Thursday, April 20, 2017

Can You Truly Give a Gift?

The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs franchise, gave 1,908 World Series rings to everyone associated with helping the Cubs win the 2016 World Series. In order to discourage selling their World Series rings, Cub ownership asked non-players to sign an agreement giving the team the right to buy back the ring for $1.

Personally, if I had been a part of the 2016 World Series Cubs organization and received a commemorative ring, I'd find a nice glass case to put it in and place it on the fireplace mantel! I'd cherish the emotion and the passion of a great, long-awaited winning season. But then, not everyone is like me! (I can hear it now,"Thank God!")

Do you remember O. Henry's short Christmas story, The Gift of the Magi? It is a sentimental story with a moral lesson about gift-giving. It is a story about a young married couple and the gifts they give each other that neither can use. The story reveals how priceless love is. It is also a story about the paradox and lesson in ownership: do you own something or does something own you? If you truly give someone something, you let go of it. You don't own it. The gift becomes theirs to do with as they wish. If you give a gift with expectations, then the gift, the object owns you.

A gift given with an expectation, with control, is not a gift. If you cannot give a gift and let go, then do not give it. I know I have given gifts to people and discovered the gift was re-gifted, returned to the store for credit or exchange or was even thrown out. Maybe I was disappointed, but it was the receiver's choice of how they chose to use or not use my gift, not mine.

It does not matter how much the gift cost. (The Cub World Series ring is estimated to be worth at least $30,000.) A gift is a gift is a gift with no strings attached, or it is not a gift.

I know people who have received large sums of money as a gift for college or investment, who did not use it the way the giver intended. People fail all the time to meet our expectations. Let it go or don't give it in the first place.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer equated the gift of the ring to winning a Heisman and Oscar. "If you get a Heisman Trophy, they put that stipulation on it," he said. "If you win an Oscar, they put that stipulation on it." 

I disagree with Mr. Hoyer. The Heisman and Oscar are on par with the World Series trophy the Cubs now own. The World Series trophy is one of a kind, not one of 1,908. The Cub World Series ring was a gift, a token, a remembrance of a victory season from the Ricketts family. The ring was not a part of the trophy from MLB. 

Give the people a ring if you choose. Hope that they show gratitude in return by simply saying, thank you! That is their gift back to you!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Holy Week Reveals My Unholiness, My Humanness.

You don’t have to be Christian to acknowledge the challenges of Holy Week are at the core of whether it’s all about me or is about the community of which I am a part.

I realize I could have been a part of that crowd that cheered Christ riding into Jerusalem on that donkey. After all, I am attracted to successful underdogs. 

I realize I could be Judas. I, too, might judge someone as just too good for his or her own good and needs to be taken down. That's why we institute laws, rules and policy. 

I realize I could be like Christ’s disciples at Gethsemane and fail to support someone in need, falling asleep when someone needs me to be there for them.

I realize I could be like Peter and deny being associated with someone who was threatening the system, offering a better way of living together, creating community. I like my comfort zones.

I realize I could be gaslighted and follow the crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!”

I realize I could be like the Roman soldiers, wanting a piece of His clothing, nurturing my greed.

Good Friday is where I face my contribution to evil. It exposes the hatred I am capable of. It exposes my self-interest, my failure to love my neighbor, especially the neighbor who is different from me in so many ways. How God is willing to put up with me for my failures and short comings is beyond me. Yet, love gets the last word. Love wins. The message of Holy week is a call to act upon my faith, to walk-my-faith.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Do You Have a Leadership Philosophy?

I came across The Leader's Compass by Ed Rugggero in 2005. As a consummate student of leadership, this book was a call to action! I spent time thinking and exploring what I believed was important in leading myself as well as others. As a facilitator of Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner's The Leadership Challenge, my leadership philosophy is based upon the five practices of exemplary leadership. It is a dynamic document that continues to be updated as I grow in my leadership. I've share my leadership philosophy with those I lead, my cohorts and coaching clients. I keep a copy of my leadership philosophy with me at all times in my journal. I refer to it regularly. I ask those with whom I've shared my leadership philosophy, "How am I doing?" I listen for feedback. I adjust and continue to work on my leadership. 

Do you have a leadership philosophy? Is it written down? Have you shared it with your followers and cohorts? Have you asked for feedback? 

