I really believe that the kind of man a young boy becomes, is dependent on what his father taught him during moments spent together. Keep in mind here, my post is only about the father/son relationship and time spent together. Time spent bonding with our children teaches him positive principles, instills honest values and virtues, and presents countless life lessons, or learned knowledge, along the way.
To do this, we must simply help our sons cultivate their own interests and encourage their wandering spirit. My son, Heath, and I had just such an outing yesterday. We attended the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s the largest of its kind. 850 exhibitors covered 1.2 million square feet of floor space in the Kentucky Exposition Center as the National Farm Machinery show continues to be the largest indoor farm show in America.
For 52 years, the National Farm Machinery Show has offered the most complete selection of cutting-edge agricultural products, equipment and services available in the farming industry. I have been to the show for most of those 52 years of shows because my dad went to them all and always took me. Business professionals from around the world gain knowledge and hands-on access to various technological advancements needed for the upcoming farming season during the four-day show.We spent time looking at the newest precision equipment and discussed how that was responsible and important for being good stewards of our planet. We were amazed at the milking robots and barn cleaning robots. Heath wants one, by the way, but it ain’t happening because we are still teaching work ethic on our farm, too. We literally went through all 850 exhibits and it seems, had a conversation about each. I love the international aspect of the show. It gives Heath and I the opportunity to interact with agriculturalists from around the world. The ripples of this coming together will bring about positive social change in agriculture.
Above all, this father-son activity works well as a platform for instilling values and teaching lessons with my son. Sometimes, the message is subtle, but that’s often how a lasting impression is made.
What lasting impressions are you making?
Last year I wrote a post about the classic Christmas movies Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Elf (click here to read the post). That post started an annual tradition, right? Well I guess so, because I’m doing it again this year. I missed church this morning because of a cow having a calf and when I came in I got caught up watching Disney’s A Christmas Carol – An animated retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic novel about a Victorian-era miser taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions. As I watched I was struck by the many leadership lessons.
I was first struck by the fact that Scrooge would be considered successful by today’s standards – money, drive, and disciplined. But, remember there is a difference between success and significance. I have reflected on wanting to be more significant than successful a lot now that I have entered the second half of life. I am reminded of what the scripture says in Luke 12:48: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (King James Version) I like The Message version even better: “Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” Fortunately, Scrooge learned that he must use his success for significance in his second half. My favorite lines from Dickens sum up Scrooge’s transformation from success to significance quite well:
“A merry Christmas, Bob,” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year. I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob. Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him. ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Furthermore, Scrooge taught us to be passionate about what we do. Whether Scrooge was busy piling up his riches or becoming a new man after the ghosts visited him, he went after everything to the full extent of his being. As a miser, however, he let the love of his own life supersede his ability to have an impact on others. Remember, what we do for others is the best measure of how we have used our time, treasures, and talent.
In the end Scrooge comes through for us and teaches us a very important leadership lesson. He teaches us to learn from history and experience. Additionally he teaches us, as leaders, to put into practice what we have learned. It took four ghosts to break Scrooge of his idolization of money, and they showed him his own historical journey through life, the experiences of many others, and what could be his future journey of significance. Once Scrooge learned the necessary personal growth lessons, he changed his entire life, literally overnight. What a transformational leader. He gave to the poor; he reconnected with the only family he had, his nephew, Bob Cratchett. He grew especially close to Tiny Tim, who was shown dying by the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Christmas Future. As we know, Tiny Tim lives.
Charles Dickens’ best-loved story is one of personal transformation. Changing leadership behaviors and achieving significance in life requires experience, not just consideration of intellectual concepts. Each of Scrooge’s experiences brings him closer to the major transformation which ultimately determined his future. Nonetheless, all of these experiences were important to his transformation. Scrooge had the opportunity to relive the past, truly experience the present, and anticipate the future.
During this holiday season take some time to reflect on the past, enjoy today’s blessings, and anticipate and plan for living a life of significance.
“God bless us! Every one!” ~ Tiny Tim
Later today I will be speaking at the Overcoming Obstacles Youth Expo. This expo is being put on by Uplift Indy. I love the title, “Overcoming Obstacles.” That’s really what it is all about. I will be closing out the day and will tie it all together by working with the youth on around the idea of “Being Prepared For What You Don’t Know You Need To Be Prepared For.” Isn’t that what obstacles are? Things we are not prepared for. But really, we have some tools already in our toolbox for being prepared and just need to think through how we get the rest. I can’t wait to spend time with these kids today!
