Sunday, February 28, 2010

What about the Kiddos?

When we think of our own journey of learning to become leaders, we invariably look back on the influences we had as children. Examples, good and bad, helped to influence our own development as adults and as leaders.

Today, and every day, we should be looking at what influences our kids to become leaders. I submit that too few of us actually look at what it takes to instill leadership in our kids at an early age. Service to others is a key ingredient to developing leaders, especially at a young and impressionable age.

One organization that does a great job at developing young leaders is Rotary International. Their Interact program for young children is an excellent way for kids to learn about leadership through service to others and partnership with their local Rotary Club.

Here's an excerpt from their website:

"Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 14 to 18.
Interact clubs are sponsored by individual Rotary clubs, which provide
support and guidance, but they are self-governing and self-supporting.

Club membership varies greatly. Clubs can be single gender or mixed,
large or small. They can draw from the student body of a single school or from
two or more schools in the same community.

Each year, Interact clubs complete at least two community service projects, one of which furthers international understanding and goodwill. Through these efforts, Interactors develop a network of friendships with local and overseas clubs and learn the importance of :

-Developing leadership skills and personal integrity
-Demonstrating helpfulness and respect for others
-Understanding the value of individual responsibility and hard work
-Advancing international understanding and goodwill

As one of the most significant and fastest-growing programs of
Rotary service, with more than 10,700 clubs in 109 countries and geographical
areas, Interact has become a worldwide phenomenon. Almost 200,000 young people are involved in Interact."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Personal Leadership Philosophies

I went on a search for leadership philosophies to share and found a very interesting example that spoke to me, especially since it was about the "Black Knights" of the 70th Intelligence Wing of the United States Air Force. Here is the link to the site I found it on:

As you will read below, the concepts of Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication are central to this young man's Personal Leadership Philosophy.

What is central to yours?

"Good morning Black Knights. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a
little bit about myself, my vision and my expectations as I take command of THE
BEST intelligence squadron in the United States Air Force.

First of all,
my name is____________. I was born in the great state of Texas. I come from a
long line of military professionals. My father was a retired chief master
sergeant in the Air Force. He instilled in my brothers and me, a dedication to
service and upholding the freedoms that make this a great country. It was these
beliefs that drove me to attend and graduate from the United States Air Force
Academy in 1993. Upon completion of the Academy, I became an operations
intelligence analyst and later a graduate of the Air Force Weapons School. In my
13 years of service, I have lived in 2 foreign countries; deployed over 20 times
and I’ve completed 9 assignments. I have had many experiences; however, I am
most proud to be a member of the Black Knights. The knight symbolizes the noble
profession of arms. Like the knight, we are also members of a noble profession.
Thus, it is our duty to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States
and ensure that our actions embody integrity first, service before self and
excellence in all we do.

Now that you know a little bit about me, I would like to share with you my vision and philosophy for this squadron and outline for you the price of admission for being a member of the Black Knights. My vision for the Black Knights is to be the 70th Intelligence Wing’s Squadron of the Year for 2007. Last year, the Black Knights were the last squadron in the wing. Thus, the Black Knights are known as a squadron without pride, heads hanging low--a squadron plagued with low morale. However, the first sergeant and I believe the Knights are better than this last place finish. You have the skills, the talent and the motivation to make this goal a reality. In fact, I believe in approaching challenges with TLC. This stands for teamwork, leadership/loyalty, and communication.

TEAMWORK. Always remember that no man is an island. Teamwork is essential to making our squadron the best in the wing. The Air Force supports the Wingman Philosophy; however, we are going to live this philosophy….you are your brother’s keeper. Each member of this squadron is your wingman. I challenge you to get involved. Supervisors know your people, take care of their needs, recognize their accomplishments and create opportunities for their success. If you are not a supervisor, it’s your responsibility to take care of those around you. We can make our goal a reality if we work together.

LEADERSHIP—some say that you can only be a leader if you have a college degree or command a squadron. I contend that leadership is about motivating people to achieve a common goal. Therefore, leadership is a responsibility shared by all. We must lead each other down the path of success to our goal of being squadron of the year. Additionally, LOYALTY is essential to our goal. Loyalty comes in many forms. The most important is loyalty to each other, our squadron, our mission and the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force has set the standard with the core values: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. Our loyalty to these values is the price of admission to this unit and the U.S. Air Force.

