where religion and politics meet

Everybody has a worldview. A worldview is what you believe about life: what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what are the rules, are there any rules, what is the meaning of life, what is important, what is not.

If a worldview includes a god/God, it is called a religion. If a bunch of people have the same religion, they give it a name.

Nations have worldviews too, a prevailing way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Politics is the outworking of that worldview in public life.

Our country’s worldview used to be Christianity. Now we are told it is and has always been secularism, which is practical atheism. This issue divides our country, but those who disagree are divided as well on how to respond.

Our country could not have been founded as a secular nation, because a secular country could not guarantee freedom of religion. Secular values would be higher than religious ones, and they would supersede them when there was a conflict. Secularism sees religion only as your personal preferences, like your taste in food, music, or movies. It does not see religion, any religion, as being true.

But God, prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments were always important parts of our public life, including our public schools, until 1963, when the court called supreme ruled them unconstitutional, almost 200 years after our nation’s founding.

Our country also did not envision a multitude of different religions co-existing in one place, because the people, and the government, would then be divided on the basic questions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Our Constitution, which we fought a war to be able to enact, states, among other things, that our government exists for us to form a more perfect union, ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. It could not do this unless it had a clear vision of what it considers to be true, a vision shared with the vast majority of the people in this country.

I want to engage the government, the culture, and the people who live here to see life again from a Christian perspective and to show how secularism is both inadequate and just plain wrong.

Because religion deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, though the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation, critical thinking, and a hunger for what is true.

Science and education used to be valuable tools in the search for truth, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions of life without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary, possible, or worthwhile.

poligion: 1) the proper synthesis of religion and politics 2) the realization, belief, or position that politics and religion cannot be separated or compartmentalized, that a person’s religion invariably affects one’s political decisions and that political decisions invariably stem from one’s worldview, which is what a religion is.

If you are new to this site, I would encourage you to browse through the older articles. They deal with a lot of the more basic issues. Many of the newer articles are shorter responses to partiular problems.

Visit my other websites theimportanceofhealing blogspot.com where I talk about healing and my book of the same name and LarrysBibleStudies.blogspot.com where I am posting all my other Bible studies. Follow this link to my videos on youtube:


If you want to contact me, email is best: lacraig1@sbcglobal.net

Thank you.

Larry Craig

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Children of Gay Couples

The Children of Gay Couples:
The Underlying Issues
Religion is increasingly being discarded today in Western Civilization, because it is considered anti-science.  I will leave it to you to provide examples if you want them, because I would be raising questions I would feel compelled to answer here.
The latest case in point has to do with the idea of family.  No, I have not studied every culture in the world, but that would not be necessary anyway.  The presence of variations would not prove or disprove a norm. 
A norm has to be assumed, unless you have an authority that can tell you how things are supposed to be.  This is what religions do.  They tell us what life is all about.  However, they disagree with each other, so people have the responsibility to evaluate them to decide which religion is the most truthful.  Which also makes the assumption that there is a God behind everything as well.  Which is also being disputed.
So let’s take a step back for a second and try to see the bigger picture. 
We are born into a world.  Probably the first thing we notice is this uncomfortable feeling in our stomachs which goes away when we suck on this thing put into our mouths.  We grow up, and we have other uncomfortable feelings or urges that we try to alleviate or fulfill, just to make ourselves feel better.
But we are taught early on that there is more to life than just meeting these biological impulses, and this is what growing up is really all about.  There are things that we ‘ought’ to do.  A cynical child might ask ‘Why?’  The usual response might be, “Because I’m the mom.”
At a very young age, we are confronted with authority, something that tells us what to do with or without any explanation why we are to do it.
As we go through life, we could conceivably question everything we do or see, but generally we accept what society in general agrees upon, otherwise every generation is reinventing the wheel, and we never progress beyond the most primitive culture. 
But from time to time, society is questioned; and if no good reason can be given why something has always been done in a certain way, a new way is offered and accepted.  Though there are always quite a few who resist and insist that the old way is better.
I mentioned family as the latest case in point, and even here we are being asked to define what we mean.  Everybody used to know what a family was, but now society is asking the question all over again.
But how do you answer the question?  Do we take a poll and whatever the majority of people think it is, that is what it is?  Meaning, in another 20 years, we can take another poll and get a very different answer, and so, what, we change the definition again? 
But there is something new going on here, new ground that we are breaking as a society which should cause us to stop and really think about what we are doing.
Each of us has one life.  If you want to go through your life and reinvent the wheel according to your own satisfaction and try to establish your own justification for everything you do, you may spend your whole questioning everything, and when you get to the end of your life, you still won’t have all the answers, but you will have a lot of things you wish you had done differently, and you hope your children will learn from your mistakes, and we are back to the idea of people accepting an outside authority on how to live their lives.
But it’s your life.  But that is no longer the case.  Now we are taking that individual right to question everything and make our own decisions, and we are having other people live with the consequences.  It’s like you’re the one eating the junk food and somebody else is getting fat and dies from the heart attack.
All through human history, men and women have joined together to create and raise the next generation.  Whether you believed in evolution or God, it was understood that family was this union of a man, a woman, and their children.  There was something about having children that changed people.  They discovered a love that they never would have imagined, where they would give up everything in an instant for the sake of that child.
What has forever been assumed, either from religion or tradition, which is the accumulated human experience, is that mothers and fathers are what God or nature intended as the preferred means of raising a child, but we are now being asked (asked? It is being demanded.) that we discard this as ignorance, because we now know better. 
And how do we know this?  Actually we don’t.  It will be taught in our schools to our children that this is settled science, but that would not be true.
But here’s the kicker.  Unlike previous issues where, if we are wrong, we will live with the regrets, here it is the next generation which will suffer the consequences.
We are now going on record as saying that a child not only doesn’t need its natural mother and father, but any advantages of its having that are insignificant enough to be ignored.