I will post my comments and thoughts from the day when the expo ends today.
“The longer I live and participate in the business world, the more I realize telling the truth is almost always the correct choice, painful or not. There are ways to communicate with tact; a harsh reality can be delivered in a constructive way.” ~ John M. Manning
As I read this week’s entry in The Disciplined Leader (Manning, 2015) I was reminded of the dramatic scene in the great movie A Few Good Men. In the movie’s final court scene where the military lawyer, Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise is trying to draw the arrogant colonel, Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson into admitting that he ordered a Code Red (a sort of vigilante justice within a unit) that was officially not allowed by the military; Kaffee yells at him: “I want the truth!”, and then Jessup yells back “You can’t handle the truth!”, and then proceeds to make the admission and tell the truth, finally. This telling of the truth ultimately builds trust on the team. According to Gary Peterson of Forbes Magazine (Peterson, 2013) there are four key attributes to strong followership. Followership is defined, according to the University of Oregon, as the willingness to cooperate in working towards the accomplishment of the group mission, to demonstrate a high degree of teamwork, and to build cohesion among the group. (University of Oregon, 2013). Here are the four key attributes:
- Trust: Through everyday behavior, “followership” requires that the leader provides evidence that they can be trusted.
- Stability: Leaders with strong “followership” remain calm in the face of panic and give a sense of confidence to those around them.
- Compassion: Strong “followership” leaders have unrelenting passion for people and show empathy when those folks are enduring hard times.
- Hope: “Followership” requires that the leader has unwavering belief that their product/service will not only succeed, but will change lives.
Manning (2015) points out that the truth also sets the stage for a candid workplace culture. This allows it to be a productive and safe place for team members to be engaged and part of a learning organization culture. The truth never hurts us, it is what we do with the truth. I really like the way Manning (2015) describes the truth as giving us the ability to act fast. He posits that truthfulness is a change agent (Manning, 2015). This truthfulness will act as a catalyst for making decisions that mirror our core values, wisdom, self-discipline, and integrity. We must remember to make the truth a part of our core values.
“Followership.” Followership. The University of Oregon, 01 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 June 2013.
Manning, J. (2015). The disciplined leader: 52 concise, powerful lessons. Oakland, CA: Barrett – Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Peterson, Gary. “Leadership 310: The Four Principles of ‘Followership'” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 June 2013.
Last week in A Year With Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) we began to examine “halftime.” What Bob Buford described as the time when we move from desiring success to wanting to achieve significance. Activities for significance are by and large an enormous opportunity, but many people don’t have the imagination to identify possibilities. I became so interested in “halftime” that I went ahead and read Bob Buford’s book Halftime this week. Buford focuses on this important time of transition—the time when, as he says, a person moves beyond the first half of the game of life. It’s halftime, a time of revitalization and for catching a new vision for living the second half, the half where life can be lived at its most rewarding. Bob Buford provides the encouragement and insight to propel your life on a new course away from mere success to true significance—and the best years of your life. I highly recommend the book Halftime. This week’s entry in A Year With Peter Drucker continues on the idea of halftime and gives the reader a peek into the process of how to achieve significance while going through halftime. Those who follow their interests in social sector activities early in life by volunteering their services may confirm their instinct to serve in specific capacities. This is turn may provide the imagination and inspiration needed either to begin a second career or to become a social entrepreneur (Maciariello, 2014).
In order to find our way to creating significance we must discover our specific giftedness. In other words we need to work doing what we do best. Individuals and organizations may need help in thinking through just what they are trying to accomplish with the talent available; and in obtaining the necessary contacts and making the necessary preparations to do it. An individual must fit the organization and the organization must fit the individual (Maciariello, 2014). There is one requirement, as I see it, for managing the second half of one’s life: to begin creating it long before one enters it. Peter Drucker argued, “If one does not begin to volunteer before one is forty or so, one will not volunteer when past sixty. Similarly, all the social entrepreneurs I know began to work in their chosen second enterprise long before they reached their peak in their original business.” (Maciariello, 2014, p. 321) With the age expectancies rising into the seventies, we need to be thinking about halftime in our mid thirties to forty.
