Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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 Fiennes. It discussed how Fiennes' character, Clavius, became more self-aware and humble through his experiences as chronicled in the movie. 

Today's post continues this theme.   

Humility is Admitting When You're Wrong and then Changing Course

An area of humility that virtually everyone struggles with is the DEEP and prideful FEAR of being wrong, and the inability to seerecognize, and/or acknowledge when you are wrong about something and then change course to follow a betterclearer, and more accurate pathway.

Toward the end of the film, after seeing Yeshua—the resurrected Christ—with his own eyes, an unusually subdued Clavius finds himself in private dialogue with Jesus, who asks him point blank: "What frightens you?"

Clavius's unusually honest and transparent response: "Being wrong." 

Click HERE to watch a VIDEO CLIP of this SCENE

Many of us can probably relate with this fear to which Clavius humbly admits.

Up to this point in time, Clavius has viewed himself as being one of the most important people holding one of the most powerful positions in the most dominant nation on Earth (at the time). In his mind, everything he thinks, says, and does is right. His journey that leads him to a sentient experience of the seemingly impossible completely rocks his inner world. Shaken to his core, he simply doesn't know how to respond to these inexplicable, yet very real experiences, all of which fly in the face of everything he has previously known and believed. And while his experiences don't necessarily turn him into a Christian believer, he himself admits that he can NEVER BE THE SAME because of his newly acquired SELF-AWARENESS and HUMILITY.   

Click HERE to watch a VIDEO CLIP of this SCENE

Some people, like Clavius, will go to the ends of the Earth to avoid being proven wrong, or from having to admit that they were, or are, wrong. I, for one, don't fully understand it. In my view, it is so much easier—at least in the long run—to quickly confess an error in thinking, speaking, or acting and then move on confidently with better, truer, and more accurate information than it is to stubbornly hold on to an erroneous idea for ego's (or public opinion's) sake. Aside from protecting one's ego or public popularity, what use is "kicking against the pricks" of reality? Doing that only hurts YOU! In truth, a complete commitment to REALITY is really the only way to live as an authentic self-action leader.

As one author incisively put it:
"We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn [in thinking, speaking, or acting], then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the [person] who turns back soonest is the most progressive ... We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pig headed and refusing to admit a mistake. ... Going back is the quickest way on." **

At Freedom Focused, we are interested in TRUTH and REALITY, and we don't really care where we find it, or from whom. We just want to see and know things as they really are, so that we can, in turn, make the wisest possible decisions in both our personal and corporate lives. We are less concerned with who is right and more concerned with what is right.
A primary reason I am where I am at this point in my life and career is because I have striven with all of my heart, mind, and soul to seerecognize, and acknowledge when I am wrong and then change course to think, say, and do what is right. In my mind, it does absolutely no good to argue with or fight against Truth with a capital "T." Every second I do so only hurts ME. The quicker I can admit to being wrong, and then change course, the better.

As a flawed human being, I recognize that acknowledging error and changing course causes a great deal of pain and irritation to one's pride and ego. I know this because I have been wrong a LOT in my life. As such, my own pride and ego have been bruised and bloodied more times than I care to admit. But that is okay—nay, that is more than okay; that is FANTASTIC—because I would infinitely prefer the short-term pain of a bruised ego than the infinite pain of pursuing a wrong course to its destined end. Moreover, the deeper my ego is wounded, the better; because ideally I would like to be completely free from its prideful and counterproductive influence in my life.

If I have to choose between a short-lived, albeit agonizing, smart for a brief amount of time or excruciating pain over the long-run, I'll choose the former pathway every day of the week and twice on Sundays. The quicker we seerecognize, and acknowledge the TRUTH of any given matter, the sooner we can choose to align our thoughts, speech, and behavior therewith and avoid much greater pain down the road.

What about the "Gray Areas" of Life?

Unfortunately, not every situation and decision in life is "Black-and-White." What, then, can we do when we must choose between two flawed, grayish options—both of which possess truth and error, plusses and flaws? As a utilitarian philosopher the answer to this question is clear to me: I usually must choose the option which—in the long run—will bring about the most possible benefit to the most possible people with the least possible collateral damage, after having considered, analyzed, and synthesized all possible variables involved. This philosophy does not make every decision clear or easy because there is often a lot of "homework" involved. Furthermore, there is almost always an exception to every rule. Nevertheless, this formula does tend to point me in the right direction, generally speaking, when I must deal with life's pesky "Gray Areas."  

