Sunday, April 24, 2011

Austrian Economic Principles!

Some incredible wisdom from Orrin Woodward, borrowed from his timeless archives!
Capt. Bill

Here is an informative article from J. S. Kim, one of the best minds on economics and government policy in the marketplace. Mr. Kim has consistently beat the market and, like Peter Schiff, studies the underlying principles behind government policies to predict accurately. We need less rhetoric from our government and more principle based leadership. I encourage everyone to start educating yourself on Austrian Economics, because it is the only economic training that has consistently predicted the effects of government intervention.

 The underlying principles reveal that the relationships with Government and Central Banks are more important than serving the customer. This is another example of the end of free enterprise and to corporatocracy worldwide. The totalitarians lost the cold war, but are winning the economic war. This is not a good trend for freedom loving citizens of the world. Mr. Kim states that the Central Banks are more powerful than any government in the world! Throughout history, debtors are in bondage to their creditors. We cannot afford to remain ignorant of this slide into government ownership and control. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

All global economic problems today are rooted in the existence of Central Banks and their commitment to an application of destructive Keynesian economic theories to our global monetary system that simply has not worked for the better part of this century. Within the realm of academics, monetary policy, politics and media, there is a persistent refusal to acknowledge the primary role Central Banks undertake in artificially creating boom-bust cycles that would not occur in such severe fashion were Central Banks simply willing to step out of the way and allow free market forces to operate.

If you ask anyone who graduated from Wharton, Harvard or Oxford, or any number of other Western universities, with a degree in business or economics, who Alan Greenspan is, I guarantee you that he or she knows (I myself graduated from the University of Pennsylvania). However, ask them who Friedrich A. Hayek is, and I doubt if anyone knows. Yet those of us that adhere to Austrian economic theories have used our understanding of sound monetary principles to accurately predict all steps of this crisis since 2006.

So how did I learn about Austrian economic theories despite never having heard of Friedrich A. Hayek during my entire 18 years of schooling? For the last 15 years, I taught myself what the institutionalized formal educational system refused to teach me. Despite the successful accuracy of our past predictions, even today, we are summarily dismissed as crazy “gloom and doomers," while those that steadfastly adhere to Keynesian economics principles (all Western Central Banks as well as the governments and politicians they control), upon reflection, are the ones guilty of the predominant body of wildly inaccurate, unsound, and failed predictions over the past 3 years. Need a sample? How about the US housing markets being fine and properly valued? How about the US being on a path to full employment? How about strong future economic growth and a boom in US exports? Though in hindsight, these predictions sound more like the ramblings of a madman, these predictions were all made by our current Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, in 2005 and 2006.

In reality, if we strip away the divisive jargon of politics, gloom and doomers are not the perpetual pessimists we have been inaccurately and unfairly portrayed as by the media (for even I told my clients just five months ago that a 1,000 point rise in the DJIA was entirely plausible though the Dow’s climb has admittedly been twice my expectation since). In reality, we are merely strong proponents of the Austrian School of Economics. In the Western sphere of academia, the principles advocated by the Austrian School of Economics have been so silenced that most of us who graduated from Western institutions of education with MBAs, graduated never having heard of Friedrich A. Hayek, one of the pioneers of the Austrian School of Economics. This, despite the fact that his economic principles are so important that he is the most quoted economist in the acceptance speeches of Nobel Prize winners in economics.

In fact, by cleansing banking history and monetary policy in all textbooks of any honest discourse about the Austrian School of Economics, Central Banks have even shut out nearly all Western educated young men and women from possibly understanding the true roots of this crisis. The reason for this is simple: If people understood Austrian economic principles, there would be instantaneous revolt in the Western hemisphere against the loony monetary principles enforced upon us by Central Banks. Ignorance is the great pacifier. Those who are ignorant of Austrian economic principles and most hurt by the financial oligarchs that inflict Keynesian economic policies often the economy often serve as their staunchest defenders and apologists. For example, the retail investor who defends current stock market rallies in China, Europe and the US as “fundamentally sound” and “sustainable” will be the first person to be wiped out when these rallies ultimately and necessarily crash.

It is an absolute lie when the media and financial executives stated last year that no economist foresaw the blowback of decades of loose monetary principles that created the perilous situation the world suffered in 2007 and 2008. And when they tell us that this crisis has bottomed, this is a lie too. It is true that no Keynesian economist forecast this crisis; however, there were plenty of Austrian economists who forecast nearly every step of this crisis months and even years before this crisis unfolded. I, myself, back in September of 2006 started writing about a “Peak Investment Crisis” and I was hardly the only one who foresaw the depth of this crisis more than 3 years ago.

