Don’t Do it Alone

I just want to share with you what I have read in John C. Maxwell’s book, “Developing the Leader within You.

According to John, leaders don’t do it alone. They employ others to fulfill the vision. And in the process, they develop them.

In the story, John tells of a person who attempted to just do the opposite. The person tried to move five hundred pounds of bricks from the top of a four-story building to the sidewalk below…and he tried to do it alone.

On an insurance claim form, he explained what happened:

It would have taken too long to carry the bricks down by hand, so I decided to put them in a barrel and lower them by a pulley which I had fastened to the top of the building.

After tying the rope securely at the ground level, I then went up to the top of the building. I fastened the rope around the barrel, loaded it with the bricks, and swung it out over the sidewalk for the descent.

Then I went down to the sidewalk and untied the rope, holding it securely to guide the barrel down slowly. But since I weigh only one hundred and forty pounds, the five-hundred pound load jerked me from the ground so fast that I didn’t have time to think of letting go of the rope. And as I passed between the second and third floors, I met the barrel coming down. This accounts for the bruises and lacerations on my upper body.

I held tightly to the rope until I reached the top, where my hand became jammed in the pulley. This accounts for my broken thumb. At the same time, however, the barrel hit the sidewalk with a bang and the bottom fell out. With the weight of the bricks gone, the barrel weighed only about forty pounds. Thus, my one-hundred-forty-pound body begun a swift decent, and I met the empty barrel coming up. This accounts for my broken ankle.

Slowed only slightly, I continued the descent and landed on a pile of bricks. This accounts for my sprained back and broken collar-bone.

At this point, I lost my presence of mind completely and let go of the rope. And the empty barrel came crashing down on me. This accounts for my head injuries.

As for the last question on the form, ‘What would you do if the same situation arose again?’ please be advised that I’m finished trying to do the job alone.”

Hope you enjoyed it. Have a nice day!

Character Assassination Is A Suicide Mission

Before I continue spraying you with some Droplets of universal, time-enduring, and self-evident principles, please pause with me for a while…let’s do a little pondering about this last droplet of insight from chapter 2.

“Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are.”

                                          Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many times for many years different sorts of people share with me their pain of being verbally attacked by other people, of being victims of character assassination, of being bad-mouthed by unprofessional enemies. Just recently I received a message from a friend who has been a victim of non-stop character assassination attempt by bitter people who envy her. In a previous post, “Educated to Criticize?” I also shared the story of two people from two different situations who had been victims of bad-mouthing by professional people. I understand their feeling because I myself endured many verbal attacks as well.

At first, I was also hurt, but when I gradually started to realize the truth in Emerson’s words, I also gradually realized that the people who bad-mouth me are not really revealing things about me; in every word they say against me, they are actually revealing tons of information about themselves, they are in effect, displaying and demonstrating their own character, they’re showing the world who they really are at their core being. They are simply manifesting what kind of people they are. They are broadcasting to the entire world that they are people who cannot be trusted, that they are unprofessional and disrespectful. They are telling everybody that they are pitifully so consumed by their own arrogance and bitterness blended together to make them so helplessly unable to get past their pains.

Let’s clarify. Who do the attacking? What kind of people are they who engage in character assassination attacks against another person? What kind of character do they posses? Is bad-mouthing or is engaging in character assassination the choice of avenue of a man of character when dealing with somebody he doesn’t agree with? How would a man of integrity deals with someone he is in conflict with?

Pretty obvious, isn’t it? But we always miss it. How often do we attack other people without realizing this truth? How often do we criticize other people without realizing that every time we bad-mouth them we are telling the world what kind of character we have. When we attack other people, we are showing the world what we are made of. The words we use against other people are simply a description of who we are at our deepest core being.

I like how John C. Maxwell puts it in the very first chapter of his book, Winning With People. He said,

“Who you are determines the way you see everything. You cannot separate your identity from your perspective. All that you are and every experience you’ve had color how you see things. It is your lens.”