COMMUNICATION is the most important factor for our success. Miscommunication or a lack of communication will destroy a squadron. Good and open communication is the key. Therefore, feedback is important. Don’t be afraid to tell your supervisors potential problems. Let the leadership work these issues early. My door is always open; however, please try to work issues at the lowest level. Finally, give your supervisors the opportunity to fix problem before they become major issues. Supervisor attack all problems with care and professionalism. Most of all, treat them as if they were your own.

In closing, I would like to say I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead the Best Intelligence Squadron in the Air Force. We have a long road ahead of us and it won’t be easy. I am committed to my TLC philosophy and challenge you to embody these principles as well as the Air Force core values. I am confident that as long as we keep focused on our goal, take care of each other and anticipate and fix problems early, we will be successful.

Black Knights----Checkmate!!!!! "

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

As some of you may remember, I embarked some time ago on the development of a Personal Mission Statement ( The blog post above was written on January 13th, 2009...over a year ago.

Three days ago, I finished my Personal Mission Statement.

"What took you so long, Joe?" Well, I took the advice of Stephen Covey and took my time to discover my personal mission statement. It really was a journey of self-discovery. I tried to create something that was the essence of how I strive to live my life. My guidelines were simple: A statement of what I wanted my life to be about as I seek "to Live, to Love, to Learn, and to leave a Legacy."

True introspection, or in this case, self "inspection" can be very difficult. It is why so many of us find it so hard to tackle something like a personal mission statement. We don't always like what we see in the mirror. We alone, in our own "deep inner lives," know our deepest successes and failures. We alone know the raw truth about who we are, what we have accomlished and the important work we have left to do. We alone know how satisfied or unsatisfied we are with that reflection.

I struggled to put into words my deepest inner desires of what my life should be about...of what I want to be remembered for long after I am gone. I wanted to put into words the design of the compass that will guide me through the rest of my life.

I love the analogy of the "natural process." A ripe red tomato cannot be picked the day after we plant the seed. We must nurture that seed to become a seedling. We must then nurture that seedling to become a tomato plant. Then we must nurture that plant to bear fruit. Only after that natural process is complete can we have that wonderful ripe red tomato....the "fruit of our labor."

Too often we look for the quick-fixes in life. We are all guilty of trying to short-circuit the natural process. In reality, we must pay the price in thought, reflection, and deep inspection of ourselves to produce a mission statement that is truly meaningful and can provide direction for our lives.

Now that the mission statement is written, the really hard work begins.

Now, I must live up to it.

THAT will be the life-long process of building a life and a legacy that is all that I believe it can be.

If you would like a copy of my personal mission statement (I don't know the world-at-large well enough to put it in writing here, but will share with those of you who care enough to drop a line), please send me an e-mail at and I will send it off to you. Maybe it will help you build your own. I would also be more than willing to help you in the process....just send me a note.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kudos, Dr. Grimm! there I was....I had been having sharp and painful knee pain in my right knee for months. I think I tweaked it by twisting wrong when I was getting out of a vehicle. I tried to work through it and see if it got better. After four months of "hoping" it would get better, I decided it was time to call in the doc.

The fella pictured above is David C. Grimm, MD. He took a look at my knee, sent me for an MRI and diagnosed a meniscus tear. He said he could clean it up in about an hour with arthroscopic surgery.

So...he did exactly that. I had the surgery Friday morning and by Sunday afternoon I was walking without crutches or pain. Minor swelling went away within a week and I was walking a mile and a half on the treadmill 6 days after surgery (The doc didn't like that when i told him, but I have had surgery on this knee before and know what to watch out for...still...not recommended...)!

Kudos, Doc! I really appreciate your work and the work of the fellow docs in your office at Canandaigua Orthopaedic Associates, PC.

Check these guys out at: . Their care and expertise warrant their presence on a blog about leadership. They are most assuredly leaders in the field of Orthopaedics.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Wife Got to this one First, but....

In our neck of the woods, it is not uncommon to pass by a horse and buggy with a family headed to market or to church or to a neighbor's home. We are used to the presence of Mennonites in our daily lives. We see them at the store, we shop in their shops, we drop by the roadside stands for fresh vegetables in the summertime. They are a part of our community.

