Sunday, May 31, 2020

Cultivating the Spirit of Exploration

After Nearly a Decade on the Sidelines, the U.S. Sends Americans Back to Space!

I have always been passionate about America's involvement in exploring the "Final Frontier" of Outer Space. It is, after all, no coincidence that I developed the Self-Action Leadership Theory out of a metaphysical metaphor and extended analogy rooted in Space exploration.

In my last blog post, I lamented the extended moratorium of the United States' commitment to Space Exploration, punctuated by the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program back in 2011.

In light of this lamentation, you can imagine the joy, excitement, and pride I felt when SpaceX's Crew Dragon rocket successfully blasted off at Cape Canaveral, Florida, yesterday afternoon at 3:22 p.m. EST, carrying astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station.

Click HERE to watch the Launch. 

Fueling my enthusiasm even further is my wife's and my friendship with Sarah (McNeese) Walker, currently a Senior Mission Manager at SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles. I first met Sarah when Lina, Sarah, and their two other roommates were just 19 year-old sophomores at The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Suffice it to say, there was a lot of brainpower in that college dorm! No wonder the good Lord made me wait until I was 27 before I was worthy of holding my own among that mighty milieu of misses. I must have seemed like a grandpa to them at the time, which is, no doubt, why those candid coeds christened me "Mr. 27."  Little did I know at the time what great things that young quartet would eventually accomplish.  

We are so proud of you Sarah!

South African born SpaceX Founder and CEO, Elon Musk—who faced severe bullying and other challenges growing up—is now the veritable king of Earth and Space (at least for the weekend). Musk was overcome with emotion and nearly at a loss for words after watching his long-held dream become a reality on Saturday afternoon.

Once he did find the words, he remarked:

"I think this is something that should really get people right on the heart of anyone who has any spirit of exploration.  And the United States is a distillation of the human spirit of exploration and I think this is something that is particularly important in the United States, but appeals to everyone throughout the world who has within them the spirit of exploration."  

Click HERE to watch post-launch remarks by Vice President Pence & President Trump.  

Musk went on to say that,

"I'm really quite overcome with emotion on this day, so it's kind of hard to talk, frankly.  It's been 18 years working towards this goal so it's hard to believe that it's happened."

Unlike Musk, a physicist and engineer, I am a metaphysicist and writer. Like Musk, I am an entrepreneur who has been working for nearly 18 years in an effort to launch my own rocket ship, although of the metaphysical variety. It's not quite there yet, but it's very close; you might even say it is on the launching pad.

While Musk aims to someday take people into Outer Space, I hope to one day take people to the outer reaches of their metaphysical potential as human beings. The Self-Action Leadership Theory teaches men and women how to do just that by advancing step-by-step through the Nine Stages of Existential Growth, analogized by the layers of Earth's atmosphere reaching high up into the outermost reaches of Outer Space.

Click HERE to read a Scholarly Article on the Self-Action Leadership Theory.  

Click HERE to buy the textbook, Self-Action Leadership, Volume I: A Theoretical Framework for Existential Growth

Sadly, yesterday's success in space can be contrasted by violent clashes here on the ground, sparked by the unspeakable tragedy of George Floyd's completely inexcusable murder at the hands of ruthless police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week. The rampant violence, looting, and arson that accompanied the highly justified protests were also inexcusable. Suffice it to say, deeply entrenched and stubbornly pervasive problems persist all around us.

It is interesting to note that erstwhile achievements in Outer Space — hearkening back to the 1960s and 1970s — were also accompanied by strikingly similar civil unrest at home. It is sad that we have not made more progress in the past half century. But if there is one thing that yesterday's successful rocket launch should signal to all of us, it is that Hope Springs Eternal. Hope for healing. Hope for CHANGE. Hope for helping each other succeed. And Hope for a better and brighter future for ALL of us. 

At Freedom Focused, we are fervently committed to being part of the solution to problems all around us. And as educators and role models, we strive our utmost to leave this Planet a better place than we found it by serving our fellowmen and empowering them to more fully realize their limitless potential as human beings and children of God.  

