Sunday, April 24, 2011

Financial Common Sense!

 This is a revisiting of a fantastic article leadership guru Orrin Woodward brought to light back in 2009, coupled with his unique insight on steps to balance our budget. Some principles prove themselves timeless!
Capt Bill

Here is a thought provoking article from Robert Murphy. Massive government intervention is responsible for the economic mess that America is experiencing in the first place and the Obama plan adds more government intervention to allegedly get us out of the mess. I believe the Austrian economists have a better plan. I don’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or other, read these proposals and think for yourself about this common sense approach. America lasted nearly 150 years without an income tax, so don’t tell me that society would crumble without it. I agree that massive government would crumble without our money, but government in America was never intended to be the behemoth that it has become. We need honorable statesmen who will balance the budget and tell Americans to work for their own rewards and not beg for government doles. Leadership is a tough business and if they can't stand the heat then they need to get out of the kitchen. Robbing our future generations to pacify slothfulness will never make America great, loved, nor respected. Immigrants flocked to America for an equal opportunity not government handouts! Why are we robbing our future generations of their opportunities to experience the hope and ideas that made America the envy of the free world for centuries?

No one can legitimately explain why we have troops in at least 135 other countries. Why should American taxpayers foot the bill for another sovereign country's defense needs? We are massively going into debt while having troops in Germany, Italy, Brazil etc. (see the complete list below) that are protecting who from what? Are you telling me that German, Italian, and Brazilian (along with the rest of the countries) cannot raise men to defend their own countries on their own dime? If a country cannot legitimately do this, then I doubt the sovereignty of the country in the first place. Can you imagine a foreign military establishment protecting our borders? This hasn’t happened since America was an English colony. America must balance our budget and having a defense budget that is nearly 10 times higher than the next nation is sheer madness. Is there not anyone capable of balancing a budget (a skill set that every American working family must do) in Washington? Read the article and please share your thoughts. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Foreign Countries with American Troops

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Antigua, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote D’lvoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Article by Robert Murphy - Faculty member of the Mises Institute

A lot of people get annoyed with Austrian economists because they tend to be so dogmatic (we prefer the term consistent) and because they cloak their strictly economic claims with self-righteousness (we prefer the term morality). After a good Austrian bashing of the latest call to steal taxpayer money and waste it on something that will make a given problem worse, the stumped critics will often shout, "Oh yeah? Well do you guys have a better idea?"

Now, in truth, someone doesn't have to have a better suggestion in order to point out that a recommended strategy will exacerbate the situation. If an allergic man has been stung by a bee, I don't know what to do except rush him to the hospital and maybe scour the cupboards looking for Benadryl. But I'm pretty sure drawing blood from his leg, in order to inject it into his arm and thus "stimulate his immune system," is a bad idea on numerous accounts — not least of which, is that I'm pretty sure an allergic reaction means your immune system needs to calm down. But the point is, if a bunch of guys hold the man down — he has to be forced to endure the procedure for his own good, don't you know — I feel perfectly qualified in yelling, "Stop!"

If you grasped that analogy, you can understand my feelings about anything Paul Krugman writes.

(All joking aside, I am pretty proud of the above analogy. But to make it even more accurate, let’s stipulate that a blind heroin addict, who has been convicted of manslaughter on three separate occasions, is the one entrusted with making the transfusion. Naturally he will use one of his own needles for the procedure.)

An Austrian Recommendation for President Obama

In one sense, the critics are right when they ask, "Oh, so we should just sit back and do nothing and let the market fix itself?" Yes, that would be a perfectly good idea. The whole reason we are in a recession in the first place is that the capital structure of the economy had become unsustainable due to the Fed's massive credit expansion following the dot-com bust and 9/11 attacks. Resources — most notably, labor — are currently idle, because the economy needs to readjust. Overextended lines such as housing and finance need to shrink, while others need to expand. (And no, I don't know what those understaffed lines are; that's why we have a price system.) Because Americans lived beyond their means for so many years, they now need to live below their means, consuming less while they rebuild their checking accounts and portfolios.

Given the diagnosis, we can be sure that efforts to borrow and spend our way back into prosperity, or massive bailouts of the banks and homeowners, are only pumping air into a flat tire with a gaping hole. And Bernanke's unbelievable injections of new funny money into the credit markets will only ensure that those failed institutions remain afloat, paralyzing true recovery in the loan market, and risking very large price inflation if Bernanke does not soon reverse course.

