Working with Volunteers

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

Haiku’s

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?

Enlightened Leadership-Where Art Thou?

I’ve written and lectured on Leadership for many years. Have read thousands of pages on the subject and studied the philosophers from different periods seeking possible answers to what attributes or life styles contributes to a person attaining high marks as a leader. What comes out of my search, which continues to this day, are the life experiences an individual has and what knowledge they extract from those experiences. In other words, they not only stand on the shoulders of great leaders that have come before them, but themselves have been muddied and bloodied in the process of becoming what they are. None are born leaders, in fact, there are no such people, but only through thought and action (the trials and tribulations they have faced) a few become great leaders. Also, none are self made, but shaped through relationships with others whether brief encounters, even accidental, or lifelong partners.

It is also true that quality leaders teach primarily through being who they are and in the process become students to those they teach. Keep in mind that this relationship and the cross influences are not necessarily formal, but an organic way of relating. This sharing and growing are natural processes we label “mutuality.” It is seen in the trust they demonstrate with knowledgeable people they bring into their Inner Circle. These special people are not ideologues, but people with considerable experience and success in their respective fields. None are puppets to be manipulated, but proven leaders themselves. 

The quality leader does not seek extensions of them self, or waste their time forcing agreement. This leader views each person as the unique being they are and as a consequence they participate with them in “genuine dialogue”. And they are not blind to history, but know that what was is yesterday and that “what is” and “to come” is considerably more important. They are an open book and apart from the pages of their own history what is to be written has few if any hidden expectations of themselves or others, but truth, honesty and fairness.

Jose Gasset, (philosopher/professor, Spain 1920s) made the following observation to his students: “Many that live in these days believe the period we live in is more than all the rest that precedes us. And yet, at the same time feels that it is a beginning. Superior to other times, but inferior to itself; strong, indeed and confident and at the same time uncertain of its destiny; proud of its strength and creativity and at the same time fearing it.)   I quote Gasset because I strongly agree that the quality leader and “the student to be leader” accept this as truth. That today is full of almost unlimited possibilities and the leaders of this day and time are given the responsibility as none before have been given. We live in a time where leadership is becoming more important than ever before. Previously we believed we lived in separate lands divided by large rivers, mountains, deserts, jungles, oceans and that nations could stand alone. We know today that this is all history long gone. Now most of us accept that we live together on a small planet, limited resources, exploding population, degrading environment and science that has proven that we are all, black, white and others brothers and sisters. We are relatives one to each and all.  If True, why is hate so prevalent? We would think that most of us know or have learned that we either live and to live well together, or the alternative which must be unacceptable to all, but sadly is not. And that is the destruction of our home we call Planet Earth, but certainly civilization as we know it. Our time, as no other time, calls for Enlightened Leadership and the question: Where Art Thou? 

Quality Leadership

Saturday’s Wall St Journal (3/23/19) has an article that clearly supports the message I’ve been trying to live and do my best to teach for seventy plus years. It is about quality Leadership as the key to success of the huge majority of people organizations. I am flabbergasted that this is the hot lesson of the day and forces me to ask “what will it take for those in positions of power and influence over others to learn and apply so obvious a truth?” It’s only been around since the idea of group living and the better chance of survival takes place. Without question quality leadership has been and is the key to human creativity, productivity and a better life for the majority. Nothing new under the sun; It’s only a matter of discovery and that through experience personally experienced as often as possible.

Look into any operation that depends on people and if it is a successful operation there is an excellent leaders right in the mix of what is taking place. These leaders are front and center or behind their people, but in most situations a part of the action. They are role models through behavior. Words may be part of their value to others, but it’s the actions they take that counts the most. But this is just a beginning. 

This quality leader is not sitting in an office far removed from the playing field, but is a participating member without always being in charge.  This point needs to be clearly understood. The leader I am writing of empowers those they work with to take leadership if and when the event calls out to them to take over. Situations count more than any fixed hierarchy or construct.

This is impossible to attain without trust, respect and dialogue being established between the leader and their key people. These are essential ingredients leaders bring to each of their meaningful relationships. And as challenging as it may be, none of this begins with subordinates, but is the leader being their authentic self.  How received by those that are led depends on each and their own personal history dealing with power issues. Whether growth (change) takes place between them has much to do with this. Nothing is assured.

