ther was virtue in the body of the people. In his Farewell Address he emphasized, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
Pillar #3. The Constitution acknowledges that the people are the true sovereigns in a republican government. Under natural law, no man has a right to rule over another, unless the subject gives his consent. Washington, Hamilton and Madison all wrote about the importance of the people as to the success of the Constitution. Furthermore, all three believed in the foundation of this belief was that the people would remain moral and just throughout.
Pillar #4. The Constitution was created on the assumption that America would function under a free-market economy, recognizing and protecting property rights. Freedom and property right are all natural law concepts. As John Adams wrote, “All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; ……..that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
The United States is a government based on principles of natural law, assuming a populace that is moral and virtuous. We citizens need to pledge ourselves to a daily behavior in countenance – moral support – with the ideals of the natural law, upon which the laws of our nation are based. A strong moral sense creates a personal leadership transparency that clearly identifies our integrity and honor.
What is the secret of happiness? This question has been asked, surmised, argued, and guessed at for hundreds of years. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers wrote of the inalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Freemasonry – a system of morality – teaches the answers to and the pursuit of happiness in several of our rituals and lectures.
The Great Philosophers, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and many other philosophers discussed, debated and wrote about it for years. Jesus, in his time on earth, taught and modeled the perfect ideal of happiness. Leadership pundits for years have opined about, talked about and wrote about the ideal principles and practices of motivating people to happiness in teams and organizations. The greatest rulers in history sought to obtain it through war and power over people to no avail of achieving personal happiness.
Beyond the philosophy and psychology of personal behavior and the quest of happiness, people of great wealth, from King Solomon down to the richest today, have sought to gain forms of happiness through material possessions. However, none can be quoted as the happiest among us. So, what is the answer?
I think we need to approach it from a different prospective, which is my intent here. While I certainly will not make the claim of having the answer. I can proclaim that in my personal life pursuing happiness in several material possessions, to the proclaimed happiness of Eros, and in similar behaviors, I know my own quest for and obsession of finding happiness has been somewhat futile. Having said that, please allow me to attempt to motivate you to ponder happiness beyond the present-day views and ideals.
Philosophies, beliefs, and behaviors begins with the Natural Law. Wait! What? Nobody talks about Natural Law today. Herein lies the real problem. Natural Law, i.e. the Laws of Nature, innately drives good and correct behaviors – love, respect for others, the Golden Rule, caring for others, etc. Natural Law is about rationality of reason toward behaviors, morals and ethics, differences between good and evil, and the ideal of happiness of human beings.
Natural Law according to St. Thomas Aquinas is an ordinance of reason towards the common good. Ordinance of reason signifies rules or virtues based on the innate reasoning of the ideals of God; in other words, the Laws of Nature. Therefore, all laws today are supposed to be ideas stemming from the Natural Law.
Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics describes this good as another word for happiness. Happiness includes the excellence specific to human beings as human beings, which he calls “virtue.” Virtue relates to the activity or the way we are to live as human beings. From this he derived his Eleven Moral Virtues – Courage; Moderation; Liberality; Magnificence; Greatness of Soul; Ambition; Gentleness; Friendliness; Truthfulness; Wittiness; and Justice. Other philosophers down through history have opined on several other virtues, i.e. core values by which we can and should govern our lives and behaviors.
St. Thomas Aquinas in his writings identified seven basic goods in the quest of happiness:
- Life – Self-preservation. Drive to sustain life;
- Reproduction – Make more life with another, including sex drive;
- Educate one’s offspring – importance of schools, lessons in morality and survivability;
- Seek God – instinctive desire to know God;
- Live in Society – Man by nature is a social animal who has a desire for love and acceptance.
- Avoid offense – basic good is not becoming offensive, and we feel shame when we don’t do good (shame has been removed from our society today);
- Shun Ignorance – Nature of man is to become smarter about things and life.
Aquinas also proclaimed that we don’t need the Bible, or religion or church to understand the Natural Law. He says that we violate our innate human nature due to ignorance and emotion. Ignorance by seeking what we “think” we should without reason as to what we know we should be doing. Emotion by letting our feelings and desires overcome what we know we need to be doing, causing us to fail to do what we know is right and good.
The four Cardinal Virtues – Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice – were first identified by Plato as essential requirements of living a happy and morally good life. Aquinas defines virtue as a “Habit that disposes an agent to perform its proper operation or movement.” He thinks that the Cardinal Virtues provide a foundation of all moral activity.
The word Cardinal is defined as meaning of “serving as a hinge” of other words. In other words, in the case of Cardinal Virtues, all other virtues are hinged upon or related to them. The Initiate of Freemasonry is provided with a brief description of these virtues. Here are some brief statements from various sources on each.
- Restrained desire for physical gratification. Moderation of physical pleasures such as eating, drinking, and sex.
- Restrain what Aquinas calls “concupiscible passions” – the appetite of desiring pleasure and avoiding what is harmful.
- Due restraint upon the affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable.
- Frees the mind from the allurements of vice.
- Avoid excess and peer pressure to behaviors of pleasure counter to the divine principles of Deity.