Clavius's journey is adventurous and suspenseful and Fiennes' and his colleagues' acting is superb. One scene in particular vividly demonstrates the level of talent on display in the film—as well as Clavius's deepening inner struggle and discovery as he pursues his pathway to answers.

The scene is set in a pub. 

It features Clavius as he interviews one of the soldiers who was guarding the garden tomb when the resurrection purportedly occurred. The drunk and disillusioned soldier—played masterfully by Richard Atwill—tries his best to explain to Clavius what he beheld at that extraordinary moment. Such a supernatural occurrence is, of course, inexplicable, and Atwill brilliantly portrays both the dismay he feels and the dilemma he finds himself in in his efforts to articulate the utterly unutterable.  

Click HERE to watch Atwill's moving dialogue with Clavius in the Pub Scene in RISEN  

I LOVE the THREE (3) Kevin Reynold's-directed movies—detailed over the past month—for a variety of reasons. I love the storytelling. I love the sets and costumes. I love the writing. I love the history of the time periods in which they are set. I love the adventures and romance involved. I love the mystery. And I love the acting. But most of all, I love the things these movies teach me and the life lessons I learn as a result. 

For many people, a movie is good if it entertains. For me, a movie is good if it teaches and inspires. In my view, the very BEST movies are the ones where I walk out of the theater determined to be a better person than I was when I walked into the theatre—a person who works a little harder, loves a little more, judges a little less, lives a more balanced life, and strives increasingly to leave this world a better place than I found it.  

I hope this article motivates you to watch these three movies—and others like them—in an effort to glean your own insights as you simultaneously enjoy watching some of the world's most talented actors, actresses, directors, and other cinematic professionals do what they do best.  

Click HERE to watch a video of Joseph Fiennes being interviewed about playing Clavius in RISEN

Disillusioned over the 2020 Presidential Election?
Tune in NEXT WEDNESDAY for a little Hope.
Tune in NEXT WEDNESDAY for a Special Pre-Presidential Election edition of the Freedom Focused Blog. Freedom Focused is a non-partisan organization that does not endorse candidates or support political platforms. We do, however, comment from time-to-time on various political matters insofar as they relate to Self-Action Leadership and/or Freedom. Next week's article will make the case that Americans have reason to be optimistic moving forward, despite the current challenges we face—and regardless who wins the upcoming election. Are you feeling down-in-the-dumps because of the incivility and other drama surrounding this year's Presidential Election? If so, you won't want to miss next week's Post!

Click HERE to learn more about our Vision and Mission at Freedom Focused.

Click HERE to buy a copy of the Self-Action Leadership Textbooks


** Lewis, C.S. (2001). Mere Christianity. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. Pages 28-29

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Movies and Life Leadership, Part 3: LIFE Lessons in HUMILITY

The past two weeks I have featured two of my three favorite movies—Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and The Count of Monte Cristo, both of which were directed by Kevin Reynolds. I further explained why I enjoy them so much, including the life lessons and character development strategies they personify.    

Today I discuss my third favorite movie, which is perhaps not-coincidentally also directed by Kevin Reynolds. It is called Risen, and was released in 2016.

I cherish Risen in part because of my deeply held religious beliefs, which are centered on Jesus Christ. But that is not the reason I highlight this film in this secular blog post. 

While based on New Testament scripture, Risen is a fictional tale of a Roman Officer who was put in charge of crucifying Christ on Golgotha's Hill. Brilliantly played by Hollywood A-lister, Joseph Fiennes, Clavius is portrayed as a typically smart, strong, ambitious, and ruthless Roman Tribune—a high-ranking officer in the Roman Army. 

After the purported "Resurrection" of the Christ, Clavius is tasked by Pontius Pilate to investigate the matter and, most importantly, locate the body to provide proof that the Christian's tale is—as the Romans believe it to be—a farce. The bulk of the movie follows Clavius in his investigative efforts to accomplish what turns out to be an impossible task. 