The beauty of this is that most people seek better than their past. They want to be trusted, respected and to experience dialogue that confirms their existence as a self. Quality leadership may not guarantee this happening, but there is no better way to reach another. Truth, respect and openness have remarkable curative powers.

Haikus:

What is reported————It reads as if news today————–Who cares; let it be.

Leadership required——–Someone must, without which way?.——–A leader at helm

Trust and respect————–what brings and holds together————Not easy to do

The Best Kind of Leadership

What is the best kind of leadership? This is a tough question because what is best for one kind of follower is not going to work for another. There are those that believe they need to be left alone to do their job, or whatever needs to be done, and actually do better given the space and resources necessary to do the job. In other words, let them be, and all will be well. Or the good leader, soon enough, discovers that a person may want freedom, but handles it badly. In this case the good leader applies constraints like time, quality, quantity, etc., in order to either “grow or go” the follower.  A good leader does this quickly so that damage is minimized, or that growth is facilitated. Inadequate leaders are either too firm, too quickly, or too lax for too long. Timing has much to do with whether leadership is effective. Good leadership and teachable moments are as connected as are ears to the head. Hiding o-seek is not a game good leaders play.  They say what they mean to say, and do what they say. No confusion between words and action.  And the wiser employees know this to be true.

Also, the better leaders accept that differences are a good thing, is desirable, and that this needs to be nurtured both for the benefit to the individual, and to the group. And here is where quality leaders separate themselves from the not so capable leaders. Growing individuals to be more capable, creative, productive, means also to grow them as members of the group they work with. Competition between people within groups, and competition between groups, is eliminated as much as possible, and cooperation becomes the mantra that is spoken as well as felt between one and all. 

This is what a quality leader does: They are role models, they are students, they are teachers, they resource, they facilitate, they are accessible, they listen, they work hard to understand, and when they make decisions they are made in the best interest of all involved including the individual, the group, and the client/customer. Finally, they are consistent, firm, fair, and most of all are accountable and responsible.

We Each Are Who We Are

We each are who and what we are. 

I respect you as that person so unique.

I do not ask that you respect me first, but know that I respect you as you.

In the process I certainly hope you respect me, too, but it’s not tit for tat.

If we disagree, what’s the problem? 

I have no problem with you whether we do agree or not, but I may benefit? 

That’s what being you means. It means you and I are not the same. And how does that harm me? 

Actually, none of us are the same and I believe that’s a good thing.

We benefit from our differences the same way spices when mixed together really enrich what they are mixed in with.

When we do mix with our ideas and beliefs we both benefit even if we disagree.

I am so much more then I would be because of the different people I have mixed with. 

I need to thank you for what you give me.

You do so just by being. 

I hope you benefit from my uniqueness as I do because of yours. 

Differences are the gifts we bring to each other. 

Be a giver of you and a receiver of the other.

Individual—The Diamond We Each Are

We are each unique and must do all that we are able to maintain and even enrich our specialness. In cooperation with this we are also required to be part of others we call “society.”  Both are demanding challenges that begin early in our lives and rarely are the two opposing forces receptive to cooperation.

Uniqueness comes first to us and at its roots is never diminished, but society is so powerful that its influence begins its task of shaping each of us very early in our life. In almost a hopeless battle society as led by our parents, family, teachers, friends and leaders pressures us to become what they have in mind for us to be 

  1. If our immediate teachers themselves honor their uniqueness they will nurture this in their children. In this case what comes naturally is strengthened and the child becomes more themselves than what society expects of them.  If, on the other hand, our initial teachers are themselves attached to society to the point where their uniqueness is mostly non-existent they will force this upon their children.  And the children will become their parents.
  2. Being one’s uniqueness’ is not a serious societal problem unless the individual lives so out of society’s boundaries that what they do and how they live endangers those around them.
  3. Today we have the considerable danger of the Corona Virus encircling the world. It is an almost perfect example of what I’m writing here. All countries are asked to take certain precautions that severely restrict its population. Wear a mask; stay at least six feet from others, stay home, avoid others,  schools, many businesses, restaurants, etc. are closed.  The whole world is at risk so its societies are reacting. Individuals are being told what to do and how to live.  
  4. Here is the perfect example of the society at large imposing restrictions on those who would fight for their independence and uniqueness and that they must adhere to what society demands.
  5. Here I present a possible scenario: Those that have given in to not being themselves as children adapt easily to the demands society makes on them.  Those that have fought dearly for their individual rights must now adhere to what the society asked of them.  Most will because what is being asked is so obvious. Some will not and may suffer the consequences. Only time and events will tell.
  6.  There is a time for individual rights to be fought for. There is a time when compliance to the general requirements of living in a world with others and limited resources brings the necessity

for all people to live and care for each other. Is that time being announced today? Sy

Haiku: 

Why do we not learn?———Experience is our gift———if we learn from it.