When our friends, the Catlins, recently experienced a loss by fire to their bulk and natural food store, (Hillcrest Bulk and Natural Foods) the response was so wonderful, I must share this with you:

In one day, just three days after the fire, the damaged section had been taken down and re-built. There is a comment in the article that no payment was discussed or expected. Let me tell you why...

Liz and Steve make weekly deliveries to many Mennonite families. This is a true "Win/Win" for the Catlins and the Mennonites. You see, to go to market is no easy chore for a Mennonite family. Remember: they typically travel by foot, bicycle, or horse and buggy! So the service that Hillcrest Bulk and Natural Foods does saves a lot of time that can be spent on other, more pressing needs, at the Mennonite homesteads they service.

To me, the concept of "pay it forward" is at work here. Too often people only do things for others when they have some "quid pro quo" thought in mind...i.e. "I'll do this for you if you do this for me." Now, the Catlins don't deliver their goods for free, but the value of the service, in the eyes of their Mennonite friends, far outweighs the price. "Paying it Forward" means doing things today that are good and right and that bespeak your values and right principles, just because they are the right things to do. The goodwill and generosity of the Mennonites are, I believe, a manifestation of the Catlins "paying it forward."

God bless this community.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Politics, Religion, and Pizza (Part 2)

Yesterday, I left off with the beginnings of an interesting discussion of Politics I was a part of (see yesterday's post)

My bottom line was this: regardless of your political viewpoints, the only way I know how to look after the health and well-being of my family is to do everything I can to help secure their present and their future. It is my own actions or inaction that most directly impact their well-being.
As we all hear on the "human interest" bits in the media, many people are struggling with the state of our economy and the impact on their lives. I believe that many people got a shrewd and blatant "wake up" call when the economy went in the tank. I believe that many people are realizing that if they want help, they need to get off their butts and do something. Help is more readily available when you try to make things happen for yourself...when you take responsibility and are accountable for your self and your actions.

I pray that those who struggle find hope in the fact that as flawed as it is, this still is the greatest country in the world. We have our differences and our separate beliefs, and the timeless principles still apply:

-Self Reliance
-Personal Honor
-Hard Work
-and so many more right and true beliefs...think about it....What principles do you hold dear?

The moment you realize you are in control of your life and accountable for your actions, you realize that you can be the leader for yourself and your family. May God bless you and keep you safe on your journey.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Politics, Religion, and Pizza (Part 1)

After a long day, most of the way through an even longer week, I find myself seated with a Venezuelan, a Mid-Westerner, and a deep-southerner. I am the oldest person in the group by 8 years at the close end, and 18 years at the far end. We have a few drinks, talk about the projects we are working on, watch a little Curling on the bar TV (yes, I said "Curling"...cute girls playing shuffleboard on ice...we're in Canada, eh!). And the young Venezuelan begins a passionate rant about Chavez...someone (was that me?) mentions Obama, someone else takes offense at the comparison and.....we're off!

It was interesting for me to hear the Venezuelan's view of America and his views on what governments should do for the people of a free nation. Less interesting to me was a traditional emotional, "bash Bush" for not listening to the all-knowing liberal sage, Teddy Kennedy, some-odd years ago rant by the mid-westerner. Most interesting was the deep southerner trying to stay in the middle while occasionally letting slip a dig on the liberal...oh wait!..wrong moniker...I believe he said he was an "economic conservative with left-leaning political beliefs" or something similarly confusing.

When all the smoke cleared, two scotches later, I realized how much my views were unique to me and the fact that my having children had dramatically impacted my world view. I verbalized that even though my children were, by way of my income level and, according to the mid-westerner, skin color, viewed as coming from "the privileged class," and thereby afforded more opportunity than someone of a "disadvantaged minority" (their labels, not mine), they were still just kids making choices, good and bad, that would wind up being the sum total of their young characters when they left home. My compadres seemed to think "high income=privileged children" without taking them at face value or taking into consideration the cost of raising a family of 7 (yup...none of the young fellas had kids and the most vocal one was not married...)

As this post is getting a bit long...part 2 tomorrow!

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Undercover Boss"...Loved it!

Wow! Finally, in the wake of such trash as "The Apprentice," a show that delves into what leaders really need to understand to be successful and to make their organizations better: What do my workers go through to ensure my company's success?!?

I watched this show with some skepticism at first, but I figured "it's a great premise, let's see how it turns out." I was extremely impressed with the show, the content, the end results...everything! Take that, Mr. Trump!

