Are You Status Quo?

I know fast food is bad for me and I rarely touch the stuff. I’ll will admit to enjoying a Big Mac a couple times a year, which is what got my attention on a recent indulgence. The golden arches is no longer the golden arches of which I am familiar! McD’s has been trying to overcome status quo, which has translated into lagging sales. My status quo towards McD’s is they consistently deliver salty, sugary, fried fast food. The Big Mac I buy in Asheville, NC looks, feels, smells and tastes exactly like the Big Mac in my hometown of Dayton, OH. 

To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are. Wikipedia

McDonald’s is trying to re-invent themselves to overcome status quo. Some people are “lovin’ it” as shown in McDonald’s stock price that has doubled since 2015.

Several of the McD’s in our area have gotten face lifts. The buildings inside and out have a minimalist, hard, contemporary look. As you walk in, you get hit with big bold pictures of McDonald’s “signature collection.” Personally, I’m not lovin’ it. In fact, on my recent visit, I got frustrated trying to find my McD’s status quo Big Mac and price on the McMenu.

Signiture is your copyright, a one-of-a-kind, an extension of your fingerprint. Your signature is your unique handwritten tattoo. Signature is your promise. It represents for what you are known, your accountability, your responsibility and your integrity. It is one of the reasons I choose to write handwritten notes over email because the note ends with my signature, my promise, my integrity.

Sorry, McDonald’s, I’ll have just a status quo Big Mac to go, please. If I want a “signature” burger here in Asheville, I’ll go to the Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge or The Pine Club back in Dayton, OH.

Galileo challenged the Catholic church on status quo of the belief the earth was the center of the universe. It nearly got him killed. I remember a couple of my college professors who taught using status quo. Their lectures and tests were the same semester after semester. Tenure insures status quo. Blockbuster operated in status quo when Netflix challenged how we saw movies. Where is Blockbuster today? Even though Kodak engineers invented the first digital camera back in 1974, Kodak maintained status quo continuing to produce photographic paper, film and chemicals. Where is Kodak today? The NRA is operating and upholding status quo. How is that impacting the United States?

Do you work under status quo? Are you willing to ask others for their opinion about your status quo?

Breaking status quo means getting out of your comfort zone into your learning zone. It begins with incrementalism, with simple things like driving home from work a different way. Going to a different place to eat and ordering something unfamiliar. Visiting a museum instead of attending a football game. Reading a new book instead of watching television.

Breaking status quo means getting out of your echo chambers. It means meeting and talking with people with whom you don’t normally speak. Breaking status quo may mean stop telling and start asking, start being interested rather than trying to be interesting.

Breaking status quo means choosing different, challenging assumptions and lifestyles. This includes your leadership. It may mean becoming known for something better than your status quo.

Are you willing to mess with your success, relearn, retool, and even reinvent yourself and overcome your status quo?

How Are You At Networking?

Networking is not what you know, its who you know. Who you know is key to creating a brighter future. “The key to networking is to stop networking.” Nobody wants to have a ‘networking conversation.’ They are hungry for real conversations and real relationships. It just has to be authentic, genuine and sincere.” Greg McKeown, […]

Do You Have A Leadership Philosophy?

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

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

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

I Model the Way

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

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

I Challenge the Process

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

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

I Enable Others to Act

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

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

I Inspire a Shared Vision

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

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

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

I Encourage the Heart

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

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

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

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

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

Carrpe Diem!

David Carr

Lead Tweets

Leadership is like love. You love or you don’t love. You lead or you don’t lead. Think of it in terms of a woman is either pregnant or not pregnant. There is no “kind of pregnant.” And as a woman can become pregnant, a person can become a leader.

@carrpediem: The #1 requirement of leadership is having followers. Leadership is about connection. We are wired to connect. To lead is to love. The toughest follower to lead is oneself. So how well do you love yourself with all your imperfections, failings, and short-comings to lead others with all their imperfections, failings, and short-comings?

@carrpediem: To make love a bedrock principle upon which you lead is to hold yourself accountable to the highest level and follow an unwavering North Star. To lead is to serve others. Consider Greenleaf’s Best Test, to see if you are a servant leader. “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.” Mother Teresa

@carrpediem: Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, says to love oneself begins with self-discipline including: delaying gratification; accepting responsibility for one’s actions; acknowledging truth is reality; creating and maintaining balance in one’s life. As a leader, how well do you model self-discipline?

@carrpediem: The opposite of love is fear. The #1 responsibility of a leader is to reduce fear. When fear is high, trust is low. Want to grow trust? Read Charles Feltman, The Thin Book of Trust. How well do you walk-the-talk of the four dimensions of trust: sincerity, reliability, competency, and compassion?

