Wednesday, December 7, 2011

God, Country, Corps

In the Marines we had a motto: “God, Country, Corps” that helped us set priorities and make decisions about our next course of action. Believe it or not, at times we were forced to respond to situations that were not covered in our operations or tactical manuals.  However, the decisions we made were normally made in concert with that simple motto.

First of all our decisions had to keep us connected to our relationship with God. Secondly they had to be beneficial to the security of our country. Finally they had to uphold the honor and tradition of the Corps. After those 3 conditions were met almost anything was possible. However, it was mandatory to make decisions in the order stated.

If you noticed, the word I (or me) occurs nowhere in that decision-making process. I have determined that if we make decisions in a manner that keeps us connected with God (or our moral code), our country and our organizations then our needs will automatically be met.

A dilemma immediately arises because our 1st priority (the voice of God /our moral code) is very difficult to discern in tumultuous times. The reason is that it is a quiet voice and is easily drowned out by the circumstances and situations surrounding us. The importance of this voice is best described in the following poem:

“The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
"I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong."
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What's right for you--just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.”

The next step in this decision-making process is to make sure that our decision is beneficial to society as a whole. Here again we must understand that the decision is not about what's best for me (or the organization) but about what's best for society. It's important to note that I am not saying we cannot profit from our decisions, I'm just saying that the priority for making this profit should not be higher than those priorities already established.

Finally, the 3rd priority determines: “If my decisions are beneficial to the organization.” This is the last priority because organizations are man-made. However if we have created our organization by adhering to the 1st 2 priorities then our decision must support the goals of the organization.

If you have paid attention to the news lately you will notice that individuals seem to be making decisions by reversing these priorities.  First, the organization is their number 1 priority. Secondly, country is their 2nd priority and finally, the voice of God (or their moral code) is there last priority.

This last comment has been borne out by the political bickering of our lawmakers on a local, state and national basis as well as the decision-makers involved in the scandals occurring at various educational institutions around the country.

We can get our country moving in the right direction again by just focusing on: God, Country and Corps (organization). However each one of us must do our part in daily life to make this a reality. If you need help in getting your organization moving in the right direction please feel free to contact me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


A few months ago I decided to make a few informational videos in order to support my speaking career. After talking with a friend, I determined that there was a piece of software that would allow me to do exactly what was needed, but it required a minimum of 1 GB memory to install properly.

There was 512 MB currently installed on my Windows-based laptop and it was expandable to a maximum of 1 GB. So as I saw it I had a decision to make. I could either upgrade the memory on my current laptop or purchase a new one where I can install 2 or even 4 GB of memory. I decided to purchase a new one.

The question then became whether I should purchase another Windows-based laptop or an Apple MacBook Pro? Understand that in my entire life I probably have no more than 10 min. worth of keyboard time utilizing any Apple computer. However, my research led me to believe that I could accomplish my objectives easier utilizing the MacBook Pro. As a result I made the plunge and took a bite of the Apple (get the joke?).

This decision required that I be totally committed to make this purchase work for me. In making this decision it occurred to me that I utilized a fundamental decision making process. The steps to this process are:

  1. Completely understand your environment and the need to make a change.
  2. Make a list of possible solutions that will meet your need.
  3. List the pros and cons associated with each solution. You do not have to solve the problems at this stage, just itemize them.
  4. Make a decision and commit to it.
  5. Solve the problems related to your decision as they occur.

This process can be used in either organizations or life in general. I find it beneficial when my life starts to get out of control. This normally happens when I get so distracted by what's going on around me that I start reacting to life. During these times I usually stop listening to my internal navigation system which quietly tries to direct me towards my life's goals and purpose. I have found that my life simply works better when I live in a manner that keeps me connected with my internal GPS.

If you are in an organization, your internal GPS is probably your organization's mission statement. If you don't have one, get one! Review it on a regular basis in order to make sure it is relevant. I have found that organizations can easily falter or get off track when they perform activities or make decisions not related to their mission statement.

Just in case you were wondering, this is my 1st blog created using the MacBook Pro. It was not an easy road, but then nothing really worthwhile ever is. In summary, from time to time, it is important we evaluate our lives and organizations in order to determine if we are moving in the direction of our goals or purpose. If not, please use some form of the decision-making process identified above to make necessary changes.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Simple Lesson on Leadership

Just the other day while with one of the boys that I mentor, I asked him if he was hungry and like any teenage boy he said “yes”. When asked where he wanted to go eat, he said “McDonald’s!” It was lunch time and the parking lot of the first restaurant we approached was full and we noticed people standing around in long lines at the counter. We decided to find another.