If you want to make a contribution in the second half of your life you must understand how to manage yourself to make the right contributions. So, “What is in your box?” In other words you must decide what is most important for you to create significance. What are your strengths and values? Where are you finding an outlet for them? Is your job a sufficient outlet for your talents and values?
Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
We all know it is a priority to help each person in our organizations to focus on his or her strengths to enhance the performance of the entire organization. This week’s coaching for leadership and effectiveness lesson from Peter Drucker deals with managing the superstar. After reading this week’s entry I would back up a step and say that some organizations (and probably most if we are honest), my own school included, have to find ways to identify the superstars. Additionally, we need to find ways to develop team members into superstars – that will be a topic of another blog post on another day.
Helping each person to focus on his or her strengths will enhance the performance of the entire organization. The goal is to use the performance of starts not only to promote their objectives but by their positive example, to raise standards of performance of others and to help others become star performers (Maciariello, 2014). We as the leaders of our organizations have the obligation to provide opportunities for our team members to build on their strengths and make their weaknesses irrelevant. In other words a skill or behavior that is a strength in one person can offset a weakness in the form of that same skill or behavior in another person. We must think: What can we do to make the deficiencies become subordinate to strengths? This can be done by highlighting the performance example the individuals set and making our superstars in particular areas accessible to colleagues who need their help.
“One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. Concentration should be on areas of high competence and high skill. It takes far more energy and far more work to improve from incompetence to low mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. And yet most people – and equally most teachers and most organizations – try to concentrate on making incompetent performers into mediocre ones. The time, energy, and resources should instead go into making a competent person into a star performer.” ~ Peter Drucker & Joseph A. Maciariello
One way Drucker advocated using star performers was to use them as featured performers. By using star performers as teachers of his or her peers allows the star performer recognition as well as building pride in the organization for all. Let’s face it, learning from an actual high performer would be the most effective way to learn. Additionally, it is an important function of us, as leaders, and our organizations to make our team members’ strengths effective in performance and to help neutralize human weaknesses. In all of this, however, do not forget that superstars are expensive. I am not talking money here. They are hard to deal with sometimes because, almost always, they are very unbalanced (Maciariello, 2014). Thus the title of this post: The Greater the Strengths the Greater the Weaknesses. Superstars are very narrow in their range. This makes it challenging for us as leaders, but be must find ways to effectively use the incredible talents of these individuals.
Maciariello (2014) used a very appropriate Bible verse from Deuteronomy 25:4 to illustrate: “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. Let it thresh the corn [and reap rewards accordingly]!” One thought is for us, as leaders, to tread right along side of our superstars. Leaders need to remember that team members are paid to perform and not to please you as the leader.
Some thoughts to ponder:
- What does your organization do to build individual strengths and neutralize weaknesses?
- Do you have a process to recognize and use your superstars to serve a models and teachers for the other team members?
- Do you and your organization keep superstars where their strengths remain productive?
- Do you protect your superstars, and all team members for that matter, against their blatant weaknesses and errors?
Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
This year’s Memorial Day is different for me. It has more meaning and has a more real context than any time in my life. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to serve on The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonel’s Honor Flight on May 16th as a Guardian. That experience changed my life forever. In my family growing up we always celebrated Memorial Day, or “Decoration Day” as my dad called it. That was actually the holiday’s first name. It began in the years immediately following the Civil War, at which time it was observed primarily as a day for “decorating” military graves with flowers and commemorating the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. By the twentieth century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died in all wars while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
I’m often astonished at the lack of honor some display toward our Veterans. For us who sacrifice little—if anything—and yet have no qualms about enjoying the luxury and freedom provided by this country we belie our lack of gratitude with our cavalier attitudes toward those who have served our country. We should hold to the true meaning of this day. Alas, for too many Americans, Memorial Day has come to mean nothing more than another three-day weekend, albeit the one on which the beaches open, signifying the beginning of summer. Unfortunately, the tendency to see the holiday as merely an opportunity to attend a weekend cook-out obscures even the vestiges of what the day was meant to observe: a solemn time, serving both as catharsis for those who fought and survived, and to ensure that those who follow will not forget the sacrifice of those who died that the American Republic and the principles that sustain it, might live. Some examples might help us to understand what this really means.
