The Difference is You: Power Through Positive Leadership

(The opening segment of the author’s book of the same title, now available as a Kindle book at

Are you happy with your job and with your career? Are you proud of your company and the people with whom you work? Do you feel like yours is a dead end job? Do you wish you worked somewhere exciting and challenging? Do you wonder if a break will ever come your way?

Do your supervisors respect you and recognize your efforts and contributions? Do they listen to you and ask for your input in tough situations? Do they give you the respect you feel you deserve? If you are a supervisor, how would your employees answer these questions about you?

Are you happy with your marriage? Is your spouse the kind of supportive partner you would like to have? Are your children turning out the way you hoped? Are your friends everything you want good friends to be?

Are you concerned about the direction in which our country is heading? Are you troubled by our nation’s economic competitiveness in the world marketplace? Do you worry about the bureaucratic ineffectiveness of our government? Does the moral fiber of our society appear to be unraveling? Do you think our systems of education are adequately preparing our children for the future? Do you feel safe in your neighborhood at all hours of the day?

Do the myriad of problems confronting our society leave you feeling discouraged and helpless? If you are like millions of other men and women, discouraged and helpless is exactly how you feel but listen closely. The Difference is You: Power Through Positive Leadership is a message of hope.

The premise of this work is that there is much that we, as individuals, can do that will have an impact on the problems facing us in our personal lives, as a nation, and as citizens of the world community. The problems we face as a society, as we proceed through the Twenty-First Century, are functions of the quality of leadership of our human organizations.

Our message is simple. These problems, in all of their diversity and complexity, can be resolved thereby improving the quality of life for all human beings. Today’s problems will be replaced by new problems, to be sure, but these, too, have solutions. In each case, solutions flow from effective leadership. What is new about this idea is the definition we assign to leadership and how far we spread its mantle.

Positive leadership is a special kind of leadership that gives individual men and women incredible power to bring about positive change and to make a difference right now, right where you are, at this moment in time!

Now is the best time to impact your organization and the job or role you now occupy is the right place to do it!

Many people put things off, waiting for the right or perfect time and place. Just as there are no perfect solutions, there is no perfect time and place. There is no time or place other than here and now. Do it now or, as they say in the athletic shoe commercial, “Just Do It!”

Now is always the best time for taking action and, the best opportunities are not the ones that fall into your lap but the ones you make for yourself. Do not delay another hour; begin anew. Start doing things differently. Take Zig Ziglar’s advice:

“If you keep doin’ what you’ve been doin’, you’re gonna keep gettin’ what you’ve been gettin’.”

Initiate changes in your life and in your approach to your duties, responsibilities, and your relationships and the world will begin to change in response. However small, even insignificant these changes may appear, they matter and they are the direct result of your leadership.

Be a positive leader in the same sense that you want the changes to be positive for everyone, whenever possible. Be concerned about values and begin thinking about the organization or community as a whole. Whatever the organizations of which you are a part, think about their purpose or mission and how you can best contribute to them. As you become more comfortable with your role as a leader, you will begin to see abundant opportunities to make an impact or to bring about change. You will recognize multiple opportunities for action; opportunities that have always existed but were imperceptible to you before you began to view yourself as a positive leader.
How great the impact and how grand the changes you can facilitate—how far-reaching your leadership can be—is limited by your talents and abilities but these boundaries are not nearly as confining as you imagine. It is like sitting in the middle of an unknown body of water where you see nothing but water on the horizon, in any direction. You don’t know whether you are in Lake Erie or the Pacific Ocean and until you strike out, using all of your talents and abilities, you will never know the answer to such questions.

Your leadership potential is also limited by other factors. Things like commitment, dedication, courage, faith, work ethic, persistence, etc., and these are things over which you have enormous control. The number of human beings in the world today who extend themselves to the full limit of their talents and abilities would probably not fill a large arena. For the overwhelming majority of us, the things that constrain us are things that we control, whether we know it or not.

Being an action leader means you are willing to pay the price for success. It means a willingness to work long hours, make personal sacrifices, delay material gratification, and forego leisure and social activities. Whatever it takes, you are willing to give. This takes real courage because, in our society, inordinate value is placed on working as few hours as possible; on reaching a point where sacrifices are unnecessary; where material wealth is abundant; and, where leisure time is paramount. To give these things up for a goal or objective no one else can see is an act of heroism and the world needs all the heroes it can get.

Should not our Schools Be Set Up On the Basis of How Children Learn?