- Exercise self-control and keep worldly passions within limits of the good and honorable.
- Ability to undergo pain, peril and danger.
- Rational reasoning to avoid cowardness and irrational behavior.
- Courage to demonstrate the mental, physical and moral courage to do good toward all mankind.
- The Grit, Perseverance, and resilience to overcome evil with good and keep going when the going gets tough.
- Endure the pain and discomfort of achieving the human good.
- Restrain the fears that prevents reason for enduring dangerous circumstances.
- Ability to make good judgments on proper behaviors.
- Regulate our lives and actions with proper and good reasoning.
- Regulate the present and the future that leads to happiness.
- Decision-making that discerns between right and almost right behaviors.
- Discernment between the irrational and the rational end goal – happiness.
- Governs our relationship with others – Golden Rule for example.
- No consideration of personal gain but about community and organizational gains.
- Render to others their just due – caring about their progress and betterment.
- Render assistance and aid to depressed individuals regardless of other thoughts.
- Includes all other virtues that are directed to another person for their good.
Hinged upon these foundational virtues are various aspects of installing officers into the various position in organizations. Happiness of employees is identified as a major goal of the governance of the organizations. In addition, individuals are charged with the pursuit of happiness and high moral standards in their lives and that of the organization.
Imagine the level of happiness if everyone governed themselves accordingly through the divine precepts of the Golden Rule in all aspects of their behaviors. Imagine the level of happiness if everyone governed themselves through the Cardinal Virtues in all instances of building good relationships with others. Imagine the level of happiness if everyone removed all bias and jealousness in our daily dealings with leadership. Imagine the level of happiness if everyone pursued the standard of life-long learning in the various secrets of happiness.
We all need to “Keep the Happiness Quest Alive!” in our daily lives.
- Russel, Bertrand, 1945. A History of Western Philosophy. New York, Simon & Schuster.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2002. Https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-ethics/
- Natural Law Theory: Crash Course Philosophy #34 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_UfYY7aWK0
- Bartlett, Robert & Collins, Susan, 2011. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Chicago, University Press
- St. Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law Ethics, Academia at https://www.academia.edu/download
- Seek First the Kingdom, Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s Blog, Archdiocese of Washington at Https://cardinalsblog.adw.org/2014/07/16/cardinal-virtues-pursuit-happiness/
- Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy; A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource. Thomas Aquinas: Moral Philosophy at https://iep.utm.edu/aq-moral/#H3
Legacy is a image others see, an impact made on other people, and how you changed their lives, making a difference in the world. The following is taken from two Jim Rohn – Success Presented articles that give reasons for leaving a positive legacy and how to create that reputation, i.e. Legacy. I think you will find it useful.
Keep the Legacy Leadership Quest Alive!
Is General Schwarzkopf referring only to military strategy? No! The General’s comment refers to anyone and any strategy. Without a strong set of core values, one’s plan of action will be unrestrained, never a thought any value system. Recent history is replete with examples of actions and behaviors toward material rewards without a serious thought of any moral and ethical standard.
But, is it always only about morals and ethics. Leadership authors and professionals tell us that Core Values encompasses several other leadership traits and behaviors.
Maybe it is time for a review of Core Values, its origin, principles and ideals. So what are Core Values, and what is the make-up of these personal guidelines? Why do leaders exhibit amoral and immoral behaviors, knowing of the high moral standards of society?
The derivative ideal of morals and ethics is the Natural Law, which as Aristotle points out in his Nicomachean Ethics[i] centers on the ideal of “doing good.” Doing good is also related to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The philosophy of human affairs center around the idea of happiness. The virtue of happiness goes well beyond the feelings and pleasure of the moment. Ultimately the intrinsic reward of happiness is found in the excellence of human moral principles and ethical behaviors. In other words, the very base of who we are and of what is our make-up.
Character is defined as the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual. Human rectitude is defined by Natural Law moral and ethical principles, which is also encompassed with several other core values defined by Aristotle as the Eleven Moral Virtues. Character Counts outlines Six Pillars of Character as the core ethical values. These traits are behavioral expectations of all people. A short review of these concepts is at times necessary to remind us of our base behavior toward mankind.
The base of Core Values – morality – is defined as the most important code of conduct put forward by a society and accepted by the member of that society.[ii] Morals are the principles and guidelines by which we follow to restrain our Ethical behaviors. Morals refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.
Ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation; the principles of conduct governing an individual or group.[iii] Ethics are the practices we exhibit in our daily conduct of doing good, doing what is right, and the rectitude described in our moral standards.
Several organizations and writers have described several attributes or practices under the title of core values evolving from Aristotle’s moral virtues. Character Counts lists Six Pillars of Character[iv] as their core values. Basic definitions are provided my Merriam-Webster.
Trustworthiness. Worthiness as a recipient of another’s trust or confidence. Dependability, reliability, infallibility, or creditability. Think “true blue”. Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat or steal. Do what you say you will do. Have the mental, physical and moral courage to do the right thing. Build a good reputation. Be loyal – stand by your family, friends, and country.