If children grew on trees and didn’t require an upbringing, nobody would care about marriage, gay or otherwise.  For science to prove that it doesn’t matter whether children grow up with their natural fathers and mothers versus removing at least one and maybe never knowing who its actual parents are would take 20 years and involve thousands of children from birth to adulthood.  And who would be the ones paying the most for our mistakes?  The ones that we claimed to love the most, the children.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

School Funding in Illinois: A Solution

School Funding in Illinois: A Solution

I would like to offer my solution for the problem of funding the public schools in Illinois.  It’s simple and easy.  The only problem with it would be the politicians, who have proven themselves to be dishonest and untrustworthy time and again.  This is not to say that they all are, of course, but the sum total of them together has led invariably to self-serving manipulation of the public trust.
But we can’t stop trying, so I offer my proposal.
Our current system of property taxes puts limits on our children’s education based on the income of their parents, people who elect to send their children to private schools are forced to pay twice for their children’s education, and the value of my property has nothing to do with my ability to pay taxes on it. 
I didn’t realize until I was out of work for a lengthy period of time the injustice of property taxes.  Why should I pay a tax on a fixed asset with no liquid assets available?  I couldn’t take a few feet off my property line to pay my taxes, so I became a believer in taxing incomes for schools.
First, the state needs to set a dollar amount for each student in the state to receive an adequate education, say, $6000.  Multiply this by the total enrollment in public schools, and this is the amount to be collected by the state through income taxes specifically for this purpose.  I would be all in favor of using this 2% income tax due to end soon as the room to work here.  The 2% should be able to cover this and could be adjusted to equal what is needed.   If the state wants to use lottery or casino profits, fine; but this total amount will be paid by the state and any shortfall will come through the income tax. 
Secondly, all property taxes in the state are then to be adjusted to reflect this drop in revenue needed at the local level. The amount apportioned to each district would be subtracted from the amount to be collected in that district through property taxes.  If a school district had one hundred properties that collected $100,000 a year in school funds through property taxes, and the state’s share will pay $90,000 to that district, then the total amount of property taxes to be raised for schools would be reduced by $90,000. 
Thirdly, all local districts are still free to raise revenue above the state minimum as they deem fit, but every district will receive an adequate funding level as established by the state.
This should provide immediate property tax relief for everyone.  Landlords would be expected to provide some corresponding rent relief to their tenants as well.  This plan will also provide necessary property tax relief for those on fixed incomes or no incomes.  People should not be taxed out of their homes.
Another part of this tax change is that people who send their children to private schools should receive a tax credit up to the amount that their taxes go for education.  So, if on my state property taxes next year, $1,000 of my taxes goes for education, but I spend $1500 on tuition for a private school for my children, I should receive a $1,000 tax credit.  If, however, I only spend $500 on tuition, then a $500 tax credit. 
Private schools are an asset to our county, and we are losing too many of them.  Having to pay huge property taxes, most of which goes for schooling, and then to pay on top of that for school again is forcing too many people to just stay with the public schools. 
A good education for everyone benefits everyone.  And paying for it from the income tax is the fairest way to do it.  We just need to be sure that renters get a break as well and that those districts that want to pay more can do so.
Now the hardest part of all this is that our government would need to keep this money separate from the general revenues.  The people in Washington didn’t do it with Social Security, and it’s not likely those in Illinois will do much better, but I think this is the best proposal I have seen.
It relieves the burden of property taxes, it relieves the double burden of those who choose private education, and it guarantees adequate funding for even the poorer school districts.  The only problem is that a part of the government will have a positive cash flow, and that would be like leaving a steak on the kitchen table and your dog in the same room while you’re out doing your errands.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Open Letter to the Supreme Court of the United State

An Open Letter to the Supreme Court of the United States

Greetings, honored justices!
I wish you well, but, alas, I wish that were the only reason for my writing.
If the United States of America were ever to cease from being a nation or otherwise fundamentally change so as to be essentially a different nation, which can only be considered not a good thing, the fault would be entirely your own.
I can even tell you the single thing that would have been most responsible for this to have occurred.
I can even put that single thing into one word: religion.
You have insisted that our governments, and all our public entities supported with public money, cannot favor one religion over another, or even religion over non-religion.
Honored justices, indeed, this one statement more than any other will explain the decline and fall of Western Civilization itself, if it goes that far.
The reason I am so certain of this is that religion, properly defined, has been at the source of our nation’s founding and Western Civilization.  And this is where the problem lies.
A religion is a set of beliefs about reality, a worldview.  A worldview is a description of how life works, what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad, what are the rules, are there any rules.   A religion is a worldview that believes that there is a God and then purports to give information about God, because if there were a god/God, this would certainly have an effect on life as it pertains to human beings.
So everybody has a worldview.  And if they believe in God, it is called a religion.
Governments, nations, countries all have worldviews as well, a basic core or system of beliefs that guides the government’s laws and policies, a nation’s culture, a country’s identity. 
To deny a nation the right to define itself with a worldview that includes God is not only wrong but destructive. 
But, but, but . . . .
what about the First Amendment?
The best way to answer that question is with a question.  Wouldn’t it be fair to assume that the people who wrote and ratified the Constitution and Bill of Rights would have understood what they meant and then acted in ways consistent with their meaning, rather than promoting practices that were found to be unconstitutional, by you, 150 years later?
That very first Congress authorized the printing of Bibles for use in public schools.  The Congress hall itself was used as a church on Sundays for over 100 years starting from our country’s earliest days.
Religion is not a list of personal preferences, as one’s taste in music, one’s favorite authors, one’s favorite food, or chocolate over vanilla.  It is a claim to truth.
Our nation’s Founders saw that in the Bible and Christianity. 
Every nation has laws against murder, but that is very different from teaching our children that life is valuable, because humans are created in the image of God.
Our nation teaches us to tolerate other people, which essentially means to ignore them.  Christianity, and the Bible, teach us to love other people, to actively seek their good.
In the early days of our country, people who didn’t believe in God were not even allowed to serve on juries or in most cases even run for public office.  Or if they could, they would never have won.  Why?  Nobody trusted them.  It was the belief that God held people accountable for their actions that gave people their integrity, and those who didn’t believe in God and an afterlife were seen as more likely to act in their own self-interest. 
Sure there were nice, honest atheists then, as there are today, but there is nothing in their belief system that would require that, so that, even if they were such in the present time, nobody then believed that this would hold enough in trying circumstances.
Some people have contended that all things religious should be taught in the home.
I have to ask, what home?  We have taught our daughters, as a nation, that it is more important to have a career, or a job, than to have a family.  And our economic policies have made it harder for our women to stay at home even if they wanted to. 
And our men are less likely to marry and raise their children than at any time in history. 
Worldview.  Marrying and raising children together is a Biblical and Christian principle.  Certainly you don’t have to be Christian to have a wonderful family, but without Christianity it wouldn’t be taught as ideal, but one option among many.  True, some other religions teach that as well, but only religions. 
So for a government to be neutral toward religion is really saying that a nation must necessarily say and live and act and teach that for all practical purposes there is no God.  And the biggest consequence of this is that government now assumes the role that God used to play in people’s lives.  Yes, people can still believe what they want in their hearts, but the government becomes the nation’s keeper rather than each of us his brother’s.
When our nation was founded, and you should know this, the big question about religion was whether churches were to be a function of the federal government, as it was in Europe.  The answer they gave was no.  That is what was meant in the First Amendment by establishing religion. 
And the simplest proof of that was the very actions of that First Congress: establishing Congressional chaplains, calling for a national day of prayer, paying for missionary work among the Indians, printing Bibles for public schools, even opening every day’s business with prayer.
Christianity defined the (unwritten) rules for our nation: God, love, honor, work, responsibility, family, honesty, integrity.  Now our nation, our culture, our government tries to make new rules to define our existence: self-actualization; fairness; equality; tolerance; government as benefactor, ruler, protector; and diversity, which is another way of saying: 'not on the same page.'.
The result is a nation without a sense of responsibility, whether for others or even for one’s self.  A nation of increasing violence, seeing others as obstacles to one’s personal happiness rather than as sharers and contributors to it. 
We embrace multiculturalism, because we don’t value our own.  We no longer know what made us what we are or why we ever were like that.
A nation has to decide what kind of nation we will be, what principles define us and guide us.  Christianity used to define us.  You decided that we could no longer do that, contrary to our entire previous history.  And what you left us is a secularism, bereft of any personal accountability, duties, obligations, or restraints, apart from that owed to our government or imposed on ourselves by ourselves.
To tell our government to be neutral to religion is to tell us to draw without lines, to write without words, to speak without language, to build a house without walls or foundation.
I have written elsewhere about the four myths of a secular government in America.  It is available on my blog, poligion1.blogspot.com, but I will send you a copy. 
As I said, I wish you well, but I strongly urge you to reconsider your church-state rulings because you have removed the rudder from the ship of state.
Thank you.
Larry Craig

