“Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Their first attempt failed completely. Not one of the people hired remained after a few weeks: the men they hired weren’t prepared or equipped for the requirements of regular work, and Cascade wasn’t prepared to help them succeed. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know,” recalls one of the managers involved, so they resorted to “tough love” that just didn’t work.
For most leaders, this inauspicious beginning would likely have also been the end. It seemed to confirm the common sentiment that helping people get out of intergenerational poverty isn’t a role business can or should try to play. But not to Keller. For him, the initial outcome was simply data — the first attempt hadn’t worked, so clearly there were things to learn before taking another step.
The second attempt — which involved a partnership wherein potential Cascade employees first learned basic job skills and accountability at a local Burger King — failed, too. Cascade’s managers still didn’t really understand what it took to help this type of employee, and were frustrated with the additional effort “Fred’s program” took. Leaders of other businesses thought it proved Keller was naive to think companies could address this type of social problem.
Amidst this internal and external criticism, Keller persevered. He, and then everyone in a managerial position at Cascade, underwent focused training on intergenerational poverty. He continued to be a cheerleader, encouraging managers to embrace the broader purpose they were serving. And he stepped further outside the box and convinced the state of Michigan to — for the first time — place a public social worker onsite at a for-profit business.
With those supports in place and a never-give-up, continuous learning culture infused from the top, the program slowly found solid footing. Managers pushed through the hard times — iterating toward new processes that facilitated employee-social worker interaction without being too cumbersome, overcoming perceptions that there were two sets of standards, refusing to bow to employee threats to leave, and eventually letting go some employees whose attitude got in the way of their performance — because they believed in what they were trying to do and in Fred Keller.
If Keller had been hung up on old-fashioned notions of how to lead, none of this would have happened. He would have blamed others, given up, and tried to focus others on the company’s success on traditional business metrics. He certainly wouldn’t have been willing to be vulnerable by acknowledging that initial attempts hadn’t worked or that he didn’t know how to solve a problem. He wouldn’t have gone first in asking for help, or repeatedly publicly apologized for mistakes along the way.
Most of us know that our “tough guy” views (and yes, sadly, they are highly masculine) of “leadership,” “bravery,” and “courage”—the very ones Fred Keller repeatedly refused to embody — are outdated, sub-optimal, and sometimes downright dangerous for the organizations where most types of work get done today. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we aren’t still driven by more intuitive, comic-book-hero notions.
This is an example of what evolutionary scholars call mismatch theory — the idea that something that was once useful for survival has not evolved quickly enough to match the current environment. While it may once have been useful to think of courageous leaders as those who were physically strongest and most aggressive (when daily survival did depend on not being killed by wild animals and being able to kill them instead), those traits are no longer the critical ones in most current settings.
In that case, it’s time to consciously reconsider – and then choose to act more frequently on – a new view of courageous leadership, which I also cover in my book Choosing Courage. Below are some starting points for a view that would be much better matched to today’s environment.
Pretending to be fearless no matter how good the reasons to be afraid, or acting like a know-it-all no matter how obvious it is that neither you nor anyone else has all the answers, isn’t impressive. It’s dangerous — for yourself and for those who depend on you.
As Aristotle noted over 2,000 years ago there’s clearly a difference between courage and foolhardiness. It’s foolish, not courageous, to lead a hiking group toward a bear that will obviously kill you all for no good reason. Likewise, leading people in your organization into all kinds of trouble because you couldn’t acknowledge you were afraid or needed others’ expertise isn’t courageous. It’s dangerous.
Here’s the thing: Once people know you’re competent, it makes you look stronger (not weak) when you admit “I don’t know” or say “Please help with this.” Think about the myriad difficulties faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Did you admire and feel more drawn to your leader if she came online and acted as if nothing at all was troubling her? Or, instead, when she also admitted she was facing a series of work and life challenges unlike any in the past, but was committed to getting it through it together and becoming stronger as a group as a result?
The same is true with apologies. When a leader genuinely says, “I’m sorry, I screwed that up,” we see that person as more likeable and more trustworthy. We want to help make the situation better. In contrast, we don’t think someone is a good leader or a hero because they cover up mistakes with lies or omissions. We think they’re weak or a jerk, and we try to distance ourselves as quickly as possible.
Real leadership isn’t about winning a popularity contest. It’s about doing important work on behalf of others. And because there are always going to be differences of opinion and limited resources, you’re probably not going to make much progress on that important work if you can’t stand the thought of upsetting some people some of the time.