The next McDonald’s that we found was just off the expressway and located in, how shall we say, “The hood”. It was at a busy intersection surrounded by low income housing. Its parking lot was also full but we noticed that there were no long lines waiting at the counter so we went in. As we went in I was struck by the efficiency, cleanliness and friendly atmosphere of this location. I must mention that the employees at this franchise seemed to reflect the ethnicity of the local neighborhood.

It took no more than 3 or 4 minutes from the time we entered into this location, stood in line, placed our order and received our food. When we received our food it was hot, freshly cooked and tasted great. Now I am not a big fan of McDonald’s but I will seek out this particular location when ever I am in the area. The point I wish to make is that this particular location seems to have placed its emphasis on customer service and as a result has earned my continued business.

I am sure that there is a strong manager or management team that runs this particular franchise and that the change did not happen overnight. I am sure this management team could have made more profit if they had reduced the number of personnel that were cleaning the floors and expediting the orders. It takes strong leadership to place principles before quick profit and therefore guarantee the long term consistent profit that most businesses desire.

This business model I described is just as true in our personal lives. We must stop placing Band-Aids over the symptoms and find a cure for our illness. This means that we must start taking responsibility for our own lives and that of our organizations or families and stop looking to blame everything and everyone else for our lack of success. We have to stop looking at what others have and start focusing on what it is that we truly need and then develop a plan on how to obtain it.

I don’t need to tell you that what has been going on in our homes as well as our country for the last 20 years hasn’t been working and has led to our deterioration as a world leader. As leaders we need to get back to basics. We need to spend more time with our families and walking around in our organizations to determine what’s really happening within them. We then need to pray for the wisdom to determine what changes need to be made as well as for the strength and courage to implement them. Let’s begin from wherever we are and remember to be strong and courageous!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Your Word is Your Bond

How many of us know that our word is our bond? By this I mean that people around us listen to what we say and watch to see if our actions match our words. The higher up on the totem pole that we go the more important it is that we are very careful or give significant thought to what it is that we say.

Now don’t just think that I am talking only to the leaders of organizations, corporations and political parties. All of us are pretty high on someone’s totem pole. We could be a single mother with a child who pays attention to every word that comes out of our mouth. We may be a divorced dad who only gets a chance to see his children every other week. Or we may believe that we are alone in this world and that no one really listens to or cares about us. Let me assure you that someone you don’t know depends upon you and listens to your every word.

Regardless of whether it is wrong or right, we are all judged by what we say and held accountable by someone. In the Bible, the book of James says: “Be quick to hear and slow to speak”. If you are speaking to an individual, or a group of people, take the time to make a thoughtful comment or give a reflective response. I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me: “I’ll get back to you on that matter” or “I will call you next week” and I never hear from them again.

Now I know that we all become very busy at times and forget to do things every now and then, but if this becomes a consistent theme in how we deal with certain individuals then it just becomes a matter of time before these individuals stop depending on us or listening to what it is that we say. In Matthew 5:37, the Bible says: “Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one”. I interpret this to mean: “Say what you mean and mean what you say”. Everything else comes from vanity or conceit.

Some of the greatest leaders in my life (and let me remind you that this list includes teachers, sailors, Marines, business leaders, personal friends and clergy) have taken the time to follow up on their commitments to me and be true to their word. If times were tough for them, they would let me know that they could not honor their commitment but they would get back with me as soon as they could. And for these men and women I would gladly march through the gates of hell in support of them.

You see, for these individuals, their word was their bond and I could take their word to the bank and cash their verbal checks. Again I remind you that if you wish to become an effective leader then you must allow your word to become your bond.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tunnel Vision

Do you know that you will never find the solution to a problem on the same level that the problem exists? This statement is true whether we are talking about our business life, our personal life or just life in general. Have you ever noticed when you are in a crowd of angry people with a problem that a viable solution is never found? They may come up with a plan of action but rarely will that plan of action result in a viable solution to the problem.

Have you ever noticed when you are angry with another person or your group is angry at another group that all you do is focus on blocking the moves of the other person or group? When this happens you become more determined to make sure that the other person or group does not win rather than finding a solution to the problem. The result is a type of tunnel vision that keeps you narrowly focused on the problem rather than allowing you to have the full 360° field of vision necessary to find a solution.