However, even though "nothing" would be much, much better than all of the alleged remedies being bandied about, the Austrians actually do have concrete proposals for President Obama. The following list includes items that I would have endorsed even before the crisis, but inasmuch as they would definitely help things, I offer them with sincerity to the new administration.

One last caveat: I know there are many purists who read the Mises Daily, and will be aghast at my watered-down recommendations. Yes, yes, I agree that the best thing would be for Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and all my friends to say, "You know, if you look at the history of this company, it always ends up wasting money and getting innocent people killed. I think we should just quit and go volunteer at a church instead."

But, if I said that as an Austrian recommendation, it would be dismissed as "unserious," a very grave charge indeed. Thus, the following list of recommendations are not politically impossible, just exceedingly unlikely:

Eliminate the personal and corporate income tax. Don't put in a flat tax or a fair tax or a VAT or any other cute name for a very uncute process. To make sure that individuals and corporations realize you are serious, blow up the IRS building. (Have everyone vacate the premises first, of course.) Tell all of the displaced workers that they have 9 months of full pay, plus whatever pension and health-care benefits they had contractually earned to that point. If the workers get new jobs 3 days after being laid off from the IRS, that's fine; they still get their full 9 months' pay. But if they haven't found a new job after 9 months, tough.

Unfortunately, dismantling the Social Security system will have to wait. (That means some of the IRS personnel would — sigh — have to be retained. But they would move to a different building.) Getting rid of the income tax will knock out much of the federal revenues, and taking out all payroll "contributions" would take us into the realm of "unserious." Note that in 2007, even without the personal and corporate income tax, the federal government still took in more than $1 trillion in receipts.

The loss of some $1.5 trillion in annual tax receipts sounds absurd, but the actual figure would be lower, because of "supply-side" effects. That is, the true stimulus to the economy from such an enormous tax cut would cause the revenues from other sources to grow. So long as the federal budget were cut by, say, a trillion dollars, within a few years it would be in the black.

Reducing annual federal expenditures by $1 trillion sounds inconceivable, but it actually could be phased in. The government has many assets that it could auction off into private hands, so that in the first year or two, the government could take certain programs and say, "This will have its budget cut by one-third over each of the next three years." The auction receipts would fill the gap until these phased-in reductions had fully occurred. Some of the obvious auction items would be the oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (current value of about $35 billion at $50/bbl oil), as well as all of the mineral deposits (both onshore and offshore) technically owned by the federal government. It is difficult to come up with an estimate of how much the latter properties would fetch in an auction, since the proposals right now are for leasing extraction rights. But since the Outer Continental Shelf is estimated to have some 86 billion barrels of oil, presumably the government could receive many hundreds of billions of dollars — and possibly trillions — from an orderly and staggered sale over a few years of the most lucrative (and environmentally noncontroversial) lands.

Now, where to start cutting?

Eliminate the DEA and the SEC. Since the SEC failed to catch Madoff, despite nine years of warnings, I think its $950 million annual budget is obviously a waste of money. The DEA's $1.9 billion budget in 2007 also strikes me as counterproductive. Beyond the issues of violent gangs and judicial corruption, there is the fact that this is a recession and we need to cut costs. If you're afraid of your kid doing drugs, have a serious talk and then make him watch this movie. And if he's still keen on the idea, I'm not sure the DEA is going to stop him. (By the way, the DEA and SEC employees get the same deal as the laid-off IRS personnel.)

Cut the Pentagon budget in half. In FY 2008 it was (officially) some $460 billion, so that cut alone would free up $230 billion per year. This isn't an article about foreign policy, so we won't be specific about how the military could achieve such cuts. But if you're worried that the country would suddenly be overrun by Iranian tanks, the following chart should reassure you:

Top 10 Countries by Military Expenditure, 2007

Eliminate the Department of Education. That would save $68.6 billion a year, based on its latest budget. Does anyone want to argue that Americans are well educated? And incidentally, I was a college professor for a few years, so I can say from personal experience that there are way too many kids going to college. If you think "everyone should get a college degree," let me ask you this: Should everyone get a PhD? If not, then why a bachelor's degree? The more kids crammed into the school, the harder it is to teach to the truly academic, and the less of a signal the diploma provides. Plus, $68.6 billion is some serious money.