@carrpediem: Rath and Conchie, Strengths Based Leadership, writes that followers are looking for four things from leaders: trust, compassion, stability and hope. What would your followers say about your trust, compassion, stability and hope?

@carrpediem: Hope is not optimism, wishful or positive thinking. Hope is a call for action. Everything begins with hope. We need hope like we need food—not just to survive, but to thrive. Do your followers experience sincere, authentic hope from you? 

@carrpediem: Leadership is a privilege. There is a special place for the leader at tables. Leaders get perks. As a leader you are privileged with special, powerful inside information. How do you use your privilege to serve the unprivileged?

@carrpediem: What destroys most leaders is self-deception — the inability to see and acknowledge that the leader has a problem. Privilege and entitlement feed self-deception. Do you act contrary to what you could do for your followers and others? Do you justify your behavior because of the faults you see in others? Read Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.  

@carrpediem: How are you at the five practices of exemplary leadership: modeling the way; challenging the process; inspiring a shared vision; enabling others to act; encouraging the heart. Consider taking the Leadership Practices Inventory to get feedback from those you lead on how well you walk-the-talk of the five exemplary practices.

@carrpediem: What’s your leadership level? Position (people follow because they have to); Permission (people follow because they want to); Production (people follow because of what you have done); People development (people follow because of what you have done for them); Pinnacle (people follow because of who you are and what you represent) Read Maxwell’s The 5 Levels of Leadership. 

@carrpediem: The secret sauce of leadership is gratitude. It is what helps leaders reach the Pinnacle level of leadership. Gratitude impacts attitude. Grateful leaders inspire followers to bring their best, be their best, and do their best for the mission the team is facing. How, when, where, and with whom do you share your gratitude? 

@carrpediem: As a leader, how diverse and inclusive is your network? Do your followers look like you, think like you, act like you, believe like you? Do you have the capacity to develop relationships with those who are different from you? Are you able to get out of your comfort zone and expand your network?

@carrpediem: Arnold Toybee wrote, “Nothing fails like success.” Think of Kodak, Blackberry and Blockbuster who failed because of success. As a leader, can you abandon the past of comfort and familiarity to take risk in the face of possible failure? Can you think differently and challenge successful practices?

@carrpediem: Do you have a leadership philosophy? Read The Leader’s Compass 3rd edition by Ruggero and Haley. Leaders hold themselves accountable to their written leadership philosophy which they share with their followers and periodically ask, “How am I doing?” 

@carrpediem: When you ask for feedback on how you are doing as a leader, you may hear unpleasant remarks. Respond with, “Thank you! Please tell me more!” Your gratitude and desire to learn will amaze, astound and endear you to your followers. This will be a sign of strength rather than weakness.

@carrpediem: Jim Collin and his team, Good to Great, discovered fifth level leadership was key for organizations to make the leap from good to great. The hallmark of fifth level leadership is will and humility. As a leader, do you possess humility, the quality of being courteously respectful of others?

@carrpediem: Today’s digital leader in our robust information rich world has less than 20% of the experience and knowledge to lead others well. Humility is essential to connect well with followers and for others to learn what you don’t know and make better decisions. 

@carrpediem: Leaders cultivate relationships with their followers by being interested rather than being interesting. Leaders ask more than they tell. Leaders can be heard saying, “Tell me more!and asking,“Why?” This is the foundation of being an inspiring leader. Leaders go for the heart of their followers to get to the minds of their followers.  

@carrpediem: The sign of a good leader is how well they listen! We talk at over 225 words/minute and we listen at over 500 words/minute. Listen with the intent to understand rather than to reply. Simon Sinek, Start with Why, suggests learning to be the last to speak.

@carrpediem: The #1 mandate of a leader is to grow their followers’ leadership. A leader’s role is to grow others’ leadership by being a coach, mentor and/or sponsor. Who coached you? Who mentored you? Who was your sponsor? How did those serve you to become a leader?

@carrpediem: Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, writes we are operating on Motivation 3.0 in today’s world. Motivation 3.0 runs on autonomy, mastery and purpose. Today’s leader would do well to download the Motivation 3.0 operating system. 

What is your essential tweet on leadership?

Who’s On Your Do-Not-Serve List?

There is that customer who never paid me the $1,000 worth of products I sold him back when I was in the distribution business. He is on my “do-not-serve” list.

I can think of two previous cohorts from my past who are on my “do-not-serve” list. One was a quart low on integrity. The other cohort was very emotionally unintelligent.

