Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Education, not Politics, will Save America

Present-day partisans, pundits, and citizens
 alike too often value politics above education.
For better or for worse—and it seems increasingly for the worse—politics is as popular as it has ever been in America.

How do we know this?

Because voter turnout for the 2020 Presidential Election (over 60% of eligible voters cast a vote) was higher than it has been in over 100 years. That is an amazingly high percentage when compared to other elections throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the 1908 election between William Howard Taft and William Jennings Bryant to find a comparatively high percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in a U.S. Presidential Election.

While the COVID-19 Pandemic undoubtedly played a prominent role in these soaring voter turnout numbers, it was not the only variable at play. The rise of social media and its concomitant culture of puerile political polarization and unremitting divisiveness also factored into this increase. 

One of the most assumptive misnomers among both professional partisans and pundits, as well as social media laity and the citizenry-at-large, is that the answer to our deepest and most pressing problems in the United States and beyond lies in politics. In the eyes of many, everything would be hunky-dory if only we could keep a particular person or party in power in perpetuity. 

Despite any and all partisan persuasions or insinuations, this simply is not true.  

As important as politics is, anyone with any common sense about reality recognizes that there remain other, more basic, fundamental, and even primal elements of life and society that transcend the importance of politics. 

What are these elements? 

Answer: One's FAMILY ENVIRONMENT in conjunction with the formal and informal EDUCATION one receives and seeks out.  

Signers of the American
Declaration of Independence
One of the main reasons family environment and education is even more important than politics is because politics itself is ultimately an outgrowth of the familial environments, education, and experiences of individual citizens and politicians. This phenomenon explains why America's august Founding Fathers and Mothers valued freedom, equality, and opportunity so much. And why did they value these principles and virtues so much? Because they were taught in their homes and schools that said virtues and principles were practically essential and politically indispensable. As a result, they grew up into men and women of great character and capacity who were willing to pledge their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honors" on the altar of promoting and perpetuating those same values.

The secret to solving America's deepest problems at home and abroad is not to ensure that a certain political party attains and maintains power. The secret lies in transforming American home life and education in ways that refocuses American Students' attention on the enduring, uniting, non-partisan virtues and values enshrined in her founding documents (i.e. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution).

And what exactly are those values? 

The secret to our success both individually and collectively
was set in stone over two centuries ago in Philadelphia, PA.
Answer

Life, Liberty, Equality, Self-Reliance, The Pursuit of Happiness, The Rule of Law, Equal Justice Under the Law, and Divided Government that Limits and Shares power.

Unlike politicians, who often complicate things and manipulate people for petty partisan purposes, Freedom Focused likes to keep things basic, simple, honest, straightforward, and consistent.

We accomplish this aim by remaining laser focused on these fundamental, timeless, and true principles equally applicable to both self-government AND self-governance. As such, everything we model, teach, or promote is aimed at safeguarding and perpetuating Life, Liberty, Equality, Self-RelianceThe Pursuit of Happiness, The Rule of Law, Equal Justice Under the Law, and Divided Government that Limits and Shares power.

At Freedom Focused, we eschew the political fractures and cultural division so common in our contemporary world. And we do so in an effort to create greater unity built upon certain fixed, timeless, and true principles and practices that have proven themselves endlessly efficacious by the unimpeachable test tubes of time. 

We therefore hold that the greatest way to form a more perfect union (e pluribus unum) is to focus more on education than we do on politics. Not because politics doesn't matter; it does! But because we recognize the great truth that politics will largely take care of itself as long as education is focused on those preeminent issues emblazoned in our nation's vital founding documents.

Part of a quality education is to learn about and participate in the political process. All responsible citizens should take at least enough interest in politics to become informed voters. I have personally always been interested in politics. In fact, for much of my life, I thought I might eventually run for office myself, up-to-and-including the office of President of the United States. Over time, I learned I was poorly suited for a political career. More importantly, I discovered that in the long run I could influence more people and make a greater positive impact on the world as an EDUCATOR than I ever could as a POLITICIAN.

That is why I chose to become an educator.

In a forthcoming blog article, I will spotlight and summarize an upcoming academic paper (pending publication in the Journal of Leadership & Management) that offers a common-sense, non-partisan, and balanced educational framework for the twenty-first century in which persons of all political parties and ideological backgrounds can potentially find common ground. 

To some, it may seem like naïve, "pie-in-the-sky" optimism to believe that anything under the sun could possibly bridge the current cultural chasms and partisan political polarization that so divides the not-so-United States of America.

For better or for worse, I am a simple person who is just provincial and optimistic enough to believe that such a solution not only exists, but, when widely applied, will eventually accomplish such an "Impossible Dream" — in much the same way that those miraculous COVID-19 vaccines are currently ridding the world of our cruel contemporary plague.

What are YOU waiting for?
If you agree with and like this article, share it!
Imagine an American social media environment where people were more passionate about posting principled pedagogical placards than they were about perpetually proliferating partisan political paraphernalia!

Please pardon the publicly punishing, yet personally pleasing perpetuation of purple prose purposely placed in the previous and present pontifications. Sometimes I just can't resist the urge to ostentatiously opine and otherwise operate alliteratively.  

It's kinda hard to imagine such a stark and welcomed cultural reversal, isn't it? Yet the simple truth is that YOU can take a step in the right direction and make a positive difference right this minute by simply sharing this article on your own social media platforms. 

For better or for worse, all of us at Freedom Focused are on board this SHIP of FREEDOM bound for A More Perfect Union or bust! We invite YOU to join us by signing up for our blog and telling your friends, family, and colleagues about our movement by encouraging them to do the same.  

Steve Jobs and Apple Computers Changed the World.
Educators at Freedom Focused Have a Similar Aim
Maybe we will fail. Or maybe we will succeed. Time will tell. But succeed or fail, my colleagues and I choose to live and die fully engaged in making the attempt. Maybe we're crazy to even try. But make no mistake: try we will! After all, "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are [usually] the ones who do." So said one of those relatively few fellows who, along with his countless committed colleagues, actually did change the world in an epically transformative and positive way.  

"The People who are crazy enough to think they can 

change the world are [usually] the ones who do."

Steve Jobs

Co-Founder of Apple Computers    

.........................  

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn the SAL Definition of Success.

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, just enter your email address on the upper right hand side of this page where it says: "Follow by Email." Then hit "Submit" and follow instructions from there. Doing so will provide you with a FREE article from Freedom Focused in your email inbox each and every week of the year on Wednesdays

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan R. Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Celebrating Blog Post #200


Celebrating 200 Published Articles
Today's blog post marks the 200th published article in the history of Freedom Focused.  