Cancel all the pending "stimulus" and other bailout packages. Tell the Big Three that small is beautiful. Tell the banks, "OK your 'short-term' loan from the Fed has expired, here are your mortgage-backed securities back, and we'll be taking our reserves. Good luck to you. This is a capitalist country, where you keep your earnings if you forecast well (we just eliminated the income tax!) and where you go bust if you don't realize real estate sometimes drops. Have a nice day." Yes, this would cause some banks to immediately go bankrupt, but the big banks aren't doing anything now anyway. The dreaded liquidation would actually wipe the slate clean so recovery could begin. As it is, trillions of dollars in capital is now locked up in undead institutions that can't make new loans but won't mark their assets at true values, since they are insolvent. And with the income tax being wiped out, the toxicity of these troubled assets would come way down.

Allow unrestricted immigration so long as the incoming folks had a secure job in which the employer (a) paid three years in advance on any state and local taxes that would accrue from the employment and (b) bought at least a $100,000 house for the immigrant and his or her family. (Yes, yes, the last point is silly, but it will help sell the package.)

Abolish the minimum wage. That — coupled with the elimination of the income tax — will take care of unemployment within 6 months.

The above steps are incomplete, and I'm sure many readers will email me with snags in them. Fair enough. But I am confident that the above would make a heck of a lot more sense than letting blind heroin addicts borrow an extra trillion dollars to "stimulate" the economy.

Robert Murphy, an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute and a faculty member of the Mises University, runs the blog Free Advice and is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism, the Study Guide to Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market, and the Human Action Study Guide.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mentoring Is Giving!

I read a fantastic article by Rick Beneteau on giving and listening. It reminded me of the role of mentoring in helping someone think properly through their life. Life can be tough and it certainly isn’t always a bed of roses. If life is tough for everyone, why do some people seem to ride the waves from peak to peak, but others are buried by the waves? I believe it is not what happens to you in life, but how you think about what happens to you in life that matters most. Do you see your current challenges, roadblocks, and setbacks as evidence of no opportunity or do you see the same situations as evidence that God has a BIG plan for you! Think about it for a minute! If God is calling you for a big assignment—wouldn’t it make sense that He would place some major challenges in your life to develop character first? God must develop the person for the assignment given and challenges are a great way to develop the necessary character for advanced assignments. Instead of fighting our fate, let’s be drawn to our destiny!

When Laurie and I sit down to mentor couples, we tell them to share with us the good, the bad, and the ugly. We are not listening so we can have a pity party with the couple. We listen to celebrate the good, make adjustments for the bad and address the ugly immediately. Every great leader has had good, bad and ugly things happen to them, but the key is how they are thinking through the situations. How are you thinking through the good, the bad, and the ugly in your life? Do you secretly enjoy the bad and the ugly things that are happening? Many people surprisingly do! The reason for this secret enjoyment is they feel it justifies their lack of results and causes others to feel sorry for them. DO NOT EVER PLAY THE ROLE OF VICTIM! It may feel good to have others feel sorry for you, but it is a drug that creates a harmful life addiction. YOU are a champion and all champions will have to overcome the bad and the ugly in their life. We are not training people to be victims, so take the bad things that happen to you as God’s way of developing character. The greatest gift a mentor can give to you is the absolute belief that you have what it takes inside of you to overcome your present difficulties and win in the game of life. Laurie and I believe strongly that all of us have what it takes and we have dedicated our life to teach others how to think through their difficulties to be champions in the game of life! We must give to others, but the best thing to give to others is a champion’s way of thinking through life. Anything else that we give to them is giving less than our personal best! God Bless, Orrin Woodward

"Give 'til it hurts." You've probably heard this a thousand times. I know I have. A well-intentioned expression that I always found somewhat strange as "giving" and "hurt" are concepts that seem to be polar opposite.

I want to share with you a personal story where "giving" in fact "hurt" a person I was trying to help. In order to do that, I need to give you a little background about myself. Please indulge me.

For whatever reason the universe has, I have been blessed to have had many people seek my counsel during my fifty years of living. They trusted that I could help them in some way.