These examples were plentiful for those of us taking part in the Honor Flight. Hearing of the sacrifices and seeing the emotions of the veterans on this trip were life changing for me. It was also a life changing experience for the Veterans as well. Allow me to share an excerpt from an email the Veteran I served as a Guardian for sent me yesterday:
“This morning particularly have been reflecting on our trip to DC . For me sharing that experience together produced a bond that seems to transcend the time we’ve known each other. At any rate reflecting today & tomorrow on the sacrifices of our fallen comrades . It seems the meaning of the day has become lost . Much like Christmas we forget it’s the celebration of our Savior’ birth. Finally 2 things: 1. YOU made our honor flight very special; 2. My life is richer having met & got to know you. God sure dealt us a good hand when he put us together. I don’t know what I would have felt if you hadn’t been with me.” ~ Dr, Jerry McCandless, Korean War Veteran
I am humbled at the thought of those who have put themselves in harms way on my/our behalf…people they don’t know. The beauty of the Honor flight is it gives us the chance to really get to know one another. The Honor Flight gave me the opportunity to better understand our nation’s history and appreciate the price paid for our freedom. I encourage all to find some way to serve our Veterans, whether through serving on an Honor Flight, or some other volunteer service. We need to all commit our time, talents, or treasures to our Veterans. Thank you to everyone who has served and those who are serving us through our military and our great country. I am in awe of all our heroes on this Memorial Day!
This past Thursday I had the opportunity to go with good friend, Kevin Eikenberry, to the NCAA tournament game where Purdue played Cincinnatti. The game was held in the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky. I was excited to be going because it was my first NCAA Tournament game. Kevin had been to many of these and got tired of me saying, “We are in the house!” Sorry Kevin!
Obviously the outcome of the game was not what we wanted, but that really turned out to be a lesser story of the trip. Something astonishing happened and we were both reminded how important it is to help your fellow-man. Long-story-short, we hit something in the road and it literally punctured the tire and went through the rim on my friend’s BMW. We tried to change the tire along the interstate, but had some difficulty. That’s a whole other story that the two farm boys in the BMW are still figuring out how to tell! Anyway, we called AAA, and then (since the tire and rim were both already ruined) drove to the next exit – Exit 41 on I 65, the Uniontown/Crothersville, Indiana exit.
We then limped into the exit, pulled into the Marathon station, and began working on the car again. Remember, you have two farm boys here wanting to fix the tire. We then got a message back from AAA that it would be an hour before help arrived. This would have got us to the game late. Little did we know there were Good Samaritans at Exit 41.
An interesting thing happened at the gas station, Uniontown Marathon- RMD 64 (pictured here in the post) on the way to the tournament. Every single person that pulled into that gas station/mini mart while we were there attempted to help us. No lie – every single one. We were amazed! One lady knew BMWs and was explaining the wheel locks and another was googling BMWs for us. Then we had a car full of fellow Purdue Boilermaker fans wanting to make room in the car for us and get us to the game. I looked at Kevin and said, “I’ll see you at the game!” Really, I did say that, but I did not leave him.
Then, along came a man that knew exactly what to do. Bottom line: he made it possible for us to change the tire and get on the road. We are both so appreciative of everyone who asked to help us. We are both also still astonished that every single person who pulled into that station asked to help. How many times have you pulled in somewhere and seen someone with a broken down car or some other need and thought you were too busy to help? I am ashamed to say I have. But, from the modeling and coaching of our friends at the Uniontown/Crothersville exit, I hope to be a better neighbor!
In reflecting on and deciding how to tell this story (there is quite a bit more and gets quite funny), I thought of the ultimate story/parable teller: Jesus. I believe it would be a good reminder for us to review the story of the Good Samaritan found in the book of Luke. Luke 10: 25-37.
“Jesus told many stories, or parables, to help people learn the truth. One day a leader of the Jews asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. The Savior asked him what the scriptures said. The leader said that a man should love God and also love his neighbor. Jesus said that he was right. Then the leader asked, “Who is my neighbour?”