We published our first official blog post on October 8, 2013, seven-and-a-half (7.5) years ago. Since that time, we have continued to publish articles sporadically as needs arose.

Then, beginning last October (2020), our blog took an important turn whereby we began publishing a NEW ARTICLE authored by Dr. JJ on a weekly basis every Wednesday morning. As a result, we will reach future milestones more quickly... and YOU will receive a growing quantity and quality of FREE, cutting-edge SAL material to benefit and nurture your personal and professional growth needs and goals.    

To celebrate today's milestone, we provide readers with an opportunity to look back at previous articles published since October 2013. Below you will find links to the TOP 10 blog articles to date based on total numbers of online "hits/clicks." In addition, you will find another TOP 10 list of blogs based on some of my (Dr. JJ's) personal favorites.

I hope you enjoy reviewing some of these article publications from the past seven years. I also hope you will sign up for this FREE blog today... if you have not already done so. Lastly, I encourage you to reach out to a family member, friend, or colleague, and invite them to subscribe to the Blog, so they can likewise benefit from these gratis articles in the future.   

Lastly, we want to express our sincere THANKS to all those who have supported us to date. Thanks to our readers, we have registered nearly 75,000 "hits/clicks" to date. We also have 64 official subscribers. We hope this number will continue to grow exponentially into the future, so that everyone who seeks to grow personal and professionally can benefit from the proven principles and practices of success, happiness, and inner peace contained in the Self-Action Leadership Theory and Model.  

Sincerely,

-Dr. Jordan R. Jensen


Click on any link below to access desired article


TOP  TEN  BLOG  ARTICLES  All-time by hits/clicks

1. A Doctor of Education Shares his Personal Experiences with OCD, Anxiety, and Depression

2. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

3. A 21st Century 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

4. Self-Action Leadership in Real Life: Success from Chicago's South Side

5. From Orphan to Executive: Self-Action Leadership in Real Life

6. The Age of Authenticism

7. The Most Important Educational Message of the 21st Century

8. The Day Job I Never Imagined I'd Have

9. The Self-Action Leadership Theory

10. SAL for Civic Leaders and other High Profile Role Models


Dr. Jensen's other TOP TEN Favorites  

1. Diary of a Stay-at-Home Dad

2. Our Vision & Mission at Freedom Focused

3. Power Tales for a New Generation

4. A Class in Life

5. My Rocky Road of Romance

6. Why I Believe

7. The Blog Post I Hoped I Wouldn't Have to Write

8. The Role of Faith in Self-Action Leadership

9. My Career Crucibles

10. A Metaphysical Theory of Everything

.........................

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn why EDUCATION, not POLITICS, will be the answer to America's deepest problems in the 21st Century.   

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, just enter your email address on the upper right hand side of this page where it says: "Follow by Email." Then hit "Submit" and follow instructions from there. Doing so will provide you with a FREE article from Freedom Focused in your email inbox each and every week of the year on Wednesdays

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Jordan Jensen

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Are You Worthy of Your Sufferings?

The way you deal with life's difficulties speaks
volumes about you as a self-action leader.

How well do you deal with...

          Disappointment?

                    Discouragement?

                               Or Disaster

What about failure, rejection, or being ignored, belittled, or mocked?  

Actions always speak louder than words, and the way your ACTIONS answer these questions is very important if you desire to be an authentic self-action leader.  

In his famous book, Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl—an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor—powerfully taught this principle by tapping into his own horrendous experiences as a captive in several Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. By war's end, Frankl's mother, father, wife, and all of his siblings had died as a result of similar imprisonments. Miraculously, Frankl beat the odds and survived, making him the only member of his immediate family to do so.

Despite enduring such unspeakable familial tragedies and personal trials, Frankl emerged from his crucibles surprisingly victorious over his captors. Such victories evinced the extraordinary growth and insights he obtained in captivity and then proceeded to share with millions around the globe for the next half-century prior to his passing in 1997.    

In Frankl's own words:

 
"The experiences of [prison] life show that [human beings] do have a choice of action [regardless of one's external circumstances]. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed [even in the face of the most abject and brutal circumstances]. [Humans] can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember [those] who walked though the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's own attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

"And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate."*

Frankl then goes on to note that:

"Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the [concentration camp] inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any [person] can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him—mentally and spiritually. He may retain his dignity even in a concentration camp. Dostoevski said once, 'There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.' These words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering in death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom—which cannot be taken away—that makes life meaningful and purposeful."**

The opportunity and charge to become "worthy of one's sufferings" is something self-action leaders take very seriously. Is it any surprise then that they find inspiration in Edmund Vance Cook's famous poem from yesteryear, entitled: How Did You Die?...


Did you tackle that trouble that came your way

With a resolute heart and cheerful?

Or hide your face from the light of day

With a craven soul and fearful?

Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,

Or a trouble is what you make it,

And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,

But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?

Come up with a smiling face.

It's nothing against you to fall down flat,

But to lie there — that's disgrace.

The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce;

Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts,

But how did you fight — and why?

And though you be done to death, what then?

If you battled the best that you could,

If you played your part in the world of men,

Why, the Critic will call it good.

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he's slow or spry,

It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,

But only how did you die? 


Are your life's troubles sharpening
you up, or grinding you down to dust?
In the end, it's YOUR choice.
"Life is a grindstone; whether it grinds you down or polishes 

you up is for you and you alone to decide."

— Cavett Robert

(1907-1997)  


Are you worthy of your sufferings? 

If not, what can you do TODAY to get on the road to being so in the near future... to say nothing of before you die?  

.........................   

Tune in NEXT Wednesday for a special celebration blog post in commemoration of our 200th Published Article.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, just enter your email address on the upper right hand side of this page where it says: "Follow by Email." Then hit "Submit" and follow instructions from there. Doing so will provide you with a FREE article from Freedom Focused in your email inbox each and every week of the year on Wednesdays

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks

Notes:

* Frankl, V. (1984) Man's Search for Meaning. New York, NY: Washington Square Press. Pages 86-87.

** Ibid. Page 87. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Second Ring of Total Commitment


In order to be a highly effective and successful self-action leader, it is absolutely essential to be crystal clear on what your values are, and, even more specifically, how (in what order) you prioritize those values.

For example, second only to my relationship with Deity and my corresponding theological beliefs and faith, my WIFE and CHILDREN are my most important priorities and the greatest treasures in my life. Everything else is tertiary to these priceless and precious human beings with whom I share a deep, meaningful, and loving relationship.

Today's blog post shares a specific example of a new Positive Cue I recently began utilizing in my own personal exercise of Self-Action Leadership as it relates to the love I feel and the commitment I have made to my three KIDS. Make sure to read to the article's end if you want to hear the unique story of how this unfolded.    

