Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Power to Change

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.[1]
– Dr Seuss

I can change.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Importance & Power of Language

The Importance & Power of Language

I am currently writing a series of case studies for a new college textbook that will be used in coming years by budding entrepreneurs around the country. One of the entrepreneurs I interviewed for this project was my Uncle, Hyrum W. Smith—a co-founder of FranklinCovey Company. An extraordinary entrepreneur and salesman, Hyrum Smith has left an indelible mark on the fields of time management and personal development. As one of the finest public speakers in the World, Smith commands 5-figure speaker fees when he presents professionally. A lifelong entrepreneur, he was an ideal candidate for one of my case studies.

At the end of the interview, I asked him what advice he would give to young college students interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

SAL Book: What's Different from Other Self-Help Reads?




In recent decades, the world has been deluged by tens of thousands of articles and books on topics related to self-help, personal development, and leadership. Why then, you may ask, would I have the temerity to write yet another self-help book, and what could it possibly have to say that would merit your attention in this fast-paced, highly competitive, virtual world?

Friday, October 24, 2014

SAL Book: Final Prefacing Material

Dear Readers:

In preparation for Monday’s launch of the official online serial publication of Self-Action Leadership, I present the final pre-launch prefacing material. After reviewing this information, I invite you to encourage a family member or friend to sign up to receive the Freedom Focused blog in preparation for Monday’s launch.

-Dr. JJ

Self-Action Leadership: The Key to Personal & Professional Freedom

A Comprehensive Personal Leadership Training Resource for Governments, Businesses, Schools, Homes, & Individuals


Jordan R. Jensen, Ed.D

Table of Contents

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chapter 1 Starts on Monday!

A Personal Letter from the Author...

To my Dear Readers,

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for whatever time you have invested in following my blog.  I hope you have found the information I have shared so far to be relevant and meaningful.

The purpose of this post is to announce some important changes to my initial plans to publish my book serially beginning early next year on its official, hard-copy publication date.

What the Experts are Saying about Dr. Jordan Jensen's New Book

Praise for Self-Action Leadership: 

The Key to Personal & Professional Freedom

"In Self Action Leadership, Jordan Jensen has assembled a leadership masterpiece anchored steadfastly in true principles of philosophy and human behavior. In wonderfully written prose, Jordan reminds us of who we are and what it takes to live and lead with honor. Moreover, he challenges us to live up to the high calling of being human beings with a special mission on this Earth. To accomplish our mission, we must do two major things: grow in our sense of personal responsibility, and in turn, care for others and help them to do the same. I grappled with these two areas in a primal way during more than five years as a POW in Vietnam. Now I’m thrilled to see how Jordan has laid out SAL by using the vehicle of story to illuminate his own, unique journey of transcending adversity. In so doing, he has inspired us all to become who we are capable of becoming. Bravo!”

Colonel Lee Ellis (retired)
U.S. Air Force, Vietnam POW Survivor (Hanoi Hilton), author of Leading With Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton, and President & Founder of Leadership Freedom LLC and FreedomStar Media

"There is no more important contributor to your own effectiveness than how you lead yourself.  If you want to learn a great deal about the latest thinking on self-leadership, read this book."

Charles C. Manz, Ph.D.
Nirenberg Chaired Professor of Business Leadership at The University of Massachusetts, co-author of Mastering Self-Leadership: Empowering Yourself for Personal Excellence, and Father of the self-leadership field in the Academe.

"Jordan Jensen has written a thorough, intense, and illuminating autobiographical volume about how to lead self.  His story, compounded by OCD and a determination to improve, will help others reflect on how they might best lead themselves -- given whatever genetic endowment or mimetic inheritance they may have received.  Jordan's depth of analysis and self-insight will inspire others to take a similarly in-depth review of who they are and who they want to be--at least once before they die--a journey well worth the effort."

James G.S. Clawson, Ph.D.
Faculty member of The Darden Graduate School of Business at The University of Virginia (retired), and author of Level Three Leadership: Getting Below the Surface

"While a number of books and articles have been written on the topic of self-leadership, Jordan Jensen's Self-Action Leadership goes deep below the surface level of basic self-leading strategies and accompanying examples to provide an in-depth examination of how self-leadership processes can be woven effectively into the fabric of one's life.  A deeply personal and richly emotive narrative, Self-Action Leadership takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery, providing one of the most detailed and applied treatments of self-leadership concepts currently available."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Author's Preface

Self-Action Leadership:
The Key to Personal & Professional Freedom

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." [1]

We lived in wonderfully troubled times—wonderful as they are troubled, and troubled as they are wonderful. In the midst of unprecedented medical, technological, communication, and creative wonderment, deep social, cultural, and character problems abound all around us. The biggest problem of all, however, is not the problems themselves, but our collective misunderstanding of what the problems really are, and where real solutions lie. Ever searching for short-term, externally based solutions to human challenges and dilemmas, collective society continually invests their energies hacking at the leaves of problems rather than focusing on, opening their eyes to, or even recognizing, their roots—which almost always originate on some level inside ourselves.