One of the principles of Positive Leadership is to challenge people to re-think their underlying assumptions about why we do what we do. Education in America provides a perfect example of a system that demands a complete re-examination.
Think about the way children learn to walk or ride a bike. Children learn these things very much the same way as they learn almost everything else. We provide lots of encouragement and many of opportunities to practice whatever it is they are striving to learn. We understand that some children learn more quickly than others and when we are teaching them to walk or ride a bike we do not push them to learn any more quickly than they are able. We know that the only thing that matters is the fact that they do learn. When children make a mistake while learning to walk or ride a bike, they fall down. When that happens, we pick them up, give them give them a hug or a kiss, dust them off, and we encourage them to try again.
What we do not do is tally the number of times they fall nor do we diminish the degree to which we celebrate their ultimate success based on the number of mistakes they made along the way. We also do not push them ahead before they are ready. If we are helping two children learn how to walk, simultaneously for example, and one child catches on quickly, we do not stop working with the child who is struggling. Neither do we begin teaching both children, ready or not, how to run. Riding the bike is the same way. When the first child to learn takes off on her own, we do not push the second child to take off in pursuit and we certainly do not start teaching them both to develop more advanced skills. Rather, we give each the attention they need appropriate to their progress.
We continue to work with the child who struggles and we do so patiently, providing lots of support and encouragement. Once both children are walking or riding proficiently, we do not remind the latter child that their counterpart learned more quickly and we do not celebrate the quicker child’s success more lavishly. The reality is that, once both have learned, one walks or rides every bit as good as the other. It no longer matters, in the least, that one took longer to learn than the other.
Now, think about the way we teach children in the overwhelming majority of our schools. We present a lesson to the entire class and we encourage them to practice, both at school and at home. We call it homework, not practice. The next day, we gather up all the homework and we grade it and spend some time going over the most common mistakes that students make in an effort to help them learn from their mistakes.
Then we do three things that are pretty incomprehensible when you think about it. The first is that we do not devote extra time the students who made the most mistakes.
Secondly, we record either the grades each child earned on their practice and factor those scores into their final grade at the end of the grading period, semester, or school year; or, we give them credit for completion of the homework and this also is factored in to the grade the child is given at the end of the grading period.
The third unfathomable thing we do is to move the entire class on to the next lesson in our textbooks or syllabus, ready or not.
The fact that one or more of our students is poorly prepared for the next lesson might trouble us, but the expectation of the entire American educational system is that we have to move everyone along to make sure we cover all of the material identified by the educational standards that drive our curricula and our competency testing process. We also label the students who learned more quickly and successfully as “A” or “B” students or “honor” students and, we label the slower kids as “C”, “D”, or even “F” students. We may or may not feel some sense of concern that these labels may follow our students well into the future but that’s the way it is done and so we shove our reticence aside and plunge ahead.
If we look closely and carefully, we will probably be able to tell that the kids we have labeled as “A” or “B” students seem to be having more fun and demonstrate more enthusiasm for learning than the “C, D, or F” students. In fact, it does not take long before it is pretty obvious that the latter group of children is having no fun at all and are demonstrating a diminished enthusiasm for learning. Oh, well, as the saying goes, “it is what it is!”
We observe this even though each and every one of us understands that it is as much fun to learn successfully and as it is demoralizing to fail repeatedly. How often do we refuse to play a game at which we habitually lose?
If we were to examine this practice from a positive leadership perspective, what an educator, school principal, school superintendent, or educational policy maker would do would be to step back and begin to question what we are doing and why. These positive leaders would begin to challenge some of their assumptions about why we do what we do, the way we do it.
The truth is that every time we push a child on to a next lesson before they are ready we are setting him or her up for failure. It is this practice, as much as anything else we do, that leads to an unhealthy focus on failure throughout our entire systems of education.
If you are reading this post, you are challenged to begin asking some serious questions of our professional educators and policy makers.

A Call To Action!

As a result of decisions we have made as a society, since the end of World War II, a society of second class citizens has emerged. These Americans are not full participants in American enterprise. It would be accurate to say that they withdraw far more value than they contribute. Many of these men and women have effectively
disenfranchised themselves and why should we be surprised by this. These are Americans who receive a lousy education from a system of public education that is unable to meet their needs; have little or no access to healthcare to attend to their own medical needs as well as the needs of their families; and, if they are employed at all, they have low paying jobs with no eligibility for benefits and no opportunities for advancement.