Furthermore, one could review the very public predictions of self-proclaimed adherents to Austrian economic principles such as Jim Rogers, Max Keiser, Ron Paul, Peter Schiff and many others for the past 3 years as well. I am very confident that you will find that strong proponents of Austrian economics were well accurate in the majority of their predictions while all of our banking and political leaders were atrociously inaccurate in their predictions as a group. Given the huge chasm in the accuracy of predictions between proponents of Austrian and Keynesian economics, were it not for a realization that the media are shills for the financial oligarchs, it would indeed by perplexing to try to understand why they continue to marginalize the accurate predictors as “gloom and doomers” and continue to heap praise upon the atrociously poor predictors. I, for one, refuse to give power or credibility to the term “gloom and doomers” as it surely is a favored discrediting tactic of the financial oligarchs that rule the US Federal Reserve and the world’s other Central Banks.

The US Federal Reserve has always been eager to re-inflate collapsed asset bubbles with cheap credit and ultra-loose monetary policy (just reference the actions of the US Central Bank, post-crash, after the 2000 dotcom stock market crash, and the more recent US housing crash). In the face of a runaway asset bubble, however, Central Banks have always been reluctant to rein in the flood of malinvestment created by their loose (and damaging and foolish) monetary policies by raising interest rates. In fact, the only time that I can recall the US Federal Reserve proactively, instead of reactively, attempting to curb inflationary bubbles was in the late 70’s and early 80’s, when they raised the Fed Funds interest rate to 20.00% in order to serve a larger private agenda and prevent the US dollar from collapsing.

But today, eager to reinflate the stock market after the US housing market plunge, they have successfully re-inflated the US S&P 500 to a P/E valuation that, for the last four months, has been 7.5 times higher than its historical average of 17.79. And as usual, the US Central Bank stated yesterday that they have no interest in stopping this runaway malinvestment bubble either as they stated they will leave interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future.

Central Bank policies, as usual, only serve to postpone and exacerbate the problems that their loose monetary problems create by engineering illusory recoveries that are entirely borne out manipulating the monetary system that they control, but that have zero basis in fundamentally sound economic principles. What do I mean by this? It is quite simple. When economies struggle, Central Banks never seek to solve the root of the problem, but instead, choose to artificially cut interest rates due to Keynesian economic theories, even when free market dynamics call for no such actions. Consequently, a flood of cheap credit leads to spikes in investment borrowing solely due to cheap credit and not because of the existence of appealing investment opportunities that offer good growth prospects.

The flood of easy money that Central Banks create now needs a home, as investors don’t borrow money to earn less than 1% annual interest in a bank savings account. The home, outside of entrepreneurs who may reinvest this money into their own businesses, is either the real estate market or the stock market. In the case of the stock market, since the stock market was not demanding more new money but has been force-fed new money, it continues to absorb the excess liquidity artificially created by Central Banks even when stocks are already fairly valued and even overvalued. This is Central Bank force-fed malinvestment, not economic recovery, and outside of the manipulation of Wall Street high frequency computer trading programs, this is precisely how we ended up with an S&P 500 with a P/E over a 133 for the last four months.

In reality, if free markets were free of Central Bank meddling, and allowed to function and set interest rates, proper interest rates would be set, and the appropriate amount of borrowing and investment or disinvestment would occur in US stock markets to achieve a healthy valuation of stocks. Instead, when Central Banks' artificially create excess money that free markets do not demand, excess money chases poor investments, distort asset prices, and create an extended period of malinvestment. So while periods of malinvestment can last for exceptionally long periods of time as long as Central Banks keep shoving cheap credit down the throat of the economy, the “economic recoveries” they produce are unsustainable and therefore nothing more than prolonged periods of ill-advised malinvestment. Under these conditions, every higher rise is, in reality, nothing but a greater distortion and move away from fair market values that plant the seeds for a future disastrous and inevitable crash that cannot be prevented.

A recovery under these conditions, commonly and erroneously referred to by the media as a “boom”, is not a “boom” at all, but a mass distortion of prices not set by free market forces of supply and demand, but deliberately engineered by foolish Central Bank monetary policies that successfully “bait” foolish individuals and institutions. History tells us that malinvestments always end up in busts. Not in small corrections and further sustainable growth for the next five years as Keynesian economists would want you to believe, but in spectacular busts. This is why I can be 100% sure that a spectacular bust is in the future of the US stock markets and that the only question that remains is the timing of this bust.

And when the bust that is inevitable occurs, you can be 100% sure that the financial shills that are our mass media will once again erroneously describe the “bust” as an “unforeseeable event”. Through the lens of an Austrian economist, this bust is necessary as it is part of the market’s self-healing process whereby it sheds itself of the distorted value caused by prolonged malinvestment and returns assets to their proper fair market valuations. Of course, in the process of the bust, panic often ensues which depresses assets below fair market valuations.