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. [2]

This book champions an inside-out approach. It recognizes that macro organizational problems can only be addressed by confronting the micro issues plaguing individuals—namely you, me, and everyone else on the Planet. It focuses your concentration on the only things you can actually control—your own thoughts, speech, and actions. The message of Self-Action Leadership is that simple; it is also that difficult. [3]

One of the most difficult phrases for many, and perhaps most, people to utter is: “I have a problem.” An even more challenging admission is: “It is my responsibility to fix my problem by changing the way I think, speak, and act.” The practice of blaming external forces and other people for personal problems is epidemic in our Nation and World. This trend must stop if we are ever to get a handle on the menacing menagerie of problems we face both individually and collectively. It is time to end the blame game. It is time for all of us to take complete personal responsibility for everything in our lives— whether our present circumstances are our fault or not. It is time to stop abdicating our self-sovereignty to the whims of fickle fads and the mercurial desires of our innate carnality. It is time to start reigning nobly as the ruling monarch of our own lives and destinies.

Throughout the ages, individuals have always been part of solutions or part of problems. So it is today. No one is perfect, but ultimately, we each end up either starting and compounding problems, or creating and contributing solutions to personal problems, family problems, organizational problems, community problems, national problems, global problems, and universal problems.

This book has been written to educate and inspire individuals to develop the self-awareness and will power to become part of the solution to the many, varied, and deeply entrenched problems we individually or collectively face in the United States of America and throughout the World.

A quarter of a century ago, Dr. Stephen R. Covey introduced his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His first three habits focused on self-leadership—the theme of this book. His message called for the abandonment of the Personality Ethic in favor of the Character Ethic. Knowing that “Techniques” alone cannot create lasting results or engender authentic change, he effectively communicated the timeless truth that real success that lasts is always predicated upon principles of focused hard work and integrity practiced consistently over extended periods of time. He taught us the Law of the Farm to emphasize that principles cannot be cheated; they must be respected and obeyed. He taught us that Private Victories precede Public Victories, and he reminded us that there are no quick fixes to authentic achievements and personal growth—that in the end, such things must be earned.

When Covey published his 7 Habits in 1989, I was only 10 years old. My self-leadership journey had begun a few years earlier when I attended a time management seminar taught by my uncle, Hyrum W. Smith, who, along with Stephen, co-founded FranklinCovey. That seminar, and other experiences like it, provided me with profound experiences in personal development at a young age. These experiences planted seeds of Self-Action Leadership (SAL) in my mind, heart, and spirit that have forged deep roots in the intervening years. Consequently, I have—for the past quarter century—dedicated my life to earning Existential Growth through the study and practice of SAL.

Since the publication of the 7 Habits in 1989, nothing has changed about our Nation or World’s need for enlightened instruction on self-leadership except that the need is even greater now than it was then, and for two reasons.

First, technological advancements and the advent of the Information Age have dramatically changed society to make “techniques” and “quick-fixes” more seductive, accessible, and affordable than ever. Such developments have made it easier to fall prey to self-deception and procrastination by providing seeming alternatives to old-fashioned hard work and self-discipline. Moreover, ours is an age of illusion where individuals increasingly inhabit virtual bubble-worlds bearing little resemblance to the real one.

Second, collective SAL capacity in the United States has, despite the noteworthy efforts of Dr. Covey and others in the 1990s and 2000s, continued to atrophy such that the United States—the greatest nation in our Planet’s history—increasingly resembles a nation in decline. This dangerous digression must stop, and YOU can play a role in its retardation and reversal. This book will show you how.

Twenty-first century families, schools, and organizations generally understand the importance of education, including soft skills training. What they often misunderstand is what actually needs to be taught – and how often – for children, students, and employees to become fully actualized individuals who make the world a better place by virtue of their brief habitation thereon. Families may teach their children to go to school; schools may teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and how to take tests; and businesses may teach various hard and soft skills relevant to their industry. What they often don’t teach their children, students, and work force, is how to effectively lead and operate their own lives. 

The weightier matters of courage, character, and conscience—and the other virtues, habits, and skills that money alone can’t buy—are only peripherally addressed, if they are addressed at all. Worse still, many executives, managers, teachers, coaches, mentors, and parents set a sorry example for their subordinates. Many power hungry leaders live greedy lives of profligacy and duplicity and then wonder why their folds are folding right before their eyes. Discerning the consequences of morally bankrupt leadership is not rocket science. The Father of English poetry [4] understood this cause and effect relationship over 600 years ago when he eloquently penned:
Geoffrey Chaucer
This fine example to his flock he gave,
That first he wrought and afterwards he taught;
Out of the gospel then that text he caught,
And this figure he added thereunto-
That, if gold rust, what shall poor iron do?
For if the priest be foul, in whom we trust,
What wonder if a layman yield to lust?
And shame it is, if priest take thought for keep,
A shitty shepherd, shepherding clean sheep.
Well ought a priest example good to give,
By his own cleanness, how his flock should live.
He never let his benefice for hire,
Leaving his flock to flounder in the mire… [5]
Yes, good leaders are essential in creating good followers, and both are needed to create lasting success in families, schools, organizations, and nations. But we must never forget that organizations are, and always will be, nothing more than synergistic conglomerations of the individuals that make them up. In the words of M. Scott Peck, M.D., it is, therefore, “In the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil [and success and failure] is waged and ultimately won or lost.” [6]