Click HERE to learn more about our vision and mission as educators and role models at Freedom Focused

This juncture in the history of humanity — and more specifically in the unfolding story of the United States of America — provides all of us with an opportunity to pause and reflect. In so doing, may we direct those reflections inward in that kind of self-reflection borne of honest and humble introspection.

In other words, instead of pointing fingers at others, which is so easy to do at a time like this (or any time for that matter), may we each ask ourselves that painful and piercing question: "How am I part of the problem, if only in my thought processes?" And as a follow-up question, may we further query ourselves as follows: "What can I tangibly do beginning today to become part of the solution," with the recognition that I can only control my own thoughts, speech, and actions; but that in that control, I can be an agent of positive and productive change inside my own metaphysical world as well as a powerful and growing influence in the broader world itself.

By cultivating the Spirit of Exploration in our own minds, hearts, and spirits, I am confident that we can begin to nurture real and lasting change in our own lives, relationships, and homes. By so doing, we can gradually become catalysts of real and lasting change in our organizations, communities, regions, states, nations, and world-at-large.

There can be no greater quest than to indefatigably pursue that kind of positive change that comes from within and then blesses all without. Join us, and together we will transform our nation and world into the truly remarkable place it is capable of becoming.

     


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Why I Founded Freedom Focused


Why did I decide—17 years ago—to found an educational training company?

Perhaps an even better question is: Why am I still indomitably and indefatigably (some might even say stubbornly) sticking with my original plan despite the fact that very few people want to listen to what I have to say (YET), meaning that nearly two decades later, things still aren't entirely "off the ground"? And in light of this present reality, why would I still have no intention of ever pursuing anything other than building Freedom Focused? Why am I, in the words of Og Mandino, so intractably willing to "persist until I succeed" no matter how long it takes, and no matter how difficult the pathway proves to be?

These are good questions, and for those who are interested, I have answers.

In truth, many of the reasons are personal, and despite my love of Truth and Right Action, I certainly don't claim to be an unsullied altruist. From personal drive, ambition, and an amorous romance with the written and spoken word, to a manic motivation to maximize my personal potential and an insatiable itch to influence others and positively impact the world, my reasons are many and varied. I also possess a penetrating passion and parching thirst for freedom, adventure, opportunity, and variety, a determination to live my life without regrets, and an absolute insistence on being true to the authentic core and essence of who I really am—rather than allowing social and other external pressures to form my life and career in their own images.

Indeed, a cornucopia of different explanations exist for my continuing career craze.

However, this blog post is not about any of these things. Instead, this article addresses a subject that will probably be a lot more interesting to YOU.

Another—just as powerful—reason I founded Freedom Focused back in 2003, is articulated by a quote from one of my favorite 19th century American philosophers, authors, and poets: Ralph Waldo Emerson.



"A healthy discontent is good."

Emerson


I possess no small amount of "Healthy Discontent" about life, people, and the world around me. One of the more salient examples—as outlined in my last article—is how much I despise litter, and how committed I am to making my own, small contribution to mitigating that pervasive problem.

As a self-action leader, making a commitment to being part of the solution to problems is essential. Passive whining and complaining about "how bad things are" is a useless epidemic in our nation and world. If you have the strength to complain about something, then you also have the strength to stop whining about it on social media and then get to work proactively doing something about it. As Gandhi so compellingly remarked: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."


"YOU must be the CHANGE you wish to see in the world"

Gandhi


Just as those who fail to vote lose their moral authority to critique elected officials, those who merely "complain on the couch" (or on facebook) are, in fact, part of the problem.

Moreover, it is crucial to comprehend the complete panorama of the reality we face, which unveils a 360-degree vista that is as marvelous as it is menacing. In other words, despite any and all problems we individually and collectively face as human beings, we still live in the greatest, easiest, safest, cleanest, and most comfortable and luxurious time in the history of Planet Earth. As such, it is vital that we keep our complaints in perspective—no matter how valid each concern may be.

With that said, my personal "healthy discontents" boil down to five items, as follows:

1. Supervisory Egotism

2. Subordinate Recalcitrance

3. Dishonesty

4. A Dearth of Quality

5. Lack of Innovation



I will now address these items one-by-one, after which I will explicate how Self-Action Leadership (SAL) carries the potential to solve—or at very least meaningfully mitigate these problems in a significant and substantive way.


