Questions – Mostly Why!

QuestionFrom their Dark Horse Album, Nickelback sings, “If Today Was Your Last Day.”  The central theme discusses a principle I am struggling with, centered around a question, “Why do we wait?”  The song’s lyrics include the following:

“My best friend gave me the best advice
He said, “Each day’s a gift and not a given right.
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by.
That first step you take is the longest stride.”

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say “goodbye” to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you had?
If today was your last day.”

From the Live Like You Were Dying album, Tim McGraw, sings a similarly themed song of the same name, with the following lyrics:Rescued Butterfly 2

Said I was in my early 40’s
With a lot of life before me
When a moment came, that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days lookin’ at the x-rays
Talkin’ ’bout the options and talkin’ ’bout sweet time
Asked him when it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news
Man what ya do
And he says

I went sky divin’
I went Rocky Mountain climbin’
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying
And he said someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

The follow-up question continues, when will you finally start living big?

Why do we wait?

LaughterWhy do humans wait to begin living until they get a death sentence?  Look, I have lived my life as hard and as full as possible, not because I am dying, but to eventually be an interesting old person.  I remember sentiments from reading books as a kid, things like, “it’s not how wide or how deep you live that matters; it’s proving you lived at all.”  Or, “if you go through life without collecting scars and enemies, you’re a coward or worse.”  I do not understand about waiting for some earth-shaking revelation before you take time to laugh, be adventurous, explore, or forgive.

I talked to a person back in Ohio; his Father-In-Law dropped dead suddenly.  There were no health indications, no warning, no previous symptoms, just got up one morning, took a step, and fell down dead!  The man I was speaking to claimed this shook his wife, marriage, and family, but it would not change him.  He was rushing to a meeting for a job he hated, to go home to a family in turmoil, and he had no clue what to do.  Just a casual conversation, the man was not looking for answers; I would not offer advice.  I wished him well!Paradox

He had a long list of things to do in his “Some-Day” Bucket List.  When is someday?  I cannot find this as a day of the week on a single calendar.  Yet, how many times a day is a person dreaming of “someday” when they plan to start living?  Please do not get me wrong; I am not claiming we all need to be “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry for tomorrow we die” people.  I am arguing we might want to stop waiting for the bus to someday, to take us to a place called somewhere, so we can become people we refused to be all our lives.

Why finally start living big?

Ernest Lawrence Thayer wrote a poem I favored as a child called “Casey at the Bat.”  Not to ruin the poem, but the last stanza is essential.

“Oh, somewhere in this favoured land, the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out” [emphasis mine].

The land of somewhere, where people live like they never lived in real life, is that mythical place of rainbows, lollipops, roses, and summer bands. Casey at the Bat | Tolley's Topics

James Wilson wrote a sequel to “Casey at the Bat” titled “Casey’s Revenge.”  Again the final stanza holds a clear message for us.

“Oh, somewhere in this favored land, dark clouds may hide the sun.
And somewhere bands no longer play, children have no fun;
And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall;
But Mudville hearts are happy now — for Casey hit the ball!”

The final Casey poem is called “Casey 20-Years Later,” authored by Clarence P. McDonald.  The Mudville Nine were hurt; they needed a player to finish the game.  The coach appealed to the crowd for a player to come and play.  An older man from the crowd, unknown and unnamed, claims he knows baseball and can help finish the game.  The game continues, and the stranger comes to bat; he hits the game-winning hit and stands there and cried.  For the stranger was Mighty Casey, the man chided and derided by the crowd so many years before.

Mighty Casey at Bat - Welcome to Wayne Hunt Huebner 4 ArtI have always wondered what happened between the first, the second, and the third poems about Mighty Casey.  The humility it took to play again.  The kindness he showed to the audience and other players, the respect he showed to the umpire.  So many lessons, but the number one among them all, why are we not living larger, deeper, fuller?  Why do we worship sports heroes instead of being sports heroes?  Why do we settle for the daily grind when even in the daily tasks, there are things to discover, new things to learn, new experiences, and new methods of doing things that will surprise us if we but take a risk.