Before we get to that point, however, you may be asking yourself: "What is a Positive Cue?"*

Great Question!   

Self-action leaders use World Altering Strategies* in the form of positive and negative "cues"* to promote and inspire desirable behavior. In Volume Two of the Self-Action Leadership textbook, it reads: 

"Just as an architectural firm seeks to invoke a professional, pleasant ambience with its interior and exterior designs, you can create an environment that inspires and uplifts you as a self-action leader ... [by] employing world-altering strategies to remove negative cues and add positive cues to your environment."**

Removing negative cues involves getting rid of visual, auditory, or other sentient triggers that might tempt you to engage in behaviors you're trying to avoid. Adding positive cues involves decorating your environment with tangible reminders aimed at promoting healthy and productive actions and goals. For example, if you want to cultivate a healthier diet, don't fill your pantry with junk food or browse the Internet for dessert recipes. Instead, prepare healthy snacks, visualize yourself achieving your goals, and fill your mind with images and successful stories of others who have accomplished what you desire to achieve.  

I displayed this goal above my desk in my bedroom the summer before
my junior year in high school. On October 30, 1996 I accomplished my
goal at Sugar House Park and Highland High School in SLC, Utah.
Since I was a little boy, I've always been inspired by the concept of World Altering Strategies in the forms of positive and negative cues. Consequently, I've often been motivated to adorn my personal work and living spaces with pictures, posters, awards, quotes, symbols, goals, and other visual reminders of what's most important to me. These visual cues help me stay focused on my vision, mission, values, and goals. Purposely decorating your personal living and working space in purposeful ways can provide YOU with similar benefits. 

Maximizing positive cues while minimizing or eliminating negative cues from your environment will help you develop the habit of positive visualization. This, in-turn, focuses your mental energy on solutions and successes rather than on problems and failures. It also helps you rid yourself of negative self-talk. Perhaps most importantly, it assists you in maintaining an ongoing vision of what you want most in your life, relationships, and career. Stephen R. Covey calls this process the "mental or first creation," which, according to Covey, always precedes the "physical or second creation"*** of whatever you seek to make real in your life. In other words, envisioning yourself mastering a task is a prerequisite to actually doing it well.

As avid readers of the Freedom Focused blog know, I have been a stay-at-home Dad for the past FIVE (5) years. As a result, I have spent a significant amount of time and energy raising my three children, currently aged seven, five, and two. In the New Testament, Jesus taught that "where your treasure is, there will your heart [time/effort/focus] be also" (Luke 12:34). I have found this statement to be true; not because I am a Christian believer, per se, but because the love and affection I feel and extend toward my children is unquestionably deeper, greater, and more sincere and authentic in 2021 than it was in 2016.

Why is this?

It's pretty simple, really. The answer is: because I have spent thousands of additional hours serving and otherwise living for my children since I became a stay-at-home-dad.

As human beings, we tend to love those people and things we serve and live for; and the more we serve and live for someone (or something), the more we come to love them (or it). This phenomenon is a classically simple and highly satisfying metaphysical example of Newton's first law of motion, which states: to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you reach out toward and serve someone else, your heart ends up changing (improving) towards that person—even if the other person rejects or rebuffs your outreach.  

My three kids playing in the fighter jet at the
"Airplane Park" in Artesia, New Mexico
Last year our family lived in Carlsbad, New Mexico for about ten months before moving permanently to Florida. During the time we spent in the dusty deserts of southeast New Mexico, I took my children on several trips to a park in the nearby city of Artesia. The kids and I refer to this particular park as the "Airplane Park" because it has a skeletal structure of an Air Force plane on which the kids loved to play.

Another area of the Airplane Park we enjoyed was the swing set. Until just recently, this particular park sported old fashioned, steel-made, bucket-type swings that my little son Tyler Jordan loved to swing on. 

One day, while pushing Tyler in one of these antique swings, I noticed a golden ring on the ground at my feet—right there in front of the swing set. After stooping down to pick it up, I realized it was a "REAL" wedding ring of some quality and heft, and likely at least partly gold in make. The ring was a size or two larger than my own wedding band, and was therefore too loose for the ring finger on my right hand. However, it fit perfectly on the middle finger of my right hand. 

Because of its probable worth, I didn't feel right about just keeping the ring. So, I contacted the Artesia Daily Press—the local newspaper covering Artesia, New Mexico—and purchased a brief advertisement in their classified section to announce my discovery of the ring. My goal was to find its rightful owner if possible.

After two weeks had passed without any responses to my advertisement, I concluded it was fair and reasonable to invoke the "Finder's Keepers" rule. In so doing, I determined I would begin wearing the ring on the middle finger of my right hand for the foreseeable future as a dedicatory "Positive Cue" reminding me of the importance of, and my love and adoration for, my three children, as well as the eternal commitment I have made to them as their father. It was, after all, at the Airplane Park while pushing my young son in a swing that I had happened upon the treasure.  

One of the exciting things about marrying my wife, Lina, back in 2008 is that I could begin wearing a wedding band on my left ring finger. In my opinion, there is nothing else in life quite as wonderful as marriage and romance, and the opportunity to wear a tangible symbol of the love, commitment, attraction, and adoration I share with my beloved and chosen companion has always been a great privilege and honor for me.

Second only to the wonder, excitement, and joy of romance and marriage is the fun, joy, love, and satisfaction I experience being a father to my three wonderful children.

As such, it dawned on me that it would be very appropriate to begin wearing another ring—on a different finger on my other hand—as a symbol of my everlasting love for and commitment to my three kids. In my view, this new practice of mine completes the familial tradition of wearing a marriage band. Instead of just one reminder (positive cue) to continually remind me what is most important in my life, I now have two. Now every time I see or touch either of these rings—which occurs numerous times each day—I am reminded of what matters most to me in my life.  

And on a point of far lesser importance, I also think it looks really cool to wear the second ring! I've always liked the color appearance of both yellow gold and silver/platinum/white gold, and now I get to sport a little bling from both precious metal colors on my hands.  

I intend on wearing both of these rings for the rest of my life. That way, I have a tangible reminder (positive cue) right at my fingertips (literally) to help me remain true, faithful, and completely committed to the people that matter most to me in my life—my WIFE and KIDS.  

What positive cues could you add to your person, living space, workplace, or environment that would help you to stay focused on what matters most to you? 

What negative cues could you eliminate from your person, living space, workplace, or environment that would make it easer to avoid temptations and other negative thoughts, speech, and behavior?  

I invite you to take stock of your personal, familial, and professional surroundings and then take a concrete action (or two, or three...) to decrease the negative cues and increase the positive cues in your own life and career.  

.........................   