1. Supervisory Egotism

"Supervisory egotism" refers to leaders and managers in positions of formal authority who abuse their power and otherwise exercise unrighteous dominion over their subordinates. Chances are you've probably worked for someone like this; also known as the Jerk Boss. Unfortunately, it is the nature of many—if not most—people to use their personal power or influence to take varying degrees of unfair or unjust advantage over others who possess less power and influence than they do. Unless a supervisor is routinely checked by a higher-up, or possesses the self-discipline, character, and integrity to check oneself at every turn, it is almost inevitable that people will eventually abuse their power in one way or another and to one degree or another.

Common symptoms of supervisory egotism include greed, jealousy, withholding justly deserved praise, rewards, recognition, advancement, and other perks from others (while hogging the same for oneself), and deviously or unfairly preventing the rise of talented subordinates who may have even more ability or potential than oneself. Instead of doing the right thing in every situation because it is the right thing, egotistical supervisors are continually looking out for number one—to the detriment of anyone and everyone—and the consequences to others be damned!

One of the most unnecessary and invidious acts of supervisory egotism involves executive compensation. Those at the top don't need 100, 200, or even 300 times the annual salary of a median worker's salary. That kind of income disparity is the personification of greed. Ten, twenty, or thirty times is plenty. That is why Freedom Focused will limit its executive pay (including me as CEO) to only 13 times our median worker's salary.  If we someday rise to the level of our potential and are able to fully implement this sensible policy, just imagine how much more capital we'll have on hand to invest in providing world-class products and services to our clients! Just as importantly, imagine how much more empowered we will be to justly remunerate our hard working employees!


2. Subordinate Recalcitrance

This is the opposite problem of supervisory egotism. Instead of a boss abusing his or her authority and power, subordinate recalcitrance involves followers who refuse to respect, listen to, or heed wise and reasonable policies, procedures, edicts, and counsel of leaders. Chances are you probably work with someone like this right now. You know, the Jerk Employee. Or, perhaps you may fall into this category yourself from time-to-time (always remember that the essence of SAL involves identifying and then going to work on your own weaknesses and shortcomings, no matter how painful the process may initially be).

Whereas supervisory egotism involves pride and arrogance from the top looking down, subordinate recalcitrance involves pride and arrogance from the bottom looking up. This phenomenon inhibits productivity and poisons organizational cohesion. Persons who exercise subordinate recalcitrance are not very teachable or coachable. In their minds, they know better than the boss. They may even believe that they should be the boss.

Subordinate recalcitrance should not be confused with justifiable civil disobedience and personal ambition. There are times when the former should be exercised in the face of supervisory egotism or unethical behavior, and it is quite possible to be incredibly ambitious and still be a good follower who respects authority.


3. Dishonesty

We are presently in the midst of a worldwide pandemic known as COVID-19. Fortunately, in the next year-or-so, a vaccine will be developed and most of us will eventually be safe from the terrors of this devastating flu strain. Unfortunately, the world has always been plagued by an even more dangerous, diabolical, and ultimately deadly existential pandemic known as dishonesty and deceit. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for dishonesty; it is called character and integrity (aka SAL). Unfortunately, many people are only marginally interested in paying the price required to apply this existential vaccine to the problem. Dishonesty with others produces untold amounts of pain, suffering, and loss from both a material (i.e. financial) and trust standpoint. It is an evil that ruins business, politics, journalism, marriages and other relationships, organizations, and human lives.

Another form of deceit involves dishonesty with oneself. Self-Deception is the ultimate inhibitor of Personal Growth and Character Development. Self-deception always precedes dishonesty with others.  As such, it is a logical place to start working on recommitting yourself to the TRUTH.


4. A Dearth of Quality

At the end of the SAL Textbook, Volume II (page 514), I added a "Postscript" whereby I lamented the lack of quality and service at one of my nation's major airports into which I recently flew. In doing so, I contrasted it to the fine quality and superior service offered at a foreign airport out of which I also recently traveled. In that article, I admitted to being embarrassed at my own country because of the stark difference in quality, service, and cleanliness as exhibited in the foreign nation's airport.