David Carr’s Leadership Philosophy Based Upon the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership from The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

I model the way.

    I will lead in the ways I would like to be lead. I will do my best to Be the Golden Rule. My core values and beliefs are linked to Micah 6:8 and bound in three words:
    - Compassion – compassion means continuously seeking to understand, before being understood. It’s being aware of my self-deception.     
    - Gratitude – gratitude directly affects my attitude. A grateful heart knows and reaffirms the abundant blessings in my life rather than wishful thinking and desires.
    - Humility – not thinking of myself much differently from the way I’d be apt to think of anybody else.

    I work at being patient. I know there are two sides to every coin. I push back and seek information. I work at not assuming and most of all, I try not nurture phantom rules. I work at avoiding creating ugly stories. I seek to be curious and continuously ask questions. I make time for sharpening my saw including, the physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual.

I challenge the process.

    The number one challenge for me is to find and maintain balance. I find balance by continuously examining my life. I know I cannot be good for those I lead if I am not good for myself. Socrates wrote truth, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

    I believe stress is a major illness. I try to prevent stress by learning to simplify all areas of my life. I came into this world with hands and a mind free of stuff. I will leave this life taking nothing with me. In between its “stuff” that burdens the journey. There is so much I want, yet so little I need. People remember Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream,” and The Golden Rule. I believe core messages help me to avoid bad choices by reminding me of what is important. I seek to find ways to eliminate complexity and circumlocution throughout my life. I have learned to leverage. I know my strengths and focus on continuously developing these. I find followers whose strengths are my weaknesses and leverage.

I enable others to act

    I understand the difference between management versus leadership. Leadership is about effectiveness and doing the right things. Management is about efficiency and doing things right. I manage time, processes and things. I lead people. The only time micromanagement works is at a time of crisis, when people are emotional or fearful resulting in unclear thinking. There is no “microleadership.” I try to leave people and places in better condition than when I found them!

    I delegate. I give away the power. I give people the big picture, the expectations. I let them use their strengths, gifts, talents and passion to figure out the process that works best. I hold people accountable but give up control. I try to understand how much communication is needed to create a shared-mental-model for the expectations. I work to understand how people learn and communicate best. I know some people are visual learners, some are verbal learners and some are experience-based learners.

I inspire a shared vision.

    I believe I know what life is calling me to do: To help individuals, groups and organizations to learn, to live, to promote “seize the day” leading to reduced ignorance and reduced suffering and enhanced living.

   I am the author of my mission, the mountains I wish to climb the next several years. I have designed key initiatives to help me to focus on my mission. I set metrics and a timeline to measure my progress. My mission from 2008, was to announce to the staff of Joy Outdoor Education Center, Clarksville, OH, I would be leaving by the end of the year to work and live on purpose in North Carolina with my wife, Terri.

    I believe a leader who knows, who understands and is inspired by his/her vision is in a better position to lead others and to inspire others to a shared vision for the team and organization.

I encourage the heart.
    I know the only things a leader can control are the ABCs - Attitude, Behavior and Choices. Most of all, I know I cannot control others. I believe it is my responsibility to get to know others, my followers and understand them including their strengths, weaknesses, concerns, pains and worries. I know I cannot motivate, but I believe I can inspire by showing how much I care and cheering people on to bring their best, to be their best, to do their best for our team and organization.

These are the leadership questions I continuously ask of myself and of my followers:

What key functions can only I as a leader perform?
How am I doing?
Who is the customer? Am I/are we serving him/her well?
Do we know what our business is? 

Are we focused on that business?
What makes us good? What costs us at being good?
How can we break hierarchy and create networks?

I ask if you come to me with an issue or problem, please bring a solution as well so we may together resolve the issue or problem as quickly as possible.

Carrpe Diem!

David Carr

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Would You Fail Forward?

If you watched the final category at the Oscars on Sunday evening, February 26, 2017, you saw La La Land had won best picture. Many of us shrugged our shoulders, turned off the television and went to bed.  And then all hell broke loose! Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were given the wrong best picture announcement card by the PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) representatives. La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz handled the snafu with class and dignity and got it right, Moonlight won best picture.