And guess what? When this happens, the other person or group becomes more determined to make sure that you or your group does not win as well as block all of your moves. This results in the escalation of a cycle of conflict which often involves strong emotions. It is often these emotions that act as a roadblock to our finding a proper solution to the problem. It is at this point that we normally start casting blame on the other person or group involved and as we all know problem solving is not about casting blame but more about accepting responsibility.

In addition to applying proper problem-solving techniques, the first step we need to take is to find a serene place or activity which will allow us to contemplate the problem in peace. In order to solve the problem effectively it is necessary that we separate ourselves from the emotions involved. It is in this state of mind where we will be able to identify the problem as well as accept responsibility for any part that we may have had in the creation of the problem. We will also be able to remove the blinders which caused us to have tunnel vision and cast blame so that we may now see from the full 360° field of possible solutions.

I have often been asked what one has to do in order to find the serene place or the activity discussed in the previous paragraph. The answer is as varied as the number of individuals that ask it. For some it is listening to certain music. For others it is working in the yard and digging with their hands in the earth. For still others is some type of repetitive activity such as walking, running or riding a stationary bike. And for yet others it’s nothing more than sitting in their favorite chair and contemplating their navel.

Now here comes the interesting part. Once we have identified potential solutions to the problem, we are going to have to get agreement from the other parties involved for their implementation. And that my friend is a subject for another blog entry. I hope this helps!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When is Good Enough, Good Enough?

Just when is good enough, good enough? For the last six weeks I have been busy creating a set of four audio CD’s which capture the message of my seminar entitled “Straight Talk about Success and Spiritual Growth.” However as I was listening to the final product, I found that I kept going back to change a word here or rephrase a phrase there. No matter how many times I went back, I kept finding something that I could have done better. This activity finally made me ask myself: “When is good enough, good enough?”

In answering the above question, I had to ask myself another. This new question was: “Have I given this project my very best effort?” And every time that I could not honestly say “Yes”, I went back to review my content. However, when I was finally able to answer “Yes”, I stopped all editing of the content and went into the duplication and production mode.

Now I realize that there are people who will not like what I have done. On the other hand, I realize that there are people who will like what I have done. And although their opinions are important to me, their opinions will not change how I feel about my effort in completing this project. The key here is that I have done the best I could with what I had. I think that it is important that we have this same mindset as we go throughout life.

In order to answer the question: “When is good enough, good enough?” we must understand the following two points. The first point is all projects are composed of tiny steps. We must focus on doing the small things right because if we do that then the larger projects (which also consist of small steps) will automatically be done correctly. These projects could be any be any number of things: 1. Doing a report for class, 2. Managing a project for your office, 3. Raising a child or 4. Just living your life. You see it doesn’t matter what the project is, just do the small things correctly.

The second point is, given the time constraints that we have and realizing that we are not perfect, we must always go back and review our work and ask ourselves: “Is this our best effort?” If the answer is “No” then we go back, review and make changes. If the answer is “Yes” then we move on to the next area of our life. If at some future date we find out that we could have done something better, we must learn from the situation, forgive ourselves and recognize that we did the absolute best we could at that time.

It does not matter if you’re in a relationship, raising a child or completing a project for work or for school; your good enough is good enough when:

1. You focus on doing the small things well and
2. You have done the very best that you could do.

If you are interested in purchasing this 4-CD set that provides simple, biblically based tools on how to overcome the roadblocks to success in your life, go to the following link:


Friday, April 22, 2011


              Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! 

 If, ladies & gentlemen, there is something holding you back from taking charge of your life, then you are a candidate for our May 15 Seminar “Straight Talk about Success and Spiritual Growth.”  It does not matter how old or young you are because in this seminar you will discover the steps you need to take in order to gain control over every situation and circumstance that you face.

This seminar will provide a biblical foundation along with simple, effective, time tested techniques which will allow you to begin creating the life you desire in a manner that keeps you connected with God. In this seminar you will be provided the tools you need to live the “Abundant Life” that was referred to by Jesus in John 10:10.  It’s not difficult to do. All you have to do is learn how to do so…..and have the faith of a child!

With the end of the registration period fast approaching, we are so certain this seminar will benefit you that we will provide a money back guarantee of the registration fee if you are disappointed.  Is fifteen or twenty dollars too much to invest for a permanent, positive change in your life? Register ASAP. Do it now! For more information or to register go to:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sixty Seconds

What is it that you fear most and what great thing is this fear preventing you from accomplishing?  You will not be able to be all that you are created to be until you can embrace your fear and determine its root cause.  Let me provide an example of what I’m talking about.