Because the movie takes the Christian view that Christ did indeed rise from the dead, Clavius is, of course, thwarted in his mission. But along the way, he learns a LOT about himself and the people (Jews) he has—up until that time—looked down upon as inferior human beings. Two key components of Self-Action Leadership include SELF-AWARENESS and HUMILITY. In order to become self-aware and humble, we must, like Clavius, engage in a great deal of research, investigation, observation, and introspection. Aside from its underlying Christian themes, Risen is a movie about one man's experiences—and the ways in which those experiences invite him to become more introspective, self-aware, and humble than he had ever been before. 

The Role of Self-Awareness in Humility

It has been my observation that many people are relatively non-self-aware and have a somewhat skewed vision about what authentic humility actually entails. To begin with, many people either see themselves as being better, or worse, than they in fact are. Rather than seeing themselves as they really are—as if peering into an objective mirror of reality—many view themselves in a distorted light and manner, as if gazing into a "Fun House" mirror, which is purposely designed to skew perception and distort reality.  
In truth, none of us sees ourselves as we really are in a complete sense; and it is the rare individual who comes close. It is an indication of authentic HUMILITY when a person moves in the direction of being able to see oneself more fully as one really is. It is that kind of accurate self-awareness that serves as the essence of authentic humility. As a wise man once put it: Humility is to make a right estimate of one's self.

"Humility is to make a right estimate of one's self."

Charles H. Spurgeon

Common Misnomers about Humility

One of the biggest misnomers about humility is that people who appear to be humble, or act like they are humble are, in fact, humble. This is because many confuse so-called "humble actions" with authentic personifications of actual humility. In some cases, these actors and actresses may be gradually approaching humility in the sense that their "Act" is motivated by a sincere desire to acquire the virtue. But in other cases, quite the opposite may be true. Indeed, acting out a pretense of humility for the mere sake of appearances can, in fact, be quite prideful! After all, is there anything truly humble or authentic about someone who tries to impress others with how humble they are?

Another misnomer about humility is that recognizing, admitting, and utilizing one's strengths is an indicator of pride. Hiding—or failing to admit and fully utilize—your strengths because you fear you might inadvertently intimidate, offend, or upset someone else is not humility. There will always be those who will take jealous offense at someone else's talent, skill, intelligence, accomplishment, or cultivated ability. That is no reason to ever shy away from being your very best!

Obviously there is a time, place, manner, and degree to which we should let our best be known and shown. Moreover, there are times to shine and there are times when we should let others shine—and do our best to increase the brightness of the light and the volume of the applause that shines on them. But self-action leaders should avoid falling into the trap of failing to put their best foot forward due to some mistaken notion about what it means to be humble.

There is nothing humble about trying to convince yourself or others that you really aren't very good at something when, in fact, you are very good at it. A classic example of this can be found in the person who receives a sincere compliment and then tries to convince the giver of the compliment that it really isn't true. That is not only not humble; it is also impolite. If someone gives you a sincere compliment, the best thing you can do is sincerely thank them for their kindness in giving you the compliment! After all, how many people do you know who never bother to compliment anyone for anything? Like perhaps your boss (past or present)? It's sad, but often true. Bottom Line: you've gotta appreciate those relatively few people who are sufficiently humble, secure, and confident to openly compliment YOU; and you've got to sincerely express that appreciation!    

Recognizing and using your strengths is not arrogant when done with kindness, consideration, modesty, balance, 20/20 vision, and a sincere effort to serve and bless the lives of others. That is merely recognizing reality and making the most of your God-given/self-developed assets, aptitudes, and talents to make the world a better place.

On the other hand, to aggrandize—or brag about—one's strengths in an effort to elevate oneself above others is indeed arrogant; as is utilizing one's strengths to purposely harm another or hinder one's growth, progress, or achievement. But rationally recognizing one's strengths and doing everything in one's power to bolster them (while eliminating or minimizing weaknesses) is actually an element of authentic humility—not the other way around. There is nothing humble about shying away from your capacity and potential; that's just laziness, irresponsibility, and/or unwisely falling prey to the fear of what others—the EXISTENTIAL CRABS, who seek to diminish and otherwise pull you down—might think of you.  

Click HERE to learn about existential crabs, and how they seek to undermine your success as a self-action leader.

Similarly, misguided efforts to lower your own view or estimation of yourself is not humility; nor are efforts to illegitimately aggrandize the same. Humility is an outgrowth of seeing things—including oneself—as they (YOU) really are: the good, the bad, the ugly, the attractive, the coarse and the refined—all wrapped up in one, holistic, imperfect, human package.