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ten Things Lawmakers Do

Ten Things Lawmakers Do
any of which should be grounds for losing their job
I thought about doing a top ten list where these would be ranked by how bad they were, but then I think all of them are betrayals of the public trust.  There should be consequences, but the only recourse it seems these same people have left us is to vote them out of office, and they pretty much rigged that as well.
1)         They gerrymander the districts.  I know, gerrymandering has been around since the early 1800s, but then we still have laws against prostitution, and that’s the world’s oldest profession.  So the prevalence of an activity is not an indicator of its morality or its legality.  Besides, if prostitutes wrote the laws, do you think prostitution would still be illegal?
But they can do things now with computers that nobody would have imagined back then.  Districts can be drawn now by almost any demographic you can think of: voting patterns, age, race, ethnicity, religion, education level, wealth, government dependency.  Districts can and are drawn to maximize or minimize the voting power of any number of groups, though, of course, everyone thinks it’s all about political parties.  I’m not so sure.  Are all, say, Democratic voters the same in their eyes?  Perhaps it would be more advantageous to put more poor minority voters in one district or maybe spread them out over several. 
The fact is that districts are put together for the sake of the political parties and not the voters.  I live in a town of 30,000 people.  For a time, our town was divided into 4 Congressional districts.  That has since changed, but you can’t look at the maps of the Congressional districts in Illinois, or just about any other state, without seeing clearly that these districts are drawn for political reasons and not the benefit of the constituents. 
The reason that representatives are elected every two years is to keep them close to and responsive to the people they represent.  The Founders saw this as the people’s way to express their approval or disapproval of the way they were being represented.   All this has essentially been nullified by creating districts based on voting patterns to favor their own candidates.
Representative districts should be drawn by people who have no access to any demographic but where people live.  Having any other information available will only lead to abuse, if not now, certainly in the future.
2)         They spend money they don’t have.  They see their roles as helping people by spending money on them, but they only look at how much they want to spend and not whether there is any money actually there for them to spend.  But more than just helping people, they see this as the way to ensure their future.  The recipients of these favors become loyal voters, and that’s the important thing.
3)         They make laws that don’t apply to themselves.  This was seen in full display with Obamacare, where waivers were traded for votes.  This was supposed to be one of the safeguards that was to prevent Congressmen from corruption: they would soon return to normal life and live under the laws they made.
4)         They make their own rules.  This is similar to the last one.  I have often asked: who makes the laws for the lawmakers?  Who set their pensions? Who crafted their health plans?  Who decided their pay levels?  Who decides if a law should be debated, and how long?  Who decides if the details of a law are made public before passage of the law?
The majority party in the Senate recently voted to change the rules so that the minority party couldn’t stop the majority party from confirming the President’s appointees for various judgeships.  Now who was being irresponsible here?  The minority party or the majority party?  Depends who you ask.  But who loses?  Ultimately we do.
5)         They essentially exclude third party possibilities.  They would love to have only one political party (their own), but they will settle for two.  But not more than two.  When you have only two, the country will swing from one to the other as it reacts to the failures of the party in power.  But a viable third party could force some real change. 
Under current election rules, a third party only reduces the number of votes needed for victory.  Which means actually that a person can win an election without getting a majority of the vote.  In recent years, this has been more of an advantage to the Democrats rather than to the Republicans, but changing the rules could lead to some unintended consequences, like neither Republicans or Democrats winning, so better to leave well enough alone.
What is needed is either to have runoff elections when no one receives more than half the votes, or in elections with more than two candidates, voters should be able to rank their choices.
6)         They write bills that people don’t or can’t read.  Our Founders didn’t intend that Representatives had to be lawyers.  Just good, decent, smart people who would serve for a few years and then go back to their regular lives. 
The bills are just too big and cumbersome to read.  The people who write them don’t want them to be read.  That way people would find out what is actually in them.
Obamacare was over 2800 pages long; the recent appropriations bill was over 1500 pages.  We were told we had to pass the bill to find out what is in it.  The person who said that should be removed from office immediately.