Respect. A relation or reference to a particular thing or situation; act of giving particular attention; consideration; high regard; esteem; quality or state of being esteemed. Every individual deserves a certain level of respect based on their very existence. How high or low that level of respect is determined by their individual behavior, performance or achievements – i.e. earned respect. Follow the Golden Rule. Be tolerant and accepting of differences. Use good manners, not bad language. Be considerate of all feelings of others. Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone. Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements.
Responsibility. The quality or state of being responsible: such as moral, legal, or mental accountability. Reliability, trustworthiness. Burden. Do what you are supposed to do. Plan ahead. Be diligent – practice due diligence. Persevere. Do your best. Use self-control. Be self-disciplined. Think before you act. Be accountable for your words, actions and attitudes. Set a good example for others.
Fairness. The qualities in a person or thing that as a whole give pleasure to the senses. Play by the rules. Take turns and share. Be open-minded; listen to others. Don’t take advantage of others. Don’t blame others carelessly. Treat all people fairly. In a recent study by Robert Half Management Resources on the most important leadership attribute, Integrity and fairness were rated 1 and 2.[v]
Caring. Feeling or showing concern for or kindness to others. Be kind. Be compassionate and show you care. Express gratitude, forgive others. Help people in need. Be charitable and altruistic. As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Citizenship. State of being a citizen. Membership in a community (state, city, organization). The quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community. Do your share to make your community better. Cooperate. Get involved in community (organizational) affairs. Stay informed. Be a good neighbor. Obey laws and rules. Respect authority. Protect the environment. Volunteer.
Core values are basic to existence in society. As stated there are other traits, such as learning that is integrated with personal development. Moderation is another, don’t over-indulge. Justice, which includes not only the legal attributes of the law, but also the fair and just treatment of others.
Core Values define “who we are” as individuals. These are the basic attributes, traits and behaviors we are to follow in our individual lives; not just at home, but twenty-four, seven, 365 days a year in every aspect of our interactions with other in private, public, business, religion, and personal leadership.
I ask you, “Who are You? What is the base ideal of your daily leadership and practice in building relationships with other?”
[i] Bartlett, Robert and Collins, Susan. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The University of Chicago Press, 2012.
[ii] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/.
[iv] Character Counts at https://charactercounts.org/program-overview/six-pillars/.
[v] Forbes online at https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2016/10/25/the-most-important-leadership-attribute-new-study-has-clear-answer/#28e06a204df2, October 25, 2016.
Powerful word, “Why?” It makes people uncomfortable. Merriman-Webster dictionary states that why is in the bottom 50% of popularity. A Navy officer I worked for in the early years of my Navy career told me one time that his college Psychology professor made it his final semester examination. Furthermore, he said the only acceptable answer for the professor was “because.” My response to him was, “Why?”
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Why means “for what cause, reason or purpose.” When George Washington turned down a bid to make him King of America, he said, “The cause is too important.” The cause or the purpose to him was liberty from mother England.
Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek proclaims that, in any worthwhile endeavor, we must “Start With Why,” which is also the title of his best-selling book and the third most popular Ted Talk. He asks, “Why is it that some people, some organizations are more successful than others.” In his Ted Talk, he points to his discovery in answering the question and gives three strong examples of leaders who were successful in their fields when other of equal skill and intelligence were unsuccessful. His discovery is what he called “The Golden Circle” with which he provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.[i]
Premier leadership coach, trainer, speaker and author John C. Maxwell in his book on Intentional Living writes that in choosing a life that matters, one must search until they find their Why. In it he says that, “Once you find your why, you will be able to find your way.” Further he says that tapping into your why is necessary to make a difference and live a life of significance. You need to start thinking and discovering your purpose on this earth, and that when you know this why it becomes your life-blood of intentional living.[ii]
So what makes Why so important in your quest for success and living a fulfilled life of intention. Here is what Sinek and Maxwell say about it, and what I have found to be the truth in my own life.
In his presentation before a Puget Sound audience in 2009[iii] that became an extremely popular Ted Talk, Sinek describes his discovery he calls the Golden Circle.
The Golden Circle
He goes on to explain the differences between the three parts with examples of Steve Jobs and Apple, the Wright Brothers and the Airplane, and Martin Luther King and the Civil Right Movement, and more importantly the purpose or cause each was successful. The below breakdown explains. You can listen to the entire presentation by following the link in the Endnotes.
|Apple/Steve Jobs||Computers||Just like others||Make you feel good|
|Wright Brothers||Airplane||Bicycle shop parts to repair plane||Change the course of mankind|
|Martin Luther King||Civil Rights Movement||Peaceful Marches||I Have A Dream – People judged by Character, not skin color|
As Sinek points out, people don’t follow you because of what you do or how you do it, they follow you because of why you lead them better than others; because your leadership comes from within – the cause, the purpose, the belief and value of your practices, the Servant nature of your leadership; all of which is to make others better than they were before you began to lead, teach, mentor and/or coach them.