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn what it means to Be Worthy of Your Sufferings.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, just enter your email address on the upper right hand side of this page where it says: "Follow by Email." Then hit "Submit" and follow instructions from there. Doing so will provide you with a FREE article from Freedom Focused in your email inbox each and every week of the year on Wednesdays

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused



Article Notes

* Neck, C.P., & Manz, C.C. (2010). Mastering Self-Leadership: Empowering Yourself for Personal Excellence (Fifth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

** Jensen, J.R. (2019). Self-Action Leadership, Volume II: An Action Research-Based Character Development Model. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Book the Fifth. Chapter 7. Page 143.

*** Covey, S.R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. New York, NY: Fireside. Page 100.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Life Lessons I've Learned from Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
1869-1948


Perhaps more than any other person, Mohandas Gandhi is responsible for India gaining its freedom from British rule back in 1947. Amazingly, however, Gandhi never held political office. Although trained in the law, he was never a President, Premier, Prime Minister, or King. Nor was he a legislator, governor, prefect, or military officer. He was a regular citizen... albeit with unusual vision, focus, determination, and persistence. 

This legacy of great influence through self-direction makes Gandhi one of the greatest icons of Self-Action Leadership the world has ever known. He demonstrated through example that the moral authority of one's informal influence can, in some cases, prove far more potent and powerful than the formal authority derived from an organizational title or position.

This concept explains why people like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Shakespeare, Mozart, Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, MLK, Gandhi, and others like them are more famous and influential today than a whole slew of high-ranking political and military leaders from the past. In the long-run, the extent of one's influence is usually marked more by character and contribution than it is by title or position.     

Sadly, in 1948, Gandhi was assassinated for his efforts, but not before India became an Independent Nation. His legacy—which will live on forever—becomes more burnished with each passing year and decade.  

Gandhi once famously remarked that: 

"You must be the Change You wish to see in the World."


The British Empire controlled
India from 1858-1947
Gandhi recognized that he himself had no formal authority or power to change the British Empire and its sometimes heavy-handed colonial policies. However, he also recognized that as he worked to change himself, his influence over others began to naturally expand. As he continued this cycle of self-change leading to expanded influence on others, he was, over the course of several decades able to influence a movement that eventually led to a tangible and significant shift in British policy, thus freeing himself and his countrymen from the direct control of Britain, which they had held like an iron vice since 1858.   

How did Gandhi accomplish such a monumental thing without any political authority or military power? 

Thanks in large part to Gandhi, India gained
its Independence from Britain on August 15, 1947

The answer is: by hearkening to his conscience and exercising epic amounts of personal responsibility over long periods of time. Gandhi was disciplined, hard working, focused, determined, and persistent. He had a vision of a free India, and he refused to give up until he had either achieved his objective or reached the end of his life. Fortunately, he was able to accomplish his goal before his death.

Gandhi's advice to "Be the Change we wish to see in the World" is one of the most fundamental principles championed by Freedom Focused and the Self-Action Leadership Theory and Model. Another core belief of ours is summed up in the words of the Greek philosopher, Plutarch, and then reiterated by the twentieth century psychologist, Otto Rank:

"What you achieve inwardly changes your outer reality." 


Unfortunately, far too many voices in our world today focus on external problems instead of internal changes. While it is no secret that external problems are real and need to be addressed, why is it that so many people fail to comprehend (or accept) the reality that the only way to solve external problems is to initiate internal changes?

The answer is pretty simple: because it is much, Much, MUCH easier to complain about external problems than it is to seriously commit to internal changes. Anyone can yell, scream, complain, and blame others for the way things are out there in one's school, community, organization, state, or nation. And sadly, many people do complain about and blame others—endlessly—about external problems while simultaneously doing virtually nothing to initiate real internal changes. If you don't believe me, just turn on any news channel and listen to the endless blather of vitriolic blame volleyed back-and-forth from contemporary pundits representing a variety of different political persuasions.

You know what I am talking about because you've heard your share of it.      

Unfortunately, it is the relatively rare individual who takes complete personal responsibility for his or her internal state of being and then goes to work indefatigably on one's own personal and professional growth. And it is these same "few" who invariably end up making the most positive and productive contributions towards meaningful external change. 

"Where in the world are these rare, proactive people" you ask?

Good question!

Often times society isn't always sure exactly who they are because the news media isn't very interested in giving air time to individuals who are quietly, humbly, conscientiously, and effectively going about their business trying to be their very best selves and make a difference along the way. Sadly, the news media considers those kinds of people and their lives and careers "too boring" and insufficiently provocative to bother covering. But I'll bet that you know someone like this. Perhaps YOU even qualify as such a person, however imperfectly.  

Any wise and honest person knows that it is those people who ensure that our world continues to turn with at least some semblance of sanity. If you watch the news, it may appear that a few loud mouths and a collection of fringe extremists are continually running the show; but thankfully, the reality is more complex than whatever mirage the media may be portraying at any given moment in time. This reality is reassuring. While the news media does provide a bully pulpit for the benefit of loud mouths and fringe extremists, the people who ensure that the show always goes on are usually not the ones in the spotlight.

And now, back to Gandhi's great quote, and how it has continually influenced me throughout my life.      

For the most part, and thanks to my wonderful parents, siblings, extended family members, teachers, and friends, I was blessed with a happy, innocent, adventurous, and in many ways an almost idyllic childhood. 

Despite these fortunate favors of youth, I still had to learn the hard way growing up the same lesson that all of us learn eventually... that I cannot always depend on other people to treat me the way I want to be treated. I learned further that if I wanted to influence and be respected by others, I would have to earn it the hard way—bit-by-bit over time.  

For Example
: I learned in second, seventh, eighth, and twelfth grades that bullies existed, and that if I didn't stand up for myself, I would be bullied for the rest of my life. I also learned that there were ways to stand up for myself—and put an end to bullying—without resorting to physical violence. I further discovered I could seek out others who were being bullied and show them kindness, compassion, and respect. And I noticed it felt good inside to do so.  

Growing up, I discovered that people are often unkind and disrespectful to "the new guy" or the youngest or weakest person in a class or group. I likewise learned that I didn't have to carry on that negative tradition. Instead, I could choose to be both kind and respectful to "newbies" and other, less popular members of the group.

I could choose to Be the Change I Wished to See in the World.

As an adult professional, I learned that my colleagues were sometimes prone to inappropriate, offensive, or even dishonest speech and behavior. I also learned that I could respectfully confront them about their conduct in an effort to influence a modification thereof—at least around me. I also learned that taking such a course could sometimes win their respect, not their derision. And sometimes it could earn their derision, not their respect. But either way—and most importantly—I learned that what other people thought about me was less important than what I thought about myself; and I always thought more highly of myself when I stood up for honesty and other conduct that was right and fair than I did when I fell prey to negative peer pressure or allowed myself to get bullied by bad behavior.