Ten Things Lawmakers Do
any of which should be grounds for losing their job  Part 2

7)         They put too many things in a bill so that they can’t all be debated. When a bill is 2800 pages long, like Obamacare, how many issues do you think need to be debated or discussed?  I know some of them were discussed in committees, but if I am the representative of my district, I have a responsibility to know what I am voting on and to have my questions answered.
This is one reason why the immigration bill is taking so long.  There are too many big issues involved, but those who are in favor of it want to keep it that way.  Why?
8)         They put too many things in a bill so that you have to take the bad with the good.   Some people call this necessary compromises.  But they misrepresent the case, so they can continue their underhandedness. 
Why should anyone accept things they don’t like or want, if there was a way not to do it?  The reason, of course, why they do this is that these matters would not pass on their own.  So they stick it with something else and hope you either don’t notice it, or you feel you can’t reject the whole thing just for this one little thing over here. 
But then it’s not usually one. 
Now this certainly includes earmarks, where, say, someone puts in funding for a local park in a health care bill, but the intention is to make the bill as long as possible.
9)         And, of course, they vote on bills they haven’t read.  They may know the major parts of the bill, the broad outline of what the bill does, but there could be dozens of items they don’t know about or would rather weren’t there.
10        They then rush votes on bills to avoid debate and public comment.  Everything is always a crisis that requires immediate action.  The debt ceiling agreement is hashed out the day before the ceiling is reached.  Obamacare was passed in the middle of the night during Christmas week, I believe. 
And these people are representing us? 

I close with a quote from the Federalist Papers that shows a little how lawmakers were expected to think.

“(T)he House of Representatives is so constituted as to support in the members an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people.  Before the sentiments impressed on their minds by the mode of their elevation can be effaced by the exercise of power, they will be compelled to anticipate the moment when their power is to cease, when their exercise of it is to be reviewed, and when they must descend to the level from which they were raised; there forever to remain unless a faithful discharge of their trust shall have established their title to a renewal of it.  I will add, as a fifth circumstance in the situation of the House of Representatives, restraining them from oppressive measure, that they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society.    This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together.  It creates between them that communion of interests and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.  If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society?   I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.  If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.”

Federalist no. 57

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Qualities of a Leader: 1. Character

The Qualities of a Leader:
1.             Character

                Leadership always involves other people.  “If you think you are leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.”  p. 5  So we need to ask ourselves: are we the type of person that other people want to follow?  Do other people want to be around us, listen to us, care about us?

                The focus today is on character.  Character is who you are.  You act out of who you are.  What you are is what you will do.

                Life can send a lot of junk your way.  Much of it you will have no control over.  But you can control how you will respond to it.  You can control what kind of person you become.  (As a side note, your character is one of the most important things you have.  Every skill or ability you have will diminish either through disuse or age, but who are you are as a person can always improve.)  “Talent is a gift, but character is a choice,”  p. 4

What are you becoming that will inspire others to follow you?  What qualities of character are important for people who will lead others?

                1)            Caring.       If I want someone to follow me, they need to know that I care about them.  This is a business, of course; and the bottom line is the bottom line.  But if I want my people to care for the business, I need to let my people know that I, we, care for them.  A leader knows that someone will care more if they know they are cared for.

Some speak of keeping a professional distance from everyone for the sake of remaining impartial.  This is well in keeping with the goal of management, but it will be harder for a leader to inspire the troops to care for the company if he/she does not care for them.  The team leader is the face of the company to the team members.  If their immediate leader shows no concern for them, why would they think the company does?

                2)            Consistency.    I need to care and I need to be consistent in that.  If I act as if I care one minute and then I need to correct something in one of my team members, they need to know that I still care.  If I send mixed messages, they will accept the worst one as the truth.  You don’t care more than you do at your worst.  Anyone can smile when everything is going good.  If you can’t smile at your people when things are going hard, they you don’t really care about them.  They will know it, and the work environment will not be 100%.

                3)            Keeping your word. People need to trust you.  A big part of that is following through on what you say.  And if you only see that in the negative sense, you are a manager, not a leader.

                4)            Confidence.  Perhaps more of a knowledge thing here than character.  You need to know where you are going and how to get there.  People need to know that you know what you are doing.,

The Qualities of a Leader: 2. Charisma

The Qualities of a Leader:

2.             Charisma

I have yet to find the man,
however exalted his station, who did not
do better work and put forth greater effort under a
spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.
-- Charles Schwab, Industrialist

In other words, no matter who you are, you will work better in an atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation rather than in an atmosphere of criticism and constraint.   At Whole Foods, we encourage expressions of appreciation, but this is done for extraordinary acts that deserve special recognition.  There are probably 80% or more of our workforce who may never get a word of appreciation.  Everyday, when I leave for the night, I take the time to say “Good night” to everyone on my team and I say “Thank you.”

I worked for a place one time where my boss was the owner.  He was also probably one of the smartest and best meat cutters I have ever worked with.  He had very high expectations and wanted everything done in a certain way.  I never made so many mistakes in my life.  I was embarrassed.  I would go home tired, feeling like I had wasted a day of my life.  After about two months, I made a bigger mistake and he fired me.  Within a week I was a manager at another meat market and doing very well. 

What was the difference?  In the one case, I was living under the expectations of another, where every job had to be done in a certain way in a certain time and I was watched pretty much the whole time I was doing it.  In the other case, I was given the freedom to make many of my own decisions, freedom to work according to my personality.

To get my people doing the best they can do, they have to want to.  If I just give them a bunch of rules to follow, I may very well suck the life out of them as they keep all these rules in their minds and keep from breaking any of them. 

Maxwell uses the word ‘charisma’ to describe that quality that draws people to oneself.  And this is what leaders need to inspire people to follow them and to do their best.  Some people are born with great personalities, but he says we can cultivate many of the qualities that leaders need. 

1.             Look for the good in your people.  Celebrate it, encourage it, use it.

2.             Share of yourself with your people. 

3.             Give them hope. 

The guy I worked for had high standards, and I like to think that I have high standards too.  The difference is that I know it may take some time for my people to reach those standards, and my people know that I will be with them in that journey.

The Qualities of a Leader: 4. Communication

The Qualities of a Leader:

4.  Communication

To persuade others you must talk in terms of their wants. 
You must know their needs, their hopes, their ambitions, their fears.
Know to “what gods they pray and what kind of fights they have,”
know what songs they sing, and what sentiments they applaud.
William Norwood Brigance, Speech: Its Techniques and Disciplines in a Free Society, 2nd ed., p. 112

                To truly be a leader, you first need to know where you are going and how to get there.  Then you need to be able to communicate that to your followers.  And this is where it can get tricky.  Your job is to get a person or persons from point A to point B.  And when they get there, they need to be happy, enthused, and full of energy.  We don’t just want compliance to the standards and rules of Whole Foods, we want an exuberance which can be felt by every person who comes into our store.  This is what can set us apart from our competitors.  If we get compliance but we suck the joy out of our team, we have accomplished nothing. 

