The Serving Leader

Serving Leader

Everyone loves a good story. Even better is a story that can be personal to you, where parts of the story are really parts of your story. Add to that story lessons that we can learn, that can move us to apply those lessons that are taught. That is what this book does, through a story of a father and son who have little it common or so it seems. How many of us have parents who we can’t seem to please, or who don’t recognize or acknowledge our efforts or accomplishments? This is a story of a father and son who are worlds apart but through tragedy come back together.

This book comes with some pretty powerful contributors with Forwards by Leadership experts Ken Blanchard and Orrin Woodward. Ken Blanchard best known for his book The One Minute Manager, and Whale Done is a legend in the leadership world. Orrin Woodward is the international best-selling author of Resolved and co-author of the NY Times Best Seller; Launching a Leadership Revolution. He is founder of The LIFE company and Independent Association of Business “Leader of the Year”.

The authors of The Serving Leader Ken Jennings Ph.D. and John Stahl-Wert, D. Min. both have extensive education, and a wealth of experience leading and teaching. Mr. Jennings is a past co-director of the Global Leadership in Healthcare Program at University of Michigan Business School, and has a Bachelors in Behavioral Science from the Air Force Academy, and was an adjunct professor at Columbia University Business School. John Stahl-Wert is President and CEO of Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and on the faculty of Geneva College’s Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership.

“Five Powerful Actions that will Transform your Team, your Business and Your Community” That’s the tag line just below the title describing how this book, The Serving Leader, can impact us.

This book delivers. Read it, then give me your feedback.

I’d love to hear if this book impacted you the way it did me.

I’d love to hear your story.

Winston Churchill

There is no doubt that Winston Churchill was a leader among leaders. One of the interesting characteristics of Mr. Churchill’s rise to a World Class Leader is that he often stood alone in his understanding of the needs and convictions of his leadership.

At times you too may have to stand alone in your leadership journey. By definition a leader stands out front with the crowd behind him or her. Are you willing to stand out front and have the courage of your convictions until your leadership is recognized?

This article on Winston Churchill by Orrin Woodward a World Class Leader in his own right depicts the persistence required to lead, and the importance of not listening to the committee of others. Many times it is the only way to lead.

The National Debt Crisis

American’s all seem to have some awareness that the United States is financially unstable. Many although somewhat aware, are confused as to how to solve this problem. Many are really unclear of the real issues due to the size and complexity of our government.

First, we as Americans need to understand in simple terms where we stand financially. This short video I believe describes quite clearly the current situation in easy to understand terms.

As you can see from watching this video America has a simple problem; we spend more than we bring in. Everyone should know that is not a good practice even on the smaller scale of our own homes. And if we continue on this path we could be in a similar situation as Greece. The size and impact could be even larger than Greece’s. In Greece investors lost 70% of their money but with America’s debt at 32 times that of Greece’s, investors are at risk of losing a whole lot more. This affects everyone in America.

Second we need as Leadership Guru Orrin Woodward states to “confront brutal reality”. We can no longer ignore the real problem. We must face it and deal with it.

What is that brutal reality? I thought it was spelled out simply in the video;

  1. Washington must admit the problem
  2. Explain the problem to all Americans (without blaming)
  3. We (all of us) must face the pain of fixing the problem

What will it take to deal with this problem and fix it?

The crisis of the debt will be solved not by bantering back and forth but by facing the very real problem with very real solutions. The solutions spelled out in this video seem simple and quite clear. Congress and Washington certainly have an abundance of talent as many of these individuals are educated at some of the best colleges and universities in America. Certainly education is not the challenge. Experience should not be the issue as we have been facing some of these same issues for years, and when you break it down in simple terms they are not that complicated. What then is the problem and how can we solve it? I believe those in politics know what the problem is and lack the courage to solve it. It is much easier to blame each other and then confuse American’s by complicating the data.

That leaves the third step. We as Americans need to have leaders in our Nation’s Capitol that can be accountable. We need to expect someone in Washington to have the Courage of Leadership. We need to demand that someone who steps up, put the politics aside and put the Nation and its people first.