In fact, if one just switches the media’s descriptions for stock market rises and gold and silver market rises, then one would have a correct representation of reality. Stock market rises that are described as sustainable and healthy are more apropros descriptions for the rises in gold and silver markets, whereas the speculative bubbles they use to describe gold and silver markets is a more fitting description for the stock markets.

For the reasons described above, I am 100% certain that the reinflation of the US stock market, the Chinese stock markets and the European stock markets will all end up in disastrous busts. People don’t understand that the predictions made by the small handful of us who advocate Austrian economic principles are not driven by a genetic propensity towards pessimism. To the contrary, our predictions are driven by the logic of real world application.

For the last century, Central Banks have interfered with free market forces and imposed loose monetary policies that have led to the formation of asset bubbles that were unsustainable in nature. In every single instance, these bubbles did not undergo mild corrections and further periods of sustained growth, but all eventually experienced spectacular crashes. Thus, the continued application of the same strategies by Central Banks today are already predestined to fail in the same manner. To call Austrian economics a “doom and gloom” economic theory is a great miscarriage of justice. If its sound principles were applied by world governments, then sustainable steady growth could be achieved without the cycles of boom and bust we experience every four or five years.

If the media insists on playing the role of financial shills and calling advocates of Austrian economics “gloom and doomers”, the least they could do is reciprocate and label Central Banks and all proponents of their monetary policies as “psychopaths”. Though one may believe such a label to be unduly harsh, the clinical definition of a psychopath is one who regularly engages in antisocial behavior and exhibits a chronic disregard for ethical principles. When Central Banks continually engage in the same loose monetary schemes when they already know that the end result will be massive failure, this behavior embraces the clinical definition of a psychopath. What the people have failed to realize for the better part of this past century is that the private families that own and operate Central Banks have reaped great rewards from creating these massive failures, with the cost being the great destruction of a nation’s wealth.

Henry Ford once reportedly stated, “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, there would be revolution before tomorrow morning.” One thing we have learned today is that Central Banks have insured that the people of our nation still do not understand how our banking and monetary system works. For if they understood, they would not be following the road to destruction that is deliberately being paved for us by the US Federal Reserve, not dissimilar to the behavior of suicidal lemmings that follow one another off the edge of a cliff.

One tenet that all Austrian economic adherents would support that will never receive any acknowledgment from Keynesian economists is the following: Central Banks are a burden upon all humanity, and that until all are banished from this Earth no progress in economic or political freedoms is possible. It is an absolute myth that Central Banks are necessary for sustainable economic growth and that in their absence, anarchy would reign. There is no historic proof of this. In fact, during periods of history when Central Banks did not exist, much greater economic stability and sustainable growth persisted. If humanity were successful in shuttering all Central Banks, this would be the greatest modern day gift to humanity as true “green shoots” – free markets, economic freedom, and a realistic chance to finally end poverty – would blossom. Central Banks are masters at creating illusory economic recovery, and as we know, all illusions must eventually crumble

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Seven Secrets!

I read an informative article this morning from Paul B. Thornton on the 7 Secrets of Leadership Success. All the points are on the mark and every leader will improve by applying these principles to their life. Leadership in one sense is simple, but in another sense is extremely hard. What is the reason for this? I have a one word answer: discipline. Learning the principles are not enough—true results will only occur when the principles are applied consistently and this requires self-discipline! Enjoy the article. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Fortune magazine once published an article entitled “The Best Advice I Ever Got.” It was a great article that offered wit and wisdom about achieving business success. I liked it so much, that it motivated me to produce my newest book, Leadership: Best Advice I Ever Got, which describes the best leadership advice 136 successful CEOs, coaches, consultants, professors, managers, executives, presidents, politicians, and religious leaders received that most helped them become effective and successful leaders.

Here are seven secrets to leadership success:

1. Leadership is about making things happen.

If you want to make something happen with your life – in school, in your profession or in your community, do it. Perceived obstacles crumble against persistent desire. John Baldoni, Author, Leadership Communication Consultant and Founder of Baldoni Consulting LLC, shared this advice that had come from his father, a physician. He taught him the value of persistence. At the same time, his mother taught him compassion for others. Therefore, persistence for your cause should not be gained at the expense of others. Another bit of leadership wisdom!

2. Listen and understand the issue, then lead.

Time and time again we have all been told, "God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason"... or as Stephen Covey said, "Seek to understand, rather than be understood." As a leader, listening first to the issue, then trying to coach, has been the most valuable advice that Cordia Harrington, President and CEO of Tennessee Bun Company has been given.