"The effort to prevent [human evil and organizational corruption & malaise] must therefore be directed toward the individual. It is, of course, a process of education … [and I have a dream that] Children will be taught that laziness and narcissism are at the very root of all human evil, and why this is so. They will learn that each individual is of sacred importance. … And they will finally see it as each individual’s responsibility to continually examine himself or herself for laziness and narcissism and then to purify themselves accordingly. They will do this in the knowledge that such personal purification is required not only for the salvation of their individual souls but also for the salvation of their world.” [7]
While knowledge, skills, and techniques are important and valuable, their long-term utility depends on the character holism and SAL capacity of individuals. Yet it seems like everywhere you look, self-discipline, self-restraint, self-awareness, and integrity are being abandoned. The consequences are sad—and often tragic.

The good news is that no matter how deficient a person may presently be in his or her SAL, it can be learned, practiced, developed, and improved. Moreover, SAL is not only for those in management positions, or those labeled with “Type A” personalities. In the words of Dr. Charles C. Manz—the Father of self-leadership in the academe:

"Effective self-leadership can be learned … [It] is not restricted to people we describe as “self-starters,” “self-directed,” “self-motivated,” etc.… Self-leadership approach[es] are relevant to managers and nonmanagers—that is, to anyone who works." [8]
Leaders, educators, and parents from all corners of society have largely failed their constituents, employees, students, and children by putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Endless training on facts, skills, and techniques cannot replace the teaching and modeling of character, integrity, self-leadership, self-management, and emotional intelligence. Even worse than these educational omissions, many leaders fail to exemplify the attributes themselves. World-renown leadership expert James G.S. Clawson, Ph.D., of the Darden School of Business Administration (University of Virginia), underscored this point toward the end of a decorated academic career when he wrote:

"I have come to believe that one of the biggest leadership issues [throughout the World today] is the inability of people – even and especially managers and executives – to lead themselves." [9]
SAL is as important a topic to presidents and principals as it is to kindergartners and entry-level employees. Furthermore, the onus of responsibility for modeling effective SAL, mature emotional intelligence, and circumspect character should weigh most heavily on the minds of those at the top since trickle-down character is inevitable in organizations.

Organizations obviously need to teach facts, skills, and techniques in the same sense that schools need to teach English, math, science, and history, and parents need to teach how to feed one’s face and tie one’s shoes. But if that is all they focus on, they are building mansions upon the sand. [10] If all parents and teachers taught their children SAL, and sent them into the world at age 18 ready to be “built upon” with facts, skills, and techniques, we wouldn’t have such a profound problem on our hands. But of course, not all parents and teachers do so, and not all children listen to their parents and teachers. Moreover, even those who do enter the work force with strong SAL foundations must continually cultivate their character and conscience to keep them sharp. Repetition is the key to reception, recollection, and internalization for even the best self-action leaders. In the words of G.K. Chesterton: We need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.

No amount of natural talent, personality, or intelligence can compensate for the failure to build a proper foundation of character, integrity, conscience, and emotional intelligence. It is time that organizations and educational institutions of all kinds (including and especially families) put First Things First when it comes to what, when, and how often we teach our children, students and employees.

Talk to any effective executive, and he/she will tell you the single most important organizational asset is not tools, technology, or cash, but human capital—the people. If you have great people, you can overcome temporary obstacles to, or shortages of, resources or capital; but no surplus of cash can compensate for a dearth of character, integrity, and emotional intelligence. You cannot put a price on the value of an employee who is honest, trustworthy, dependable, capable, teachable, cooperative, punctual, loyal, intrinsically motivated, hardworking, and emotionally and socially savvy.

Some would argue that while these points hold merit, they are ultimately naïve. Sure, you may surmise, “Teaching character and integrity would be nice in a perfect world where we were not bound by constant deadlines, fierce competition, and finite amounts of time, energy, and training capital. But in the real world, we cannot afford the luxury of such training.” My response to this concern is simple: “If you are a leader who is serious about long-term success, you cannot afford not to provide this training and modeling. The greatest naïveté lies in the notion that you can achieve lasting success by neglecting the only foundation capable of supporting it.