How?

Be knowledgeable – Get involved and Vote

Contact your Federal, State, and Local Representatives and expect them to be accountable

Let your voice be heard.

If we are to succeed to be a great nation once again, we need to put the special interests aside and do as Abraham Lincoln said, “to be a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Just a comment after watching this video again.  –  Notice that what the federal government classifies as mandatory programs have taken the Constitution’s Article 1 Section 8 and redefined general welfare. The federal government has interpreted providing for the general welfare to include areas of life that were once considered personal responsibilities. It seems it has literally taken personal responsibility out of the equation. Providing for ones personal retirement and ones personal healthcare has now become a mandatory responsibility of the federal government. I don’t believe the framers of the Constitution meant such a broad definition of general welfare to include those responsibilities that should be left to the individual.

Live a BIG Life

If you want to do something BIG you need to believe in something BIG.

J. Paul Getty said he learned too late in his life that it took almost as much energy and commitment to do a small project as a big one. He said had he known that he would have spent less time on small projects and more time on larger projects. How many of us spend our time this same way, doing things that are small where our impact in this world could be much greater.

So to improve our opportunities to make our life count more by effecting greater change and make greater accomplishments let’s look at a few things we can do to get started.

If you want to do something BIG you need to position yourself to do so.

Position Yourself:

1. Physically – pace yourself

2. Emotionally – develop emotional maturity

3. Mentally – be a student

Christian Bernard the renowned Heart Surgeon- came from a small town, with dirt streets, but he saw a BIG World and the world was better because of it. You don’t start at the top. It takes time and commitment to develop a significant life that lives big. Pace yourself for the journey. I’ve heard the phrase life is a marathon not a sprint. It’s true. My mentor Orrin Woodward has a statement I found has helped me put the journey in perspective. To paraphrase it; most people expect too much in one year and too little in 5 years. Give yourself time to succeed.

The react test – how do you react when things happen to you? Are you learning to develop emotional maturity? Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “stuff happens”? Many times our response to these, our reaction determines whether the experience helps or hinders our life. A higher level of reaction is responding. Learn to develop the level of maturity that you no longer react (a panicked less controlled action) but you respond (a more controlled action). This comes from experiences and knowledge that prepare you for times that are out of your control or for the unexpected.

Have a BIG heart and be generous. A big person lives as a Servant Leader

Proverbs 11:24 says; The generous soul becomes rich. I have found that the more you give of yourself to others the more that is returned in many ways, ways you cannot count, ways in which may not be apparent in the moment but in ways far more valuable than money. In the book The Servant by James Hunter he shares this principle in a profound way.

So many people live in a small world. To live a bigger life be a bigger person. How do you do so? First be hungry to learn and learn from those with the knowledge and life experiences you seek to live. In the bestselling book  Launching a Leadership Revolution the authors Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward describe hunger to succeed as the number one attribute of those who do. Of the top 100 leaders in America most did not graduate in the top of their class. Many who succeeded in this world did not even have the opportunity to go to college but learned by studying as a protégé. Sir Issac Newton said I have seen further because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. Why not learn from the giants in your field. Whether it is medicine, sports, the arts, religion, or business you can find books, seminars, articles, to learn from or a mentor to guide you through the process.

Surround yourself with big people. Who do you associate with? Are they people that cause you to stretch and grow as a person. Have you ever noticed that most people who play a sport prefer to play with someone better because it causes them to raise their level of play to the better player? If that’s the case why do so many people in life then associate with people who are less successful? Is it possible that it then causes them to play the game of life to a lower level as well? It sure stands to reason it will. Change your associations if necessary. Find people who live bigger in life than you and associate with then. I heard years ago that if you can find someone who is more successful in the area of life you aspire to, buy them lunch and glean all you can, for it is better to learn the crumbs of knowledge of a successful person than a feast of knowledge from a fool. If you get the opportunity to meet with successful people – Do It!