As a wise man once exhorted me—on a very piercing and personal level—"Jordan: be mindful of your weaknesses and be aware of your strengths as part of recognizing the tremendous potential you have to accomplish great things and bless the lives of others." 

Be mindful of your weaknesses and be aware of your strengths.

That is a good recipe for authentic humility that all of us can follow.    

Humility is less concerned about what others might think of you and more concerned with doing your best to become your best while helping others to do the same. Truly humble people don't spend undue time worrying about what other's might be thinking of them. Instead, they focus more on how they can improve and grow so they can better serve others. Authentic humility instills within a person an accurate sense of one's utter smallness and profound potential—all at the same time. Humility endows one with a clear recognition of one's limitations while simultaneously imbuing one with a deep reverence for the human spirit—including one's own limitless capacity for growth and creation. It empowers one to more fully comprehend the GREAT HUMAN PARADOX that we are all physically "dust in the wind" while concurrently possessing "infinite and inestimable existential and spiritual value."

Humility is an outgrowth—indeed, it is the very essence—of honest and accurate self-awareness. Such self-awareness can only be obtained by engaging in a great deal of honest, courageous, and intelligent introspection—the kind of introspection that Clavius undertakes in a serious way throughout the movie, Risen.

My Own Journey Towards Self-Awareness

One of the greatest blessings of my life's journey has been my opportunity to engage in an extraordinary amount of honest, courageous, and deep introspection about myself, others, and the world around me. This is due in part to the fact that I am a natural contemplative (philosopher personality). But it is also due to the fact that my life's circumstances have provided me with a LOT of TIME to think deeply and carefully ponder all of the subjects that I now write, teach, and speak about.

These life circumstances have been many and varied, but they all had the same effect of providing me with an unusual amount of time to sit quietly by myself and THINK deeply about important things. For example: having a severe case of OCD in my teen years led to my being, for the most part, a social recluse. This provided me with a lot of time to ponder about my life. OCD also led to a lot of social and other personal flaws and failures that caused me a great deal of pain, suffering, frustration, and even jealousy and anger. Instead of letting this pain and suffering make me eternally bitter and discouraged towards my undesirable circumstances and other people I envied, I used my FREEDOM and POWER as a self-action leader to think deeply about what my problems were and how I could solve them. Solving them was not quick or easy; but it was possible, and in time, much has been accomplished to solve them!

Later, as a young adult, I had very little success in romance until I met my wife. And I wasn't one to "hang out" socially—an activity that seemed like mostly a wasted expenditure of my time. Spending relatively little time dating or casually socializing and not getting married until I was 29 left me with a LOT more time on my hands to PONDER than most people my age who led a more lively social life. I have also done a TON of travel in my life and career, which has taken me to all 50 U.S. States, 8 Countries, 9 Counties of Great Britain, and 8 Provinces of Canada. I have logged a million or so miles in automobiles and airlines as an adult, most of which was done on my own. 

That is a LOT of self-awareness time!

Then there is my training as a triathlete. All told, I have ran, biked, and swam thousands of combined miles over the course of my life. As any triathlete knows, the journey can be a lonely one—that is, unless you are a natural contemplative, and then you just have that much more time to think, ponder, pray, analyze, scrutinize, synthesize, etc. For me, the results of all this cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and existential "me time" have been profoundly productive, both in terms of my own, personal growth and my capacity to help others grow as well. It has also helped me to become more self-aware and humble. I still have a long ways to go, no doubt, but I've also made a lot of progress. 

Speaking of which, there are some who suggest that it is fundamentally incompatible to be humble while simultaneously recognizing your own humility. I suggest otherwise. There is obviously a fine line where such self-back patting can quickly turn prideful, egotistical, and counterproductive. Nevertheless, what good are you as a self-action leader if you are incapable of recognizing, gauging, and judging your own growth and improvement? If you are unaware of your own progress in cultivating a virtue, how can you know that you still have room for further growth? It is difficult enough as it is to be truly humble; let's not make it even more challenging by artificially creating a bunch of unnecessary and unrealistic qualifications and mind games that only serve to discourage us along the way! The prospect of human growth in any arena should serve to motivate us to move forward, however incrementally, rather than discourage any attempt to begin with.    