In the past I have felt that there was always something preventing me from giving 100% to every project which I have worked.  It seemed that it was easy for me to provide 80 to 85% of my effort but I could never go all out.  However, without sounding too arrogant, 80 to 85% of my effort is equal to the best that most can offer.  The problem is that 80 to 85% of my effort is no longer good enough for me and I wanted to determine what was holding me back.  Here is what I found.

I found that the reason I could not give 100% was due to my fear of failure and the emotions attached to this fear.  What I had to do was to separate my fear from my emotions.  In order to do this I had to look at each component separately.  What a wonderful experience!  I learned that my fear stemmed from emotions related to my childhood experiences of “not being good enough.”  This knowledge is truly life-changing.

I now know that what ever I attempt in the future will get 100% of my effort.  I know that I will be running “flat out” and that the world “ain’t seen nothing yet”. This knowledge brings to mind the words of the English poet Rudyard Kipling from the final verse of his famous poem entitled “If.”  The words are as follows:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Are you looking for someone to provide you with a step by step guide to help you fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run?  If so, I suggest you attend my “Straight Talk about Success and Spiritual Growth” public seminar on May 15, in Houston, Texas.  In this seminar, we will discuss how to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way to having success in every facet of our life.    You will learn how to identify and nourish the spiritual part of your being that feeds the success mechanism which lies deep within you.

We will also provide a CD set via the Internet which will discuss in greater detail the information provided in this seminar.  For more information about the seminar and how to register, you may go to the following website:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Signs of the Times

In preparation for my May 15 seminar titled “Straight Talk about Success and Spiritual Growth”, I sent potential attendees to this seminar a list of four questions.  These questions asked about their goals/plans for happiness for the upcoming year as well as their current frustrations (from both a personal and business point of view).  The response was tremendous and I will share with you what is on the mind of our fellow brothers and sisters.  Responses came to Houston from as far away as California and Pennsylvania.  Responders included CEOs, presidents of large organizations, business owners, married individuals, as well as single parent head of households.

I have taken the responses and categorized them into the following areas: Finances, Spiritual, Work/Life Balance, Creating and attaining goals, Family/Personal Relationships and Health issues.  A summary of their concerns are as follows:
  1. Finances were the leading concern with double the response of the next leading issue.
  2. Spiritual and life balance issues were the next leading concerns with equal responses.
  3. Attaining goals and family/relationships concerns were next with equal responses.
  4. Health concerns brought up the rear with the fewest number of responses.

It is not surprising, as a result of these economic times, that finances is first and foremost on the minds of an overwhelming majority of those that responded.  Responses ranged from working to have enough disposable income in order to make ends meet to being able to budget enough money for retirement.

The next leading concern of the responders was having enough time to give to God and being able to balance the work life with life outside of work.  These were followed by creating and attaining goals that one sets for themselves and their businesses while maintaining amicable personal and family relationships.  I was indeed surprised to see that health was not a major concern.

Are you looking for someone to provide you with a step by step guide to help deal with your finances, goals, relationship with God/family, health and maintaining balance in your life?  If so, I suggest you attend my “Straight Talk about Success and Spiritual Growth” public seminar on May 15, in Houston, Texas.  In this seminar, we will discuss how to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way to having success in every facet of our life.    You will learn how to identify and nourish the spiritual part of your being that feeds the success mechanism which lies deep within you.

We will also provide a CD set via the Internet which will discuss in greater detail the information provided in this seminar.  For more information about the seminar and how to register, you may go to the following website: www,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From Brokenness to Openness

What do you do when you reach the end of your rope? Who do you turn to when your family and friends turn their backs on you when you are down to your last few dollars in finances? What happens when you feel like not even God hears your prayers? What do you say when you feel like you are in a place of hopelessness and brokenness and feel the darkness creeping in on you from every direction?

I don’t know about you but a situation like this has happened to me more than once in my lifetime. I think we both agree that this is not a desirable position in which to find ourselves. However, all is not lost. When I am in a situation like this I remind myself of the words of an iconic United States Marine named Chesty Puller. The timeframe was during the Korean War. Chesty (whom I believe was a general at that time) and his men were surrounded on all sides by the enemy and the situation was desperate.