Stand on Principle

Societies have always had division among it’s citizens. America is no different. Recently over the last few years we have become increasingly divided on a number of fronts; politics, race, religion, gender, class division of the middle class, and most recently marriage.

The result of so much division has been a rapid cultural decline in America.

It’s time American Citizens take a stand, for the decline of our country hurts everyone of its people. But rather than take a stand by political party, or gender, race, etc. It’s time to take a stand on principle.

This video is one that takes a stand based on principle not politics. (Turn up your volume for max effect)


I am not a Catholic, but I applaud the Catholic Church for standing on their foundational principles. It seems we live in a day when many leaders have lost the courage of their convictions and in the case of religious leaders, many have done so in favor of protecting their tax free status or concern of government oversight (sounds like a socialist concern).

After watching this video ask yourself these few questions:

1. What basis is the foundation of my beliefs; principle or media/public opinion?

2. Do I fulfill my responsibility as an American citizen and vote?

2. Do I vote politics or principle?

3. What kind of America do I want to leave for my children or grandchildren?

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.

I challenge us all to Stand on Principle and to be that Courageous American to keep our country free. America has always had those who were Resolved to better themselves so they could have a better nation. The Founders of this great nation were men who had the courage of their convictions to put their families, their success, and their lives on the line so they could build a free nation. Will WE Stand on Principle?

Profiles in Leadership

Profiles in Leadership – Tony & Sharon Hoffman

I had the unique opportunity to witness the culmination of a dream of a young couple this last weekend.

Tony & Sharon Hoffman reached the milestone of Round Table an accomplishment reached by the few who desire to pursue excellence. On stage in front of an audience of over 10,000 they humbly accepted the recognition of their accomplishment. In their introduction LIFE Founder and Policy Council Member Orrin Woodward described them as hungry students. When two educators lead by example, demonstrating their hunger to continuing education and personal excellence                                                                              you know you have teachers you can follow.

The Round Table level of accomplishment is symbolic of the Round Table of medieval times.

According to Wikipedia, the Round Table is King Arthur‘s famed table in the Arthurian legend, around which he and his Knights congregate. The symbolism of the Round Table developed over time; by the close of the 12th century it had come to represent the chivalric order associated with Arthur’s court, the Knights of the Round Table. Chivalric orders are societies and fellowships of knights[1] that have been created by European monarchs in imitation of the military orders of the Crusades. After the crusades, the memory of these crusading military orders became idealised and romanticised, resulting in the late medieval notion of chivalry, and is reflected in the Arthurian romances of the time. Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is the traditional code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood. It was originally conceived of as an aristocratic warrior code — the term derives from the French term for horseman — involving individual training and service to others. Over time its meaning has been refined to emphasize more ideals such as knightly virtueshonour and courtly love, and less the martial aspects of the tradition.

The Knight’s Code of Chivalry was a moral system that stated all knights should protect others who can not protect themselves such as; widows, children, and elders. All knights needed to have the strength and skills to fight wars in the Middle Ages. Knights not only had to be strong but they were also extremely disciplined and were expected to use their power to protect the weak and defenceless. Knights vowed to be loyal, generous, and “noble bearing.” Knights were required to tell the truth at all times and always respect the honour of women. Knights not only vowed to protect the weak but also vowed to guard the honour of all fellow knights. They always had to obey those who were placed in authority and were never allowed to refuse a challenge from an equal. Knights lived by honor and for glory. Knights were to fear God and maintain His Church. Knights always kept their faith and never turned their back on a foe. Knights despised pecuniary reward. They persevered to the end in any enterprise begun. The main vow from the knights was that they shall fight for the welfare of all.[1]

In America today there are few who even think in terms of chivalry. A moral code in America has become a moral decay, where honor, virtue and service to others is a rare trait to be found by the few who desire to live a life of purpose. Tony a former teacher and now a middle school assistant principal, and Sharon a former teacher have taken their initial love that of teaching and expanded their classroom. Tony when speaking to audiences always shares stories of the drama of being a principal in today’s public schools, and the behavior he witnesses is not of those who are maturing to a life of virtue and honor. Wanting to dedicate a life of teaching, but acting more as a MMA referee has given this young and talented couple the desire to take their passion to a difference class of students, those who want to live a life of excellence. In the process I have witnessed this couple grow in their personal lives and in their leadership abilities. In the process they have not only grown in their leadership abilities but have given hope and encouragement to others. Their daughters have watched their parents after a full day in the public school, recharge their personal batteries and go out to help others who want to live the life they have always wanted. As parents to their high school daughters they have demonstrated the benefit of service to others by witnessing changed lives in their community.