It is vital to note that self-awareness is not always accomplished on one's own. I, for one, had a TON of HELP from OTHERS in the form of spiritual leaders, psychiatrists, counselors, family members, teachers, coaches, mentors, roommates, and friends all along the way. But I still had to do the hard work that led to my own growth, progress, and achievement, and a LOT of that work was cognitive in nature. A whole host of different people can show you the way to go; but ONLY YOU can make the journey.    

is the story of a man who is similarly blessed with the time and opportunity to think deeply about what is going on around him and inside of him. As a result, Clavius becomes increasingly self-aware and humble as the film goes on. This doesn't mean he is any less strong, capable, or confident. Remember: inhibiting your strengths or trying to convince yourself you are less capable than you really are is NOT humility. Nor does it mean that Clavius becomes a Christian. It simply means that he comes to see himself—and circumstances around him—more accurately: the way things really are, rather than the way he has erroneously perceived them to be in the past. And that is my own favorite definition of humility.

Humility is seeing things as they really were, really are, and really will be
—and then acting in deferent accordance with that knowledge.         

Tune in NEXT Wednesday for the remainder of this post, entitled: LIFE Lessons in HUMILITY, Part 2  

Click HERE to learn more about our Vision and Mission at Freedom Focused.

Click HERE to buy a copy of the Self-Action Leadership Textbooks.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Movies and Life Leadership, Part 2

Last week, I shared my THREE (3) favorite movies. One reason they are my faves is because of the character lessons and life leadership strategies they contain and the personal inspiration I derive from watching (and rewatching) them. I then wrote about my favorite movie—Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves—and explained specifically why I cherish that film. 

Today's post continues this cinematic theme. My second favorite movie is: The Count of Monte Cristo, starring Jim Caviezel, Guy Pierce, Richard Harris, and Dagmara Domińczyk. It was directed by Kevin Reynolds and released in 2002. 

Reynold's version of The Count of Monte Cristo, has been criticized for its failure to live up to Alexandre Dumas's original novel of the same title and story. That's okay with me. There is a place for creative license in art, and I think Reynolds and his team did a splendid job of exercising that right. Jim Caviezel offers a compelling portrait of lead character Edmond Dantés (The Count of Monte Cristo), as does Guy Pierce as Edmond's best friend-turned sworn enemy—Fernand Mondego. Despite these outstanding portrayals, it is an aged Richard Harris—who famously played King Arthur in the 1967 film version of the Broadway hit, Camelot—who arguably steals the show in his stirring performance as the Abbé Faria. It was one of the last roles the Irish screen legend would play before his death in 2002, and arguably one of his best as well. Midway through the film, Harris plays a mentoring father-figure to Dantés, and serves as a key catalyst in helping Edmond obtain a fortune in addition to regaining his freedom, wife, son, and honor by movie's end.  

Reynold's production of The Count of Monte Cristo is deeply engaging emotionally. It allows one to suffer alongside Dantés as he is unjustly imprisoned, tortured, and left for dead in the Chateau D'if—the prison where, as the warden transparently confesses, "they send the one's they're ashamed of" (due to inmates' innocence of any real crime). Armand Dorleac (the warden) is skillfully played by Michael Wincott, who was also tapped by Reynolds to play the wicked Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Few actors play "the villain" more consistently, authentically, or iconically than the gifted Wincott.  

Napoleon Bonaparte
After seven years of hell in the Chateau D'if, Edmond meets the Abbé Faria, an aged Priest and fellow prisoner. Faria is a former soldier in Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Armée. During Faria's service to Napoleon, it became known that he had  knowledge concerning the whereabouts of the lost treasure of Sparta. It was demanded he give up the treasure's location or go to prison. The Abbé insisted he didn't know its location, and was thrown into the Chateau D'if to "refresh his memory." When Dantés meets Faria, the Abbé has already been in prison for 11 years, four of which he has spent digging a tunnel to freedom. When he finds himself in Edmond's cell, he realizes—to his comical dismay—that he has been digging in the wrong direction!

Fortunately, two can dig twice as fast as one, and the two quickly become comrades in an effort to secure each other's freedom. In return for Edmond's help, the Abbé offers something "Priceless," to which Dantés sarcastically replies: "My freedom?" Faria explains: "Freedom can be taken away... as you well know."

"I offer knowledge—everything I have learned. I will teach you: economics, mathematics, philosophy, science..." At this point, Dantés excitedly picks up a book and asks: "To read and write"?  To which Faria answers with heartfelt, pathetic compassion: "Of course."