When informed of the situation and asked what he was going to do, Chesty made the following comment: "So they've got us surrounded, good! Now we can fire in any direction, those b*****ds won't get away this time!" Chesty and his men fought their way out of that situation, and I suggest that it will take a fight for you to get out of your situation. I am sure that Chesty and his men developed tactics and a strategy in order to fight their way out.

As Christians we know that if we are doing God’s will then the battle does not belong to us, but to the Lord. However we still have to be present in order to learn from the circumstance or situation. We cannot merely wish that the Lord fight our battle. We have to be there to develop a strategy and put some skin in the game. I don’t know if you know it but we live in a participative universe. God won’t help us unless we help ourselves.

If you are looking for tactics or a strategy in order to turn your adversity into an advantage. Then I suggest you come to my “Straight Talk about Success and Spiritual Growth” public seminar on May 15, in Houston, Texas. In this seminar, we will discuss how to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way to having success in every facet of our lives. We will provide you a strategy that will turn your brokenness into freedom and openness through a better relationship with God

We will also provide a CD set via the Internet which will discuss in greater detail the information provided in this seminar. For more information about the seminar and how to register, you may go to the following website:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Roving Leadership

Last week, while driving during rush hour on a congested Houston freeway one of the young men whom I mentor made the following comment: “Mr. Al, it would be easier and quicker to get to my house if you turn left up ahead instead of going straight.” After I thought about what he said, I came to the realization that his directions would save me at least 10 to 15 minutes of driving time. I asked him why he did not tell me this information any of the previous times that I took him home. He replied that he was not sure how I would take the fact that he was giving me directions. I told him: “Son, with the price of gas nowadays, any time that you save me driving would be truly appreciated.”

I thanked him for the information because it was truly beneficial for both of us. The benefit being that I saved gas and he got home quicker. I was happy that, after two mentoring sessions, he felt comfortable enough to speak up when he thought it was necessary. I wonder how many people do not speak up in businesses or other organizations because they feel that they would hurt the leader’s ego/feelings. We all know or have heard of certain people who will sit by and watch an organization deteriorate rather than provide a beneficial suggestion that they know will work and benefit everyone. I am not a psychologist and therefore unable to tell you why these individuals act the way they do. However, I do know that if situations like these are not changed then the organization will die a slow and painful death.

In his book titled “Servant Leadership”, Robert Greenleaf discusses a concept called “Roving Leadership”. By using this concept the leader/person in charge recognizes that he/she may not know all there is to know about the job or task at hand. Therefore he/she creates an environment where team members feel empowered to speak-up and use their expertise to help solve their mutual problem. The beauty of this “Roving Leadership” concept is that anyone can use it in their office, home or personal relationships because it fosters an environment of cooperation and teamwork. This type of environment allows everyone to contribute mutually to the success of everyone else and the team as a whole.

In one way or another we are all leaders. Being a leader does not necessarily mean that we are the head of an organization, business or military unit. Many times we find ourselves becoming “leaders by default”. We can be a single parent raising a family alone or the De facto leader of a social organization. A leader is simply someone who leads and/or has influence over another/others. My point is that we can all improve our business, home or relationships by not feeling threatened when others “step up” to solve a mutual problem. Are you willing to give it a try?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

For Whom The Bell Tolls!

The recent civil wars in the Mideast as well as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have affected not only their immediate geographies but the entire world. These events have caused me to think just how interconnected we are, not just electronically but also financially and emotionally. For instance, the Civil War in Libya has cost many lives as well as purportedly affected the cost of oil here in the United States. The earthquake in Japan caused a tsunami that not only caused the loss of a large number of lives in Japan but also physically and economically affected many countries around the Pacific Rim including the United States.

There are many Americans and people of other nationalities around the world attempting to communicate with the Mideast and Japan to find out the status of their loved ones that were vacationing, visiting on business or otherwise living in those places. There are many Americans of Japanese and Mideastern descent living here in the United States who are concerned about their loved ones back home. Yes, there are many ethnicities and nationalities affected by these events. However, if you take a step back and look at this a little more globally you will see that overall it is the human race that is affected.

These events and thoughts bring to mind the words of John Donne and Meditation 17 from “Devotions upon Emergent Occasions”. They read: "No man is an island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the Sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a Promontory were, as well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...."