I look forward to their continued accomplishments and the many lives they will touch as they continue on their journey.

Leadership Abounds

My last couple days afforded me the opportunity to view and participate on several different levels in local leadership events; Kings College Impact Forum held at the prestigious Westmoreland Club in Wilkes-Barre Pa and the 23rd Annual Pennsylvania Leadership Conference held in Camp Hill Pa.

In had the privilege of attending the Kings College Diversity Impact Forum where students who study at Kings from around the world support each other and expand their cultural experiences and interact with local business leaders. I was able to meet several dynamic young students several of which I had the opportunity to mentor and closely interact with; Exaud Hugho, Jorge Brito and Tyler Tynes and I was impressed with how well spoken and eager they were to learn. They were obviously benefiting from their educational experience and took the additional steps of leadership to involve themselves in this unique forum. The forum was coordinated by Nathan Ward, Director of the Office of College Diversity and LIFE member.

I had an interesting discussion with Freddy Pettit Esq. an attorney for approximately 15 years who has returned to Kings as Vice President for Institutional Advancement. His enthusiasm was evident as he described how the college was founded to help families of coal miner get a college education. He explained he was the first in his family to receive a college degree and that the college helped his parents meet the financial gap need to attend. He spoke of how Kings College changed his life. He graduated, met his wife there and went on to law school and a successful career. He is back to help others change their lives.

The speaker Roger Jackson of R. Jackson & Associates an educational consultant delivered an inspired message “Bringing the Manly Back” challenging these young men to become manly men and not just be XY chromosomal males. He spoke of their responsibility to model appropriate responsible behavior, and to learn what it is to be a gentleman. His final challenge was for them to rise up and be the man our families, communities, and country needs.

As a guest of the Commonwealth Foundation I attended the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference where author and national pollster Dr.Frank Luntz provided several powerfully visual examples demonstrating “It’s not what you say it’s what people hear” from his book Words That Work. The conference featured Presidential Candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, as well as Pennsylvania Senate hopefuls each offering their vision. The conference provided a host of vendors focused on education of Americans on topics such as The Constitution, academic education, taxation, Freedom, Liberty, Patriotism, and personal responsibility. I was proud to see several TEAM LIFE exhibits also represented. The TEAM LIFE exhibits lead by Paul & Christhene Rabanal and Dave & Beth Ober / John & Deb Webster were professional and well spoken in their discussions with people interested in improving their lives in one or more of the 8F’s.

Both events emphasized the need for leadership and personal accountability and demonstrated leadership examples and needs abound. After listening to many people’s individual and group views and discussing the need for leadership today in America it is apparent there is a huge need and interest in leadership education among Americans. We need to return to trust in the backbone of Americans to follow the principle that if you give a man a fish he eats for one day (which lends itself to relying on the government) but rather to teach him to fish for a lifetime. There certainly is the need and with organizations such as these and the many LIFE growth groups that are developing there is ample opportunity for any individual willing to change their lives for the better.

I hope when the election comes and it is time to choose a leader that we can come together, not as Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, but as American’s. Not all of America will get everything they want in a candidate but we need to start moving towards a single nation not one divided by race, gender, religion, income, political party or any other divisive category. I believe if one were to follow the principles discussed in the CD by Orrin Woodward the Lens Effect which discusses the need to put those individual differences aside and to turn America back to start the journey toward less government intervention and more personal responsibility and ultimately more personal freedoms.