Any principle taught repeatedly will influence a student or employee. To illustrate, my wife works for a Fortune 100 Company that prides itself on its safety record, and their results are stellar. Who or what can be credited for creating such a sterling safety record? It was training, training, and more training about safety. With an almost religious fervor, they ceaselessly drill the principles and practices of safety into the minds and hearts of their employees. As a result of this seemingly simple training, my wife—a highly intelligent engineer—has been significantly influenced to conduct herself at work, home, and in between more safely than she did before. She has particularly been influenced when it comes to safe driving practices; I know because my own wayward lead-foot has received many a loving rebuke.

What I speak of may sound like brainwashing, and if you are teaching incorrect or nefarious principles, it is. But when you are teaching correct principles—ones that lead to practices that result in lasting benefits to self and others—rote learning is simply an indispensable part of the pedagogical process. If we are to educate individuals to create company cultures that reflect character, conscience, integrity, and emotional intelligence, we must teach and model these things early and often. There is no other way. It is that easy; it is also that challenging.

In the long run, character always trumps personality and technique in the same way that actions speak louder than words. Don’t get me wrong; techniques and personality are essential. Their magnification or diminishment, however, depends on the foundational strength of the weightier matters outlined in this book.

Mohandas Gandhi
It is important to remember that traits of character are not developed solely at work. Effective self-action leaders cannot separate their personal lives from their professional lives in terms of who they are. One’s decisions in one life arena inevitably influence other areas. Duplicitous lives never pass the test of time, and those attempting such discover in the end that the pursuit of two incompatible pathways—morally or otherwise—eventually bears the bitter fruit of failure in both. In the words of Gandhi: “[You] cannot do right in one department of life whilst … occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.” All real and lasting success requires the harmonious integration—or Self-Oneness—of all parts of your nature (mental, physical, social, emotional, spiritual, moral, etc.).

Though many external forces influence your life’s journey beyond your control, it is your internal thoughts, words, and actions that ultimately shape your life’s unfolding story. These three things represent the key building blocks of your future. Directing your destiny ultimately boils down to disciplining these forces over which you do have control. It is that simple, and it is that difficult and complex. It is simple because it is easy to intellectually conceptualize the point. It is difficult and complex because the effective leadership, management, regulation, discipline, and control of self is the most difficult challenge that any of us will ever encounter. In the words of one great leader: The greatest battle of life is fought within the silent chambers of your own soul. [11]

Perhaps the SAL theory, model, or one of the success stories shared in this book will somehow benefit you and those you lead. I sincerely hope so, because at the end of the day, and despite whatever differences may contrast our individual experiences, we are all human beings whose intrinsic Existential Worth and value is not only equal, but equally great in terms of our ultimate existential potentiality. Of this I am certain. 

What will you choose to do with yours?


[1] Opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859.
[2] Thoreau, H.D. (2001). Walden and Other Writings. New York, NY: MetroBooks. Chapter 1: Economy. Page 62.
[3] This phraseology was influenced by Warren Bennis, who said of team leadership: “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult.”
[4] Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400).
[5] Quote from The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (The Parson). URL:
[6] Peck, M.S. (1983). People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. New York, NY: Touchstone. Page 252.
[7] Ibid. Page 252-253.
[8] Manz, C. C. (1983). Improving Performance Through Self-Seadership. National Productivity Review (pre-1986). Volume 2, Issue 3. p. 288-297. Page 289.
[9] Clawson, J. G. S. (2008). Leadership As Managing Energy. International Journal of Organizational Analysis. Volume 16, Issue 3. p. 174-181. DOI:10.1108/19348830810937943. Page 175.
[10] A reference to a line of Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poem Upon the Sand: “All love that has not friendship for its base, Is like a mansion built upon the sand.”
[11] David O. McKay (1873-1970)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SAL Book: The Foreword & Afterward

Self-Action Leadership:
The Key to Personal, Professional, & Global Freedom


University Master Teacher, Arizona State University

David McCullough – that famous historian and author of our time – once remarked: “The only way to teach history, to write history, to bring people into the magic of transforming yourself into other times, is through the vehicle of the story. It isn't just a chronology. It’s about people. History is human.” With these words in mind, Jordan Jensen’s comprehensive work on self-leadership, built on the foundation of his own, unique self-leadership history, is truly an exceptional work for two distinct reasons.

First, Self-Action Leadership applies the method of teaching outlined by McCullough. There are many good definitions and explanations of self-leadership out there, but Jordan’s work stands apart because he teaches us the concept through the vehicle of storytelling. And the wonderment of the story is that it is his own. In the pages that follow, Jensen articulately chronicles his own self-leadership successes. In doing so, he does not withhold the painful details surrounding the many struggles and failures preceding those successes. With unusual honesty and courageous self-disclosure, he opens our eyes to our own imperfect, yet determined, humanity by providing a fascinating look into his own. In the process, he inspires us to transcend whatever adversity comes our way to eventually realize the full extent of our life’s potential. But he does not stop at sharing his story. He goes on to utilize his narrative as a foundation for expanding self-leadership theory by introducing his own, original theory and model— the Self-Action Leadership Theory & Model.