It does not take a catastrophic event to have a worldwide effect because like it or not we are involved in mankind. Something as simple as how we treat our friends, family, coworkers and the strangers around us can leave an indelible impression that may lead them to do great things that not only affect their communities but may have a beneficial effect upon the entire world. Conversely, how we are treated by our friends, family, coworkers and strangers around us can leave an indelible mark on us that may change the course of our entire day as well as our lives. It is never too late to be nice to someone.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Servant Leadership

About one week ago I was talking with my friend Jesse (who is a West Point graduate and now semi-retired after a very successful business career). We spoke about the lack of effective leadership in this country, more specifically about the lack of true servant leaders. A servant leader is one who helps the members of his/her team to reach their full potential and therefore perform at their best for the organization. This concept of servant leadership was developed by Robert K. Greenleaf in his book titled “Servant Leadership”.

A servant leader is not a “me first” leader. Let me see if I can illustrate this point. As a Naval Aviator in the United States Marine Corps I always made sure that the people who reported directly to me ate before I did. My rationale was that these were the people that worked on the aircraft that I flew and as much as possible I wanted them to have the best of everything including the best cuts and pieces of meat. Many times my men wanted me to go to the head of the line but I always refused and followed them through the line and then I ate what was left.

My payback was the fact that many times when I was scheduled for a flight I would notice that “my guys” would spend extra time pre-flighting the aircraft and making sure that every system was operating to the best of its ability. This not only helped keep me safe but also affected the operational readiness of my squadron, which increased the operational readiness of the entire Marine Corps.

You see I learned early in my military career that if I worked hard for my men then my men would work hard for me. Additionally when we were deployed I would spend time with my men to determine how their family members were doing back home. When necessary I would point them towards proper resources in order to resolve concerns and issues.

My point is that we need more servant leaders in our businesses, organizations and homes. A servant leader is made and not born. I do not believe that this theory of leadership is taught enough in our organizations and schools. I do however believe that the reason it is not taught more often is that not enough people know about it or have experienced its benefits. We can build strong organizations and countries by putting the needs of others before your own. Just take a look at what a man named Jesus Christ accomplished using this model of leadership.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Winds of Change Are Blowing!

When I first began my computer repair business in the early 1980s, we were one of only four computer repair companies listed in the entire Houston area Yellow Pages. A few years later I noticed that there was an entire page of computer repair companies listed in the same Yellow Page book. The result of this increased competition caused me to look for additional ways to bring added value to my clients while at the same time maintaining a fair profit margin.

As the years continued the number of computer repair businesses in the Houston area Yellow Pages increased from one page to approximately 8 to 10 full pages of advertisements. I did not like this change but I knew that I could not ignore it. The American writer James Baldwin once said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

As I look back over the years I realize that this change caused me to continuously reinvent my company. What began as a company that serviced only IBM and Compaq personal computers evolved into an organization that provided systems integration services for NASA (Johnson space Center) and many other Fortune 100 companies. We became stronger and better as a result of how we dealt with this change.

My point is we must recognize that the winds of change are constantly blowing in our businesses, our countries and our lives. We can deal with change in a number of ways. One way we can deal with change is by simply ignoring it. In this way we can be compared to an ostrich that sticks his head in the ground and becomes completely unaware of what is going on around him.

Another way in which we can deal with change is by fearing it. This fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) will cause us to build walls around our businesses, our countries and our lives while looking for ways to destroy this change.

Another way we can deal with change is by embracing it. Embracing change requires that we look it dead in the eye while evaluating its components and possible effects on our businesses, our countries and our lives. Once we understand the components of change then we can develop a plan to help us deal with it effectively.

As leaders, we just have to look at what’s taking place in our businesses, our country, our lives and even our world in order to recognize that “The Winds of Change Are Blowing”. How are you dealing with it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Would of, Could of, Should of"

Have you ever had a good idea that’s been on your mind for quite some time? You believe that this idea could improve a process at work or improve an area of your life or the lives of others. You have researched this idea and have given it considerable thought yet something is holding you back. Maybe you are concerned with what others might think or maybe you are afraid that you may get stuck in the midst of the process and fail.

Let me share with you a quotation from Dr. Maxwell Maltz, the author of a book titled “Psycho Cybernetics”. Dr. Maltz says: "Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one's better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk and to act.

In my opinion, some of the worst thoughts a person can have while performing a periodic review of their life are the thoughts of: “Would of, Could of, and Should of”. Let me explain. What if we only thought about our earlier idea but never implemented it? At some point in our life we might look back and say: “1. I wonder what would of happened if I had implemented that idea, 2. That idea really could of saved me lots of problems. 3. It was a good idea, I should of continued on and done it anyway.”