Michael Bloomberg clearly understood this during his tenure as Mayor of New York City. “If I finish my term in office… and have high approval ratings, then I wasted my last years in office,” he said. “You always want to press, and you want to tackle the issues that are unpopular, that nobody else will go after.” If things are going pretty well, said Bloomberg, you’re skiing on what for you is a bunny hill and it’s time to move to a steeper slope.”
Leadership as a popularity contest is, in short, a high-school or Hollywood view of leadership. Good leadership is about being trusted and respected for the defensibility of the decisions you make. It’s about courageous action to defend core principles, even when it costs something significant — potentially even one’s own popularity or standing in the short run.
In the vast majority of organizations, entreating people to routinely stick their necks out despite legitimate fear isn’t exactly a sign of strong leadership. Yet that’s what leaders who “encourage courage” are essentially doing. They’re implicitly saying that because they aren’t courageous enough to change the conditions in their organization to make it safer for people to be honest, try new things, or take other prudent risks, everyone else should be courageous enough to do them anyway.
Sadly, that’s not going to create an environment where people routinely do more of the things that are needed for individuals or organizations to learn, change, and thrive. Even superheroes know this doesn’t work. They don’t spend their time trying to make everyone else a superhero; they spend their time trying to create safer conditions where courageous action isn’t routinely called for.
The leaders we need today surround themselves with, and promote, people who help them learn by challenging rather than flattering them. They reward rather than punish those who try new things, even when they don’t go well. They change outdated systems that exclude diverse perspectives.
The leaders we need today demonstrate, rather than demand, courageous action. They choose, like Fred Keller did, to be vulnerable — even if their position, gender, race, or other status markers mean they don’t have to.
It is becoming apparent to me that more than a few of those mentally tormented by their sins and failings of the past are actually suffering from demonic obsessions…
There is a normal type of real-event OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) where a person obsessively ruminates about a real, or imagined, failing from the past. In the more severe cases, these ruminations, and unsuccessful attempts to rid one of them (compulsions), can be debilitating. Such individuals are usually best treated by a combination of CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) and medications.
But there is sometimes, masked within the deceptive trappings of an OCD disorder, an actual attack by the Evil One. One senior exorcist estimated that 25 percent of the population is suffering from some form of demonic obsessions. I have no reason to believe that figure is exaggerated.
For example, “John” was tormented by evil and blasphemous thoughts to the point of no longer being able to function. Years of psychotherapy brought no relief. It was noteworthy that these obsessions began after his having relapsed into pornography. Confession, amending his life, and several deliverance sessions all but extinguished the mental obsessions.
Similarly, “Alicia” was tormented with thoughts of self-hatred and despair, often bringing her to the brink of suicide. While psychotherapy was helpful, the mental attacks were intense, out of proportion to her psychological state, and the attacks began whenever she tried to pray or go to Mass. She, too, found considerable relief through renunciation of the demonic and subsequent deliverance prayer sessions.
In both cases, the mental obsessions are not completely gone, because their root is in their normal psychological weaknesses. But it became clear that Satan, being an opportunist, was exploiting these human weaknesses. He exaggerated these weaknesses to the point of complete dysfunction, despair, and suicidality. Now, Alicia and John suffer with a much reduced, normal, human weakness. The demonic ferocity of the attacks has dissipated.
Demonic obsessions can be distinguished from psychological OCD ruminations by their intensity, being out of proportion to one’s human state, and often brought on by engaging in holy practices. Also, there is usually an opening to the demonic that can be identified, especially in recent sinful practices and/or occult practices. Finally, the intensity of the mental attacks dissipates in the wake of deliverance prayers.
At the end of one’s life, this demonic obsessive assault is no longer hidden. As one enters the final judgment, Satan, the great accuser, accuses the soul of all of its infidelities in life. He demands that it be justly consigned to hell. As St. Catherine of Siena relates in The Dialogue, the Lord revealed to her that: “In the moment of death…the Devil accuses them with great terror and darkness…the Devil torments him with [his] infidelity in order to bring him to despair.”
The soul’s recourse in extremity, and always, is the mercy of God. Jesus paid the price of our sins. We are saved in this life, and the next, by the Love of our merciful God.
A former middle-school principal in Indiana has been arrested for allegedly seducing and impregnating a minor student whom he later took for an abortion at Planned Parenthood.