Growing up in Maine, I learned something the day I had 20 loads of laundry to complete, no dryer, and the temperature was dropping like a rocket sled on rails.  Did you know you can hang clothes on a line outside, in the freezing cold, and they will dry?  My fingers just about froze stiff, the laundry was freezing faster than I could hang it, and I had to iron a bunch of wrinkles out.  But, what a cool (pun intended) lesson.  The clothes came in dry, smelled of the Maine woods, wood smoke, and had a crisp smell that I cannot forget.Lemmings 1

On my 30th birthday, I was in Maine again; my wife bought a birthday dinner at Red Robin.  I had some great food that day, but the memory that stays in my head, clear as a new spring morning, was the table cube.  On this cube was a picture of a man, standing outside a plane hangar, looking for all the world as confident as he can.  The heading, “All I want to be when I grow up is an interesting old person.”  At this moment, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew old, an interesting old person.

Plant JokePeople had been asking me what I wanted to do or be when I grew up for years and years.  I never had a clue.  I had already been a fireman, a diesel mechanic, a truck driver, a shepherd, a dairy farmhand, a blueberry harvester, a paper delivery boy, been through the US Army and US Navy, as well as a trip through the US Army National Guard.  I had worked in call centers, been a general contractor, a business consultant, worked in multiple warehouses in different roles, and so much more.  When I turned 30, my wife and I had already racked up 20+ moves, traveled uncountable miles across the lower-48 states, and had some crazy life experiences.  The US Military had already sent me ¾’s of the way around the world.

But, I finally found what I wanted to be, an interesting older person.  Thus, when I hear these songs by Nickelback and Tim McGraw, I cannot understand why wait?  Why live large and adventurous only after getting a life sentence?  Why withhold forgiveness and forget the past only after it becomes apparent you are going to die?  Did you forget that everyone has a death certificate waiting?  Did you get stuck in a rut, put on blinders, and forget that life is more than just breathing in and out and turning food into mulch?Mediocre Joke

A Final Thought

Would you volunteer?  The poem “Casey 20-years later” is a perfect ending for this topic.  Especially with the question, would you volunteer?  Would you volunteer to pull some weeds for a neighbor?  Would you volunteer to shovel a little more snow for another person?  Would you cross a lawn and pick up a trashcan the wind had knocked around?  Would you volunteer to buy some groceries when the teller asks for more money, and it is clear that the person does not have enough?  Would you buy gas for a stranger?

Knowledge Check!The poems of Casey relate a tale of humanity and the songs of Nickelback and Tim McGraw relate that it is never too late to help someone unless you’re dead!  Why wait?  Why hold off on living larger, deeper, fuller lives?  Why not volunteer?  Why do we wait to act like we care until a few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas but spend the rest of the year not living at all?  These are just some random questions, two really good songs, three incredible poems, and my brain trying to make sense.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Wanted A Leader – The Leader’s Job Description

cropped-snow-leopard.jpgThe best job descriptions address the common questions of Who, What, When, Where, and How.  The common question ‘Why’ is excluded because it remains self-evident, there is a “something” desired from the job, or the job would not be considered worthwhile.  Since value and rewards are the beholder’s sole facets, ‘Why’ has been excluded as superfluous.  The sum of these points and positions is derived, deduced, and selected from the following resources, and this list is not all-inclusive, Avolio (2008), Boylan (2005), Brady (2005), Carpenter (1868), Chaleff (2003), Lundin (2000), Costa (2008), Hamlin (2008), Hinckley (2000), Oyinlade (2006), Morrow (1935), Sandburg (1926), Wren (1995), and Yukl (2006).

Wanted: a Leader

Literary FiendThe successful leader is morally obligated to embrace loyal opposition.  Loyal opposition is found in those following, taking and giving counsel and guidance to improve plans, implement ideas, and garner the individual buy-in from free agents.  Loyal opposition ensures that integrity, responsibility, and accountability are not lost or forgotten.  The leader is a teacher, and a teacher is a leader.  The cycle for learning and teaching does not become lost or less significant as rank is increased.  The inverse occurs. The greater the position, the higher the responsibility to remain engaged in the learning/teaching cycle.  All Applicants must have the following characteristics:

      • Drive and Determination – This is required as the task is difficult, the work often arduous, and the pay is never sufficient.
      • Education and Experience – Knowledge is good, but a continued thirst for learning must supersede past educational experiences. Experience in applying education is critical.  Without experience in application, academic success is not enough to obtain this position.
      • Willingness to sacrifice – As a leader, the followers need to be trained and supported; this requires a considerable measure of sacrifice in time, resource allocation and demands innovation in thinking and flexibility in approach.
      • The power to delegate – A leader does not have enough time to meet all their responsibilities; if a leader cannot delegate, oversee, and inspire others to action, that leader cannot achieve success and is not a leader but a manager.
      • Willing to follow without sacrificing the need to lead – Leaders can never sever the ties to being a follower, but the leader must act to lead. Above all else, leadership requires balancing between being a follower and leading well.
      • The ability to exude a ‘Quiet Confidence’ – Knowing you know what to do, have the ability to find the answers, and still meet achievement goals is required to inspire confidence and determination in others.