                Communication: that is the fourth indispensable quality that Maxwell says leaders need.  It must be competent, clear, and consistent.  We usually understand this kind of communication as our telling our team the rules and expectations of the company.  But that is only a small part of our communication.  It’s not just what we say but how we say it.  It’s not just what we say with our words but what we say with our lives.  The fact is we are always communicating something to our team, and we don’t always know what is speaking the loudest.

                Abraham Maslov was a famous psychologist who developed a commonly used theory of personality to understand human behavior.  He lists the basic human needs from lowest to highest, with the highest being what he calls self-actualization.  “The need for self-actualization refers to the need to develop the full potentialities of the person.”  (Clifford T. Morgan and Richard A. King, Introduction to Psychology, 3rd ed., p. 494)

                We have said before that not everyone who works for us will want to find the meaning of their lives in selling groceries or promoting healthy living among our customers.  But they need to find meaning for them to be truly happy.  Now the fact is we are not a church, a mental health clinic, or a therapy group.  But, according to Maslov, if a person’s lower needs are not met, he/she will never get around to doing much for the higher needs. 

                And what are some of these lower needs?   Things like food and shelter, security, stability, order, affection, prestige, and success.  Most of our people spend a lot of time here, and they’re here just to make a living.  I try to make this the most fun they can have and still call it work.   One of my guys was recently complaining about someone on our team, and I told him, “Working back here is like a party without the balloons.  Don’t let this ruin your fun.”

                I have said that I am committed to the people on my team.  If I just fire someone who is having problems, that doesn’t take any leadership skills.  Some managers like to keep their people “on their toes”, so to speak.  They think they might work better if they had to fight to keep their jobs.  Is that true?  Do I feel secure in my job?  No, not at all.  Why?  For various reason, but I see a company that is used to seeing people coming and going, and it would get along quite well without me. 

                But the more important question is:  does this insecurity make me more productive?   No, I don’t think so.  I do my best for other reasons; but for me, negative, stressful feelings on the job only take away from the energy I want and need to do my best.  I would rather my people do their best because this is the best job they ever had and this is the best company they could ever work for than for them to always wonder if they are ever doing good enough.

The Qualities of a Leader: 5. Competence

The Qualities of a Leader:

5.             Competence

                The fifth quality of a leader is competence.  It answers the question: how good do you want to be?  In your work.  In your character.  In your relationships. 

                We talk about the need for leaders to inspire the troops, but that’s more than just giving them pep talks.  Give them the pep talks.  That’s good.  Then there’s the inspiration that comes when someone is honestly impressed by either what we know, what we do, or what we are. 

                So we go back to our original questions:

                How good do you want to be in your work?  Do you want to be good enough, or do you want to be the best?  Being the best means two things:  On the one hand, we are often compared to other stores, other departments, or other regions.  But that may only be a measure of our competitors.   Would you rather be the batting champion in the minor leagues, or in the top ten in the majors?   The best quarterback in college or a starting quarterback in the NFL?

                Of the 18 stores in the Midwest Region, do you care where you stand in comparison to them?  Where are you content to be?  Do you want to be first, or are you content to be fifth?   Becoming first may be unrealistic or so far unlikely that you’re not going to lose any sleep over it.  But then we said that being the best in your work can mean two things: being the best compared with the others, and being the best that we can be.  Do you really want to do better than you are now, or are you content to just do the job?  I grant you, when I get out of work, I am tired.  There’s not much left, but I can’t work any other way.  You do your best.  If I can’t be the best overall, I will be the best I can be.

                The second question is: how good do you want to be in your character?   What good are you doing if you are the best grocer, the best merchandiser in the world, but you’re a complete jerk personally?  What good is it if you can build a display, but you can’t build your own life?  That display you built will come down in two weeks, but what you are will be with you forever.  That display can be knocked over by one ten year old child, but what you are, you can keep building on it and building on it. 

                Nobody wants to follow a jerk.

                The third question is: how good do you want to be in your relationships?  When you want your people to go that extra mile, sometimes they are going to have to want to do it for you.  For our people to do their very best, they have to want to do it for themselves, they have to want to do it for the company, and they have to want to do it for you.  All these three factors will enter into the situation at one time or another.  Are you working to build relationships with your team?  I don’t mean going fishing with them or drinking beer after work, but do you actually talk with them about things other than what to do next or what they are doing wrong?  Do you actually listen to them and care about what things are on their minds?  And do they know that you actually care about them and their welfare?

Competence goes beyond words.
It’s the leader’s ability to say it, plan it, and do it
in such a way that others know that you know how ---
and know that they want to follow you. 
                                p. 30

When was the last time you gave a task your absolute best
even though nobody but you would know about it?

                p. 36

The Qualities of a Leader: 6. Courage

The Qualities of a Leader:
6.  Courage
One person with courage is a majority.

Caution:  This quality may be hazardous to your career.  But then, without it, you won’t amount to much anyway.
                We’ve all seen movies or read books about heroes, that person who risks life and limb to save a life or to save the world.  We admire them and may secretly even wish we were like them, but often these same qualities that cause one to rise up in a crisis are the same qualities that rock the boat in lesser circumstances.

                “Courage deals with principle, not perception.  If you don’t have the ability to see when to stand up and the conviction to do it, you’ll never be an effective leader.  Your dedication to potential must remain stronger than your desire to appease others.” p. 41

Growing up, we are always told to get along with others, cooperate, share, and obey your superiors. All admirable, important qualities to have.  So much of our advancement in our careers is based on our ability to “get along,” which usually means to “go along,” to be a “team player,” which often means that your contribution to the team is limited to doing what somebody else wants rather than being a pert of the process to decide what we should all want.

“The most striking thing about highly effective leaders is how little they nave in common.  What one swears by, another warns against.  But one trait stands out: the willingness to risk.”  “Whenever you see significant progress in an organization, you know that the leader made courageous decisions.”  p.40

A courageous person is a person with a deep sense of conviction, of principle, of confidence.  In a crisis, they may not think about the dangers of the situation before acting.  They know what has to be done, the right thing to do, and they just do it.   On a smaller scale, when lives are not at stake, however, they may have arrived at the conclusions, they see something that needs to be done, and they will do it, at whatever cost, because it is the right thing to do.  The right thing to do is not always the popular or the most expedient, but in life we will often have to choose which we will do.