Second, Jensen has accomplished a task that is very difficult for any author to achieve, and that is to produce a single text that is highly relevant to multiple audiences at the same time. Because of the universal applicability of basic self-leadership principles, his message is germane not only to persons struggling with OCD, depression, or other forms of mental illness, but to civic leaders, business professionals and workers of all kinds, educators, students, athletes, parents, and children—in short, to everyone. Indeed, I do believe that virtually anyone who reads this book will be able to take something away from it that will improve his or her life in a significant way. As an author myself, I am amazed at Jordan’s achievement in writing one book that carries the potential to reach such a wide variety of people—and that is the beauty of it.

This book will do much more than just teach you about Self-Action Leadership. It will cause you to think deeply about how you are currently living your own life, and how you could better lead yourself to achieve the results you most desire in the long-run. More importantly, Jensen’s compelling story and courageous personal example, combined with his percipient ability to effectively teach the corresponding self-leadership principles, will inspire and motivate you to actually do something about what you will learn. In the process, it might even touch emotions in your heart that will move you to joy and tears. It takes a talented writer to do all of these things, so I know you’ll enjoy reading this book. More importantly, I know you’ll come away a wiser person with an increased motivation to begin taking action to realize your own Self-Action Leadership potential, an opportunity we can all take full advantage of, if only we will.

About Dr. Chris Neck

Christopher P. Neck, Ph.D. is one of the world’s most prestigious and prolific scholars in the self-leadership field. He is a lead co-author (with Dr. Charles C. Manz) of Mastering Self-Leadership: Empowering Yourself for Personal Excellence (2nd-6th Editions) – the textbook on self-leadership used at colleges and universities throughout the nation.

Dr. Neck earned a Bachelor’s degree and MBA from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in Management from Arizona State University, where he is currently an Associate Professor of Management. At ASU, he also holds the distinctive and singular title of University Master Teacher.

Before ASU, Neck taught at Virginia Polytechnic University (Virginia Tech), where he was awarded the prestigious Students’ Choice Teacher of the Year Award NINE TIMES between 1996 and 2008 (This award is a student-voted accolade honoring the best teacher of the year within the entire University).

Dr. Neck has published nearly 100 scholarly works in the form of books, textbooks, book chapters, and peer reviewed articles. His research specialties include: leadership, self-leadership, employee/executive fitness, self-managing teams, and group decision making processes.

Dr. Neck has done training for the U.S. Army as well as major corporations such as GE/Toshiba, America West Airlines, Dillard’s, Prudential Life Insurance, Busch Gardens, Clark Construction, Crestar, American Family Insurance, Sales and Marketing Executives International, American Electric Power, and W.L. Gore and Associates. His writing has been cited in major news publications including: The Houston Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

In addition to Mastering Self-Leadership, Neck is the lead co-author of Management—a seminal textbook for introductory classes in Management (Neck, Lattimer, & Houghton; Wiley, 2014) and Entrepreneuring—a seminal textbook for introductory classes in Entrepreneurism (Neck, Neck, & Murray; SAGE, 2015). He is also the author or co-author of Fit to Lead: The Proven 8-Week Solution for Shaping up Your Body, Your Mind, and Your Career (2004), Mastering Self-Leadership (2012, 2010, 2007, 2004, 1999), The Wisdom of Solomon at Work (2001), For Team Members Only: Making Your Workplace Team Productive and Hassle-Free (1997), and Medicine for The Mind: Healing Words to Help You Soar (2007).

In his personal life, Chris is a husband and proud father of a son and daughter. An avid runner, he has also completed 12 marathons including the New York, San Diego, and elite Boston. To-date, his longest continuous run is 40 miles.

For more information about Dr. Neck and his work and consulting services, or to contact him personally, please visit his website at


Dr. David G. Anthony, CEO of Raise Your Hand Texas
By: David G. Anthony, Ed.D.CEO, Raise Your Hand Texas

When Jordan originally invited me to review an 802-page manuscript of this book, I balked a bit, wondering when I would possibly have time to review such a tome. It is interesting to note how some of life’s most important, rewarding, and ultimately enjoyable tasks initially appear so uninviting. In the end, I opted to set myself to the task, and I am so glad that I did.

As I poured through the pages, my mind soon became flooded with memories, thoughts and experiences from my four-plus decade career as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and now CEO. From then on, there was no way to put the work aside. As I reflected further on Jordan’s “Pedagogy of Personal Leadership,” I found myself wishing I had enjoyed access to the book when I was a 21-year-old teacher working with high school seniors, and when I was a 25-year-old principal working with teachers and students.