Jesus answered by telling the man a story. One day a Jewish man was walking on the road to the city of Jericho. Thieves robbed and beat him. They left the man on the road, almost dead. Soon a Jewish priest came by and saw the man. The priest walked by on the other side of the road. He did not help the man. Another Jewish man who worked in the temple came by. He saw the injured man. But he did not help the man either and walked by on the other side of the road.
Then a Samaritan man came along. The Jews and the Samaritans did not get along. But when the Samaritan saw the man, he felt sorry for him. He took care of the man’s wounds and put clothes on him. The Samaritan took the man to an inn and cared for him until the next day. When the Samaritan had to leave, he gave money to the innkeeper and told him to take care of the man.
After Jesus told this story, He asked the Jewish leader which of the three men was a neighbor to the injured man. The leader said that the Samaritan was because he had helped the man. Jesus told the Jewish leader to be like the Samaritan.”
So what do we learn from this story? We must be willing to get involved. Good intentions don’t cut it! None of the people at the Uniontown Marathon – RMD 64 were just saying they wanted to help; they all truly got involved in some way. They were “walking the talk.” We may quote scripture and recite platitudes on love and God, but unless we are willing to get involved in the lives of others, we are only blowing smoke. The Samaritan treated and bandaged the wounds. He set the injured man on his donkey. He took him to an inn and cared for him throughout the night. The Samaritan could have said to himself, “I give regularly to my church. I donate to the Salvation Army every Christmas. I have done my part.” But he didn’t. As the scriptures say, he had compassion…and he acted on it.
So here are three things we need to do:
1. Don’t refuse to help when you are able.
2. Never assume someone else will do it. Take personal responsibility.
3. You may suffer for doing well, but helping someone in need is truly worth it.
Next time you have an opportunity to serve someone in need (a motorist in distress on the highway, a person under a cloud of depression, a friend in a financial bind, a single parent being overwhelmed by a rebellious child, a stressed-out coworker…) what will your reaction be? Will you be the religious law-speaking type or the proactive law-living type?
Thanks again to the folks in Uniontown and Crothersville last Thursday evening for giving us a modern day parable to live by.
Actually, I am writing about a disappointment I had in church this morning. During the prayer request time a young girl stated that her family had just got a bunch of baby chicks to raise and that one was not doing very well. Some in the church giggled and our preacher really did not even acknowledge the little girl. In other words, just brushing it off. The preacher even made it seem awkward and as if he did not know what to say. Needless to say, I was very disappointed and appalled at the missing of a great opportunity to teach a young person about prayer. Let me tell you, as a farm boy, I have done my share of praying for animals of all ages and kinds (sometimes that they would not hurt me).
So what do I think the preacher should have done? Well, take the opportunity to thank the youngster for the prayer request and talk to the congregation about how every prayer is important, particularly to the person making it. Also, make it very clear, there is never a time that God responds to our prayers with this thought: “I just don’t get it.” God has been the “Deer In The Headlights!” Remember a very important part of the New Testament story – God came to earth as a human, lived among us, and was then killed by us. God, a human? Stunning truth. But he remembers. “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 MSG) How cool is that!
He has “Street Creds!” God knows how you feel and what you need.
And, this is big time, “he knows what you need before you ask him.” (Mt. 6:8) You don’t have to be perfect in your prayer request. God doesn’t need our counsel or advice. “Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isa. 65:24) And, you don’t need others’ approval as to whether a prayer request is important or not. If it is important to you, it is important to God.
This young girl needs to realize that prayer changes things because God changes things. Prayer makes a difference because God is determined to make a difference. Prayer matters because each of us matters to God. I pray constantly during the day. I even pray for things like parking spaces and for meetings to go well. I do not believe there are any stupid prayers. I know there are those that do, but I just don’t believe in a God that would laugh at or make fun of my prayer requests or think them beneath him. I’ve just had too many times of pulling into a full parking lot after saying a little prayer and having a front row, primo parking place open up. I’ve also had too many big favors happen from God that I did not even know to pray for. It’s interesting to me that I really pray for the small stuff and God takes care of the really big stuff that I can’t even imagine.
So, is praying for the health of a baby chick important enough for prayer? YES! There isn’t anything of too little importance for you to ask God! Don’t forget what God said, “I know the thoughts I think towards you…thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope…call upon me and pray to me and I will listen to you.” (Jer. 29:11) Remember, he gets it. He has “been there, done that” for all of us!