We immediately went into finger pointing mode. Whom did we blame? At first, the finger pointing went to Beatty and Dunaway. Then the finger pointed at the PwC representatives. Brian Cullinan, PwC representative, who handed Beatty the wrong envelope was distracted backstage using his smartphone. The fingers got pointed at the Oscar's producer, Michael De Luca, for not having better oversight. Finger pointing went to whomever designed the Oscar announcement cards for poor design, layout and typography.

If you are in charge of next year's Oscars, what would you do?

Here is what I know for sure. People make mistakes. Great discoveries are made in pain, suffering and mistakes. I would act with grace. I would give everyone who was involved in the 2017 Oscars a "fail forward card!" 

I'd go back to the 2017 Oscar card announcement designer(s) and have them make the 2018 Oscar announcement cards. You can bet he/she/they will get it right! I predict the 2018 Oscar announcement cards will be the easiest cards to read and understand while on stage in front 33 million viewers and the Dolby Theater audience of 3,400. 

I would not only have PwC continue to oversee the tabulation of the Oscar voting, I would bring back PwC accountants Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz to hand out the announcement cards again in 2018. You can bet they will be on top of their responsibilities and get it right!

I'd bring back the 2017 Oscar producer, Michael De Luca, to produce the 2018 Oscars. I believe he will find the most creative, committed and accountable staff to produce an over-the-top 2018 Oscar program. I'd make sure Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were again co-presenters, if not for best picture, then for another category.

This would be a "Golden Rule" moment to transcend what we believe to be the worst in people to the belief that people can be better than they were when given another opportunity. It is a belief that we grow from mistakes and failures.

Grace is a powerful, healing force. Forgiveness is all about extending grace. Forgiveness is about giving another opportunity to correct and be better. It is the gift we need to extend to ourselves and others. It is the work of the soul, based in humility. Grace and forgiveness check pride and tame it. The finger pointing focuses not on others but the three fingers turned toward us. Forgiveness affirms we are human, and we are worthy of love rather than shame. Aren't we all called to extend this love to others?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Where I'm From...

You don't know me but you don't like me
You say you care less how I feel
But how many of you that sit and judge me
Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

                                         - Homer Joy, Streets of Bakersfield

There is an exercise I facilitate with groups to help them understand the deep diversity among them, based upon George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I’m From."

One of the takeaways of this exercise is the discovery of connection. Contrary to Joy's quote above, we bridge the gap of not liking each other. Here is Where I'm from...

Where I'm from ... we are who we are because of where we’ve been including: the people we connect with regularly, the news, the books, magazines and papers we consume, the experiences we’ve had. Our echo chambers, comfort zones come from all of these sources. We try very hard to get out of our echo chamber, our comfort zone. In fact, we recognize our calling is to help others get out their comfort zones into their learning zones and growth zones.

Where I'm from ... we had a gay brother/brother-in-law who died from AIDS. We have a gay daughter who recently got engaged to her partner and we are looking forward to celebrating their wedding.

Where I'm from ... we work with a wide range of organizations including for-profit Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profit including major universities, Building Bridges, and United Way and government entities including the E.P.A. and I.R.S. A couple of organizations have staff from all over the world. We got exposed to an incredibly diverse population that broke many molds, myths and assumptions with which we’d grown up.

Where I'm from ... we attend, support and work with Building Bridges, an organization that seeks to dismantle racism, respect diversity and encourage action. 

Where I'm from ... we attend and worship at a mission church that serves the homeless, underserved, veterans and abused. Needless to say, much of the congregation does does not look like us.  

Where I'm from ... our work has exposed us to our privilege including male privilege, white privilege, Christian privilege, leadership privilege, heterosexual privilege and American privilege. We are not ashamed of our privilege, but recognize the need to use our privilege to help those who do not have privilege. We’ve learned, if you can’t see your privilege, then you have privilege.  

Where I'm from ... we white males have the privilege of walking into our local big box grocery store past the security guard with no problem, but our black fire department cohort may get discreetly followed when he is out of uniform and in gym clothes walking past the security guard.

Where I'm from ... we Christians have the privilege of getting off work for Christmas and Good Friday, but our Jewish cohorts do not get days off for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) or Yom Kippur (Day of forgiveness). Our Muslim cohorts do not get off for Eid-Al-Aha (The sacrifice Abraham was willing to make of his son Ishmael) or Eid-Al-Fitr (The final day of celebration of Ramadan.) 