Why do people buy Apple over Android, when Android phones have been proven to be technically better? Apple markets to the “Why”, the emotions of people, the feeling that “it makes me feel good.”
Aviation expert and pioneer Samuel P. Langley had the recipe for success; 50K to figure out the flying machine; Harvard trained, hired the best people he could find; NY Times followed him around. The problem was he wanted to be rich, people worked for him because of the money. When Wright brothers discovered air flight, he quit instead of working with the Wright Brothers to make planes better.
Orville & Wilbur: no college education; used bicycle parts from their shop to repair their plane when it crashed. They were driven by a cause, purpose, belief that would change the course of the world. People worked for them because of their cause.
Dr. Martin Luther King got 250,000 people to show up in Washington DC without advertising to listen to his “I Believe” ideals, his “I have a Dream” speech. They carried the message to the streets of America because of the “Why” – the cause, the purpose of his ideal.[iv]
Following Brother General and President Washington, the cause is too important to just be a social organization. Following Dr. King, the freedom which comes from seeking more light is too great to just be a monthly meeting to discuss the poor economic state of the organization. Following Orville and Wilbur, if we want to veer away from the current course of morality in America, and quite possible the world, we have to understand and follow the purpose, the cause of building better men and women.
Then, after much reflection and considering the passion of your Why, you need to establish your vision of where you want your why to take you. Once established, write out a one sentence, or a few words, that states what will be your future for the next few years, which could be 5, 10 or even 20.
Next, you create your Mission statement, which is the work, or how, you will accomplish your vision. Again, your mission states in a simple sentence, what you are doing on a daily basis to complete your Mission, which in turn is what you are doing to turn that Vision into a reality. The day-to-say activity of accomplishing your Mission is done through the writing of SMART Goals that you will achieve to complete your mission.
For more information on writing Vision and Mission Statements, see my Blog on 3 Essentials Necessary for Sustainable Success.[v]
[i] Sinek, Simon, 2009. It Starts with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action (New York: Penguin Group, 2009) 37-51.
[ii] Maxwell, John C., Intentional Living- Choosing a Life that Matters (New York: Center Street, 2015) 77-80.
[iii] Sinek, Simon, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, TedxPuget Sound: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action, 2009.
Have you ever hear the statement: “Dream it and you can achieve it!” Has it worked for you personally and professionally? If not, what do you think is the reason for it not working?
Quite possibly, one or all of the following essentials was missing from the process.
The most famous example of a dream that turned into a success was Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Dream speech” in which he spoke of his future vision when people would be defined and accepted by their character instead of the color of their skin. His dream and resultant daily undertakings, while still a work in progress, epitomizes the 3 essentials necessary for sustainable success.
A dream, regardless of the time of day or night, is merely a vision of some past, present or future thought, event or moment in time. The significance of the thought depends upon what happened afterwards – good, bad or otherwise.
If the thought pertained to a desire for the future in the life of the person in whom the thought occurred, but never happened, thought leaders, speakers and writers proclaim the absence of some, if not all, of the 3 essentials, inhibited the success of that dream.
My personal experience affirms that the following 3 essentials are necessary for sustainable success. Early in my life I aspired to be a minister. My Mom politely informed me that I hadn’t been called, which squelched that idea. She would always proudly people in our community that “David was going to be like Mr. Smith.” Mr. Smith was an Accountant and very successful, so I thought that was a great idea. Three semesters of Accounting and I knew that wasn’t my future.
Future studies in business management and leadership, as well as teaching in the Navy, led me to my true purpose in life. Following my Navy career, teaching the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Corps Program, as well as studies in personal and organizational leadership led me to my personal vision and mission – developing leaders who will in turn develop other leaders.
Vision – Importance and Statement Process
A dream requires initiative and action. That action begins with the Vision, which is where you want to take that dream and make it your life’s work. It becomes your purpose in life, or the “Why” of your life. Your Vision becomes your statement of how you want to live your life. If it is a strong, empowering, and motivating vision, it is the focus of your time and energy, your passion, your direction in life. If it truly comes from your heart, it is based on your values and foundational standards with which leads to total fulfillment in meaning of everything you attempt and accomplish (Dodd & Sundheim, 2005). [i]
Author Gordon D’Angelo says everything starts with Vision, that it is the process that brings imagination to creation.[ii] King Solomon, writing in the Book of Proverbs says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.”[iii] The New Strong’s Concise Concordance lists 79 references for Vision. [iv] The word(s) “vision” appears 53 time(s) in 47 verse(s) in Quran in Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation.[v] Likewise, Strong’s Hebrew Concordance lists several references for vision (chazon). Given these exhaustive documented texts, it would be difficult to reason objection to establishing personal and organizational visions.
So how does that happen? Is it the responsibility of the primary leader in the organization? What are the expectations concerning the company vision – every employee automatically accept it and work toward that end? John Maxwell in his 360° Leader says, “Vision may begin with one person, but it is only accomplished by many people.” Maxwell further writes that it is necessary for leadership to champion the vision and obtain the buy-in of every employee so that it becomes their vision as well; it’s about “we”, not “me.”[vi]
According to the New Leadership Paradigm (Spears, 2002), employees want to be involved in the decision-making process. They want to be asked for their input and feel that they are valued.[vii] Therefore, employees should be active in creating an organizational vision statement. Meet with them, consider their suggestions, come to an all-employee consensus as to the wording of the statement.