                ”Courage is contagious.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.”  A show of courage by any person encourages others.  But a show of courage by a leader inspires.  It makes people want to fellow him.  “Leadership is the expression of courage that compels people to do the right things.”  p. 41

The Qualities of a Leader: 7. Discernment

The Qualities of a Leader:

7.         Discernment

            Some people can see the forest without actually seeing any particular tree.  Others can see the trees but not the forest.   To get the full picture, we need both ways of seeing things.  One is not right and the other wrong.  One is not even better than the other, though in any given situation one may be more needful than the other.  The key is knowing which view is the more needed at the time. 

            Sometimes when someone is disagreeing with us, they are looking at the trees and we are looking at the forest.  Or vice versa.  The point is: if someone doesn’t see something just like we do, that doesn’t make them wrong.  Sometimes we need to see the thing in another way.

We talk about whether a cup is half full or half empty.  Well, the answer is not always simply a matter of whether one is an optimist or a pessimist.  The realist asks: what is the cup supposed to be?  If the cup is supposed to be full and it is not, then the question is: Why isn’t the cup full?  Why is it half empty? But if the cup was empty and our goal is to fill the cup, then we are halfway there; the cup is now half full.

The optimist who says the cup is half full when it is really half empty may be trying to make the most of a disappointing situation, but if he or she is to be a leader, they need to know the difference.

            The quality of discernment is the ability to know the difference.  The leader needs this ability, because problems, obstacles, and challenges will come to face any worthwhile endeavor we attempt.   When they occur, the leader has to understand the real nature of the situation.  “Discernment enables a leader to see a partial picture, fill in the missing pieces intuitively, and find the real heart of the matter.  If you can see the root issue of a problem, you can solve it.”   
p. 48

            Of all the qualities we have discussed so far, this seems to be the least teachable.  If you don’t have it now, you may never get it.  It may be the hardest to cultivate.  Why?  Because you will need to learn to see things in new ways.  And how do you do that?  One of the biggest ways is by listening.  And asking questions. 

            Few things in life are clear-cut, cut-and-dried, obvious to everyone involved.  Usually there is some subtle twist, another way of looking at something that can give it a whole new look.  And guess what?  That person with that opposite way of seeing things, the person with that different way of understanding something, may be on your team.  They may be the person you get along with the least.  They may be the person you need to listen to the most.  

The Qualities of a Leader: 8. Focus

The Qualities of a Leader:

8.             Focus

                Have you ever wondered why lion tamers hold a stool or a chair when they are in front of a lion?  Why not a baseball bat, or a stun gun, or a shield?   The answer is that when the trainer holds the stool with the legs extended toward the lion, the lion will try to focus on all four legs at once and that will paralyze it. 

                Or to put it another way, an old proverb says that, if you chase two rabbits, both will escape. 

                What this law is saying is that, if you want to accomplish anything of value, you need to focus on it.  That means knowing clearly what it is that you want.  If you don’t know what it is you want, you won’t be doing the things that you need to do to accomplish it. 

                So the first thing is to know what it is you want to do.  Sounds simple enough except I am not sure most people really know what it is they want to do with their life.  Then, when you have that figured out, you often have to break that down into its components to see what the next step is.  Maxwell tells the story of Tony Gwynn, a professional baseball player who has since retired. 

                So what kind of goals might a professional baseball player have?  He might have a goal just to stay in the major leagues, or he might have a goal to be the best baseball player there is.  But even that isn’t good enough.  What would a perfect baseball player be like?  He would hit for power and he would hit for average.  He would have great speed and catch everything hit or thrown in his direction.  And, depending on his position, he could throw the ball a long distance with both accuracy and force.   Tony focussed on being the best hitter he could be.  Nobody will remember how his fielding was, or his throwing, or his speed.  But they will remember that he was the best hitter since, perhaps, Ted Williams.

                The fact is that few players can excel in more than a few of these at the same time.  The reason?  To improve, they need to focus.  If there is too much to focus on, they will become paralyzed like the lion with the stool.  With effort a player can improve in every area, but generally it is only when he focuses on that one thing that he will excel at it. 

                There was a commercial on television some years ago about how a company was the best at what they did, because “they only did one thing.”  Few of us have that option, but there are things that we are good at.  Maxwell says that effective leaders “spend more time focussing on what they do well than on what they do wrong.”  p. 54   He recommends spending about 70% of your energy on what you do well. 

This may not be generally accepted as truth.   Some people will tell you that you need to focus on your weaknesses, and when those improve, you will be better all around.   But, “ ‘the great mystery isn’t that people do things badly but that they occasionally do a few things well.  The only thing that is universal is incompetence.  Strength is always specific!  Nobody every commented, for example, that the great violinist Jascha Heifetz probably couldn’t play the trumpet very well.’  To be successful, focus on your strengths and develop them.  That’s where you should pour your time, energy, and resources.”  p. 54

Having said all this, the fact still remains that growth involves change, and change means new things.  As adults, the only positive changes at this point in our lives come through learning and work.  To learn anything, a person needs to learn how to say both: “I don’t know” and “I was wrong.”  Both can be very hard things to do. 

So to be the best at whatever it is we want to do: first identify what your gifts and strengths are and focus on developing them.  Don’t get sidetracked on things that can distract you.  But then, be sensitive to those things that you may be avoiding that would make you better if did those too.   That’s one reason why “the meek will inherit the earth.”  They’re not too proud to say they can’t learn anything new.

The Qualities of a Leader: 9. Visionary

The Qualities of a Leader:

9.       Visionary

            Some of us who have been around a while remember the turbulence of the 60’s.  It seems just about every day some group of students in some university would take over the dean’s office and demand change.  There were marches and protests, even monks sitting in some town center and lighting themselves on fire. 

            There was Martin Luther King, who had a dream about how life should be like.  I was never a great fan of his at the time, but you had to admire his courage and his vision.  He knew his life was at risk, but he believed in what he was doing.  He believed things needed to change, and it cost him his life.