Charismatic people need not apply.  Those possessing ‘Chutzpah’ are always welcome.  Charisma is a potent drug and, when combined with the power of leadership, tends to lend itself to abusing followers.  People possessing ‘Chutzpah,’ e.g., having the backbone to make a stand and remaining standing long after others consider quitting, are always in demand.  Determined ‘Chutzpah’ will be the order of the day to make a change, lead in flux, and drive the change in others while putting followers at ease, delivering praise, and inspiring others to achieve.

quote-mans-inhumanityThe ideal candidate possesses a working and living knowledge of history, politics, sales, marketing, customer service, and a devotion to seeing others succeed.  The ideal candidate must be willing to be an example and remain engaged mentally to the tasks of leadership.  Other qualities an ideal candidate would possess include:

      • Appetite
      • Passion
      • Honesty
      • Forthrightness
      • Morals
      • Ethics
      • Motivation
      • Imagination
      • Understanding of the difference between monitoring and overbearing
      • Emotionally stable
      • Enthusiasm for learning and living

To apply, follow current leaders well, be engaged, be positive, and ask questions.  Shortly leadership positions will develop to begin the leadership training process.  Never forget, being a good follower remains key to being a good leader!  While awaiting your opportunity to become a leader, increase your literacy in general, including fiscal literacy.  Be the best follower possible, even if being a good follower requires you to stand apart from your peers.  Be willing to stand for principles, morals, and ethics without budging or giving way in the face of adversity or temptation.

quote-mans-inhumanity-2Learn that a good leader is a teacher, and a good teacher is a leader, even if all they do is follow well.  Delegation requires teaching; teaching requires knowing and using knowledge to gain experience; hence, volunteer, ask for additional jobs, take on assignments, and open your mouth to offer advice and suggestions.  A good follower and the best leaders speak up, speak out, and reflectively listen to gain mutual understanding in all they do.  Never allow peer pressure to silence you!

References

Avolio, B. J., & Yammarino, F. J. (2008). Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. Vol 2. Bingley, United Kingdom: JAI Press – Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Boylan, Bob (1995). Get Everyone in Your Boat Rowing in the Same Direction. New York, New York: Barnes & Noble.

Brady, C., & Woodward, O. (2005). Launching a leadership revolution: Mastering the five levels of influence. New York, NY: Business Plus – Hachette Book Group.

Carpenter, F. B. (1868). The inner life of abraham lincoln: Six months at the white house. New York, NY: Hurd and Houghton.

Chaleff, I. (2003). Leader follower dynamics. Innovative leader, 12(8), Retrieved from http://www.winstonbrill.com/bril001/html/article_index/articles/551-600/article582_body.html

Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (2008). Learning and leading with habits of mind: 16 essential characteristics for success. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108008/chapters/describing-the-habits-of-mind.aspx

Hamlin, R. G., & Sawyer, J. (2007). Developing effective leadership behaviors: The value of evidence-based management. Business Leadership Review, IV(IV), 1-16. Retrieved from www.mbaworld.com/blr-archive/scholarly/5/index.pdf

Hinckley, G. B. (2000). Standing for something: 10 neglected virtues that will heal our hearts and homes. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Lundin, S. C., H. Paul, and J. Christensen. Fish!, a remarkable way to boost morale and improve results. Hyperion Books, 2000. Print.

Morrow, H. (1935). Great captain: The lincoln trilogy. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company.

Oyinlade, A. (2006). A method of assessing leadership effectiveness: Introducing the essential behavioral leadership qualities approach. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 19(1), 25.

Sandburg, C. (1926). Abraham lincoln: The prairie years. New York, NY: Blue Ribbon Books.

Wren, J. T. (1995). The leader’s companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in Organizations. 6th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.
All rights reserved.