I need to be me———–you need to be you, also————why not help others.

Unique is a gift————-so give it to one and all————-More where that comes from.

Events Dictate Our Behavior

Stumbled on this piece of insight many years ago while leading a workshop and instantly realized its value, brevity and clarity. It’s a bolt of light and the realization that if not present, a common state of most people, what is missed is the call, the knock at the door, the event that brings us the potential for learning something new.  Also the possibility that this moment’s event brings the answer we have been seeking. Never to be taken for granted, events are experiences that may or may not have important messages that teach. So how do we benefit if not present and open to the message?

The demand that we be present, “here and now” has been around for as long as humanity and what humanity needed to do from its earliest is to survive. Here I refer to hunting to eat or avoid being eaten. Numerous events threatened survival. In fact for prehistoric man it was learn, apply or die. Learning the skills to survive had to be paramount and why almost any event had to be viewed as a “learning experience.” I would guess that if the majority of prehistoric man were like most of us today, many were caught and eaten.  The rare one’s learned to survive and in the process became mentors of sorts. That is, they shared their survival insights gained with others and where initial leadership must have evolved from?

So I emphasize the importance of experience. I call experience an event because I see it as a learning opportunity. Something of lasting value may or may not exist, but how do we know? Like the prehistoric group that seeks to survive and at the same time to protect themselves. “I am the hunter who must also protect me from being the hunted.” Being in an experience often offers valuable lessons to learn and apply. Some offer very little and for others (the example of this day, pandemic) it’s “Do we learn and survive or do we panic and die?”

Our world today is caught in is a major event. Are we learning the lessons it offers or are we lost in worrying about tomorrows?  My plea is to do everything possible to stay present and squeeze any and every lesson from it. This is a time to learn and apply not to run into the morass of “what will be?”

We need to survive this day so that we are better able to meet the morrow and take care of what tomorrow brings. We can’t spend our time worrying and planning. It is this day we must survive and in the process squeeze all learning from this day so that we are better able to survive and even to make better and safer our world. I suggest the following: We live on a relatively small planet. It has limited resources that have to be cared for to the extent that no one goes without, that is: clean water, land that is able to grow food, air that is breathable, health care, education and government that governs for the good of individuals not for a select group. Also, as today so clearly points out: No one is an island unto themselves. Earth is our home and where we live and also where we share all major events. A lesson so well learned today: Much of what take place elsewhere on earth affects every other place on earth. Are we going to be the hunter seeking sustenance for our group, or are we still the hunted, terrified and only concerned for our own survival? Sy“Pandemic” the name————How do we care for our self?————-Being there for each.- 

The demand that we be present, “here and now” has been around for as long as humanity and what humanity needed to do from its earliest is to survive. Here I refer to hunting to eat or avoid being eaten. Numerous events threatened survival. In fact for prehistoric man it was learn, apply or die. Learning the skills to survive had to be paramount and why almost any event had to be viewed as a “learning experience.” I would guess that if the majority of prehistoric man were like most of us today, many were caught and eaten.  The rare one’s learned to survive and in the process became mentors of sorts. That is, they shared their survival insights gained with others and where initial leadership must have evolved from?

So I emphasize the importance of experience. I call experience an event because I see it as a learning opportunity. Something of lasting value may or may not exist, but how do we know? Like the prehistoric group that seeks to survive and at the same time to protect themselves. “I am the hunter who must also protect me from being the hunted.” Being in an experience often offers valuable lessons to learn and apply. Some offer very little and for others (the example of this day, pandemic) it’s “Do we learn and survive or do we panic and die?”

Our world today is caught in is a major event. Are we learning the lessons it offers or are we lost in worrying about tomorrows?  My plea is to do everything possible to stay present and squeeze any and every lesson from it. This is a time to learn and apply not to run into the morass of “what will be?”