Sadly, my embarrassment doesn't end at U.S. airports.  I am often embarrassed at the lack of quality I find in a variety of places I visit throughout my otherwise great homeland. From litter and poor customer service, to health care providers who are habitually (and egregiously) late and then put forth a poor bedside manner; from food preparers who shoddily assemble your order and then fail to assemble or complete it properly, to service workers of all kinds who lazily engage in mediocre work performances, cut corners, and engage in subpar craftsmanship.

President Theodore Roosevelt once taught that "The Quality of the Individual is Supreme."  At Freedom Focused, we know that the quality we desire in everything around us is a reflection of the quality of the individuals involved in a given organization, industry, or community. As the quality (character, integrity, work ethic, etc.) of individuals grows and improves, the quality of everything those individuals touch (physically or metaphysically [via personal influence]) concurrently increases. 


5. Lack of Innovation

According to the concept known as "The American Dream" everything ought to (more or less) improve and get better over time. If this is the case, then:

  • Why did the United States take an extended moratorium from exploring "The Final Frontier"?
  • Why has airline comfort, quality, speed, and efficiency stayed static—or in some cases atrophied—over the past half-century?  In other words, with so much technological advancement at the industry's fingertips, why aren't we all flying in first class comfort at 100,000 feet going Concord-esque speeds (or faster)?  
  • Why is the latest Top Gun movie using the same basic fighter jets and technology it employed 34 years ago?
  • Why is so much of our infrastructure crumbling without receiving desperately needed repairs and upgrades?
  • Why is poverty still such an epidemic in the United States despite pouring trillions of government dollars into the problem over the past 60 years?
  • Why are cities going bankrupt and homeless populations exploding? 
  • Why do Americans have to travel to Europe or East Asia to travel on state-of-the-art high-speed bullet trains and find quality bidets in their hotel toilets?
  • Why are East Asians so much better at teaching Character Education than Americans? 
  • Why is the American public education system still eschewing leadership, character, and life-skills education as part of its core curriculum even though anyone with any experience and common sense knows such subjects are more important than any others except for reading and writing?
  • Why do politicians, and the so-called journalists who cover them, so often perform their jobs in such puerile, unprofessional, and downright pathetic ways—as if they were little more than childish brats sparring on an elite, private playground?
  • Why are people in general so hateful toward and unkind to each other on social media, as well as in person?

In compiling this list of frustrations, I have no wish to be a "couch complainer." That is why I have spent the last 17 years of my life—and to a lesser extent the 15 years before that (for a total of 32 years of preparation)—developing the Self-Action Leadership Theory & Model.

I know that a comprehensive solution exists to the problems outlined above. I have dedicated my life and career (tens of thousands of hours) to rooting out these problems in myself first, followed by an earnest attempt to help others who are desirous and willing to accomplish similar objectives.

The key words in this equation are willing and desirous. It is essential to remember that you cannot ultimately make anyone do something against one's will, nor should any of us try that approach; that's what Nazi Germany attempted, and it is always an evil endeavor bound to fail. Human free will is—and must always remain—sacrosanct. That is just one of many reasons why I named my company Freedom Focused. People must remain as free to fail as they are to succeed. But for those who are desirous and willing to succeed, a formula does exist that provides a powerful vaccine to not just one of the ills mentioned above, but to all of them.

Sadly, my success in getting this message to take off among the greater population has been, to-date, meager. But that is okay. If there is one thing I have learned and developed in growing quantities over the past two decades, it is PATIENCE. Self-Action Leadership may not be standard operating procedure in American schools, universities, organizations, governments, and homes YET. But it will. I know it will.

Why?

Because I will keep working and waiting until it does. And in the process, I will outwork, out-wit, and out-wait the naysayers.  Or, I will eventually pass away from this world while still diligently determined and dedicated to trying.

Want to play a role in getting this ball moving? Want to be a part of this growing movement that is destined to change the course of American—and perhaps world—history by changing the course of American Education?