The organizational vision is how the company is seen, hence believed to be, at some future time, 10, 20, 30 years down the road. Once decided upon, publish it throughout the organization and on the company website and stationery, talk about it, championship it, and get everyone onboard to work toward turning that vision into a reality.
Next step is to figure out how to make it happen. In other words, what will be the personal and organizational mission to make that vision a reality.
The mission becomes your day-to-day activity, your work, the effort put into living your vision. The mission requires several parts working in collaboration to daily improve in skill and expertise. This process also should include employee participation, not only to determine the actual parts of the mission, but also the SMART Goals needed to achieve success toward the vision.
How do you get there? Creation of a personal and/or organizational Mission Statement is the same or similar process used to formulate the Vision Statement. Ask the employees, meet with them, write down their suggestions (brainwashing), discuss them, come to a consensus as to the wording. Once finalized, publish just as with the Vision Statement. Create buy-in by valuing employee contribution in accomplishing the mission, which will turn the vision into reality.
The Mission Statement is not setting SMART Goals, which is a separate process. SMART – Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; Time restricted – Goals are set throughout the organization. Some will pertain to the entire company, others will be for individual entities within the whole company. Again, this should be done with employee input and buy-in.
Achieving your Mission – Action and Strategy
While it is great to have a vision statement that tells you and other of where you are going in your life, while your vision represents your value system, beliefs, as well as your moral and ethical standards, and while your mission statements specifies your day-to-day activities and business, neither is of value without action focused on the specifics of working the mission.
Action Plans and Strategies require analysis of the SMART Goals, and devising plans to achieve them. For the individual this means working the Goals and planning a strategy for each. For the organization, leadership needs to work with employees to create an action plan to accomplish the goals. This may require extra training for everyone, special mentoring for areas of expertise not totally clear to everyone, and constant re-evaluation of goals to ensure they are directed responsibly and accurately.
A more in-depth reference on this subject matter is John C. Maxwell’s Put Your Dream To The Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It. Two points that I find most helpful is insuring total ownership – is the Dream (Vision) really mine, and personal fulfillment and satisfaction from accomplishing the vision.[viii]
An additional element for success is establishing a personal and/or organizational motto – a short motivating statement or phrase that becomes a constant reminder to all involved of the focus for everyone; individually or as a whole.
My personal motto is “Developing Great Leaders Who Develop Great Leaders.” A second that I use quite frequently to help motivate others outside my realm of authority, i.e. friends and mentees is “Keep The Quest Alive! Additional words such as “Leadership” can be added before “Quest” to apply to a particular situation or action. Likewise, “Keep the Vision Alive! is another that is particular to this article.
Feel free to call or email me with any questions you might have about the statement creation process, or any other aspect of these
3 Essentials Necessary for Sustained Success.
[i] Dodd, P., Sundheim, D., (2005). The 25 Best Time Management Tools & Techniques: How to Get More Done Without Driving Yourself Crazy (Ann Arbor, MI; Peak Performance Press, Inc.), 9-17.
[ii] D’Angelo, G., (2012). Vision, Your Pathway to Victory: Sharing a Direction to a Better Future (New York; Morgan James Publishing), 1.
[iii] New American Standard Bible (La Habra, CA; The Lockman Foundation), Prov. 29: 18.
[iv] Vine, W.E., (1997). The New Strong’s Concise Concordance (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, Inc.), 692.
[v] Quran Teacher: How to Read the Quran (n.d.). Vision in the Quran. Retrieved on 11/8/2016, from http://www.searchtruth.com/search.php?keyword=vision&translator=2&search=1.
[vi] Maxwell, J.C., (2005). The 360°Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, Inc.), 64-72.
[vii] Spears, L.C., Lawrence, M. (Ed.), (2002). Focus on Leadership: Servant-Leadership for the 21st Century (New York; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), 2-8.
[viii] Maxwell, J.C., (2009). Put Your Dream To The Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson.
Morals. Ethics. Standards of conduct. Corruption. Sexual harassment. Bullying at all levels of society. Open sex on television and in movies. Pornography. Unwed mothers and single Moms. These are all variations of moral and ethical depravity that have lowered the moral standard of societies around the world, especially in the United States of America.
Does situational moral and ethics mean the same thing as a Natural Law standard of morals and ethics? Who sets your moral standard? How does the Golden Rule apply to moral conduct and behaviors?
So what is the “Moral Standard” that governs societies? Is it whatever society will believe and tolerate? Does the concept of “Liberty” that permits and/or tolerates amoral and immoral behaviors set a lower moral and ethical standard? Is there an acceptable moral and ethical Natural Law of humanity that governs how we demonstrate how we act morally and ethically?