I believe that’s true. In my photo blog, “Point of View” I have chosen that paradigm as my tagline to point out that different people see different things within the same environment. We see things according to who we are. The things that our eyes see around us are just expressions of who we are, and so are the words that come out of our mouth.

You see, every time a person bad-mouths you, stand still, keep intact…because that person is not destroying you; that person is obviously destroying himself unawares. Because he is revealing to others how untrustworthy, how unprofessional, and how incapable he is in soothing his own bitterness. And no body wants to be with people like that.

Isn’t it good to be reminded that it is better for us to be the target of character assassination than to be the one who does the bad-mouthing? Of course we need to survive our own character by keeping our values intact when dealing with personal attacks, lest we become one of them.

When you are being attacked unprofessionally by others, just don’t forget this truth:

The first person being destroyed in a character assassination attack is the assassin himself. He’s just not aware of it. Bad-mouthing is a suicide mission: it destroys the source of criticism in the process rather than the one being criticized.

Just Like That

The first time I watched the movie Forrest Gump many years ago, I thought it was just an adventure story that luckily won 6 Academy Awards. When I watched it again a few days ago I have gained an expanded insight about grace…about how scandalous grace is.

Watching Forrest Gump again also deepened my understanding of the implications of grace in the daily basis, and once again threatened my strong sense of “deservingness.”

Forrest was not a matinee idol. He was a subject of ridicule for the educated, for the smart, for those people who think they are better than him. Forrest was a subject of irritation for Jenny, his girl who doesn’t want to be rescued and insisted that he doesn’t understand what love is.

Forrest was a subject of hatred and envy, and the cause of disappointment to his former lieutenant, who even labeled him “a moron who appears in the TV and makes fun of himself.” He was called “stupid” by his school mates, and considered as “local idiot” by a coach. He was supposed to be nothing—a nobody…an undeserving.

To many, Forrest is below normal, having low IQ, and a living joke of the town. He is not entitled to be popular, to be adored or even to be lucky. He doesn’t have what it takes.

But Forrest was graced. He is more than lucky, he is graced beyond belief. His life was full of unexpected thrill, unbelievable blessings, indescribable delight and fulfillment.

Just Like That?

Forrest Gump has become like a classic movie now. Maybe because deep within our hearts, we long to receive what Forrest received despite our strong denial of our own unworthiness. We still long for some kind of unexpected delight, a surprise gift, an extravagant blessing, something that we don’t have to earn, something free. Just like that!

I have noticed in the movie that Forrest, as he narrates his life, has a habit of asking, “Can you believe that?” and a habit of exclaiming, “Just like that!” Have you noticed that too in the movie?

As I ponder more about it, I realized: grace is “just like that!” no works required, no strings attached, no payment to follow, no conditions to keep. Can you believe that?

The movie begins and ends with a feather “so light no one knows where it might land,” remarks Philip Yancey. And indeed, it landed in front of a low IQ, undeserving man. Just Like that! The undeserving boy who had a back “as crooked as a politician” becomes the fastest runner in his place, in his time. The low IQ, below normal student, later received a Medal of Honor, became pingpong champion, invited by the President of the U.S. more than once, and gathered followers from the street as he ran during the time when he just felt like running. Run Forrest, run!

Being so graced, Forrest became a living dispenser of grace—the one who truly understands what love is, knows what it means to be loyal, and exemplifies the virtue of forgiveness. “No Forrest, you don’t know what love is!” his unfaithful Jenny accused him just after he rescued her. No Jenny, you’re wrong, Forrest knows exactly what love is. And he’s demonstrating it all the time.

The concept of grace awakens in us an excruciatingly painful realization that in the eyes of God, we stand in common ground. No one is holier or more deserving. No one can boast. No one is better. We are all the same. We all sinned. This implies that we cannot or should not compare ourselves with others in terms of “being deserving.”