This population is like a cancer growing in our body, sapping away our strength and vitality. There is a tipping point at which our nation will begin an irrevocable and unalterable decline.

That there is an equally large and growing population of retirees who are checking out of the game at an age from which they are likely to live another quarter of a century, adds greatly to this burden. It does not matter that these retiring men and women have worked hard for their entire lives to earn their Social Security, Medicare and pensions. These facts do not change the economic dynamics that make this population a burden to the Americans in the middle who must work harder to pay the bills. Fortunately, many of these men and women have invested well and their money is working for us even if they are not. The majority of these Americans, however, are dependent on Social Security and Medicare for their survival.

While both of these populations, on opposite ends of the age/productivity continuum create special challenges it is the first group of Americans about which we must be most immediately concerned.

We can neither continue to support this dependent population nor can we continue to enable their dependency and entitlement mentality. Neither can we ignore them; pretend they will disappear; deport them; or, otherwise rid ourselves of them.

The only answer, therefore, is to bring them back into the game as full functioning and productive members of our team, of American Society. Yes, I understand that this will not be an easy challenge to meet or goal to accomplish. The truth, however, is that if we do not find a way to shrink this population and pull them back into the game as contributing members, they will destroy us. The bottom line, then, is that we have no choice but to find a way to win them over to our side.

We can do this by:
1. Reinventing and re-selling the American Dream, and
2. Giving these Americans men and women realistic hopes that the dream can be real for them or, at least for their children.

We accomplish the first by using our unsurpassed talent for marketing and selling products and services. Only this time, we will be selling an idea in which people can believe and to which they can subscribe.
To achieve the second objective, we must re-invent our systems of education in such a way that we not only offer pertinent subject matter but also teach children how to succeed. We are not talking, here, about incremental reforms rather we are talking about a transformation. We must also transform our healthcare system to one that provides high quality, comprehensive healthcare and prescription drugs to all Americans at a price that we can not only afford but that will save trillions of dollars over the next decade.

Impossible, you say?

Accomplishing these things is not only possible it is imminently doable if only we use our imaginations to think exponentially and open our minds to the reality that anything we can imagine, we can do.

Given the extent to which China, Europe, Japan, India, and other developing nations are challenging our supremacy in the international marketplace, we have not a nanosecond to spare. This is clearly the categorical imperative of our time. We cannot continue to trudge down the dry and dusty paths of political dogma, conventional wisdom, or business as usual. We must demand that our elected representatives cease their paralyzing bickering and begin working together in what is a conflict of historical proportions in which the very survival of our nation and way of life is at risk. Never has our very survival as a nation been at greater risk.

You are urged to take this threat seriously and to make a commitment to change the direction our nation is taking. This blog, THE LEADerThinking Exponentially: Leadership, Education, and the American Dream, is here to serve as a catalyst to get people like you involved and to overcome the inertia that keeps people from doing what they know is right. This blog can support you but it is your leadership that will make a difference.

We will also offer articles on healthcare and education both of which, because of the minimal access to the former and the low quality of the latter, contribute significantly to the disenfranchisement of those whom we describe as virtual second-class citizens. Improving the quality of education and the quality, access, and cost of healthcare provide the best point of attack in bringing back this population of men and women who have lost their faith in the American Dream. We cannot invite them back on the basis of empty promises. We must give them real and demonstrable changes.

My book, Radical Surgery: Reconstructing the American Health Care System, published in 2002, addresses the challenges of healthcare and offers an achievable solution that is the antithesis of socialized medicine and that can save the American people trillions of dollars over the next decade.

My book, The Difference Is You: Power Through Positive Leadership will show the reader how every man and woman can be apply the power of positive leadership to bring about changes in the world in which they live and interact.

My book, Re-Inventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream, scheduled for release in a few weeks, recommends a very specific plan of action to re-invent education and to increase the level of commitment of parents to become partners in the education of their children. Changing these things will bring about dramatic changes in the motivation of our children to learn as much as they are able, as quickly as they can, according to each child’s innate abilities and interests.

My novel, Light and Transient Causes, is a story of just one possibility of what could happen in the U.S. if we are unable to address these issues effectively.

Please join me in this campaign by:
-Subscribing to this Blogs RSS feed.
-Following me on Twitter and LinkedIN,
-Encouraging your family, friends and associates to join you in this effort, and
-By applying the principles of positive leadership to help bring about a transformation of American society.

Remember the words of Jane Goodall:
“The most important thing you can do for the future of the world is to realize that what you do matters.”

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