Or, do moral and ethical standards become a “living code” of which individual members of a nation’s society can change according to their own maturing value system that results in a lessening of these standards according to the will and pleasures of individuals regardless of the consequences and health of civilization; such as has happened in America and other countries.
Is the increase in – at least 25 exist today – sexually transmitted diseases (STD)(oral, anal and intercourse), deformed infants worldwide, and HIV/Aids a result of the decrease in moral and ethical standards and behaviors? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Gay, Bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have higher rates of STD, and that adolescents and young adults, 15-24 years old, account for half of all new STD infections.¹
Is this due to an increase in population or a decline in the moral standards of behaviors among people? A look at the historical value system of moral and ethical standards indicates the latter more true than a mere increase in populations.
Natural Law set the standards of moral conduct among humankind. Aristotle, Plato, Hobbs, Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Stoics, Immanuel Kant and Jesus discussed and proclaimed acceptable moral and ethical standards. Societies down through history have functioned under a standard of morals, ethics, and acceptable civil behaviors. When a societal standard of morality and ethics began to decline, Roman Empire is the most common example, that society eventually ceases to exist.
When discussing morals and ethics, there is much philosophical thought and writing around the “good” versus “evil” (or bad, or others, if you will) as it relates to human beings, their thoughts, actions, beliefs, values and ideals that results in their behaviors as it relates to the good of mankind in general; which includes men and women. A short review shows that “good” behaviors that benefit, improve, or interact between individuals is the preferred behavior. That “evil, bad, other behaviors do not lead to the preservation of societal good for everyone. In each case the argument of subjectivism – i.e. the doctrine that there are no absolute moral values but those that are variable in the same was as taste, or being subjective to some desire or situation or result.
Natural Law is a moral theory of jurisprudence, or justice, which maintains that law should be based on morality and ethics. Natural Law holds that the law is based on what is “correct.” Natural Law is discovered, or reasoned, through the conscious use of reason, and the resultant choice between good and evil. Therefore, Natural Law finds its power in discovering certain universal standards of morality and ethics.²
♦ Plato was one of the founders of the theories of Natural Law, which for him was based on law of reason because the law of reason is the ideal law. Therefore, Plato reasoned that the law of reason is the law of nature.³
Plato rejected the idea of subjectivism about the good. He held that it related more to the possibilities of human achievement. This position would lead one to adhere to the idea that amoral activity that prevented personal achievement would be considered as against human nature.4
♦ Aristotle rejected the subjectivism about the good, holding that what makes it true or good is not that there is a relation to desire, but that it relates to the wholeness or completeness of a being, which depended on that being’s nature.5
Aristotle, in using the law of reason, wrote that Natural Law is nothing else than the “intention” of nature of things expressed through the natural tendency of things.6
♦ Hobbs’ view, while not to reject the subjectivism ideal because humans have common desires, which can include a wide and diverse variety of thoughts and behaviors. However, of these desires, the single most important was about self-preservation, which was his single natural law of good. One can see here that the many pitfalls of amoral activity or behaviors would run counter to the self-preservation principle.7
♦ Saint Thomas Aquinas thoughts and writing on Natural Law developed through his studies of scholars before him, including Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and even other Christian mediaeval scholars. He believes that natural law results from reason that is directed toward the common good.
Aquinas’ idea of Natural Law evolved from the eternal law, which came from divine law. He described Natural Law as “nothing else but a participation of the eternal law in a rational creature.” For him, the most fundamental principle of Natural Law is to do good and avoid evil.8
♦ The Stoics believed that the Natural Law indifferent to the divine or natural source of the law. To them, there was a rational and purposeful order of the universe, i.e. a divine or eternal law. Therefore, rational human beings lived in accordance with the divine law, what in turn was the Natural Law. This stated that actions resulted by virtues.** These virtues were the “good” of society.9
♦ Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative states that one “acts only on the maxim which you can at the same time will to be a universal law”, i.e. a Natural Law (Oxford Guide to Philosophy, 2005, p. 468). Hence, any desire, action, or will to be moral must be in accordance to the Natural Law.10
♦ Jesus and the Golden Rule directs that “We do unto others as they would that you do unto you.” As such, we do morally toward everyone as we would want them morally to treat us. Therefore, ethical behavior is a reciprocal behavior one to another, which deals with “right” or “ethical behavior to and from each other.
As mankind has evolved over the centuries, free will has further expanded to include many thoughts, that, on the one hand, have loosened the boundaries of what is believed to be good, largely justified through the ideal of pleasure, often times negligent in thought of benefit, consequence and good. On the other hand, technology and social materialism has certainly enabled the relaxation of values and the practical application of a virtuous life of good, especially good for all others in the world. These changes in individual thought have come about largely through these technological advances, the entertainment media being a major transporter and justification for behavioral changes, to the point that society today believes that morals and ethical behaviors are right and good if I believe that they are in my pleasurable favor, and I see nothing wrong with such behaviors.
This belief system has further deviated from the moral and ethical value system professed since early times by the great philosophers, which have contributed to the longevity of nations of the world. Furthermore, this deviance has resulted in the increase of health issues, including those cited above, that can only be classified as evil and not for the good of mankind.