Grace challenges our most embraced self-deceptive lie: that we are more deserving of praise, of reward, of recognition, of heaven…than others. Grace opens our eyes so we can see that grace doesn’t choose based on performance, that, like the feather in the beginning and end of the movie, it may land to anybody regardless of status and intelligence, of titles and ranks. Just like that!

In my last post, Unlikely Protagonist, I explored about how I normally identify myself with the protagonist whenever I watch movies. And I seldom recognize that in front of God or perhaps with other people, I more resemble the antagonists than the protagonist.

Now, looking in ourselves with grace-filled lenses in our hearts, we come in contact—face to face—with the our true status before God. Because of our realization, we no longer identify with the protagonist whenever we watch movies. Instead, we realize that in God’s perspective we resemble the antagonists, the sinners, the undeserving. But we are being accepted—just like that!

Like Forrest, this grace lens helps us to be compassionate with others, to be forgiving, to dispense grace to the undeserving, to be humble. Because of grace we become slow in judging others—believing that the grace of God will land to them as it did to Forrest Gump, free of charge, no works required, no merits to be earned, no diplomas or certificates to boast, no strings attached…all is free. Just like that! Can you believe that?



A snapshot from Leadership and the One Minute Manager

Different Strokes for different folks,” is one of the first themes that will welcome you when you read the book, Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard.

The book discusses the concept of the “Situational Leadership” where the leader must have three skills: diagnosis, flexibility, and partnering for performance.

Situational Leadership is a distinct approach to leadership. A situational leader does not adhere to only one style of leadership in his way of dealing with people. Instead, he adjusts his leadership style according to the situation. Different situations means different levels of the competence and commitment of the individuals.

For years I have believed that if I want to be a good leader, I need to choose my preferred style and then develop it. Now I realize that I need to learn and develop different styles so I will be able to adjust to the need of the situation.

Autocratic vs Democratic

My father was a military. So I grew up in his highly militaristic, overly directive, domineering, and excessively commanding, autocratic approach to leadership. For yeas I was impressed. I thought that was the best style of leadership. Later I realized that I believed it was the best because it was the only style I was familiar with.

After I graduated from college, I got involved in small business. My trainings, seminars, and my mentors introduced me to a more democratic way of leadership. I learned to motivate people by letting them participate in some of the leadership roles. Empowerment is the key, supportive style is vital. During those years I shifted my allegiance from the autocratic to democratic style of leadership. I came to conclude that democratic is better than autocratic; support and empowerment is more needed than directions.

After almost another decade of continuous learning, I came across with this concept of situational leadership. Here, I have learned that in some situations, autocratic is the best approach—but not always. In some circumstances, democratic is the best—also not always.

Another few more years this idea was fortified by learning that it is dangerous to become democratic in a chaotic environment. Likewise, it becomes ineffective to use a militaristic, autocratic style during peaceful situations. Normally we apply democracy in a peaceful society; and we shift to iron-fist autocratic approach during civil wars and other chaotic conditions. We don’t mismatch the style with the need of the society.

If you are going to ask me, “Which is a better leadership style, democratic or autocratic?” my answer would be another question, “What is the current situation of the people? Because both styles are better, depending on the situation.”
No one leadership style will fit in all situations: we need to be flexible.

According to the Leadership and the One Minute Manager there are four basic styles that come from the combination of directive (autocratic) and supportive (democratic) styles: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. Situational Leadership

Directing Style is more on direction than support. Coaching style has a balanced blend of directive and supportive behaviors. Supporting style has more supportive approach than direction. Delegating style is low both in direction and support.

If we mismatch, let’s say, if we delegate a task to an incompetent person, most likely, he will fail. If we give too much direction to an experienced staff, he will most likely be irritated.

The best approach is to match the style of our leadership to the need of the person we are leading—that is, we adjust to his development level. That is the flexibility of a situational leader: the ability to adjust his leadership style to the growth of his men.

That brings us to another necessary skill in leadership: diagnosis.