Where I'm from ... we heterosexuals have the privilege of not having to hide or lie about women/men only social gatherings. We heterosexuals have the privilege of not worrying about being asked by the school to send only one parent to "back to school night" so not to upset heterosexual parents with same-sex parents being present.
Not being asked by your child’s school to only send one parent to “back to school” night as to not upset the other parents by having two same-sex partners in the class together. - See more at:
Not being asked by your child’s school to only send one parent to “back to school” night as to not upset the other parents by having two same-sex partners in the class together. - See more at:

Where I'm from ... we are aware of our implicit bias and work to dial down our bias.

Where I'm from ... we don't read or watch USAToday, CNN, MSNBC or FOX. Not having cable television reinforces this practice. We don't listen to the talking heads including Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow. We get news from Reuters, AP, BBC, and NPR, which in our opinion offer balance. One of the segments on NPR Friday edition includes conservative David Brooks and liberal E.J. Dione, who talk about the news and events of the week. Their different perspectives are mind opening for us. We read The Week magazine as they summarize all the key news and editorial OP-EDs (liberal and conservative) each week. We listen to Fareed Zakaria's GPS podcast. He is intelligent and asks thoughtful questions from his guests who come from both sides of an issue.

Where I'm from ... we read mostly non-fiction books. Two books we recommend to understand the divide in our country, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop (4/5 stars on Amazon) and Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland, Duke Divinity Professor. (4.5/5 stars on Amazon). These two books give insight from a secular as well as religious point of view, the friction that is growing in our country. 

Where I'm from ... we check statements and "facts" especially with all the “fake news." We check facts at: Government Accounting Office, Bureau of Labor and Statistics, The National Priorities Project, Office of Management and Budget, Vera Institute of Justice, The U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Disease Control, United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, The Smithsonian Institutional Archives, The Library of Congress, PEW Research, Gallup Organization (neither poll made predictions on the 2016 election), National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Civil Liberties Union.  

Where I'm from ... we seek facts, truth and evidence from these sources and discovered since 2008:
- unemployment has fallen from 7.3% to 4.7% 
- gas at the pump dropped from $3.24/gallon to $2.24/gallon
- uninsured Americans dropped from 15% to 9.2%
- The U.S. imported oil has dropped from 11 million barrels per day to 4 million barrels per day. That number is expected to continue to drop as we are now exporting oil.
- The GDP has moved from -0.3% to +3.7%
- The Dow Jones was at 10,355 and now is over 20,000. Our retirement funds look a whole lot better!

Where I'm from ... we celebrate what people get right. We forgive when people do wrong and apologize. Obama wasn't perfect and neither was Bush. Obama made mistakes as did Bush. Affordable HealthCare Act was not perfect, but it was a start. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not perfect, but it was the right thing to do and continues to get better. We need to come up with a healthcare plan that is not tied to Wall Street and profit. Healthcare needs to be a right, not a privilege. The two things at the foundation of a great nation are good, affordable education for all and good, affordable healthcare for all.

Where I'm from ... we study leadership from The Leadership Challenge. The Leadership Challenge is about the five practices of exemplary leadership - model the way, enable others to act, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process and encourage the heart - they are what we use to determine the ability of a person to lead well.

Where I'm from ... we make the five practices the gold standard for holding the President of the United States or any leader accountable. Where I'm from ... these five practices are what is expected from someone who calls himself/herself a leader. They are what we are committed to doing and to what we hold ourselves accountable. Where I'm from ... the older we get, the better we should be at living into these five practices. 

You may not like Where I'm from ... . You may not agree with Where I'm from ... . But it is essential we get together for discussion about Where I'm from ... and where you are from. Discussion trumps argument. Argument is about finding out who is right. Discussion is about learning from each other and finding out what is right.

Friday, February 3, 2017

President Trump, I've Got a Couple of Suggestions

We see what we want to see, many times missing what we need to see. It’s our filters, our perceptions of truth and reality.

When I look at Trump, I see a ruthless business person, rather than professional non-compromising politician. Trump has taken the office of President of the United States with a mindset of a C.E.O. He wants to turn a perceived failed “company” into a profitable one. If we look at the United States of America as another Trump business deal, then consider this.