Here's a link to what the show is about so you can judge for yourself:

If more corporate executives would actually come down out of the ivory towers and get in touch with their front line people, true change could happen in companies across the nation. It's not about BS like "You're Fired." Real life is about how do the decisions made in a vacuum, light years away from those they will impact, actually affect the most important people in a company?
Loved it!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

And this is why I am a Rotarian,32068,64921944001_1960407,00.html )

This is one of the reasons I belong to Rotary International. Long before the tragedy in Haiti, Rotarians around the world were sending these shelter boxes to victims of disasters, natural and man-made, to make their lives a little more bearable. Here's a link to more information on how to send a ShelterBox:

Rotarians believe passionately in their motto: Service Above Self. Service in the local club, service in their vocation, service to the community, and service to the world. The impact of what Rotarians do can be seen around the world in local communities of 33,000 world-wide clubs in 200 countries with 1,200,000 + members. Rotarians "...provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world."

Leaders belong in Rotary. Leaders abound in Rotary.

Is it time for you to give back in a meaningful way? Then go to to learn more.

Friday, February 5, 2010

King Tut at AGO

Last Sunday, since I had to fly out of Toronto for business, my wife decided she would like to drive me to the airport and then go see the King Tut exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto's Chinatown district.
It's a four hour, one way drive from where we live in western New York to Toronto, with a border crossing to boot. I was not thirlled with the idea at first and then Terri said, "I know you're aprehensive, but I have promised myself to treat myself to things like this when I have a chance and this is a chance I am not going to pass up."
How can you argue with logic like that? We went and it really was fascinating. To think that many of the pieces of sculpture, and art and gold artifiacts were created 3000 to 5000 years ago was a bit awe-inspiring.
If it were not for my wife's insistence, I would have missed this opportunity. I think I shall listen a bit closer to my wise companion.
I hope you seek counsel and advice from someone like her in your life....someone who is willing to show you how to capture the moment....someone who cares about you and wants to share with you wonderful things. They are leaders in your life too and sometime we are too busy leading to follow a little.
Thanks, H.B.!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stop and Look Around

So I am sitting here with the shades drawn, just getting up mid-afternoon after adjusting my sleep schedule to go in and do some consulting on the night shift and I decide to open the shades and this is what I saw...
Now, I am in a very remote location, up in the Canadian Rockies and we have been pretty much working from before sun up to just about sun down. We have encountered numerous Elk on the roads to and from the job site. And today, this is my view in Elkford, British Columbia.
From time to time we need to stop and look around. We get so wrapped up in "the thick of thin things" that we often miss the grandeur in God's work. Granted, we can always find what's wrong with a situation or a job or a place. It's a little harder to find the beauty and good in things. A little harder, but much more rewarding.
The work isn't going anywhere....take a minute and look around.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Absolute Truth: You Must Take Action!

How many of us know incredibly bright and talented people who, despite their luminescence and skills, seem to languish and stagnate? They continue to squander their essence on things that do not help them. They sit idly by and when pushed, push back with excuses and external blame:

"I'm doing the best I can, but I don't feel good, I'm always tired, ______________(fill in the "wahhh!" here)"

"I would have done ________, but they didn't call me back!"

"You don't understand how hard it is!"

Now...stop...and reflect....has this been you? I know it has been me in the past....

So...what do we do about that? We do the only thing we can do that will move us past this stagnant and fetid place...take action! If you continue to wallow, you will continue to wallow!

Get up and do a book, make a plan and execute it, set goals that inspire you, play games with your children to become closer to their energy and their life force, surround yourself with beauty in small ways, have a conversation with God and ask for guidance, do something totally out of character just to see what it feels like (safely, now!).


I promise you that as you begin to act, you will find more energy and purpose and you will begin to become prone to action. it will take time, but you will see the results if you continue to act.

In this down economy so many people have lost heart at the hands of others without realizing maybe it is time for them to act on their own behalf, instead of expecting to be taken care of. The one person who has your best interest at heart is you!

I didn't say it would be easy, but most things that are worth having do not come easy. In fact, it is the desire for the quick and easy solution that drives so many to complacency. Too few realize that when the acceptable minimum becomes your chosen maximum, the product of your life is mediocrity.

Don't be mediocre! Choose to be more and take action to get there.