As I continued to read, cliché’s like, “Leaders are born, not made” were removed from my gray matter and discarded. Instead, I thought of Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true,” and “Discretion is the greater part of valor.” Shakespeare got it. Furthermore, my mother’s admonition of, “How do you ever expect to be loved by others if you don’t love yourself,” could just have easily been, “How can you expect to lead others, if you can’t even lead yourself?” In short, Jordan has eloquently articulated the need for, and importance of, leadership, character, and life-skill education in American businesses, schools, and homes. More importantly, he has outlined an explicit theory, model, and pedagogy to provide leaders, educators, parents, and individuals with a tangible toolbox and roadmap for immediate application.

As I delved deeper into Jordan’s book, the passages called up a memory of an interview where I was asked, “What are the most important things you hope your students learn?” I was principal of a school at the time, and I said, “My hope is that all of our students are highly literate and numerate and understand the importance of self discipline, responsibilities, and consequences. Then, no matter what goals they set, they will have the recipe for success.” I was under thirty years of age and my comments were crude compared to Jordan Jensen’s polished presentation, but not considerably off target.

If Jordan’s career had preceded mine and I could have used his book as a teacher, principal and superintendent, I would have positively impacted more students and teachers during my 37-year career by providing them with a key to potential success and significance. It is highly encouraging to see that this book has now been written for a new generation of leaders, educators, professionals, and students to use as a guide to their personal development. It is even more encouraging to know that its author exemplifies the principles he promotes.

I thank Jordan for inviting me to read this work. He has earned my endorsement. Reading this book may be the most worthwhile thing you do this year. I hope the message of Self-Action Leadership makes its way into the minds and hearts of students, parents, and business professionals everywhere. Its presence in the literature is a service to our Country.

About Dr. David Anthony

Dr. Anthony grew up in rural Louisiana (Florien). He graduated from high school in 1970 prior to attending Panola College in Carthage, Texas, where he played on the basketball team. He later completed a Bachelors degree in English and history at East Texas Baptist College in Marshall Texas. In 1977, he earned a Masters Degree in Secondary Education from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

From there, he served as Principal of a K-12 school in Converse, Louisiana, where he began a 9-year journey that included leading his school from “Worst to First.” Along the way, Anthony earned his Doctorate in Education Administration from Northwestern State University in 1986, and became a Superintendent. He served as Superintendent in High Island, Texas, Mount Pleasant, Texas, and Texas City, Texas, before taking over in McKinney, Texas where he oversaw growth from 9,800 students to 18,000 students during his tenure of five and one-half years.

Anthony’s successes in rural Texas and suburban Dallas (McKinney) caught the attention of Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, where he was hired as Superintendent in 2004. With over 112,000 students, Cy-Fair ISD is the third largest School District in the State of Texas and among the 25 largest Districts in the entire United States.

Anthony served at the helm of Cy-Fair ISD for seven years before accepting a position as CEO at Raise Your Hand Texas, a non-profit education advocacy organization that works to strengthen public education in the State of Texas by training public school leaders to lead transformational change at the campus level. Raise Your Hand Texas also advocates for public policies aimed at improving the education of all Texas students.

Anthony is a graduate of the Aspen Institute and Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program. A husband, father, and grandfather, Anthony resides in Houston, Texas.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Today, I am honored and grateful to share some special tributes to THREE authors and thinkers whose work proved FOUNDATIONAL to the 13-year development of the Self-Action Leadership Theory & Model.

John Donne
The English poet John Donne (1572-1631) once wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main."

So it is with you, and so it has been with me. No one is an island. Despite any talents or abilities I may possess, the development of the SAL Theory & Model would have been impossible without the aid of countless other men and women who have profoundly influenced my personal journey. From Shakespeare & Chaucer to Abraham Lincoln & Martin Luther King, Jr.; from Emerson & Longfellow to C.S. Lewis & M. Scott Peck; from Abigail Adams & Florence Nightingale to Confucius & Jesus Christ; from brothers, sisters, and parents to uncles, aunts, cousins, and ancestors, my journey has been touched on every side by men, women, and Divine Beings, whose examples became a "lamp unto my feet." (Psalm 119:105).

Sir Isaac Newton
One of the first things I share in my book, Self-Action Leadership, are three tributes to individuals whose life's journey and work has been particularly important and foundational to mine. These individuals are: Hyrum W. Smith, Stephen R. Covey, and Charles C. Manz.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

– Isaac Newton

Tribute #1

Hyrum W. Smith

Co-Founder of FranklinCovey Company & Author of: What Matters Most

Hyrum W. Smith is a Co-Founder of FranklinCovey Company and an originator of the world famous Franklin Day Planning System. Brilliant in business, sales, and public speaking, Smith is one of the World’s premier authorities on time management and personal development.

If it weren’t for Hyrum Smith, I may not be here today – literally. To explain why, let’s turn back the clock more than a half-century.