You see, if we had the courage to bet on our idea and it was successful then we need not say anything else. On the other hand, if we gave the idea our best effort and failed, then we will regret nothing. Additionally, it is often in the midst of failure when leaders learn the most and apply what they learned not to do to their next effort or idea. I do not know of any leader that has not suffered setback on the way to their success.

Remember that it is never too late! If you have a good idea that has been researched and on your mind for quite some time I suggest that you be strong and courageous. Be strong in your idea and your faith in yourself and your God-given abilities. Be courageous enough to listen to the beat of your drummer and not that of your neighbor.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Are We Putting the Cart Before the Horse?

I may not be the first to say this but I am concerned with our country’s obsession with instant gratification. It seems that we are constantly bombarded in the media by the newest, the prettiest and the biggest of anything out there and the need to have it now. Understand that I do not blame the media because it serves a purpose in bringing us information. What concerns me is it seems that we are becoming focused more on profits and less on service. I think this is putting the cart before the horse. Let me give you an example.

When I first opened up my personal computer service business in the early 1980s, I was focused on how to troubleshoot and repair this new phenomenon called the IBM personal computer. I found out that it was extremely difficult for the owner of an IBM personal computer to have it repaired after a malfunction. IBM stipulated that its customers had to remove any non-IBM components prior to returning the unit to a regional service center for repair.

There were a number of problems with this approach. The first problem was caused by removing the non-IBM component. Many times these components (such as memory cards and communications ports) were the source of the problem. An additional problem was also caused by the fact that the service center was often times located a number of miles away from the customer’s location. This fact in and of itself caused the customer to be without their computer for weeks.

I thought to myself what if someone started a business that would go to the clients home or place of business in order to troubleshoot and repair the customer’s computer regardless of any third-party equipment? This passion overwhelmed me and within six months I had resigned my position with IBM and began the lonely life of an entrepreneur. However, I was an entrepreneur with a passion. My passion was to provide exemplary customer service. I found that my profits rose as I focused on ways to improve service.

I successfully followed that formula for over 20 years. During one of those years my company was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held corporations in America. The point I am making is that as leaders we have to be able to identify and articulate those values that we hold sacred. I do not advocate that we go back to the old way of doing things. That would be like saying we should throw away the Internet and never use the media.

My point is that we should recognize they are tools that we can use to implement our values throughout our organization while we focus on creating those programs that provide lasting value to our clients as well as profit to our organizations. Let’s put the horse back in front of the cart.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Do You Walk the Talk?

Whether you know it or not you are judged by what you do much more so than by what you say. Effective leaders have identified a certain set of values and then live their life in accordance with those values. That is, "They Walk Their Talk". This one step in and of itself allows leaders to live an authentic rather than a hypocritical life. Max De Pree in his book entitled “Leadership Is an Art” says that leaders should have a clear statement of values that should shape their corporate and individual behavior.

The values that you identify and hold sacred influence how you behave in any circumstance and situation. You should behave the same way 24/7, whether in church or out of church, whether in the office or out of the office. If you really want to know and identify your core values just ask yourself why you respond the way you do in certain circumstances and situations. For many of us our core values have been inherited from other people in our life, from our culture, or from where we live. We respond to circumstances and situations because that’s the way we have always done so.

Are there any areas in your life that you feel you would like to improve? If so, ask yourself what it is that you do not like about that area of your life. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do or respond the way you do in that situation or circumstance. Identify the value which causes you the pain in that area of your life. Once that value has been identified you can simply replace it with another that works for you. This is not difficult but does require honesty in its approach.

If you really want to do a personal makeover ask yourself how you feel about a number of different areas in your life. For instance, ask yourself how you feel about your job, your relationships, your spirituality, diversity, God, other ethnicities, etc. Most importantly, ask yourself how you feel about you and why you feel that way. Your response to this one question can have a positive, beneficial effect on you for the rest of your life.

As you identify and modify your set of core values you will find that you will have a new worldview. A worldview is nothing more than your personal relationship with the world. It encompasses why you feel the way you feel and why you act the way you act. As you identify your core values and create your own worldview you will find yourself more often than not being able to “Walk the Talk”.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Failure Is Not Always Fatal

Do you know that “it’s not what happens to you in life that matters; its how you deal with what happens to you in life that matters”? Never think that you are the only one that has difficulties and setbacks in life. Most of the people that we call leaders today have experienced a number of failures and setbacks in their personal and or public lives before reaching that defining moment that qualified him/her as a leader.

