"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27,2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Leadership Series: Our Contribution

Our essays are a mixture of lessons learned and wisdom gained, through experience and common sense. Or, so we say. We express these lessons and observations with humility, some doubt, occasional smidgens of wisdom and purpose; we hope. We know from our own observations and listening to others that we, us Americans, have lost our way. There is no great lesson in losing one’s way. The only thing to do is turn back, find our way and follow the good path. Only the fool would continue on the wrong path. This is true. It is not complicated. Yet, we make it complicated.

We usually speak with some specificity – we talk about deficits and debt and bankruptcy and redemption. We speak to problems of corruption and meddling lawyers and bureaucrats. We worry about too many laws; too many protected groups; too many special interests because change is difficult and scary and challenging. The corruption we address is well camouflaged. It is so well camouflaged that it is now the established wisdom of many of our people. Many of our young people. This is not good.

We observe constantly. We observe children dressing and acting as an adult which, of course, is normal. What concerns us are adults dressing and acting as children.

We see the inexperienced claim the mantle of leadership through processes that have been corrupted through the human weaknesses of greed and pride and envy.

And most of all, more than anything else, we see fear. Constant fear. Not the healthy fear that keeps us from harm’s way and disciplines us to become our better selves. No, we see the fear that is manipulated by those in power to guide and bend and distort the learned values of past generations for their very brief and passing benefits. This form of fear is now used by the few, the minority, to control the many. This form of fear is not new to humans but it is in direct conflict with the beliefs and values of our founders and our forefathers and our country. We repeat. This form of fear is being foisted upon the majority by a minority of protected groups, special interest folk, lots of government employees and very weak elected officials. They are a minority. They are nowhere near as powerful as they present themselves.  Remember, there are millions of us who work hard, pay taxes, obey the law and are financially responsible.  There are thousands in the congress and the state legislatures who are financially promiscuous.  They have a lot of supporters but no where near as many as we do who are financially responsible.

So, we go back to these beliefs and values frequently to remind our self and those who may privilege us with their attention to our words, that we are right in following these learned lessons and embracing these various time tested forms of wisdom and common sense.

This is our purpose in these essays. This is our contribution.

We have taken to concentrating on the concept of leadership. We will continue to do so. Can the nature of leadership; the characteristics of good leaders; the examples of accomplished leaders change over time? We think not. So, we go back and seek examples; seek characteristics; seek definition. And we share it.

We think the one most profound component of leadership is trust. We think trust is built; not bestowed; not the result of an election or an inheritance or the result of good fortune or timing. We think it is human nature to seek leaders. We think good leaders do not offer or promise anything. They demand; they struggle; they fail; they persevere; they show up; they set examples; they avoid the spotlight, the vanity, the false pride of their position and they understand the brevity of success and fame.

Where or where are the leaders? They, of course, are everywhere. They are our mothers and our fathers, our sisters and our brothers; they are the next door neighbor and the person behind the cash register at the grocery store. Our cousins; our aunts and uncles. Our grandmas and our grandpas.  They are us.

They go about their business because they believe in the covenant that those who seek their vote, their hard earned wages; their trust; will value this gift and handle it with care. They now recognize that their trust has been misplaced. They are disappointed. But, they know that they will once again need to take charge and need to find a few good women and men who understand the basics of leadership. Who will place values, fundamentals and common sense as their mission and struggle and reject greed, pride, envy and fear. And so doing, they will gain trust and do what needs to be done.

So it is. So it must be. So it always has been.

The pretend leaders must go. Some difficulty and turmoil will follow. And then trust will return. Please do your part to get this job done. It is up to all of us to do this job.  November 2 is a part of this responsibility.  It can be a beginning.  Please do your part.

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