There are two or three clients-from-hell that had expectations beyond my control, who did not pay their invoices. They are on my “do-not-serve” list.

There are those who use micro aggression excessively (behaviors or statements that do not necessarily reflect malicious intent but which nevertheless can inflict insult or injury), who are on my “do-not-serve” list. They say things like:

“People pay you to play games with them?!” 
“You know your gay daughter is going to hell, don’t you?”   
“Why would you move to a state that is so politically backward?” 
“You ‘left wingers’ refuse to look at the good things that have taken place.”

I, too, have sometimes been micro aggressive without ill intent. I do not mind nor am I offended when someone points out that poor behavior. After all, I am a work in progress.

There are those people who unfriended me on Facebook who put me on their “do-not-serve” list because I did not meet or agree with their political or religious ideology. I think one of them called me unpatriotic and another said I would be spending eternity in hell.

Now that I think about it, there is that one “friend” who is a poor tipper at restaurants who is on my “do-not-serve” list.

Serving the ignorant, apathetic, the uncompassionate, the selfish, is tough. When the do-do hits the fan, competency, compassion and humility go out the window. Self-contol is lost and the need for self-control is essential.

Let’s face it, our reputation is connected to our relationships with others. I sneeze, you catch my cold and vice versa. I have experienced this first hand with my blog posts. When egos get in the way, it’s an “I” for an “I.”

I remember one time I was confronted by a conservative Christian cohort asking if he’d seen me walk into a Unitarian fellowship the previous Sunday. This was true. (He was unaware I had also attended worship at a Christian church earlier in the morning!) I was given a stern warning that I was falling into the den of the devil! It seems some conservative Christians are slower to disassociate with unethical, greedy, misogynistic, egocentric political/social figures and quicker to disassociate with fellow compassionate, humble, just believers!

The fruit of Silence is Prayer. The fruit of Prayer is Faith. The fruit of Faith is Love. The fruit of Love is Service. The fruit of Service is Peace. – Mother Teresa

Jackson Wu asks a powerful question in his April 19, 2017 Patheos post.

“How intentional are we when it comes to protecting our reputation and maintaining certain relationships?”

Remember that popular question several years ago, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)? At that last supper Christ shared with his disciples, He grabbed a towel and washed His followers’ feet. A servant’s job, not a leader’s job!

Christ’s radical inclusion, radical hospitality, agenda-free relationships and service to the marginalized first, leaves me in the dust. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got work to do!

How often do we get sucked into counting losses as wins? Some say if you don’t win the final championship game, the season was a failure. When we do this, we are focused on success, gain, status, rather than significance and the difference we make in other people’s lives. We need to need those who are different from us. Being significant requires doing away with our “do-not-serve” list. I’d like that to be a part of my legacy. How about you?

Where Does It All Stop?

A little personal background, even though I was born and raised north of the Mason-Dixon line in Dayton, Ohio, my family roots are from the Carolinas. My father was born, raised and his ashes are buried in Charlotte, NC near his father and grandfather. My mother was born in Florence, SC and her ashes are buried next to my father.

I grew up on black eyed peas, pan fried okra, collard greens and sweet tea. My great, great grandfather’s Civil War musket hung over our fireplace in Ohio. While I didn’t experience white-black drinking fountains and restrooms in Dayton when I was growing up, I did experience them in Charlotte when we went to visit family.

The Internet has been abuzz with conversation of Charlottesville, VA. I believe it is a good thing. We need to keep having these difficult conversations. We need to learn from each other. We need to confront our ignorance, our denial, our racism. As Brene Brown, the vulnerability researcher and book author, stated in her recent Facebook Live“We have got to own the story so we can write a different ending.” Otherwise the stories own us and we feed our ignorance and denial. So… “Where does it all stop?” 

This was a question a friend asked during a recent email exchange that began with an op-ed piece he shared from the Washington Times,Confederate Statues Today, Book Burnings Tomorrow.

The article began with,

“A crowd of ignorant protesters pulled down a bronze Confederate statue that stood before a county government building in Durham, North Carolina — the angry national backlash to the Charlottesville brouhaha over the Robert E. Lee monument.”

What evidence is there that this crowd was ignorant? I listened to Takiyah Thompson, the woman who came forth and spoke with courage, intelligence and conviction, who was motivated to act with civil disobedience, knowing quite well what the statue stood for — white supremacy. Remember, these confederate monuments (including Asheville, NC’s monument to Zebuion Vance, a confederate military officer, slave owner and NC governor, dedicated in 1903) were erected during the Jim Crow era, to shore up The Cult of a Lost Cause, an era of subtle terrorism to remind whites and blacks who was superior and who dominated.