I could choose to Be the Change I Wished to See in the World.
     
As a substitute teacher—and later as a full-time teacher—I learned that many educators like to spend their discretionary time complaining and otherwise gossiping about what is wrong with their colleagues, supervisors, students, and the system. I also learned I could re-direct negative communications and re-frame them positively, as well as avoid gossip sessions as much as possible. I further discovered I could always accomplish more by focusing on my own sphere of control and influence than I ever could by sitting around complaining about other people and things beyond my control.

I could choose to Be the Change I Wished to See in the World.

Throughout my life, I have abhorred litter. I have also learned that picking up trash myself does more to help the world's littering problem than complaining about it ever has, or ever will.

I could choose to Be the Change I Wished to See in the World.

I have failed over, and over, and over again in my efforts to find love and career success. I have also learned that blaming other people or circumstances beyond my control does absolutely nothing to help me succeed. Likewise, I have learned that never giving up and continually refining my approach along the way eventually leads me to find success in whatever undertaking I pursue.

I could choose to Be the Change I Wished to See in the World.

In short, I have learned over, and over, and over again that the BEST response to virtually every problem in life is not to point the finger of blame at others (as easy, fun, tempting, and entertaining as that approach often is), but to first look inward and examine myself to determine where I might, in fact, be part of the problem—and then go to work to improve and/or fix my own thought processes, speech, and conduct. 

This doesn't mean that others aren't sometimes legitimately to blame for issues and problems in life; sometimes they are! It merely means that I will always find greater success in the long-run if I focus most of my attention on what I can directly control or influence, rather than spending time and effort complaining about what I cannot control.

The world is full of finger pointers who are convinced that everyone in the world is to blame for their problems; everyone, that is, except themselves. Self-action leaders recognize that no one is perfect, including oneself. As such, we all have a lifetime of opportunity to go to work on ourselves in an effort to bring about positive change in the only truly tenable way—from the INSIDE-OUT.  

The next time you find yourself pointing the finger of blame at someone else, or complaining about something over which you have no control, I invite you to interrupt that negative pattern by standing up and taking action on some aspect of self-improvement over which you can control. While it might not be easy to take that first step towards positive change, I promise you will feel better after you are moving down the road toward building positive momentum. And you just never know where such an action might lead you in the future.   

You may never free your country from tyranny like Gandhi did; but Self-Action Leadership can empower you to free yourself from your own greatest enemy—YOURSELF—so that you can begin to earn and enjoy the sweet personal and professional victories within the realms of your own, unique sphere of control and influence.

No matter what anyone may have told you in the past, rarely will your greatest enemy in life be someone else who exists out there somewhere. More often than not, your greatest enemy is inside of your own heart, mind, and soul. That is the bad news. The good news is that YOU always possess the freedom, control, and power to fight against that enemy until you eventually WIN.  As someone once said: "Look in the mirror if you want to see your greatest enemy and your best friend."  

Are you fighting the right war against the right enemy in your own life and career? If not, then Freedom Focused can help. And if so, then Freedom Focused can also help.  

Click HERE to learn how we can help.    

.........................

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn about My Second Ring of Total Commitment.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, just enter your email address on the upper right hand side of this page where it says: "Follow by Email." Then hit "Submit" and follow instructions from there. Doing so will provide you with a FREE article from Freedom Focused in your email inbox each and every week of the year on Wednesdays

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Role of Faith in Self-Action Leadership


"We all know that something is eternal. And it ain't houses and it ain't names, and it ain't earth, and it ain't even the stars ... Everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you'd be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There's something way deep down that's eternal about every human being."

Thornton Wilder 

(From Act III of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Our Town)


I am a believer. 

Nay... that is too weak. Put more precisely, I am an ardent, enthusiastic, and passionate person of faith. I'm not asking you to be a believer—at least not in theological or religious terms. I'm merely letting you know that I am, and that I'm comfortable with being open about this fact—not in a preachy or proselytizing way, but in a self-confident, I'm-quite-comfortable-in-my-own-skin sort of way.  

It is interesting to me how popular it has become these days to not believe. 

And yet, despite any and all claims of atheism and agnosticism, do we not all; nay—must we not all—each and every day of our lives take various leaps of faith in order to get anything of value accomplished? And is it not true that the greater the achievement, the greater the leap of faith?

If this is true, then are not all of us persons of faith in one way or another, and to one extent or another, regardless of our views on the existence (or lack thereof) of a Higher Power or the eternal nature of the human soul?  

When I reflect on the greatest accomplishments in my life, every single one of them resulted from my willingness to exercise a TON of faith. Whether it was becoming a State Champion or All-American athlete, figuring out how to effectively manage mental illness, moving to the other side of the country and finding the love of my life, earning a doctoral degree, writing a book and getting it published, or starting a business from the ground up, every single significant achievement I have ever attained was realized by first taking a bold leap out into the darkness of life's great "unknowns" trusting that if I followed the rules, hearkened to my instincts and conscience, did my best, never gave up, and treated other people with respect and dignity along the way, I would eventually land on firm ground and find a sure pathway that would take me exactly where I wanted to go.

Let's face it... accomplishing anything of lasting value absolutely demands that we exercise FAITH in ourselves, FAITH in other people, FAITH in true principles and practices of thought, speech, and behavior, and FAITH in the serendipity inherent in the metaphysical concept of karma—in conjunction with the mathematical and scientific "Law of the Farm" (As ye sow; so shall ye reap).  

At Freedom Focused, we do not ask self-action leaders to become believers in God or religion, even though most of us are, and most of us do. We do, however, ask YOU to have faith in yourself, faith in other people, faith in the true principles and practices of human thought, speech, and behavior outlined in the Self-Action Leadership Theory and Model, and faith in karma and serendipity.

Those willing to exercise such faith eventually take flight in their personal and professional lives, the results of which include growth, success, satisfaction, fulfillment, rich and rewarding relationships, and inner peace—the greatest gifts in life.  

Those who are unwilling to exercise such faith ultimately founder, falter, and fail to rise to their full potential.

In the final analysis, the greatest human beings are always persons of faith. Such persons may not be religious or believe in God. In fact, some of them will even claim to be atheists or agnostics. But if they are accomplished and successful in the long-run, they are so for one reason and one reason alone: because they were willing to exercise great quantities of faith as described above. 

Are you a person of faith?

If not, then it's time to start exercising some, because FAITH is an absolute prerequisite to becoming an authentic and effective self-action leader. Why not let go of your fear and finally take that leap of faith in your life and career—you know... the leap that could empower you to truly take flight?   

.........................