Click HERE to watch a video of this MOVIE SCENE

Later, Dantés ups the educational ante, demanding the Abbé also teach him "The Sword," and tells him he can dig alone if he refuses. Though stricken with old age and unmotivated by the prospect, the Abbé reluctantly agrees. During his fencing training, Faria teaches Edmond one of the most important lessons that all combatants must eventually comprehend... 
"The stronger swordsman does not necessarily win.

               "It is speed!

"Speed of hand!  Speed of mind!"

Click HERE to watch a clip of this MOVIE SCENE

My favorite scene in the movie comes at the end of the Abbé Faria's life. As he and Dantés are digging a tunnel to freedom, a pile of earth and rock breaks loose and lands on top of Faria, puncturing his lungs and ending his life. Using his last gasps of breath, the Abbé confesses that he actually does know where the lost treasure of Sparts is located. Surprised, Dantés exclaims: "I thought you didn't know where the treasure was!" To which the Abbé responds: "I'm a Priest, not a Saint."

He then tells Edmond where the treasure map is located, and the following dialogue ensues:

Abbé:  Use your head; follow the clues.

Dantés:  I can't! The tunnel is blocked; I can't escape!

Abbé:  Keep digging. When you escape, use it for good; only for good.

Dantés:  No!  I will surely use it for my revenge.

Abbé:  Here now is your final lesson. Do not commit the crime for which you now pay the sentence. God said: "Vengeance is mine."

Dantés:  I don't believe in God!

Abbé:  It doesn't matter; He believes in you.

Click HERE to watch a video clip of this SCENE.   

This poignant exchange of dialogue between the Abbé (Harris) and Dantés (Caviezel) touches my heart personally because of my own belief in God, and my deep conviction that He believes in—and has always been there for—me, even when I may have not felt particularly close to Him. 

Regardless of your own beliefs (or lack thereof) about God, this exchange is meaningful because it serves ostensibly as a catalyst for inspiring Dantés with a clever plan to escape from the Chateau D'if. The plan works, and in the end, Dantés regains the faith he had lost during his many years of solitude and suffering in the dark, dank, holds of the prison.

The scene that unfolds—a scene that echoes a similar scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves—powerfully illustrates the human desire, need, and quest for FREEDOM.  

Click HERE to watch a video clip of Edmond Dantes gaining his FREEDOM
after escaping the Chateau D'if

Click HERE to view a similar clip of Robin Hood's return to England from the Crusades: 

One of my favorite quotes from the movie comes from Jacapo, The Count of Monte Cristo's servant who swears to stand by his side and protect him after Dantés saves his own life earlier in the movie. As Dantés struggles through his anger and thirst for revenge, Jacopo confronts Edmond and says: 

"I am still your man, Zatara (Jacopo's nickname for Edmond). I swore an oath.

I will protect you; even if it means I must protect you from yourself."

Click HERE to watch a video clip of this SCENE

Despite being his hierarchical subordinate, Jacopo demonstrates a profound sense of leadership, responsibility, and love towards Dantés—and ostensibly helps to save Edmond's life and preserve his freedom. Jacopo's courageous willingness to confront his master when he knows he is not in his right mind illustrates that a person does not need a formal position or title to influence another (including a Supervisor); he or she must merely exercise sufficient moral authority to get someone's attention and spur him or her to action.

The movie's final scene confirms the deep and profound influence that the Abbé Faria had on Edmond. It features Dantés as he revisits the Chateau D'if with his wife and son. He has since bought the prison—to end the unjust imprisonment of innocent persons like himself. As he overlooks the sea waters below the cliffs where the prison stands, he thrusts his sword into the earth and exclaims: 

"You were right, Priest. You were right. This I promise you... (glancing heavenward) and God. All that was used for vengeance... will now be used for good. So rest in peace, my friend."

Click HERE to watch a clip of this MOVIE SCENE 

I admit the ending of the movie seems a little unrealistic, and that is one of the places where the critics have their heyday. Edmond basically gets to have his cake and eat it too; he lands the riches of Monte Cristo, exacts revenge on his enemies, and gets his wife and son back. However, he does it without committing any crimes or unnecessary mayhem.