In her article of May 24, 2014, Hanne Nabintu Herland: The Moral Deconstruction of the West, Hanne cites several instances where the decline of morals and ethics have contributed to the destruction of societies throughout history. She states, “Decline begins when a civilization ceases to emphasize the very ideals that initially resulted in expansion and productivity. These are commonly replaced by alternative values that focus on enjoyment, rest and relaxation.” In other words, moral values lead to the destruction of the society.11
The challenge for us today is to determine which moral and ethical value system of virtues is best for society as a whole, and thereby, adopt them as our personal behaviors toward all mankind, just as we would expect all mankind to adopt toward us. All of which leads me to the foundation of my original question:
“Who sets your moral and ethical standards of behavior.”
Will it be standards of morals and ethics identified as the best for you personally and for mankind as a whole? Or, will you follow the current trend and practice demonstrated and modeled by today’s technologically advanced principles of pleasure, open and tolerant belief systems that inevitably lead to the destruction of our society. The choice is yours.
As for me, I prefer the foundational ideals upon which our Country, the United States of America were propounded and established. Of which we must “Keep the Quest Alive.”
10. The Oxford Guide To Philosophy (2005); Ted Honderich, Editor.
In Part I, I pointed out some heroes and leaders of the 1936 Olympics – the Games of the XI Olympiad.
In Part II, I am focusing on Daniel James Brown’s book The Boys in the Boat, which is focused on the 1936 University of Washington (UofW) Crew Team and their conquest of Germany’s renowned crew team. UofW Crew teams win was a major contribution toward a world-wide effort to spoil Hitler’s attempts of domination in the 1936 Olympics.
The Big Bang theory doesn’t apply to leadership and teamwork. While some team members are more charismatic than others, with higher levels of skills and traits than others, coaches, mentors and relationship-builders develop leadership, teamwork skills and behaviors toward excellence. These traits are part of Brown’s book.
Each chapter begins with a quote by George Pocock around which Brown focuses throughout the chapters. Many of Pocock’s quotes speak to some aspect of leadership, teamwork and individual characteristics.
I have been a team-member of several organizations, civic groups and sports teams. Rowing, or crew as it is called, truly defines the rhythm, work ethic, trust, and teamwork required for real excellence. Pocock points this out in his quote on Page 1 of Brown’s book:
“In a sport like this – hard work, not much glory, but still popular in every century – well, there must be some beauty which ordinary men can’t see, but extraordinary men do” (Brown, 2013, p. 1).
George Yeoman Pocock, born in England, whose Father and Grandfather were boat-builders, was the “shell builder” at UofW and whose boats were used by nearly every college crew coach in the U.S., and many internationally. Beyond shell building however, he was a integral part of “UDub” (another nickname of UW) crew team as a mentor and untitled teambuilding coach. His presence is noted by Brown throughout the book. Pocock’s importance to the crew team is documented by his quotes in the book, and by his personal mentoring to the “Boys”, most especially Joe Rantz. Chapter 1 begins with the following Pocock quote:
“I believe I can speak authoritatively on what we call the unseen values of rowing – the social, moral, and spiritual values of this oldest of chronicled sports in the world. No didactic teaching will place these values in a young man’s soul. He has to get them by his own observations and lessons” (Brown, 2013, p. 7).
So it is with leadership as well. No leader of such qualities and values is born, each must learn these and other traits and characteristics through experience, classes, leadership mentoring and training, and individual research and reading.
Quest and Foundation of Leadership and Teamwork
John Maxwell says, “The true measure of leadership if influence, nothing more, nothing less” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 11). Row coach Ulbrickson and Shell-builder Pocock epitomized Maxwell’s philosophy.
Leadership and teamwork is about assembling the best team members. Ulbrickson noted:
“The trick would be to find which few of them had the potential for raw power, the nearly super-human stamina, the indomitable willpower, and the intellectual capacity necessary to master the details of the technique (of rowing). And which of them, coupled improbably with all those other qualities, had the most important one: the ability to disregard his own ambitions, to throw his ego over the gunwales*, to leave it swirling in the wake of his shell, and to pull, not just for himself, not just for glory, but for the other boys in the boat” (Brown, 2013, p. 23).
* sides or walls of the boat
This is true not only of teamwork in general, but also of the individual quest for achievement overall. Each team member must put the team first, others first, and put aside personal aspirations for the sake of the team.
Just as every organization has people assigned to leadership position, so also does that same organization have leaders throughout who can and should become mentors to other people in the organization – known leaders and others aspiring for leadership. Such was the case with George Pocock.
Pocock’s influence, while not directly as a coach, was instrumental as a mentor to the boys who came to talk with him, to learn about the boat, and in the case of Joe Rantz, to seek guidance and inspiration from his wisdom about life, rowing, and teamwork. Being an effective mentor takes time and experience observing work ethics, studying habits and actions, and one-on-one counseling, listening to thoughts, declarations, and confessions of strengths, weaknesses and shortcomings.