Pascal Huot | Shutterstock
Philip Kosloski – 01/09/22
A little-known fact is that many baptismal fonts are created with eight sides. This may seem like a trivial point, but it is a very symbolic number.
First of all,eight is most closely associated with the Resurrection and the new creation. Jesus rose on the eighth day, the day after the Jewish sabbath.
Secondly, Jewish boys were circumcised on the eighth day and St. Paul explained to his communities how “True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart” (Romans 2:28-29). Baptismal fonts are often designed in an octagonal shape to represent this new life and “circumcision of the heart.”
Third, the number eight recalls the ark and how eight people were saved by water.
[W]hen God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.
1 Peter 3:20
The next time you see a baptismal font, count its sides and see if it has the number eight. If it does, then you will know the rich symbolism behind it.
Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe on Saturday said he will be releasing whistleblower documents on Dr. Fauci next week. “Serious whistleblower documents coming early next week on Dr. Fauci. STAY TUNED” O’Keefe announced on his Instagram account. When all is said and done and the waters settle on the COVID pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci may…
We often begin to look for external solutions for the frustration we feel. But we take that frustration with us wherever we go. The solution is to deal with what is going on inside of us. But instead of growing, we are rearranging. We want circumstances to change rather than change ourselves. When the dust settles, more often than not, all of the rearranging will result in the same frustration in a new context.
This makes Sean Glaze’s book Staying Coachable so relevant and important for our times. It’s an engaging story about a father and a son—Wallace and Max—who decide to hike The Narrows in Zion National Park. Both are frustrated—Wallace over changes at work he is resisting, and Max over the new coach and basketball tryouts. On the hike, they meet Gayle, a wise woman who listens and agrees to help them with their frustrations if they are committed to change and growth. Gayle shares the lessons her husband learned as a coach before he died and she experienced in her own career.
My husband used to say, “frustration is a magnificent and powerful tool. Like a hammer, you can use it to build something impressive—or wreck something you worked hard to build.”
Turns out most people want to get better, but they want to do it their own way. That usually means doing what they already know, which is just repeating the same stuff that got them stuck.
Staying coachable is a commitment to growth. “Being uncoachable is really about being stuck in a comfort zone that a person refuses to acknowledge or leave.”
Glaze says there are four main ceilings that limit our growth: the ceiling of contentment, ignoring reality, personal pride, and knowing without doing.
After they part ways, she agrees to share four questions they will have to grapple with over the ensuing months if they are committed to getting unstuck and improving.
Four weeks later, the first question comes, and it is about hunger: What specifically do you want? Where do you want to be by when? Who are you trying to impress?
You have to want something enough to disrupt the inertia of the status quo.
Success is about selection and commitment. Complacent people refuse to choose.
We are often cured of our most dangerous faults when we witness the consequences in others.
Question two deals with honesty: Where are you now? What “numbers” accurately measure your desired performance? What obstacles exist to achieving the success you seek? This is hard because “many people find it difficult to acknowledge where and what they are without prejudice.”
If you want directions anywhere, you must pinpoint the place you are starting from.
You need to know the skills and strengths you possess that you will need to make use of. You need to know the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
Where are you in relation to your team? Are you willing to fill a role that is uncomfortable to ensure the team can succeed?
What is best for the team, not convenient for you.
Does the team need you to take on a different role?
Question three deals with our willingness to accept help—humility: How do you respond to mistakes or criticism? Who are a few valuable mentors that you can learn from? This question is meant to “inspire you to reflect on how you have handled feedback or the people who shared advice with you in the past. You can’t pour growth into a cup already full of assumptions and ego.”
Criticism is not a dead-end; it is a detour to somewhere better.
You need other voices because 90% of your daily thoughts are the same ones from the day before—and the same thoughts lead to the same actions and same results.
Humility understands that growth doesn’t merely mean changing ourselves. It means allowing others to change us, to hold us accountable, and help us shed unhealthy behaviors we’ve learned, so we are introduced to a better version of ourselves that we otherwise would not have discovered.
The final question comes down to habits: What will you do differently? What are you doing occasionally that you will now do consistently? What are the current distractions that you will stop doing?
Your habits are external evidence of your internal commitments.
Simplicity in understanding does not always translate to simplicity in execution.
The hard thing they must do to succeed, the challenge they must master, is more often doing small, simple things with extraordinary consistency.
Whatever you want to be better at, identify what you can do differently that will create different results for you and your team. And remember—successful people do not negotiate with themselves.
How will you acknowledge your progress? Disciplined effort declines without encouragement.