I've been told that I am a good listener. Coupled with an inherent desire to help others, even during my high school days, I seemed to become the counselor of choice for many of my peers.

I vividly recall private chats I had with my high school cohorts, normally conducted in my sooped-up '67 ‘Cuda, during lunch, spare periods or skipped-out classes. Problems about girlfriends, boyfriends, teachers and parents were the norm. Usually self- esteem issues were at the core, as is the case with most problems thirty years later.

And later, my twenty-and-thirty-something friends and family members, as well as many of the employees in my drycleaning business, could always count on complete confidence and my objectivity when discussing problems that they had in their personal lives.

As life moved along, I was faced with a myriad of not only challenges to overcome, but tragedies to deal with. The death of two of my siblings, my father and many close family members and friends, business losses, divorce and being the parent of a special needs child were among them. The lessons learned and the strength gained from these life experiences ultimately led to what I have chosen to do with my life today.

But being pretty well-schooled in life does not always mean that one has the right answers though.

He has been in my life a long time. I was mostly always on the listening end. Conversation after conversation he would laundry-list his assorted problems. And, as many "victims of life" have it, they were never in short supply. I would allow him to "share" his stories of suffering, time after time, consuming much of mine. Like the traditional psychologist, I would just listen, as I felt listening was a large part of "my role" in trying to help him.

Thing was, no matter what suggestions I would offer to try to help him, the problems not only remained, but amplified over time. He never acted on my advice and I eventually began to feel rather impotent and confused about how I could make a difference in his life.

Suddenly, in a conversation last year, at a point where I became very irritated at listening to his negativity, it struck me. This person was receiving so much more benefit from knowing I was listening to him spew about his miserable life than he ever would from finding solutions and improving it. It finally dawned on me that he LOVED having problems!

I hadn't helped him. Not one bit. In fact, for years, I was simply feeding this need in him. I was helping him to have a great time at his own pity party. All this time my giving was, in fact, hurting him!

He was shocked when I interrupted him mid-sentence and blurted out that I didn't want to listen to any more about his problems. There was an awkward silence but when he finally asked me "why" I quickly reassured him that I was still interested in helping him. But it was not going to be on his terms anymore. The new deal would have to be that from this conversation forward, we would not discuss the past. Only the present and future. We would address current issues by working on solutions. He would need to act on my suggestions. Things such as reading certain books or listening to certain tapes and making small adjustments in his thinking that would produce positive results. Our future conversations would consist only of discussing the changes he would sincerely attempt to make to improve his life. He seemed somewhat stunned, and reluctantly agreed.

Those next few times we talked though he tried very hard to steer the conversation down his familiar road attempting to inform me of the latest, greatest grief in his life. But I didn't allow that, sticking to the agreed-upon plan and changing direction to our new proactive approach.

You know what? It really didn't take too long before the tone of our conversations became more positive in nature and soon he was beginning to "get" some important concepts about how his mind, and the universe, really worked. He started reading and listening to materials I suggested. He was beginning to learn that his current results were the product of his current thinking and that he was never a victim of life – not for one minute! That growth has continued.

Now we have great talks, often upbeat, and any real problem he has is briefly outlined and then discussed in such a way that a solution can be found and acted upon. In fact, I've become comfortable sharing some of my problems with him! More than once he's reminded me to take some of my own medicine!

It's both magical and comforting to me at the same time to know that when the simple truths of how things work in this world are realized, things can really begin to change for the better and in a big way. It's unfortunate that it took so long for me to realize how I could better serve my friend, but then, the universe has it's own timing for things like this.

It is my hope that if you have been trying to help someone like my friend and find yourself doing a lot of "listening", that just maybe, your giving is hurting.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Leadership and Systems Thinking!