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn more about what it means to Be the Change You Wish to See in the World (Gandhi).  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, just enter your email address on the upper right hand side of this page where it says: "Follow by Email." Then hit "Submit" and follow instructions from there. Doing so will provide you with a FREE article from Freedom Focused in your email inbox each and every week of the year on Wednesdays

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused

Click HERE to buy the SAL Textbooks

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A NextGen 7 Habits and Road Less Traveled

Two score and three years ago, M. Scott Peck, M.D., wrote one of the greatest books that has ever been written on the subjects of human cognition and behavioral regulation as it relates to personal CHANGE and GROWTH.  

The book is called, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth.

Peck's book is not religious scripture, nor is it an ideological, political, or philosophical treatise. Rather, it is a practical, common sense exploration in psychology, love, and personal growth based on Peck's own experience working with real patients as a clinical psychiatrist.

The Road Less Traveled was published in 1978, one year before I was born. For the following decade—throughout the 1980s—it was a huge bestseller, demonstrating that many human beings really do earnestly seek after real answers to real problems in their lives, even if it requires hard work, courage, and personal sacrifice.

Eleven years later, in 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People—Dr. Stephen R. Covey's famous book on essentially the same subject (Personal Change)—was published. Like Peck's The Road Less Traveled, Covey's 7 Habits was also a huge bestseller (selling nearly 20 million copies) demonstrating a generation later that, once again, many human beings really do ardently desire real solutions to real problems in their lives—even if those solutions require hard work, sacrifice, dedication, persistence, and patience on our part. 

These two books—The Road Less Traveled, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, influenced my thinking—and the development of the Self-Action Leadership Theory and Model—more than any other single texts. Other books by Covey and Peck, including: Principle Centered Leadership (1990), Further Along the Road Less Traveled (1993), First Things First (1994), and The Road Less Traveled and Beyond (1997) were similarly influential on my thinking and writing.

For you old timers who are wondering what the NextGen Road or 7 Habits is going to be, you don't have to wonder anymore. It has already been written and published!

The 1980s brought The Road
The 1990s and 2000s brought The 7 Habits
The 2020s now offers SAL
It's called: Self-Action Leadership, Volume I & II; and it builds upon The Road and The 7 Habits in creative and important ways. And the only significantly substantive difference between SAL and its two forerunners is that SAL hasn't yet sold millions of copies. 

But all in good time my friends; all in good time!

Or, in the words of Alexander Hamilton (of Hamilton the musical fame): "There's a million [copies I haven't sold], but just you wait; just you wait!" 

Peck famously opened The Road Less Traveled with a timeless truism summed up unforgettably in just three (3) simple words...

"Life is Difficult."

As seemingly self-evident and obvious as this statement may be, Peck went on to explain that a certain irony exists in the phrase as it relates to us humans.

In his own words: 

"Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief ... that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others" (The Road Less Traveled. 1978, New York, NY: Touchstone. p. 15).

Peck then humbly confesses what most (if not all) of us might well echo:

"I know about this moaning because I have done my share" (p. 15).

If I'm honest, I must echo Peck's confession myself.

Life is indeed difficult—for everybody. And while it may often seem to be more difficult for some than for others, it is vital to remember that an individual's suffering, no matter who that person is or what they may face, is relative.

As Viktor Frankl—a Nazi concentration camp survivor, who knew a thing or two about intense suffering—so cogently articulated:

"A [person's] suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the 'size' of human suffering is absolutely relative" (Man's Search for Meaning. 2006. Beacon: Boston, MA, p. 44).

Given this reality of our human experiences, we would all do well to spend less time and effort judging others and comparing ourselves to others and instead reinvest that same energy in alleviating and managing our own suffering in an effort to grow personally and professionally—and then help others to do the same.

By so doing, we can inch steadily toward "gain[ing] ever greater levels of maturity" (Peck, 1978, p. 11). After all, GROWTH (personal and professional) is the entire purpose of the SAL Theory and Model.

Along the way, we have the opportunity to realize that high ideal set forth by the great Russian novelist, Dostoevski (and reiterated by Frankl), whereby we have the potential to become "worthy of [our] sufferings" (p. 66). In Frankl's view, being worthy of our sufferings qualifies as a "genuine inner achievement" (p. 67), which can, in-turn, lead us to a "spiritual freedom—which cannot be taken away—that makes life meaningful and purposeful" (p. 67). 

As we consider our options for responding to the inevitable difficulties of life, there are, generally speaking, only two kinds of choices to be made in any situation. One option is negative, reactive, combative, and therefore counterproductive. This choice invariably makes any situation worse than it was in the first place. The other possibility is a positive, proactive, cooperative, and therefore productive response. If pursued consistently and persistently, the latter option is bound to either solve the problem(s) at hand, or at very least, to mollify or ameliorate it/them over time.  

For thousands of years, civilizations around the globe developed and flourished on the wings of certain timeless aphorisms, mantras, and other simple statements of fundamental truth about the way things really are in this world in terms of their relation to human actions and interactions—and their concomitant consequences. 

Conversely, many of these same civilizations eventually atrophied into extinction by choosing actions that flouted goodness and truth as articulated in said aphorisms. The consequences of doing so led inevitably to disaster, destruction, and despair.

Such statements of "Truth" are rooted in science, religion, philosophy, politics, commerce, parenting, literature, and a wide range of other human endeavors. The authors of such statements—from Plato and Pericles to Caesar and Cicero; from Moses, Muhammad, and Jesus to Confucius, Siddhārtha Gautama, and Guru Nanek; from Franklin and Goethe to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.—are representative of all major civilizations, continents, cultures, creeds, races, and religions. When civilizations adhere to principles and practices contained in this diverse, yet largely harmonious, historical canon of "Wisdom Literature," positive long-term consequences ensue, both individually and collectively speaking. When this wisdom is disregarded, disasters always arise eventually, for both individuals and the body politic.   

This historical ebb and flow of circumspect adherence to common sense principles of successful human thought and behavior has, in the past half-century or so, wended deeply toward its latest ebbing (speaking collectively and not individually). This dramatic ebb explains why there is so much violence and unrest in the streets, so much fear, panic, and desolation in the lives of individuals and their families, communities, and organizations, and why the United States of America is so dramatically divided—or perhaps fractured would be a more accurate term—both politically and culturally. 

What is the answer to these deep, perplexing, and systemic problems? Wherein lies the key to our escape from the current moral ebb into a future ascent (hopefully) into the next flow of peace and prosperity? What will the next chapter in Western Civilization look like? And how in the world did we get here in the first place?

I would suggest that one of the biggest problems in the West today is our collective tendency to focus too much on the weaknesses and shortcomings of others while simultaneously failing to see, much less working to change, ourselves.