It is a perfect Hollywood ending, and regardless how realistic it may or may not be, I think there is something inherently admirable about America's cultural and cinematic insistence on happy endings. It is proof that we are ultimately an optimistic society that believes in working, striving, struggling—and if necessary—fighting and dying for positive and productive results in the unfolding of our personal and collective stories.

I hope this article intrigues YOU enough to go and watch (or rewatch) Director Kevin Reynold's take on Alexander Dumas's timeless classic: The Count of Monte Cristo.

Tune in next Wednesday to learn more about my THIRD favorite MOVIE—Risen—and the character education and life leadership lessons it teaches.  

Click HERE to learn more about our Vision and Mission at Freedom Focused.

Click HERE to buy a copy of the Self-Action Leadership Textbooks


Saturday, October 3, 2020

Exciting Announcement!

Attention: Family, Friends, Neighbors, StudentsColleagues, and Fellow Citizens

As the Founder and CEO of Freedom Focused LLC, I am pleased to announce some exciting news regarding the Freedom Focused Blog.

The Freedom Focused BLOG 

is now a Standardized WEEKLY Publication!

Beginning last Wednesday, the Freedom Focused BLOG is now published Once-Per-Week, EVERY WEDNESDAY.

We are living through a time of great trouble and turmoil. Moving forward, the Freedom Focused BLOG will serve as a weekly pedagogical proclamation of Peace, Positivity, Productivity, and Possibility.

Previously, the FF Blog served an ancillary and peripheral role in the growth and progress of the organization and was published more randomly and sporadically as corporate needs arose.

No more!  

From this point onward, this platform will serve a seminal and fundamental role in the message and mission of Freedom Focused.

As such, you can expect to receive a  FREE  Self-Action Leadership-oriented article in your email inbox EVERY WEDNESDAY morning forever into the future—or for as long as I have something to say about it; and I plan to serve in my current role until the year 2040. 

Our Vision and Mission at Freedom Focused is simple in theory, even if it is not always easy in actual practice: we aim to change the world by qualitatively and substantively increasing the personal and professional GROWTH and FREEDOM of individuals everywhere. How do we plan to accomplish this? Through life-changing character education initiatives and substantive life leadership and personal management training.

Meaningful macro changes don't happen overnight. I've been working to build Freedom Focused since 2003, and am personally committed to at least two more decades at the helm of this exciting new training organization. Big changes occur only when individuals take many small, but meaningful actions over long-periods of time.   

Nearly three-quarters of a century ago, my Grandfather spoke to a group of university students at the end of World War II—another time of great trouble and turmoil.

In his speech, he said something of great significance. 

And I quote: 

"Not infrequently you hear this: 'What can I do to help world peace? Here I am, one lone, miserable individual. I cannot have any influence. I cannot do anything which will help. I am powerless.' 
"That, of course, is just nonsense, for the peace of the world rests upon the collective individuals in the world; it does not rest upon nations; it rests upon the individuals in those nations. Do not think that 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 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. [Each of us] can have FREEDOM in his own sphere. Each can contribute importantly to FREEDOM."  

Have you ever felt that way? That you are one, lone, miserable individual and there is nothing you can do to help world peace, or any other macro movement leading to positive change? If so, I invite you to become acquainted with the message of Self-Action Leadership and FREEDOM by reading this BLOG each Wednesday moving forward into the future. And if you want to take a BIG step beyond that, then I invite you to SHARE this BLOG with your family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues and invite them to sign up for it also.

It's a pretty good deal when you think about it.  For the price of $0.00, you can access a weekly blog written by an author who: has published SIX (6) books and hundreds of articles in newsprint, academic, and other periodicals, has a bachelor's degree in English, a doctoral degree in education, over 4,000 hours of professional training experience throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and 41 years of varied and unique life experiences, including successfully confronting and managing mental illness, deep relational obstacles, and profound professional difficulties.

To sign up for this BLOG, or to share it with your family, neighbors, friends, or colleagues, just CLICK on the WEBLINK below, which will take you to the official blog page. You can then sign up by inputting your email address into the space on the TOP RIGHT side of the page where it says: "Follow by Email" "Email Address"  Then hit "Submit" and follow the simple directions to get signed up. If you have any issues, you can email me personally at and we will sign you up from my end.     

Click HERE to Access the FF Blog

Click HERE to learn more about our Vision and Mission at Freedom Focused.

Click HERE to buy a copy of the Self-Action Leadership Textbooks


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...