H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick is the result of experience and a lot of reflection. And we would be foolish not to benefit from it.
When he reflected on the habits that propelled him forward he came up with twenty and organized them around 3 important questions every influencer must ask:
HUMBLE: Who am I?
HUNGRY: Where do I want to go?
HUSTLE: How will I get there?
The answers to these questions help you to become a change agent. And the habits associated with each of these questions create the playbook for your leadership journey. Lomenick says that your leadership success if built upon habitual work. “It is worked out every day in the tasks we complete, the ways we approach our work, and the rhythms we nurture in our lives. It hangs on the hooks of the patterns we create, not just the success we may stumble upon.”
Most of the actions we take during the day are habits. So we must be intentional about what habits we develop and why.
In brief, here are the twenty habits with Lomenick’s comments:
Self-Discovery: Know who you are
“Developing a habit of self-discovery means creating intentional rhythms whereby one observes who he is, listens to his life, and strives to define himself apart from his professional assignments. This habit helps a leader connect to an organization without being consumed by it.”
Openness: Share the real you with others
“People would rather follow a leader who is always real versus a leader who is always right.”
Meekness: Remember it’s not about you
“Meekness is not weakness. It’s power under control. It’s ambition grounded with humility and lived out in confidence, not arrogance.”
Conviction: Stick to your principles
“Your private life determines your public legacy.” And consider this: “Most leaders assume they know what their most closely held convictions are, a false assumption that keeps them from ever naming them.”
Faith: Prioritize your day so God is first
“A habit of faith is that one thing you can’t afford to not have on the journey. It reminds you that there is a bigger story of which yours is only a part.”
Assignment: Live out your calling
“There is a marked difference between a calling and an assignment, and failing to recognize it is a one-way ticket to the frustration station.
Ambition: Develop an appetite for what’s next
“Never satisfied, but always content is the posture of a properly ambitious leader.
Curiosity: Keep learning
“If you’re not learning, you’re not leading to your full potential.” He recommends: “Find people who are so different they make you uncomfortable, and then spend more time with them than you’d prefer to.”
Passion: Love what you do
“If you do not nurture enthusiasm, it will naturally diminish over time. Leaders can’t inspire others unless and until they are inspired themselves. Your team feeds off your energy, for better or worse. Leaders are organizational health risks or assets.”
Innovation: Stay current, creative, and engaged
“The first step to developing this habit is realizing that innovation in part has nothing to do with you; rather, it is determined by those you have around you.”
Inspiration: Nurture a vision for a better tomorrow
“A habit of inspiration is nurtured in the casting, not just the crafting of vision.”
Bravery: Take calculated risks
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Excellence: Set standards that scare you
“The goal is to set a standard that scares you to death and then continue trying to raise that standard. Excellence is ultimately about effort. Excellence requires always being one step ahead.”
Stick-with-it-ness: Take the long view
“My friend Robert Madu says it this way: In a culture where quitting is normal, be crazy enough to stay committed, foolish enough to be faithful, and stupid enough to stick with it!”
Execution: Commit to completion
“Some of us need to put down the megaphone and just grab a shovel. Little less talk, and a lot more action.”
Team Building: Create an environment that attacks and retains the best and brightest
“If you combine a positive work environment with regular delightful experiences, you’ll take a giant step toward raising up a dream team.”
Partnership: Collaborate with colleagues and competitors
“A habit of partnership means that as a leader you are willing to come to the end of your organizational self and see a bigger vision and picture beyond just what you’re working on. Be willing to sacrifice for someone else’s benefit. True collaboration involves giving as much as getting.”
Margin: Nurture healthier rhythms
“The goal of my reordering was not just to create a better schedule, but to create margin. The more margin in your life, the more room you have to let your rhythms run. Margin is a powerful habit. It creates opportunities.”
Generosity: Leave the world a better place
“Whatever you possess—the classic formulation is ‘time, treasure, talent’—should be given away liberally and not hoarded. This is what a habit of generosity looks like, and it is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll leave the world a better place than you found it. For me it always begins and ends around the issue of stewardship, which describes the act of watching over someone else’s things. It helps remind me that I am not he owner, but only the manager of all I have.”
Succession: Find power in passing the baton
“Too many leaders grab their jobs with an unrelenting death grip. But part of every influencer’s responsibility is to boldly build something magnificent and then humbly hand it off to others. The best way to shore up your legacy is to effectively hand it off to your successors.”