Trump’s “Board of Directors” is made up of three parties - Congress, the Supreme Court and the Citizens of the United States of America. All parties being human bring different levels of education, perspective, belief, hopes, dreams, moral values as well a huge melting pot of diversity. They are not all the same (as much as we may wish they were). I do not consider his cabinet to be a part of the
Board of Directors because Trump chooses his cabinet and cabinet members serve at his will. In organizations, the Board of Directors choose the C.E.O. and the C.E.O. serves according to the collective will of the Board of Directors.

The relationship between Trump and
Board of Directors is a deep mix of: love-hate; preferring Trump to be ________ versus expecting Trump to be _________; fully trusting to fully distrusting.

As with any leader of any organization or team, trust and credibility are essential. They are the currency of leadership. Trust is the linchpin in Trump's relationship with Americans. I like Charles Feltman, The Thin Book of Trust. Feltman writes there are four dimensions to trust: sincerity, reliability, competency and compassion. To live and to behave well in all four of these dimensions requires humility. Jim Collins, Good to Great, writes fifth level leaders have fierce resolve and humility. This is where Trump fails at trust. His lack of humility prevents him from being:

- sincere (apologies are loaded with sarcasm and failed ownership) “I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not.” (Response to 2005 Access Hollywood video clip with Billy Bush on what he thought of women.)

- reliable (failed promises) “If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely and I would love to do that.” May 2014 interview with an Irish Television Station.

- competency (weak political experience, questionable intellect, thin temperament, poor people skills) Trump is seen as a Twitter Cry-Bully, which is highly un-C.E.O. and very un-Presidential.

- compassion (lack of love for fellow human beings) Evidence includes Trump’s executive order on immigration ban, a quart low on compassion as well as his executive order to go ahead and expedite the Dakota pipeline dismissing Native American tribes. Trump's disbelief in scientific consensus over climate change, the rise of nationalism, the threat of a renewed arms race between the U.S. and Russia  has moved the Nuclear Doomsday Clock  2.5 minutes closer to midnight, closest it's been in 64 years! Note: The Doomsday Clock members are atomic scientists of which 18 are Nobel laureates.

But the ultimate trust and credibility killer is misinformation, alternative facts and untruths that seem to not only be the norm with Trump and his administration, but given a pass by Trump supporters. There are universal truths that cut across opinion, desire, culture, race and status. If you are are not open to universal truths, which can be inconvenient truths, then you perpetuate ignorance and suffering.

I offer a couple of solutions and ways for Trump to gain trust, shore up integrity and build credibility.

Joel Barker, futurist, author and educator created the Implications Wheel back in the 1970s. It is a type of mind map. I find this tool to be powerful in helping individuals and organizations to look at facts, evidence, universal truths and implications of any situation, product, service or pending change for insight to possible future outcomes. Powerful, thoughtful questions are at the root of discovery and better outcomes. The Implications Wheel helps ask powerful "what if..." questions.

Another tool to consider is Michael Michalko's THINKPAK a 56 brainstorming card deck. You begin by writing down a subject or challenge. Then you systematically go through cards, 3 through 47 in order of: substitute; combine; adapt; modify or magnify; put it to some other use; eliminate; reverse or rearrange. Every card has challenging questions to consider related to the principle topic of the card. Another approach is to draw randomly from the cards. Cards 48 through 56 are ways to evaluate what you learn.

Finally, Edward DeBono's Six Thinking Hats is another tool for creative, thoughtful, purposeful thinking. DeBono's method is to look at a problem or situation from six different points of view including: the facts (white hat); emotion (red hat); negative ramifications (black hat); positive ramifications (yellow hat); brainstorming (green hat); action steps (blue hat). 

All three of these tools move thinking away from the way we've always thought to stimulate the imagination, to generate ideas and to understand possible outcomes. These constructive, thoughtful, insightful tools have saved individuals and organizations missteps, money, embarrassment and shame. They force cognitive dissonance and critical thinking. Used effectively and deliberately, I believe any of these tools could prevent a war. In fact, I believe they could have stopped the United States from invading Iraq.

What if Trump and ALL of cabinet used the Implications Wheel, THINKPAK or Six Thinking Hats regularly? It could foster understanding leading to fewer protests. These tools could help him to see what he needs to see. It might help him find a doable, workable, affordable alternative to Obamacare. It might help him roll back the Nuclear Doomsday Clock several minutes. It could help him to figure out how to build a bridge rather than a wall between America and Mexico. It might even help Trump to use Twitter in a better way.