We need to survive this day so that we are better able to meet the morrow and take care of what tomorrow brings. We can’t spend our time worrying and planning. It is this day we must survive and in the process squeeze all learning from this day so that we are better able to survive and even to make better and safer our world. I suggest the following: We live on a relatively small planet. It has limited resources that have to be cared for to the extent that no one goes without, that is: clean water, land that is able to grow food, air that is breathable, health care, education and government that governs for the good of individuals not for a select group. Also, as today so clearly points out: No one is an island unto themselves. Earth is our home and where we live and also where we share all major events. A lesson so well learned today: Much of what take place elsewhere on earth affects every other place on earth. Are we going to be the hunter seeking sustenance for our group, or are we still the hunted, terrified and only concerned for our own survival? Sy“Pandemic” the name————How do we care for our self?————-Being there for each.- 

Dialogue

Since dialogue takes place between individuals (how else does dialogue take place?) I am going to experiment with my papers beginning with the thoughts of two people on the same subject expressed on one page. (I‘m determined to keep my papers to the one page limit that I’ve used for many years.)Thus far and probably for the last 80 plus years when I wrote I was sharing mostly what I have or had on my mind. When I write my own thoughts take precedent over what others might think although I try to be open to what others have to say.  In any case, I really want and value dialogue so when people commented (pro or con) and the monologue resulted in dialogue it was like catching a fish; the point to casting my lines. It’s what I look forward to regardless of what I write. When dialogue does happen, not necessarily agreement, how good is that? 

Sometime it generated a continuing exchange of thoughts and also, but rare, disagreement is expressed; nothing wrong with that. Considering I often try to stir one’s ambers the response tells me I’m successful or not. Most often I just express thoughts that come to me while sitting at the computer, or issues that are hot topics taking place around us.  I don’t use names nor am specific as if quoting a source, but I believe my writing has been clear enough to make the point I have in mind.

I know I express my feelings and thoughts frequently about relationships, communication, dialogue, power and leadership.  These are the subjects I have read about, researched, experienced and taught over the years. These are also the issues I took as major building blocks to my own philosophy. I admit to making changes with theories of others, to be sure, and if they proved impractical to me and those I worked with I dropped them and created my own. Whatever I used and taught had to be practical and works. 

 Without question my personal experiences have been and continue to be my primary mentor. I am thankful for them all including the bad and painful ones. They each taught me something of value. I remain a continuing student to what life has to teach me so learning continues. Getting older is teaching me stuff every day. 

So the experiment: I am inviting one person each paper to join with me in a dialogue. It will be brief; to be sure, half a page does not offer much space to express one’s self so writing needs to be to the point without much explanation and elaboration. I think that I’ve pretty much mastered the style in that I’ve kept to one page over a goodly number of years. Also, the Haiku form seems to fit my style. I guess getting to the point with as few words as possible suits me. 

It’s possible and perhaps desirable that we stay with a subject for more than one paper? If called for, why not? Also, it’s possible that we may take different positions on a subject. Dialogue never assures agreement. In fact, that’s the beauty and true value of dialogue. Each person speaks for themselves, but never takes the other’s words for granted. Does it get any better than that? 

Dialogue:

Since dialogue takes place between individuals (how else does dialogue take place?) I am going to experiment with my papers beginning with the thoughts of two people on the same subject expressed on one page. (I‘m determined to keep my papers to the one page limit that I’ve used for many years.)Thus far and probably for the last 80 plus years when I wrote I was sharing mostly what I have or had on my mind. When I write my own thoughts take precedent over what others might think although I try to be open to what others have to say.  In any case, I really want and value dialogue so when people commented (pro or con) and the monologue resulted in dialogue it was like catching a fish; the point to casting my lines. It’s what I look forward to regardless of what I write. When dialogue does happen, not necessarily agreement, how good is that? 

Sometime it generated a continuing exchange of thoughts and also, but rare, disagreement is expressed; nothing wrong with that. Considering I often try to stir one’s ambers the response tells me I’m successful or not. Most often I just express thoughts that come to me while sitting at the computer, or issues that are hot topics taking place around us.  I don’t use names nor am specific as if quoting a source, but I believe my writing has been clear enough to make the point I have in mind.

I know I express my feelings and thoughts frequently about relationships, communication, dialogue, power and leadership.  These are the subjects I have read about, researched, experienced and taught over the years. These are also the issues I took as major building blocks to my own philosophy. I admit to making changes with theories of others, to be sure, and if they proved impractical to me and those I worked with I dropped them and created my own. Whatever I used and taught had to be practical and works. 