In 1962, Smith crossed the Atlantic to serve a two-year, full-time, voluntary mission in the British Isles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. About a year later, my Father, unknown to Smith at the time, traveled to England for the same purpose. During their concurrent service in England, Hyrum Wayne Smith and Rex Buckley Jensen served together as missionary companions on three different occasions in three different locations during three different calendar years. Meant to be? Coincidence? Either way, when my father returned home to attend Brigham Young University in 1965, Hyrum introduced him to his little sister, Pauline. The two were married in 1966. Fourteen years later, I was born – the sixth of seven children.

I was eight years old when I first attended one of “Uncle Wayne’s” time management seminars and obtained my first Franklin Planner. It was a pivotal event in my young life, and planted early seeds that would eventually spring forth into my choice of profession.

Hyrum is a magnanimous man whose personal generosity has reached down to bless my life on many occasions. He also has a good sense of when to say no. For example, he wisely declined my request for financial backing when I first incorporated my company over a decade ago. Knowing his own achievements were earned through self-reliance and successfully passing through the “School of hard knocks,” he knew giving me money would do more harm than good in the long run. How right he was!

It was a bitter pill to swallow at a time in my life when I was being rejected at every turn and everything seemed to be going wrong. This was good, too, because Life prescribes a brimming bottle of “Bitter pills” to everyone, and those who seek to grow must choose to humbly consume, dutifully digest, and honorably transcend each one. It does no good to kick against the pricks.

Hyrum’s discretion, borne of experience-based wisdom, trumped my well intentioned, but ultimately naïve zealotry borne of youthful inexperience. And now I am glad of it. In the words of Garth Brooks: “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

Instead of money, Hyrum gave me endorsement quotes and good advice. He even invited me down to his Ranch for a weekend so I could pick his brain. He gave me everything I really needed while wisely withholding what he knew would provide only short-term benefits—and might even harm me in the long run.

Hyrum’s decision provided a golden opportunity to further apply the very principles and practices I ardently yearned to share with the world. Rather than retard my long-term progress, his wise declination actually accelerated it by lending greater credibility to the message of Self-Action Leadership, and bolstering my ethos as its messenger. Looking back, I am grateful for his judicious response to my shortsighted request. It was a key “course” I had to take and pass in my own education in Self-Action Leadership and adversity. I am a better man for having taken that course, and am grateful to my professor for loving me enough to hurt me in the short run in order to help me in the long run.

Hyrum’s life has blessed and inspired my own journey in countless ways. From my earliest memories of him, I always had a deep sense that he was a great man; and indeed he is. Thank you, Uncle Hyrum, for everything you have given and taught me—knowingly or unknowingly. Your life’s example has helped to shape my life’s story.

I am grateful for an uncle and father – whose friendship was a seedling of my mortal existence – who chose to teach me correct principles and then let me govern myself. Such liberty and opportunity, empowered by the lessons gleaned from their respective precepts and examples, is something I will always cherish. It is, for me, a proof of the purview of Providence upon this project from inception to completion.

Tribute #2

Stephen R. Covey

Co-Founder of FranklinCovey Company & Author of the World-Famous: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

While Hyrum and I share a blood relation, I may actually have more in common with FranklinCovey’s other Co-Founder—Dr. Stephen R. Covey. This is because my native skill set – like Covey’s – is rooted more in philosophy, pedagogy, administration, and composition, than in sales, marketing, business, or profit. While I begrudgingly accept my duties in the latter, I welcome and embrace my opportunities in the former. In my heart of hearts, I am – and always will be – a pedagogue, philosopher, and poet before I am a businessman or entrepreneur.

Many capable self-help authorities helped to pioneer the modern self-help movement (i.e. Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Napoleon Hill, et al.). What will Covey’s place be in the pantheon of self-help gurus? The answer is subject to history and opinion. In my view, Carnegie is its father, and Covey its more recent godfather.

I first read, listened to, and studied Dr. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 2001 as a college freshman. I read the book to fulfill a requirement in a summer leadership course at Brigham Young University. It profoundly impacted my life.

The lesser-known subtitle of Covey’s classic is: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. As I hungrily consumed the 7 Habits material, a growing realization of the personal power I possessed to change, as well as to consciously design and direct my own life, resonated deeply in my mind, heart, and spirit. I took particular interest in Habits One, Two, and Three, which focus on personal leadership, at a time in my life when I desperately needed to lead myself through a series of deep and difficult personal obstacles involving romantic relationships and mental illness.

Covey’s words opened my mind to my own personal deficiencies and inadequacies while simultaneously illuminating my potential and enlivening my desire to overcome them, and then teach others to do the same. Quite simply, his work changed my life, and led directly to the writing of this book. Before I had even finished the book, I began sensing that one of my life’s primary callings was to write a comprehensive analogue to the 7 Habits that could serve future generations as ably as Covey’s work had served previous ones.