If so, you can begin by buying the SAL Textbooks. Then read and study them. As you do so, complete the SAL Master Challenge along the way. Finally, tell a friend or educator about it and encourage them to do the same.

Together, we can make a positive and lasting difference in our own lives, the lives of those we lead and love, and the communities, organizations, and nations in which we live and work. And the result will be a better, brighter, and more brilliant, successful, happy, and peaceful future for all of us.

Despite the doomsday climate we find ourselves in amidst the COVID crisis and other deeply entrenched political, social, and moral problems, I fervently believe that our best days are still ahead of us in the United States and throughout the World. But such days will not just make themselves; they are not a foregone conclusion. If we desire a better future then we have to build it, one brick and one trowel of mortar at a time. Self-Action Leadership shows you how. It provides the vision, roadmap, blueprint, and tools required to make it all become a reality—one-step-at-a-time, starting with ME and YOU.


What are you waiting for?


BUY the SELF-ACTION LEADERSHIP Textbooks, Volumes I & II, by clicking HERE

For more information about Freedom Focused, click HERE

For more information about Dr. Jordan Jensen, click HERE


Geaux Tigers!  























Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Power of Picking Up Trash

I despise litter.

It drives me a little nuts, albeit in a good way.

Wherever and whenever I see trash out of its place, I admit to getting a little obsessed about doing my bit to clean up the planet. I'm sure my "litter fetish" probably annoys my wife and kids at times; but to their credit, they put up with my passion without complaining. My kids have even started to spot and retrieve litter all on their own!

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

In my new TEXTBOOKS on Self-Action Leadership, I included the following mantra: "Pick up at least ONE piece of trash every single day that I did not throw down."

Why is this mantra important to me?

Simple...

Because others have helped to clean up my messes at times throughout my life.  Now it's payback time. 

But in a larger sense, this practice is important to me because focusing on little things empowers me to not only make progress on bigger things, but can simultaneously prevent larger issues from becoming a problem in the first place.  Moreover, this mantra is as much a principle as it is a practice—and this particular principle positively influences a variety of different areas of my personal and professional life.

In other words, it's not just about the trash.

Case in point: Consider the example of New York City in the 1990s under the leadership of Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In an effort to combat serious crime issues that had plagued the city throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Giuliani decided to address the issue in an unusual way. His approach was simple: "Always sweat the small stuff." This policy entailed focusing on cleaning up trash and graffiti in the subways and clamping down on turnstile jumpers.

Why in the world would you focus on such minor offenses if you were dealing with an epidemic of violent crimes such as rape, murder, and armed robbery?

Answer: because BIG THINGS almost always start out as little things. Counterintuitive as Giuliani's approach may have seemed, it worked! As the NYPD began "sweating the small stuff," the incidence of far more egregious crimes began to fall precipitously. One murderer was even caught, not due to clever detective work, but because he had been apprehended for jumping a subway turnstile!

While that may sound like a mere stroke of good luck on the part of the Police, the reality remains that murderers get their start to crime somewhere, and the slippery slide into the dark side usually doesn't begin with a felony.

At Freedom Focused, we also believe in "Always Sweating the Small Stuff." It's not just a matter of keeping our people out of jail and avoiding bad press. It's a matter of making sure the small stuff matters. For example, in our organization, the Truth matters, details matter, polish and refinement matters, punctuality and precision matter, personal appearance and grooming matter, education matters, and professionalism and integrity are absolutely indispensable traits of all of our agents. And agents who would rather not sweat the small stuff are welcome to go work for someone else who is more comfortable with lower standards of personal conduct and moral character.

In encouraging you to "Always Sweat the Small Stuff," I am not asking you to become a prude or a perfectionist—although there are times when perfectionism is quite useful (e.g. when editing a piece of polished prose).  I know all too well from my own experiences that even true principles and right practices can be taken to unhealthy extremes.  I am merely encouraging you to continually fine-tune and strive to get better every day; and the best way to get better every day is to focus on troubleshooting and refining the "Small Stuff" with a recognition that little things matter

When we sweat the small stuff, the minutia of our lives and careers becomes our primary learning and training ground, thereby keeping us out of real trouble. Knowing this, and being a natural believer and man of deep faith, one of my most common queries to the Almighty is as follows: "Lord, please help me to learn from small mistakes and petty sins so that I might avoid colossal stumbles and craven debauchery."