Quite frankly, ours is a sad, even pathetic, era marked by endless finger-pointing. According to politicians, professionals, and pundits everywhere, every problem under the sun is someone else's fault. It seems almost nobody in the spotlight is willing to take any real personal responsibility for anything. And even when a high profile person does "accept responsibility" their half-hearted admissions and forced apologies are usually "all talk" and "no action."

Sadly, in the midst of this ever-cycling blame-game, individuals everywhere fail to comprehend that every time they point a finger of blame at someone else, there are three other fingers pointing right back at themselves.

If you don't believe me, just try it! 

Point your index finger out at some imaginary someone else out in the distance, and then look closely at where your middle finger, ring finger, and pinkie are pointing.

Gotcha!  

It is very popular these days to talk in broad, sweeping strokes about serious and complex macro subjects that are important and require our attention and action.

The SAL question, however, is not "whose fault is it?" The SAL question is: what are YOU actually doing about macro problems in your own little micro world? If you are like most people, you probably talk about the problem and point the finger of blame at others a LOT more than you actually DO SOMETHING that will make a tangible difference in the lives of real people.    

Self-Action Leadership is all about individual ACTION and micro SELF-CHANGE. Why? Because I am the only person I can control; and you are the only person you can control. And because all real macro organizational or societal change begins in the minds and hearts of individuals.

This includes YOU; and it also includes ME—because we are individuals.  

The aim of SAL is to teach and inspire people to recognize that the only person on the planet they can truly control is oneself. As such, we should spend the majority of our time and effort focusing on what we need to think about, say, and do to be our best selves, rather than continually pointing out where others are falling short and must improve.

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt
First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment
In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, one of the most courageous, progressive, enthusiastic, and accomplished leaders in American history:

"There are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. ... It is not the critic who counts; not the [person] who points out how the strong [one] stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the [person] who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends [oneself] in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if [he or she] fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that [his or her] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Perhaps no one in American history is more qualified to talk about self-change and striving valiantly in the arena than Theodore Roosevelt. Growing up, Roosevelt had to focus intensely and work diligently for many years to overcome a devastating and breathtaking (literally) case of asthma at a time in history when medical treatments for the mysterious disease were limited and primitive.  

Then, a few short years before becoming the youngest President in U.S. history at age 42, Roosevelt was voluntarily charging up San Juan Hill at the head of a regiment of cavalrymen that he himself had organized and helped train. Many tried to persuade the 39-year old Roosevelt to stay in Washington where it was "safe." At the time he was serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy—an excellent and entirely legitimate excuse to not join the fray on its front lines. But Roosevelt had the heart of a lion and could not remain caged on the sidelines when his Country needed his help in the arena.

Winston Churchill in middle age
circa the World War I era.
Eighteen years later, another lion-hearted leader—Winston Churchill—followed Roosevelt's example by accepting a field commission in the British Army after losing his prestigious and high-ranking post as First Lord of the Admiralty (aka: Secretary of the Navy in the U.S.) following the disastrous amphibious Allied landings at Gallipoli. Like Roosevelt in Cuba, the high profile Churchill spent several months alongside ordinary field soldiers in the dangerous trenches of the Western Front—perhaps as personal penance and to otherwise take personal responsibility for his unintentional, but nonetheless high profile and costly failure at Gallipoli.

Why would he do such a dangerous and courageous thing when he didn't have to? Because that is what principle-centered leaders do: they are proactive, courageous, and have integrity—and win or lose, they always take personal responsibility for their speech and actions.         

Like Churchill, Roosevelt was the author of many books and countless letters and speeches over the course of his incredibly energetic and productive life and career. He was also fearless when it came to putting his money (walk) where his mouth (talk) was. As a result, his life and legacy changed the course of American history in a variety of positive and productive ways. America needs more men and women, boys and girls with the heart, mind, conscience, and courage of Theodore Roosevelt.

Turn on the news or join in on most contemporary conversations about current events and you are almost certain to hear next-to-nothing about SELF-CHANGE. Instead, you will see and hear endless finger pointing. According to most politicians and pundits, all of the world's problems are somebody else's fault! According to present cultural conversations, all of America's problems are the fault of others, while oneself is perpetually postured as being highly virtuous and above reproach. And since none of us are perfect, hypocrisy obviously abounds in many of these conversations and reports.

It is a sad, childish, dishonest, and counterproductive state in which we find ourselves; but it is where our culture currently stands. 

This trend must change if things are going to get better. And the truth is that for any real, lasting, macro changes to occur, individuals must begin making real, lasting, micro changes within their own minds and hearts.    

SAL is all about looking in the mirror
in an effort to grow and improve personally.
Any truly honest and authentic person knows deep down in one's heart and soul that the only real solution to our deepest personal, relational, and civic problems is to look oneself straight in the mirror, accurately identify one's own personal (or organizational) foibles and flaws for what they really are, admit them candidly to oneself (and where necessary, to others), and then go to work courageously to do the most difficult thing in life: that is, to actually CHANGE.

Until that difficult but oh-so-necessary step occurs, things are only going to get worse, wending us further down a slippery slope to the utter desolation or destruction of individual lives, organizations, communities, states, and nations. 

It really is that simple (in theory). And it really is that difficult (in practice).

It is simple because the answer to all of our deepest and most distressing problems in American and beyond lies in right thinking, doing, and being—not from a political or cultural point of view, but from a behavioral, existential, and moral standpoint. And it is difficult because thinking, speaking, doing, and being right on a consistent basis is incredibly challenging; indeed, it is a lifelong struggle for even the most careful, conscientious, and circumspect among us. 

In the words of Peck:

"We cannot solve life's problems except by solving them. This statement may seem idiotic... or self-evident, yet it is seemingly beyond the comprehension of much of the human race. This is because we must accept responsibility for a problem before we can solve it. We cannot solve a problem by saying 'It's not my problem.' We cannot solve a problem by hoping that someone else will solve it for us. I can solve a problem only when I say 'This is my problem and it's up to me to solve it.' But many, so many, seek to avoid the pain of their problems by saying to themselves: 'This problem was caused me by other people, or by social circumstances beyond my control, and therefore it is up to other people or society to solve this problem for me. It is not really my personal problem. [And] the extent to which people will go psychologically to avoid assuming responsibility for personal problems, while always sad, is sometimes almost ludicrous" (p. 32-33). 

For those willing to put forth the enormous effort required, it all beings with an EDUCATION that is dedicated to truth and reality. After all, in the words of Peck, "truth is reality" (p. 44) and "we must [therefore] be totally dedicated to truth ... [and] must always hold truth ... to be more important, more vital to our self-interest, than our comfort" (p. 50).