It was an audacious ambition, and an incredibly rewarding goal. Once my mind and heart had been touched by the power and profundity of the principles Covey organized, and his unique capacity to articulate them, I became completely consumed with the meaningfulness and importance of promoting a Pedagogy of Personal Leadership throughout the world. There was no going back. I have been on an almost obsessive mission ever since (OCD has not been all bad for me).
Aided by Covey’s words, the Inspiration of the Ages, and the driving, and sometimes naïve, ambitions of youth, I zealously went to work. Though fraught with disappointment, failure, rejection, financial duress, and disillusionment all along the way, this difficult journey – now in its 13th year – has simultaneously produced countless blessings, insights, moments of euphoria, and extraordinary personal growth.

This 13-year effort is now finished – or perhaps begun, depending how you look at it. Were Stephen alive to review this present manuscript, I hope he would find it to his satisfaction, and choose to endorse it this time around.

After more than a decade of putting Stephen’s teachings to work in my life on a daily basis, I continue to vouch unequivocally for their clarity, concision, cogency, and veracity. As I have worked with thousands of business professionals in hundreds of audiences throughout the English Speaking World, I have quoted him and taught his material more than any other author or teacher. My seminar attendees rarely leave one of my seminars, regardless of the topic, without a clear understanding of my passion for the work of Stephen R. Covey, and a growing understanding of his work.

Dr. Covey passed away in 2012. In the years since I first studied the 7 Habits, I have sometimes wished I could have spent more time with him personally. Despite two chance meetings – neither of which he would likely recall – and a generous phone call on Christmas Eve, 2003, in response to a letter I had written to my hero desiring to meet him, I did not know him personally beyond second-degree familial connections. Nevertheless, the ripples of his work have penetrated—and continue to reverberate powerfully throughout—the depths of my mind, heart, and soul in ways that proved providentially foundational to this work.

Another vital professor in my existential education, Stephen—like Hyrum—also taught me some invaluable, albeit just as painful, life lessons by saying “No.” I share the experience of one such rejection in this book. Like the lessons Hyrum taught me, I would not, in hindsight, change anything even if I had the power to do so. I am even more thankful for what Hyrum and Stephen didn’t give me as I am for what they did give me.

Such experiences taught me that many of life’s greatest blessings arise not from tangible assistance, but from intangible inspiration derived from the simple, but powerful, moral force of one’s example, teachings, and legacy. Instead of giving me a few fish I would have quickly consumed, Hyrum and Stephen both – and mostly without knowing it – taught me how to fish. This book displays the results of my “catches” thus far. Whatever its weaknesses, I am proud of the harvest, and grateful to my teachers. I hope they will be proud of it also.

I am, and always will be, profoundly grateful to Stephen for providing a vital substructure (theoretically and culturally speaking) to the SAL theory and model. I publicly acknowledge the impact of his life’s example on mine as well as the profundity of his life’s work – a work I believe he continues in another realm. It is my explicit intention for Self-Action Leadership to serve the World in coming decades as capably as the 7 Habits did throughout the turn of the last century.

Tribute #3

Charles C. Manz

Father of the Self-Leadership field in the Academe, and Professor at the University of Massachusetts

Dr. Charles C. Manz is the Father of the self-leadership field in the Academe. His pioneering academic publications on the subject date back to 1983, when I was just 4-years old.

It is interesting to me that it took until the mid 1980s for universities to begin addressing this vital subject as a topic of legitimate scholarly inquiry. The credit for this worthy legitimization – as well as for much of its subsequent proliferation – goes to Dr. Manz.

Addressing self-leadership at the doctoral level would have been much more difficult without the pioneering efforts of “Chuck” and his capable colleagues around the country (i.e. Chris Neck, Arizona State University, Hank Sims, Jr., University of Maryland, and Jeff Houghton, West Virginia University).

The work of these scholars has provided a vital academic foundation to the superstructure of new ideas I put forth with the SAL Theory & Model. Charles Manz is a highly accomplished, distinguished, and capable scholar and educator. He is also a man of integrity and a generous human being. I will forever be indebted to him for his foundational academic work in the field of self-leadership. I appreciate so very much all he has accomplished, and am deeply honored he chose to endorse this work.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Something Worth Doing Before Dec. 31st

With my marathons now behind me, it is time to turn my attention to more important matters… MUCH more important matters.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager good money on the fact that you love your Country and are concerned about the direction it has been heading.

And I’d guess that over the years, you have received no small portion of e-mails from well intentioned people seeking ardently, but less effectively, to do something about it by letting their voice be heard by forwarding along partisan propaganda filled with partial truths, half truths, or even outright lies that their senders failed to properly vet before forwarding them along to you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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

Last Saturday, in St. George, Utah, I ran my 13th marathon in yet another attempt to achieve my frustratingly elusive goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon. 

I failed—again. 

Now it is time to write the blog post I hoped I wouldn’t have to write.  Here goes…

Strange as it might sound, my lucky number is actually 13.  So many things leading up to the race had portended a positive result.  I felt it was my time.  After all the work and waiting and adjustment and gained experience, I felt I had earned it.  I had convinced myself that the 13th time would be the charm in my nearly 4-year long quest to qualify for the marathon. 


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...