Have you ever watched a team of mountain climbers scale a cliff? I have watched with awe as the mountain climbers work together, as a team, to pull of this feat. Imagine five climbers, all connected together by ropes and pulleys, ensuring the safety of all, scaling a cliff thousands of feet up. The five climbers are a system, each action by one of the climbers affects the actions of the rest. No climber could choose to scale the cliff if the others, were resting. In fact, no four of the climbers could scale the cliff if just one chose to stop. The ropes magnify the interdependence between the individuals, but with or without the ropes, people in communities are part of a system, being interdependent upon one another. Each person in a community needs to understand systematic thinking as their actions will affect all others in the community. Every leader must learn to think systematically in order to lead to his full potential. Systems thinking is the process of understanding how individual parts influence one another within the entity as a whole. Both nature and organizations are filled with systems. Nature is filled with ecosystems involving air, water, plants, animals and more in systems to sustain life, while organizational systems consist of people, structures, and processes that interact to produce results. Whether the results are good or bad depends upon the system interactions orchestrated by the leader.

Remember the story of the elephant and the blind men? This is an excellent example displaying systems thinking. Read it again, thinking through how portions of truth must be combined (like a system) to gain the entire truth.

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today." They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.

"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.

"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.

"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated, each blind man wondering how the others could be so stupid. Each believing they had the truth, since he felt it with his own hands. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right and all of you are wrong. The reason each of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched a different part of the elephant. Each of you has a partial truth. The elephant has all the features that each of you described, but isn’t fully what you described unless you combine all of your answers."

Each of the blind men has touched upon a truth of the elephant, but individually, none of them had the whole truth. If they had spent their time arguing, insisting upon the truth of what they had felt with their own hands, the community would have broken down, forming individual perceptions and not gaining a system perspective of the truth. Only when each individual learns that they are part of a system, touching upon truth at some point, but probably not touching upon the total systematic truth, will each teammate seek out alternative perspectives. Many times, disagreements are not really disagreements at all, but just individuals seeing or feeling a different aspect of the system, revealing a portion of the truth, that only when combined yields the whole truth. System thinking is essential for leaders to help everyone work as a team, gathering all of the facts to accurately model the system they are working on to improve. Without a systems perspective, the leader quickly takes sides with one of his personal favorites, forcing others to comply with his partial interpretation of the truth, killing his credibility, alienating many of his teammates, destroying the motivation to share alternative perspectives in the future.

I love the blind men analogy. If leaders will remember the lesson of the blind men, their ability to solve problems will greatly increase, no longer satisfied with portions of the truth, they will seek out all perspectives to gain a larger view of reality. Let’s discuss another example of systems thinking. I believe I heard a version of this story first from Stephen Covey. Covey uses the example of a fishermen going to a river to enjoy a day of fishing, but just minutes after getting there, he sees a young boy flailing his arms in the middle of the river, screaming for help. The fishermen jumps in and save him. The boy is healthy, so the fishermen starts fishing, but fifteen minutes later, a young girl is flailing her arms, yelling for help, in the middle of the river. The fishermen saves her also. At this point, he ponders what the odds are, that two people would need saving on the same day. Fifteen minutes later, when a third child needs to be rescued, he is certain that there must be more to the picture (system), than he is touching upon. At this point, he starts asking questions, no longer believing that the children who needed rescuing, are isolated events. He believes there is more to this system than is meeting his eyes. The fishermen, deciding to solve the cause at its roots, not just continue to trim at the leaves, walks upstream, discovering a children’s camp. The fishermen finds that the local bully, doing what bullies do, was throwing kids in the river every fifteen minutes, and would continue to do so, until everyone surrendered their money. The fishermen, a true problem solver, took the bully by the ear, walked him into the camp office, solved the root cause of the problem (the bully), and enjoyed the remaining fishing time in peace.

I know the example is simplistic, but it does capture the main points in systematic thinking. Many times in life, people run from emergency to emergency, never stopping to think if the emergencies are related systematically. The simple system described above included the boys and girls, the bully, the river, and the fishermen downstream. The fishermen would have had a busy day, if he hadn’t solved the problem at its root. You can stay busy your entire life, but unless you are solving problems at the root, nothing of long-term consequence is being solved. Busy is not the goal, but productivity is. As Covey teaches, one can trim the leaves for life, but if you wish to eliminate a tree, one must attack the roots. Toyota has a problem solving system that helps discover the root causes, called the Five Whys. It teaches that most root causes are at least five questions removed from the issue that is being addressed at the moment. The root cause is usually not the first why, but, if one will keep asking questions, the root cause will typically be revealed.