Let me give you an example. When I grew up as a child in Chicago I never took the opportunity to learn how to swim. However as I began my training to become a Naval Aviator I found out that I had to pass a very extensive swimming test that included a one-mile swim while wearing a flight suit. Now I really wanted to become a Naval Aviator but if, prior to choosing that career, someone had told me I would have to pass that exhaustive of a swimming test I probably would have chosen another option.

As the day of the test approached I spent all of my free time practicing in the pool. On the day of the test I jumped into the pool and flunked that sucker bigger than Dallas. As a result, my entry into flight training was delayed until I could pass the test. I was at a decision point in my life. I could either choose another military career or I could learn from my failure and take the makeup test in 30 days. How many of us know that “failure is not always fatal”?

I chose to take the makeup test and concentrated on those parts of the swim where I was weakest. I found a qualified swim instructor to help me turn my weaknesses into strengths. I wish that I could say that I excelled in every part of the makeup test but I didn’t. However I did pass and that was my goal. I went on to have an exciting career as a Naval Aviator. The point that I am trying to make is that leaders learn from their failures and recognize that “success is not always final and failure is not always fatal”.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Be Strong & Courageous

What is it that is holding you back from living your life to its fullest potential? Is it fear of failure? Are you concerned what others might think? Or, are you waiting until you “straighten out” a few of the problem areas in your life before you move forward? Let me share with you that whatever “it” is will become insignificant compared to the growth you will achieve as you begin to maximize your fullest potential as a human being.

First, you must be strong in the faith that whatever you need will be supplied at the precise moment it becomes necessary. You must be strong in the belief that your personal goals are worthy/attainable and that whatever circumstance or situation in which you currently find yourself will soon become your testimony to others. You must be strong in the belief that whatever it is you wish to accomplish will benefit yourself as well as those around you.

Secondly, you must be courageous enough to do whatever it takes to live out your belief in these convictions. Sometimes this belief in your convictions requires that you take a step or two backwards before you can move ahead. Others may not understand what you are doing and why. But you will! You must be courageous enough to START NOW!

Stop looking to others for your success. Plan your work and work your plan. Be strong and courageous!

Can anyone tell me the source of “Be Strong and Courageous”?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dust Thou Art ….. But That’s Not All!

Biblical Beginnings
Do you know experts have said that anywhere from 75% to 90% of all disease in humans is caused by either diet or stress? This statement is easily verifiable by going on the Internet and entering a query into Google. These numbers lead me to believe that we can improve the health of our body by watching what we eat and being careful of what we think. In my previous post I stated that, in future posts, we would examine the connection between the body, mind and spirit. It seems to me that the body is as good a place as any to begin.

The book of Genesis states: “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7). My interpretation of this text is that God formed the body of man from inert material (i.e. the dust of the ground) and brought him to life with his breath. The above passage should lead us to believe that man is composed of material and nonmaterial parts.

Not until God blew the breath of life into man did man become alive. Therefore without the “breath of life”, the body is just inert material and as dumb as a door nail, i.e. “stuff”. It is unable to function purposefully without some type of guidance. The question becomes “who or what tells the body what to do and what does the health of the body have to do with biblical scripture”?

Health & Wellness
A restatement of the opening sentence of this post would be as follows: “We, as humans, are placing our bodies in a state of “dis-ease” by what we eat and think and how we allow our circumstances to affect us”. If this is true, then something is making our bodies place us in this predicament. I submit to you that that something is our mind.

Our mind is the thinking, reasoning part of ourselves that signals the body into action. We all know that cookies are good, but if we only ate cookies every day, after a while our bodies would become sick. As a result we try to balance what we feed our bodies with nutritious daily helpings from the different food groups. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Additionally, my oldest son made an interesting statement on his Face book page a few weeks ago. He quoted Scipio Africanus (a Roman General) who said:”I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 96% how I react to it.” You see, my friend, much of the stress in our lives comes from how we respond to the circumstances in our lives. It is a well known fact that stress which continues unrelieved over a period of time has a devastating effect upon the health of the body.

As A Man Thinks in His Heart….
Proverbs 23:7 states: "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is."

Change your thoughts and you will change your world!

We will focus on the benefits of controlling/changing our thoughts in my next post.