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."
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"
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
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.
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.
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?
For more information about Freedom Focused, click HERE