For example, if someone slips and falls on a slippery factory floor, breaking their arm in the process, the quick solution is to order a cleaning crew to work more hours, cleaning the floors daily to ensure a non-slippery surface. A non-slippery floor is the right answer, but before hiring extra people, spending money and time on the problem, the Five Why’s would attempt to discover the root cause (like the bully in example above). Leaders aren’t happy with just trimming the leaves, while the root cause remains unaddressed and will use the Five Why’s to help determine the root issues. The Five Whys in this example would go something like this:

Q: Why did the man slip and fall?

A: Because the ground was slippery.

Q: Why was the ground slippery?

A: Because there was oil on the floor.

Q: Why was there oil on the floor?

A: Because one of the machines was leaking oil.

Q: Why was the machine leaking oil?

A: Because an oil pan bolt was loose.

Why was the oil pan bolt loose?

A: Because the machine vibrated the bolt loose.

Q: Why did the machine vibrate the bolt loose?

A: Because the shaft bearing is worn out in the machine.

Q: Why is the shaft bearing worn out in the machine?

A: Because maintenance hasn’t changed it and it is past it’s useable life.

Q: Why haven’t they changed out the old bearing?

A: Because we cut all preventative maintenance in a cost cutting measure.

The Five Why’s has revealed the systematic issue in the factory system, not just the obvious answer of cleaning up the oil. When the preventative maintenance program was eliminated, in an effort to save money, it brought upon other effects, not clearly understood at the time. If another department has to hire more cleaning crews, or paying overtime to existing ones, then we have not really saved any money, but still have a maintenance issue. This only compounds the factories problems further, having not understood the systematic effects of the choices made. Trimming the leaves by cutting preventative maintenance, but causing a bigger root problem, by machines failing over time. Without the proper machine maintenance, further degradation is inevitable, leading to more trimming leaves behavior, while the root cause, the improper maintenance, ruins the productivity and safety of the entire factory. Only when the leader thinks systematically, will the root cause be revealed. Preventative maintenance will be reinstated; machines run with quality bearings; the bolts will stay tight; the oil remains in the pan; and people can walk the floor without endangering their safety. The factory is a system, every action performed by one department will have effects on numerous others departments. It’s only when the leader thinks of the entire system (elephant above), that the entire truth will be revealed, leading to decisions made upon the total systems, not just the partial truths that each department feels. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Character and Integrity= Courage!

I resolve to focus on character more than reputation, knowing that character is who I am and reputation is only what others say that I am.

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” - Abraham Lincoln

Character is that special quality, that makes men and women, who have it, appear larger than life. Character is more than just what a person says or does, rather, it’s what a person is. Words like honorable, honest, trustworthy, dutiful, and fidelity, describe the person with integrity, in any field of endeavor. But character moves beyond integrity, since integrity is ‘not doing wrong,’ while character is moves beyond that into ‘doing right’. For example, if someone is picking on little Billy at school, but a person didn’t participate, then he displayed integrity by not doing wrong. But to display character, a person must move beyond integrity, having the courage to defend young Billy against his oppressors, risking his personal peace and affluence for the sake of justice. In other words, integrity refuses to do wrong, but character is more demanding, expecting people to have the courage to do right. By helping Billy, a person moves from integrity to character through his display of courage. John Wooden, one of the all-time great basketball coaches, and life coaches, said, ““Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” Character then, if displayed as a mathematical formula would be: Character = Integrity * Courage. If one doesn’t have integrity, then displaying courage doesn’t give him character. For example, many bank robbers had courage, but not integrity, thus not character. But, one can also have integrity, but no courage, thus lack character through not standing up for principle when required by justice. Character, in other words, requires massive courage to ‘do right,’ especially in the current pragmatic culture that expects timidity, even when gross injustices are routinely performed. Most people will mind their own business, leaving the oppressors a free hand to abuse the victims, but people of character will have none of this. As Reverend Martin Niemoeller, a Nazi prison camp survivor, said, “First they arrested the Communists - but I was not a Communist, so I did nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats - but was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then they arrested the trade unionists - and I did nothing because I was not one. And then they came for the Jews and then the Catholics, but I was neither a Jew nor a Catholic and I did nothing. At last they came and arrested me - and there was no one left to do anything about it.” Character is essential for all true success, for without it, nations, corporations, charities, and families are destroyed. God Bless, Orrin Woodward