            Another noted personality from that time was Robert Kennedy, the brother of John Kennedy, the former President of the United States.  Like the other two, he also was shot and killed.  I think he was running for President himself at the time.  The thing that I remember the most about him was a quote he often used.  I don’t think it was original with him, but that’s ok.  He would say, “Some men see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’  I dream things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’”

            I remember in college we had some students who were running for Student Council or some thing like that.  They were giving short speeches in chapel one day and one guy said, “If you give the same old answers to the same old questions, you will get the same old results: nothing.”

            There are followers and there are leaders.  Being a follower offers a certain kind of safety.  Things are more certain, there are rules that tell you what to do that takes a lot of the thinking and difficult questions out of the mind.  No, I am not saying that leaders need to reinvent the wheel in every circumstance.  There is an established wisdom that we gain from those who have gone before us.

            But every innovation, every invention, every person who rises above the pack, every company, every athlete, every person who changes the world in some way realizes that if I want to be the best, if I want a better mousetrap, a faster computer, if I want to run faster than anyone who has ever run, they have all had to think of new ways of doing things.  Everybody does the old things.  Yes, we say, “do them better than everyone else and you will be the leader,” but to do something better than everyone else is more than just working harder, faster, longer.  You often have to think of new ways of doing things. 

            Unfortunately, if you are not already at the top, your ideas may not always be welcome.  This is one reason why people start their own businesses.  They see a better way and they want to be sure it gets done.

            Now don’t feel bad if you are not willing at this point in your life to risk your life (or your job) for some cause that you believe in.  Everybody has the qualities of being a leader and a follower in us to differing degrees.  I do believe, though, that everyone should have something that they believe in that they would die for if they had to, be it a spouse, your kids, your country, or your God.  I also think a leader needs the courage to do what he or she believes is right, even though they may have to pay a price to do it.

The Qualities of a Leader: 10. Generosity

The Qualities of a Leader:

10.             Generosity

                There is a story about a great wise man who had a band of followers.  He had been promising them a kingdom that they would share in ruling.  Now one day He caught them in an argument about who was the greatest among them, who would have a higher place in this kingdom.  So He says to them, Look, do you want to be great.?  Become a servant.  You want to be first in your group, then become their slave.

                When I first read Maxwell’s chapter on generosity, I admit I couldn’t at first make the connection between generosity and leadership.  Why must a leader be generous?   Then I remembered that story about the Wise Man and His followers. 

A lot of people want to become bosses.  It’s called getting ahead, or moving up.  There’s power, and often with that can come things like admiration, respect, and, oh yeah, a lot more money.  But as we said before, just because you are the boss doesn’t make you a leader.  Bossing people can get you just so far, and in the short run it may even seem to yield greater results.  But it will soon lead to things like frustration, resentment, anger, and burnout.  That is, if the employee cared in the first place.  If they didn’t really care, then it just leads to indifference and what I like to call good-enough. 

The leader knows that to get the most out of your people in the long haul, you have to win their heart. 

Let me digress just a little here.  As I just said that, what came to my mind were images from sports and how we often read or hear of coaches who were brutal to their charges and achieved great results.  What we need to keep in mind is the level of commitment that the coach has to his team and the level of commitment that the team member has to excel.  Now there are no gold medals for stocking shelves, no big endorsement deals because your meat team set a record, and you won’t make the talk show circuit because of great comps.  Most of our people just want a job so they can pay their bills.  They are not in it for a cause.  And secondly, admit it.  When you discipline your help, are you really thinking about making them  better persons;  aren’t you just doing it out of frustration and anger?  If you really wanted to make them a better person, you wouldn’t be so eager to get rid of them; you would work with them.   

What we are trying to say here is that being a boss doesn’t make you a leader.  And for a boss to become a leader, he or she must show that they are not just out for themselves.  I’ll go a step further here.  Apart from your immediate family, what have you done for anyone else lately where you weren’t concerned for what you got back.  One person has gone so far as to say: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  p. 63    When a person is generous, it shows that they are not just out for themselves, that they really care about others.

One of the definitions of “to lead” is “to show the way.”  If you want your team to go the extra mile, you need to do that first.  And that often involves doing things for others without expecting them to do anything in return.   Others will see it and, if they are courageous, may do the same.  BUT, somebody has to start it, and that person is the leader.

The Qualities of a Leader: 11. Initiative

The Qualities of a Leader:
11.          Initiative

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
- Senator Robert F. Kennedy

The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.
- IBM founder Thomas J. Watson

Successful people keep moving.
They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.
- Conrad Hilton, Hotel Executive

There is nothing brilliant or outstanding in my record, except perhaps this one thing:  I do the things that I believe ought to be done. . . .And when I make up my mind to do a thing, I act.
- President Theodore Roosevelt

                There are followers and there are leaders.  Which are you?

I know many of you reading this have a title that says ‘leader,’ but you were chosen for your position because of your knowledge of your field, your prior success in running a department, or your ability to follow through on the directives of your superiors, not necessarily because you are a leader per se.

Actually leadership and follow-ship form two ends of a continuum.  Everybody has both qualities in varying amounts, depending on the circumstances.  And then some personalities are geared more for one or the other.  And then in the end, of course, you have a choice.  When a person is a follower, they generally will work entirely within their comfort zone.  Someone else makes the decisions, and they take the responsibility for the outcomes.  A leader often will have to break out of their comfort zone to head in a new direction.  Starting a new company is one such example, where the leader makes the rules for everything and pays the price for any failures.

Maxwell tells the story of Kemmons Wilson, who felt he wasn’t being paid fairly for his work as a bookkeeper.  He was told he was too young to make what the older bookkeepers made, so he quit and never worked for anyone else again.  He went on to found the Holiday Inn chain of hotels.  He didn’t like the ones he stayed in on his travels, so he started his own.

We noted previously that “to lead” also means “to show the way.”  If something is wrong, if something is broken, if something needs to be improved, if something is not going as well as it should, if something needs to be changed, you can wait around for somebody else to do it.  Or, the leader will say, I will do it myself.  That is initiative, taking the effort to make things happen.

Maxwell lists 4 parts of this process of showing  initiative.

1)            Leaders know what they want. 
2)            They push themselves to act. 
3)            They take more risks.
4)            They make more mistakes. 

Remember, if success was easy, everybody would be one.  I lost my job while trying to do the right thing and while doing my best for a bigger cause.  I don’t know yet what the next step is, so I can’t tell you yet how this failure was either a stepping stone or in any way contributed to my future success.  But I tried to do the right thing, and that is always the right thing to do. 