In other words, SAL only works if YOU are willing to get out of your comfort zone and stay out of it for as long as true change and authentic growth demands.  

To illustrate the kind of education promoted at Freedom Focused, consider a story from the life of M. Scott Peck, M.D.

"I had the kind of grandfather every boy ought to have. He was not a particularly smart man, and his speech was seldom more than a series of clichés. He would say to me, "Don't cross your bridges until you come to them," or, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Not all were admonishments; some were consoling, like, "It's often better to be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond," or, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." ... He was not above repeating himself ... [and] if I heard "All that glitters is not gold" once, I must have heard it a thousand times. But he loved me. ... [And] it was on ... walks with my grandfather ... that I was able to not only hear but to digest and absorb his proverbs, and their wisdom has stood me in very good stead over the years" (Further Along the Road Less Traveled. 1993. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. p. 141-142).

Peck then goes on to say:

"I've often thought that it would be saving if we could develop some program of mental health education in our public schools, but I know we wouldn't get away with it. People would object to it. ... But ... [who could] possibly object to a program in our schools to teach the old proverbs to our children[?] ... So I hope someone will start instituting such a program. I also hope it will be done soon" (p. 143-144).

I will never forget reading these words back in 2011. I was high up in the air on an airplane en route to an eastern Canadian city where I was scheduled to teach some business seminars. I had known for nearly a decade already that my life's calling was to answer this call of Peck's, and had been anxiously engaged in striving to fulfill that mission since 2003. Peck's words therefore served to powerfully reinforce the mission in my own mind.

Unfortunately, though, Peck is right...  many people—including and perhaps especially those in positions of power capable of doing something about it—do object to it. And there is a chance that Freedom Focused won't "get away with it," just as Peck feared. But that won't stop us from making the attempt and giving our all in the process. Thus, if we do fail, it won't be for lack of effort or passion; it will merely be because those who needed it most chose to reject it.  

This article—and everything else that goes forth from the mouth of this organization—is part and parcel of that attempt. We will keep trying and won't ever give up until someone in a position of power finally does listen, and by-and-by grants us the opportunity to empower a growing number of others with the kind of saving education that all successful, happy, and self-actualized (Maslow, 1943) persons ultimately receive and apply—to their own benefit and the blessing of others.  

Freedom Focused has been around now for 17 years. The Self-Action Leadership TEXTBOOKS have existed (in one form or another) for 15 years. Sadly, its message of self-leadership, personal responsibility, education, truth, and a "dedication to reality" (Peck) has been almost entirely ignored for all those years.

As frustrating as this fact sometimes feels, it doesn't alter the quality of my life personally.

Nope.

I have a great life no matter what happens with Freedom Focused

How is that possible, you ask?

Simple: I have a healthy mind and body and a wonderful, loving family that is committed to SAL principles and practices. Moreover, my wife has been very successful in her career, so we don't need the money

What more could I possibly ask for?  

In other words, our lives are already FANTASTIC because we have lived this stuff ourselves for many decades now. It's just who we are; SAL is inextricably linked to our very souls and we practice what we teach, even though we admittedly do so imperfectly—just like all human beings. Yet, even with imperfect practice, the results speak for themselves in terms of the long-term happiness, success, unity, growth, love, and inner peace we have enjoyed. And those same patterns will continue in our lives as long as we remain committed to SAL principles and practices. After all, there is nothing special about us, per se, but everything is special about SAL principles and practices. Thus, other people—including YOU—can ultimately benefit from them as richly as we have if you are willing to pay the price demanded by natural law. 

Simply stated: if you are willing to put in the work, then SAL principles and practices will WORK for you, and serendipity will usually take care of the rest over time.   

Why? 

Self-Action Leadership works because it is rooted
in physical and metaphysical truisms.
Because SAL principles and practices are rooted in natural laws of physics and metaphysics. So they are scientifically sound and rooted in common sense. In other words, when rightly applied over time, they work! And they can work as well for YOU as they have for Lina and me. 

That doesn't mean our lives will mirror each other's exactly; and that is a good thing, because how boring would that be? Besides, SAL is not about comparisons. As our pal Teddy Roosevelt once wisely put it: Comparison is the thief of joy.

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

— Theodore Roosevelt  

Self-action leaders do not spend their time unwisely comparing themselves to other people and their unique talents, attributes, accomplishments, or successes. Self-action leaders recognize and rejoice in the reality that unlimited happiness, success, unity, growth, and inner peace is as much a possibility for THEM in their lives as it is for me and my wife in our lives—or anyone else on the planet for that matter.  

I do confess that it saddens me that so many people who could be helped right now aren't being helped by the message of SAL because of a current lack of courageous, proactive, visionary, and principle-centered leaders who presently possess the power to begin bringing SAL into the lives of their students, children, subordinates, etc., but who, for whatever reasons, choose to ignore, reject, or delay.   

But I'm not worried.

Such leaders are in the process of being developed, and when the time is right (i.e. once they have gathered up their courage and are otherwise sufficiently prepared), I have no doubt they will rise to the occasion and help us change the world—one mind and heart at a time. In the meantime, I certainly can't complain about the myriad of blessings I enjoy both personally and professionally—thanks to a synergized amalgamation of serendipitous grace and my own conscientious dedication to SAL—so I am amply prepared to continue to work hard and wait patiently... for however long it takes.    

If you are a parent, educator, leader, politician, or just an ordinary citizen bereft of any formal title or organizational influence, I invite you to buy, read, and study the Self-Action Leadership textbooks—and complete the SAL Master Challenge along the way. If you discover the value and benefit of taking on that challenge yourself—as I did in my own extended, comprehensive journey throughout the past 34 years, I further invite you to help me spread the message of SAL far and wide, so that it can begin to influence, impact, and even transform the lives of others who, like all those readers of The Road Less Traveled in the 1980s-90s and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in the 1990s and 2000s, are desperately seeking for real solutions to real problems in their lives and careers.

Peck was spot on: Life is indeed difficult. 

          But that doesn't mean it isn't doable.  

With the power of SAL and the grace of serendipity in your corner, the sky is truly the limit—both personally and professionally.  

          What are you waiting for?


Click HERE to buy the Self-Action Leadership TEXTBOOKS   

...............

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn what Faith has to do with Self-Action Leadership.  

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

To sign up, just enter your email address on the upper right hand side of this page where it says: "Follow by Email." Then hit "Submit" and follow instructions from there. Doing so will provide you with a FREE article from Freedom Focused in your email inbox each and every week of the year on Wednesdays

Click HERE to learn more about Freedom Focused


Education, not Politics, will Save America

Present-day partisans, pundits, and citizens  alike too often value politics above education. For better or for worse—and it seems increasin...