Pocock’s mentorship evolved in this manner as he learned about the intrinsic values of crew oarsmen:
• Seeing hope where the men saw none;
• Seeing skill that was overshadowed by ego or anxiety;
• Detecting the strength thread of affection between team members as it grew between the oarsmen who were striving to do their best; and most importantly,
• How the bond of trust between crewmembers, if nurtured properly, could coalesce a team of individuals into one team – so in tune with their environment that would replace the pain of their efforts with ecstasy.
So effective was Pocock’s mentorship to the Boys that throughout his tenure at Washington, he became, as Brown points out in the book, their high priest. In later years hundreds would comment, “In his presence Washington crewmen always stood, for he symbolized that for which God’s children always stand” (Brown, 2013, p. 48).
Vision & Motto
Vision provides the inner impetus for wining; it is recorded countless time in leadership writing of success stories of winning organizations. The Vision becomes the motivation for external followership and support as well. If one follows winning sports teams or successful organizations, a Vision becomes the “Why” of existence and drive to excel. So it was with the Washington crew as well.
Ulbrickson laid out the crews vision on January 14, 1935 in the shell (boat) house following a shivering day on the water. At this point Washington crew was the West Coast champion of rowing after beating the best school in California and on the East Coast of Ivy League schools. He declared, “At one time or another, Washington crews have won the highest honors in America. They have not, however, participated in the Olympic Games. That’s our objective” (Brown, 2013, p. 149).
Earlier in 1934 a freshman coxswain had come up with the motto “M-I-B” to help them keep focused on their rowing. M-I-B meant “Mind in Boat” to remind them from the time the get into the boat until they cross the finish line that they must remain focused on what was taking place in the boat. That they must block out the outside world and focus on their small space between the gunwales, only hearing the smooth interaction between the oars and the water, and listening intently to the coxswains commands.
This motto combined with the team’s acceptance of Ulbrickson’s vision declaration provided the motivation to push forward for improvement and winning the Olympics.
When fully ingrained and accepted by the team it produces another aspect of rowing that can be felt by everyone that is hard to achieve and equally hard to define. It is called rhythm and other names. In rowing, it is called the “swing” of the boat. In a crew boat, and as I have seen in sports and work center teams, it happens when all oarsmen (team members) are rowing in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of sync with those of all the others. (Brown, 2013, p. 161).
This is what I call the “fun” of working toward a vision and mission, when completed it provides the intrinsic reward that is everlasting and comforting. When a leader does happen to experience such a phenomenon, the external joy becomes an intrinsic reward that is infinite in memory.
John Maxwell says this about humility, “You have a lot less fullness of yourself, so that you can focus on the other person, their needs, their journey, their life. Not what you have done, but focus on who they are and what you can do for them. They don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less” (Maxwell, 2015). So it was with George Pocock:
“My ambition has always been to be the greatest shell builder in the world; and without false modesty. I believe I have attained that goal. If I were to sell the (Boeing) stock, I fear I would lose my incentive and become a wealthy man, but a second-rate artisan. I prefer to remain a first-class artisan” (Brown, 2013, p. 83).
He never sought the spotlight with the Washington Crew. He quietly built his shells, quietly observing and mentoring when needed, becoming a humble force for the Crews 1936 conquest of the greatest rowers in the world.
Humility can be very motivating. Following his building of a new boat they would race in 1934 to further solidify their Olympic quest, as the crew was holding up the boat, Pocock pronounced, “I christen this boat Husky Clipper. May it have success in all the waters it speeds over. Especially in Berlin.” As the Boys carried the boat to the water, they wondered what was the odd smelling liquid with which Pocock had christened the boat. Pocock chuckled, “Sauerkraut juice. To get used to Germany.” He grinned. (Brown, 2013, p. 240).
Life sometimes teaches this important leadership trait. Especially, when the team members grew up in hard times like the boys in the boat, who had experienced the great depression. They took nothing for granted, never letting their accomplishment enroute to the Berlin Olympics blind their intention and vision. These challenges that taught them humility – the need to subsume their individual egos for the sake of the boat as a whole. It became the driving force that brought them together (Brown, 2013, p. 241).
These are just a few of the many leadership lessons taught in Brown’s Boys in the Boat. I strongly recommend that you get a copy for your own reading and edification. I assure you that it will be a ready reference to which you will often refer.
In the mean time, “Keep the Quest Alive! for improved leadership and making a difference in the lives of those you lead.
1. Brown, Daniel James, (2013). The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and their Epic Quest
for Gold at the 1936 Olympics. New York: Penguin Books.
2. ibid, P7.
3. Maxwell, John C., (2007). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas
4. Brown, Daniel James, (2013). The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and their Epic Quest
for Gold at the 1936 Olympics. New York: Penguin Books.
5. ibid, P48.
6. ibid, P149.
7. ibid, P161
8. Retrieved from A Minute of Maxwell on 1/24/2016 from http://johnmaxwellteam.com/humility/.
9. Brown, Daniel James, (2013). The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and their Epic Quest
for Gold at the 1936 Olympics. New York: Penguin Books.
10. ibid, P240.
11. ibid, P241.