 Without question my personal experiences have been and continue to be my primary mentor. I am thankful for them all including the bad and painful ones. They each taught me something of value. I remain a continuing student to what life has to teach me so learning continues. Getting older is teaching me stuff every day. 

So the experiment: I am inviting one person each paper to join with me in a dialogue. It will be brief; to be sure, half a page does not offer much space to express one’s self so writing needs to be to the point without much explanation and elaboration. I think that I’ve pretty much mastered the style in that I’ve kept to one page over a goodly number of years. Also, the Haiku form seems to fit my style. I guess getting to the point with as few words as possible suits me. 

It’s possible and perhaps desirable that we stay with a subject for more than one paper? If called for, why not? Also, it’s possible that we may take different positions on a subject. Dialogue never assures agreement. In fact, that’s the beauty and true value of dialogue. Each person speaks for themselves, but never takes the other’s words for granted. Does it get any better than that? 

Haiku:  Dialogue is best———-My thoughts are made known to all———–How good can it be? 

Haiku:  Dialogue is best———-My thoughts are made known to all———–How good can it be? 

Parents as Leaders

Parents as Leaders of newborn and young children is a given. Parents hold life and death powers over their children and must know that they have little choice but to care for their totally needy family as long as they are unable to care for themselves. This truth begins at conception

So parents are teachers, care givers and role models all wrapped in one (or two). And as mentioned above, certain of the learning takes place before the baby is born so conception initiates teaching and learning; avoidance is impossible. 

There is no guarantee that the lessons being taught are appropriate or desirable and this holds true for the most vulnerable periods of a human’s life and that has to be pre-birth, birth and the first three to five years. This is so for obvious reasons and they all come out to be the state of helplessness.

In past papers I’ve often used the word picture “around the kitchen table.” I do so because the influence parents have being teachers and role models are uncontested. The arrow points only from parents to child. Extended family may add to the influences that play on a child’s growth and development. This is why I place max importance on a teacher’s influence on a child’s view of themselves and the people around them. The young are sponges and absorb amazing amounts of information in short periods. Here, I do not mean how to read and write, but social and how they relate to each other. How dynamic is this? MOST!In the new and strange group and environmental setting the young are vulnerable to other children and teachers; so much is different. There is much to absorb and little time to do so; also being vulnerable diminishes as we age. We learn to protect ourselves or relish new experiences, here courage is essential. Our 1stteachers have an immense opening to influence attitude and behavior; young behavior is not yet frozen, but continues to result from experiences and degrees of being vulnerable.Under the influence of parents the young do not choose role models. When with others and a teacher they begin to do the selecting of their new role models. New role models may or may not be leaders, but the young select them because they like what they experience and the person. Society cannot afford to blow the opportunity.  Sy 

Teachers as Leaders

In the post, The Space Between, I write that pre-school and grades 1st, 2ndand 3rdare the times when teachers have the greatest influence to affect a child’s behavior and view of their world.  I do not intend that a teacher’s potential to influence does not continue to exist well into adulthood, but that the earlier a child is related to the greater the opportunity for them to be influenced at their core. 

We must accept that the young child that comes to the beginning grades I refer to is already well formed by their parents and the stuff that takes place around the kitchen table. Regardless, the teacher still has immense (potential) influence on the child. Here I specifically do not mean the academics (reading, writing and numbers, etc.), but also their emotional, behavioral and perceptual beings. I refer here to one’s sense of membership and connection to their peers as well as their leader, the teacher. 

So this paper avoids any reference to academics the teacher teaches, but to the way the teacher leads. The teacher’s behavior (not words) as a leader is no small thing, but in my opinion the most important message they convey and teach. The teacher says so much through their behavior and attitude that the influence they exude is magnified. 

So it is as leader of the group that the teacher teaches what belonging and individual importance means. The behavior and words that mean inclusion, respect, regard, listening, understanding and participation all mix together creating an environment each child is influence by. A feeling of self occurs and each child experiences a change.

As leader the teacher does not set the boundaries of the classroom, but with the students participation they are created and abided by. Support of each other is established as is membership in a community.  Each child is no longer a pawn to be lectured to and tethered to their adults. They know the difference and why week-ends get in their way.  Sy

I need a leader——-Not to lead me, but show me———-We care for each other.