I am not asking you to do anything because I say so, but then I didn’t make up the laws of leadership.  They are as true as the law of gravity.  So what do you want?  From your team?  From your life?  From life itself?  If you do nothing, that may just well be what you get in return.  Nothing.

The Qualities of a Leader: 12. Listening

The Qualities of a Leader:
12.       Listening

“Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.”
p. 78

            It’s easy for people in positions of authority to see those under them as merely instruments to do what they want.  As leaders, we are supposed to have all the answers, to give the direction, so everyone will know what to do and how to do it. 

            There are several problems with this.  The first is that we in leadership never have all the answers.  We may be the smartest, most experienced person on our team, but that does not mean that we will know more about everything than everyone.  It does not mean that even the lowest person on your team cannot teach you things that you need to know. 

            But even more than that, “leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”  p. 77  Remember what we said about the difference between a manager and a leader.  A  manager essentially rules by fear and intimidation.  “Do what we say or we can replace you.”  ‘Work harder or face the consequences.”  

A leader recognizes that s/he will get the most out of their people when they have their heart, when the follower is completely engaged in the work, heart and soul.  “But before a leader can touch a person’s heart, he has to know what’s in it.  He learns that by listening.”  p. 77

So there are two goals in listening: yes, one is learning.  To stop learning is to stop growing.  To stop growing is to start dying.  The other goal in listening is to connect with your people.  You want their heart.  When you have their heart, and they know that you are actually listening to them and care about what they feel and have to say, they will give you that mythical 110%.  Don’t settle for less.

The Qualities of a Leader: 13. Passion

The Qualities of a Leader:

13.          Passion

                What’s the number one thing you look for when you hire someone?  Experience?  Intelligence? Personality?    Let’s ask the same question a little differently?  What’s the number one quality that contributes to a person’s success?  Find that, and you will have answered that first question.

                I can’t document the following statistics, but I trust Maxwell.  But I also believe them from what I know about people.  He says that “more than 50 percent of all CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had C or C- averages in college.  Nearly 75 percent of all U.S. presidents were in the bottom half of their school classes.  And more than 50 percent of all millionaire entrepreneurs never finished college.”  p. 83

                So he asks the question:  “What makes it possible for people who might seem ordinary to achieve great things?  The answer is passion.  Nothing can take the place of passion in a leader’s life.”  p. 83

                Part of our problem is that many of us are doing the wrong things with our lives.  We have jobs, where what we need are missions.  We have jobs where we ask someone else what they want done and how they want it done.  I know, I know. We can’t all start our own businesses, but leaders can find it hard to work for someone else. 

Jest saying the word inspires me.  Passion cost me my job at Whole Foods.  I hope it doesn’t do the same for you, unless perhaps you are not in the place you are meant to be. 

                Are you passionate about what you do?  Do you look forward to going to work in the morning?  Do you find it hard to leave at times, because there is so much that you want to do?  Do you do far more than is required, just because you love what you do?   That is passion.

                As a leader, you need it.  The thing is contagious, and you want and need your team to have it as well.  You have to sell them on the cause, and they have to see that you have bought into it yourself.  If you don’t have passion about what you are dong, then you are not a leader.  Well, at least not here. 

                It would be good to ask yourself two questions:  the one is, of course: are you passionate about your work?  But then, what I think is even more important than that:  What is your passion?  It may not even have anything to do with your current job.  If the answers to both questions are the same, you are fortunate.  If they are different, well, I’m not sure if I can tell you what to do.  You have to answer that one for yourself.

                Maxwell lists 4 truths about passion: 
                1)            Passion is the first step to achievement.
                2)            Passion increases your willpower.
                3)            Passion changes you.
                4)            Passion makes the impossible possible.

                I don’t think I even need to elaborate on them.   I have a dream.  I have passion.  Just thinking about this makes me want to stop writing this and get back to working on my passion. 

One last quote from Maxwell:  “A leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and no passion.”  p. 85

The Qualities of a Leader: 14. Positive Attitude

The Qualities of a Leader:

14.          Positive Attitude

                Thomas Edison is probably most famous for his invention of the light bulb.  And that would be enough to give him a place in history as one of the greatest achievements of all time.  What I remember most about that event is that it took 10,000 attempts to find the right materials for the first bulb.   So how many attempts would you have made?  Or I?   I have a feeling it would have been a lot less. 

                We often call Edison a genius.  He has over 1,000 patents for his inventions.  But he did not think of himself as a genius.  He is the one who said: “Genius is ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration.”  p. 89    When he was working on the light bulb, he did not see himself as having failed 10,000 times, but he saw each attempt as a step in the right direction, a little more knowledge gained.  He knew this could be done, and knowing what didn’t work only brought him closer to finding what would work.  He said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”  p. 89

                If you really want to do something with your life, you will find that it won’t be easy.  To achieve what you want, you need both to believe that you can do it, and you have to want to stick with it until you do.  As a leader, your team will be watching and they will see what the obstacles are that will fight against your dream becoming reality.  (Your team could just as well be your spouse, your kids, or your family.)

                What sets the leader apart from anyone else is, first, that the leader identifies the goals that need to be achieved and then proceeds to work on achieving them, focusing on the result.  The average person looks at the circumstances and gets discouraged when things don’t go their way or when things get tough. 

                “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind”  (William James, psychologist,  p. 88)  There is a book that came out a few years ago called Happiness is a Choice.  And in the same way, your attitude is a choice.  It’s your choice.  Will I be discouraged?  Will I give up?  Will I be happy?  Will I continue?   Will I  (fill in the blank)?

 It’s not the circumstances that are important; it’s your attitude.  I know.  That can sound like a pile of bull dung at times, but the battle is won or lost in your mind.  And as a leader, your team needs to see your attitude as being always positive.  Edison said:  “If the only thing we leave our kids is the quality of enthusiasm, we will have given them an estate of incalculable value.”  p. 92

When things get tough, and they will, it is easy to begin feeling sorry for ourselves and look at how everything and everyone is against you.  Keep your focus on what needs to be done and just keep moving forward.

“The thing that separates good players form great ones is mental attitude.  It might only make a difference of two or three points in an entire match but how you play those key points often makes the difference between winning and losing. If the mind is strong you can do almost anything you want.” 

Chris Evert . p. 94

 “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”          
David Brinkley   p. 88