Step into her shoes. She shared she had climbed the statue and put the rope around the the neck of the statue like many Blacks had experienced in lynchings. She was promptly arrested. I do not condone the destruction, but I understand the roots of the crowd’s actions. At least they destroyed property and not lives. So… “Where does it all stop?” 

“Charlottesville brouhaha” – really!? Choice of words matters. Check the definition of brouhaha: a noisy and overexcited reaction or response to something. What happened in Charlottesville was far beyond a brouhaha. One person died and 34 others were injured by a white supremacist driver who drove his car into a group of counter protesters(plus two police officers died when their helicopter crashed on patrol during the protests). Was the May 26, 2017, attack by a white supremacist in Portland, OR who killed two men a brouhaha? Was the white supremacist who killed a 66-year- old Black stranger in Manhattan on March 20, 2017, a brouhaha? So… “Where does it all stop?” 

Fact: “The terrorist threat in the United States is almost entirely homegrown, as no foreign terrorist organization has successfully directed and orchestrated an attack in the United States since 9/11.” – New America

Further in the article, 

The problem with revising history based on a standard of “feeling offensive”— as this anti Confederate craze is rooted — is that someone, somewhere will always take offense at something.”

Those who don’t know history are fated to relive it. If nothing else, Confederate monuments should stand as a reminder of America’s history and an opportunity for passersby to reflect.”

While Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison did own slaves, they were not of the same mindset as Stonewall Jackson, Robert E Lee and the other Confederate leaders. They truly wrestled with the Declaration of Independence“that all men are created equal,”disagreeing with the cornerstone of the confederacy, “that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to superior race is his natural and normal condition.” – Alexander Stephens, Confederate Vice President

“African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social, and a political blessing.” 
– Jefferson Davis, Confederate President

Go back and look at history. Begin by what Robert E Lee said about monuments after the Civil War.

“I think it wiser,” the retired military leader wrote about a proposed Gettysburg memorial in 1869, “… not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”  

Listen or read New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s eloquent, truthful, thought-provoking speech of May 19, 2017, on removing four Confederate monuments. He revisits the horror of being a Black slave and the missing history of their lives. Where are the monuments to slave ships, slave markets, lynchings and slave pens? It has not been until recently we decided to remember and acknowledge this most unpleasant past with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C. President George W. Bush reminded us at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.” 

So… “Where does it all stop?”  

It all stops when everyone beginning with the POTUS, Congress, religious leaders, corporate leaders, you, me take ownership of our nation’s story, its history, and write a different ending.

I have been asked to speak to a congregation about my journey as a privileged, white, right-handed, able-bodied, Christian, heterosexual, older male and how I am confronting my bias and using my privilege to help those who lack my privilege. Before I speak to this group, who will no doubt look like me, I will check my implicit bias and share the results with those in attendance. I am going to own my story. I do this not to shame myself, but to remind myself I have work to do and that I have not reached the needed destination of serving all with equity and inclusion, to truly live the second greatest commandment of my Christian faith. I am continuing to evolve and trying to leave this world better than I found it.

I am going to close this blog with a prayer from Rev. Jill Duffield, Charlottesville, Virginia

Sweet Jesus, what has happened to your beloved world? What darkness is on the loose when those who hate their neighbors pray in your name and ask for your blessing? 

You have told us, O Lord, what is good: to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with you, and yet there are those among us who wield machine guns to intimidate and chant vitriolic rhetoric to terrorize, and ram cars intentionally into crowds to kill. 

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

We have no hope save in you. We have no hope to stop the violence and stem the racism and cease the destruction, save in you. Save us now.

Prince of peace, you tell us to pray for those who persecute us and love our enemies, but right now, in this moment, those prayers are not readily on our lips. Help us. Intercede for us.

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you even if, in this moment, they are colored with anger and weariness and questions about your presence during the storm.

What next, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, when we are right in the middle of the chaos and the killing and the carnage? We know that justice will roll down like water and that crying and death will be no more someday, but we need to know what to do this very day.

This very day you have made. Creator God, Living God, God of the new thing, the very good thing, show us where to be and what to do and how to be the light and the salt and the leaven and the love you call us to be.

Precious Lord, take our hands, lead us home to the place you prepared for us and give us rest. Put us beside still waters and overflow our cups with grace upon grace until it spills into the streets and washes away the evil in our land. Wash us and we will be clean. Made new. Clothed and in our right minds. Together.

All powerful and promise keeping God, make it so. Sweet Jesus, make us so.  

– Prayer By: Rev. Jill Duffield, Charlottesville, VA