Recently been working with a volunteer committee and have enjoyed the people and the process. But I’ve also discovered that having an entrepreneur mix in the group is essential. I need to be clear that the entrepreneur I refer to is entrepreneurial to the extreme. That is, their goals are far more important than their relationship with those they work with. Achieving their ends is what they are about not relationships with the people they work and live with.
When compared to true leaders genuine entrepreneurs are totally different people. The outstanding leader is about nurturing and growing relationships between people. They are at their roots, role models and teachers. Where-as the true entrepreneur is goal driven even at the cost of relationships. Realizing goals is what they are about. Demanding that they be more humane in their relationships is akin to spitting in the wind.
Both good leadership and committed entrepreneurship are necessary whether a business for profit or a board of volunteers committed to community service. This is certainly true as long as the funding of programs to sustain and grow the volunteer organization exists in the first place. What better contributors than having true entrepreneurs in the mix to find and bring home the bacon?
The problem and a serious one is that true entrepreneurs and volunteers that commit for the good of the community are a terrible mix. Most volunteers invariably care for the people they contribute their time to. Feelings, words and behavior count a great deal. On the other hand, true entrepreneurs make things happen. They knock on doors, make the calls and write the letters. They know exactly why they volunteer and it’s not about “fuzzes.” They are also lousy leaders and not because they don’t respect and work well with others, but because they are much more goal directed. They step on toes and mostly view people they work with as a hindrance to achieving the more important goals, and that’s filling the coffers. Volunteers need to support the entrepreneurs amongst them, or they will fight them and resist. Any conflict is woefully misplaced. The question is how to avoid.
To be clear, I’m referring to winning entrepreneurs not the many that express their desire to be entrepreneurs, but don’t or will not put in the effort to make things happen. True entrepreneurs leave no stone unturned. They do not do what they do for themselves, but because they know one way and that way is to find and get the gold. Help them or get out of their way. Sy
Working together————Takes effort, understanding————Do we give ourselves?
Some do or do not———-So be a giver and help—————-Make it happen now.
Do what is called for————–Take necessary action———–Maybe it will work?
The yard grew and the card file created by Yamamoto was perfect. Each item in the yard had its place and condition noted. Also our equipment grew to a forklift, cherry picker crane and a truck. We had become a big yard that held all kinds of “stuff” ultimately to be shipped back to the States, used locally or disposed of. The pacific was our dumping grounds.
The day came when the four of us discussed our returning home. Ohara was a street car conductor in Tokyo before the war and looked forward to returning home. Kato was an actor, also from Tokyo and wanted to return. Yamamoto was the senior of the group and had been a bank officer from Hiroshima. He lost his whole family to the bomb and desired to remain on Okinawa. There was nothing for him to return to. I wrote letters on each of their behalf supporting that their wishes be fulfilled. In my ignorance and youth the thought of remaining in touch with them never came up. To this day am sorry for that.
My company captain (the one that administered the GED exam) offered to arrange for me to go to Radar School in the Philippines which meant a year plus of schooling and upon graduation becoming a 2ndLieutenant. At the same time I was given a time to return home and civilian life. I choose to return home to Chicago and my family. Under the captain’s influence I looked forward to beginning my formal education. I had no idea as to what that would be. The thoughts of me being a student actually excited me.
When the day came for me to leave Okinawa and the military I met with my three dear friends. It was a sad experience I will never forget as I will never forget them. We had become family and it was painful to say good bye. We all hugged and cried at our parting. They had contributed to my becoming a man, and as I was to discover, a leader. Yamamoto was my primary teacher, but Kato and Ohara also taught me what relationship, respect and regard meant. We truly and deeply had this for each other. Consider our history together and that throughout my whole experience on Okinawa they became my closest and dearest friends. How blessed to have them in my life even to this day.
When I reflect on this experience I see that from the moment I saw them with their hands over their heads I felt empathy and sadness for them. They really believed they would be killed when they walked out of that cave. What happened was a friendship I hope they carried with them throughout their lives. I certainly have.
We meet and become———–Becoming what we know not———And why becoming.
I allow you in————takes courage to allow this———–Yet, what other course?
You give me your self———–Do I know what this gift means?——–Not until I know.
Friendship, a true gift———–Rare to be given freely———–Never take lightly. Sy
Over the years I’ve been asked to write more about the three POW’s and our relationship on Okinawa. Even now I feel the influence they had on my growth as a result of our working together for about 15 months. Their picture is well etched in my mind and heart. Even now as I tell the story it brings a smile and warm feeling. They helped make me the person I became.
My respect and regard for them began day one and I felt this in return. None of it planned and why I label it a “happening.” A brief reminder of the story: I was part of a squad that sent prisoners into caves to try to convince the Japanese solders still fighting the war that they would be safe if they gave themselves up. If they did not come out we’d blow up the entrance to the cave closing off at least one escape route for them. Three soldiers with their hands held high came out of the cave and I was ordered to drive them to the prisoner’s compound. Having never driven anything how could I turn this demand down? Reading the metal plate instructions on the dash and driving was one challenge I had to take. Luck ruled the day and someway, somehow, we made it safely to the compound.
Soon after this adventure I was instructed to build an outdoor warehouse for used equipment and for labor get some prisoners to help me. At the compound I saw the three prisoners sitting along the fence and we immediately smiled at each other. Surely we each remembered our close call with death during the drive. I knew then that they were and had to be my coworkers.
Once together It took them five minutes to realize I was a 19 years old that knew nothing. They immediately took over and began the process of organizing and constructing our warehouse. I also recognized that they never made light of my role as leader. In other words, given the situation they would play deaf and dumb so that when officers requested equipment for their own use the three coworkers made sure I appeared to be the power that either gave or denied the request.
The warehouse grew and we soon had a crew of twelve POW”S. One Day a POW ran into the hills attempting to join the Japanese soldiers still fighting the war. I grabbed my carbine and headed off to recapture him. Yamamoto and Ohara tackled me and physically restrained me from going after him. Yamamoto, the true leader, in his 40s and Ohara, 2ndin command and 30s refused to let me go after the escapee. It was Yamamoto that went for him and now I thought I had two escapees. (As an aside, they taught me basic Japanese and I taught them English using Life Magazine pictures. Eventually, we were able to communicate with each other. We laughed a lot, but made it work.)
Long story short, Yamamoto returned with the escapee about two hours later. Lined up all the workers and me and absolutely demolished the escapee verbally, slapped him, once, across the face and we all went back to work. This event never repeated again. (To be continued in the next paper).
Haiku: We commit to do———-And become one in our goals———-We do not fail any
The leader leads us———-Because they do the job best————-We participate. Sy