Small Stuff Matters.

And what really matters is actually doing the stuff; talking about it is meaningless unless it impels us to take action.

No matter how eloquently a writer or orator may frame language, the most masterful sermons are always delivered through the medium of action. In the words of Benjamin Franklin: "Big Talkers; Little Doers"; "He who speaks much is much mistaken"; and, "The ant speaks most eloquently of all; and he says nothing." 

Or as Theodore Roosevelt put it:

"It is a sign of marked ... weakness ... if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are to stand. The phrase-maker, the phrase-monger, the ready talker, however great his power, whose speech does not make for courage, sobriety, and right understanding, is simply a noxious element ... and it speaks ill for the public if he has influence over them. To admire the gift of oratory without regard to the moral quality behind the gift is to do wrong..."

What, then, is far more meaningful than this blog post about picking up trash? 

Answer: Actually picking up trash. This is why I strive to pick up one piece of trash a day—at the very least.

One solitary person picking up a single piece of trash per day may seem utterly meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But what if every person on the planet adopted my mantra? There are currently trillions of pieces of litter strewn about Planet Earth; but that number would shrink considerably—and relatively quickly—if you subtracted 7.6 billion pieces of trash from the pile every single day.

Moreover, consider the collateral benefits of my mantra. Today it led me to don plastic gloves and carry a 13-gallon plastic garbage bag with me during my afternoon walk to the lake where I planned to swim (I am a triathlete and today was my day in the water). I was able to fill the entire bag after walking a mere mile. Along the way, several dozen cars and trucks passed by—undoubtedly noticing what I was doing. Putting myself in their shoes, I'm pretty certain what kind of thoughts passed through their minds as they observed my free-will and voluntary contributions to their community. One lady who passed me walking by even shouted out a sincere "Thank You" in my direction.

In addition, the seeds of this article begin to germinate in my mind and heart while I was filling that bag with trash. As a result, I am now sharing the message with YOU. 

Are you BORED out of your mind during this COVID-19 crisis? Now you have a simple way to get off of your couch and do something productive, worthwhile, and simple that will make you feel good and contribute something meaningful to your community in the process. And if there is as much litter where you live as where I live, you and your family and friends are going to have plenty to do for a while!

Three quarters of a century ago, my maternal grandfather counseled a group of young university students shortly following the end of World War II, as follows:

"Young [people], do not think your lives are unimportant. Do not think for a moment that you can exert no influence because you are young or because you are few. We have got to get away from the foolish notion that quantity is the important thing in influence. You know you can go into the laboratories on this campus and you will find that very minute amounts of particular substances can exert tremendous influences. ... One individual courageously choosing his own conduct in the face of all odds, doing right, can exert a tremendous influence. ... Let us choose so that every event that comes into our lives will be enriching so that we will be bigger than any event, come whatever calamity may. We can so choose that it will not destroy us. ... We can have freedom each in his own sphere. Each can contribute importantly to ... freedom."

So there you have it. You don't have to be President of the United States or the Director of the CDC to make a positive difference during the Present Crisis—or at any other time. You can choose to take simple actions that will make the world a better place and positively influence others to do the same.

Speaking of which, guess what one of my own motivations was for filling an entire garbage bag with trash today? A few weeks ago, I saw someone else doing the same thing in a local park. I was inspired and impressed by the man's example. I made sure to thank him, and the seed was thereby planted into my own mind and heart—a seed that has since grown up into a full bag of trash, properly placed in its steel receptacle instead of being carelessly strewn all over the sides of the roadway.

-Dr. Jordan Jensen
Carlsbad, New Mexico
May 14, 2020


For more information about Dr. Jordan Jensen, click HERE

For more information about Freedom Focused, click HERE

To buy Dr. Jordan Jensen's new Life Leadership Textbooks, click HERE 

LIFE Lessons in HUMILITY, Part 2

Joseph Fiennes & Tom Felton in Kevin Reynold's 2016 Film, RISEN Last week's post introduced the movie, RISEN , starring Joseph F...