3. Answer the three questions everyone within your organization wants answers to.

What the people of an organization want from their leader are answers to the following: Where are we going? How are we going to get there? What is my role? Kevin Nolan, President & Chief Executive Officer of Affinity Health Systems, Inc. believes the more clarity that can be added to each of the three questions, the better the result.

4. Master the goals that will allow you to work anywhere in today’s dynamic business world.

Debbe Kennedy, President, CEO and Founder of Global Dialogue Center and Leadership Solutions Companies, and author of Action Dialogues and Breakthrough once shared this piece of advice that was instrumental in shaping her direction, future and achievements.

She was a young manager at IBM just promoted to her first staff assignment in a regional marketing office. For reasons she can’t explain, one of her colleagues named Bookie called her into his office while she was visiting his location. He then began to offer unsolicited advice, but advice that now stays fresh in her mind. He mentioned that jobs, missions, titles and organizations would come and go as business is dynamic - meaning it is always changing. He advised her not to focus your goals toward any of these, but instead learn to master the skills that will allow you to work anywhere.

He was talking about four skills:

The ability to develop an idea;

Effectively plan for its implementation;

Execute second-to-none;

Achieve superior results time after time.

With this in mind, Kennedy advises readers to seek jobs and opportunities with this in mind. Forget what others do. Work to be known for delivering excellence. It speaks for itself and it opens doors.

5. Be curious.

Curiosity is a prerequisite to continuous improvement and even excellence. The person who gave Mary Jean Thornton, Former Executive Vice President & CIO, The Travelers, this advice urged her to study people, processes, and structures. He inspired her to be intellectually curious. He often reminded Thornton that making progress, in part, was based upon thinking. She has learned to apply this notion of intellectual curiosity by thinking about her organization’s future, understanding the present, and knowing and challenging herself to creatively move the people and the organization closer to its vision.

6. Listen to both sides of the argument.

The most valuable advice Brian P. Lees, Massachusetts State Senator and Senate Minority Leader, ever received came from his mentor, United States Senator Edward W. Brooke III. He told him to listen to all different kinds of people and ideas. Listening only to those who share your background and opinions can be imprudent. It is important to respect your neighbors’ rights to their own views. Listening to and talking with a variety of people, from professors to police officers, from senior citizens to school children, is essential not only to be a good leader in business, but to also be a valuable member within your community.

7. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. If one has truly prepared and something goes wrong the strength of the rest of what you've prepared for usually makes this something easier to handle without crisis and panic. One of the best pieces of advice Dave Hixson, Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach at Amherst College has ever received and continues to use and pass on is this anonymous quote -“Preparation is the science of winning."

Along with this are two expressions from Rick Pitino's book Success is a Choice, which speaks to preparation. Hixson asks his teams every year: "Do you deserve to win?" and "Have you done the work?" This speaks to the importance of preparation toward achieving your final goal. If you haven't done the work (the preparation) the answer to the second question is an easy "no!"

Great advice comes from many sources – parents, other relatives, consultants, bosses, co-workers, mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends. The important point to remember is to stay open, listen to everyone, but also develop your own leadership style.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Fine Art Of Friendship

True friendship is a fine art. When you find a true friend, a friend that will be there when the chicken hits the fan, be sure to count your blessings. Many people will live their whole life with nothing more than acquaintances, rather than friendships. Because friends respect one another, it naturally leads to leadership influence in respective areas of expertise. In order to lead people properly, one must love the person, as a fellow human being, believing in his/her goals and dreams. In other words, friendship must come before leadership, forming an authentic speed of trust relationship. Without love for people, leadership can quickly degrade into manipulation, causing damage to the leaders heart and the community’s future. Chris Brady and I wrote an entire book on leadership, our #1 best seller, Launching a Leadership Revolution, a must read for anyone in the leadership field. If you haven’t read that book, be sure to do so, because the principles taught here will come to life, at a new level, when combined with the LLR teachings.

Before diving into the details of this chapter, let’s examine our hearts. Why do you want to lead? Do you care for the people or just the prestige associated with leadership? Are you willing to sacrifice for the team when necessary? Although there are many rewards for leaders, at the end of the day, leadership is about service to others, not about perks for self. Leaders must love people and use things, not love things and use people. This is foundational for all long-term leadership, love is the glue that holds communities together during the struggles to success . When a community doesn’t feel loved, believing they are just part of the machine, they will stay only for material rewards. In the past, that may have worked, but in today’s competitive marketplace, communities will surpass individuals every time.

Since friendship comes before leadership, let’s begin our study with the key principles to develop authentic friendships. Remember, these are principles, not techniques, being more a matter of the heart than just the physical actions. Applying the techniques, without the right heart, will come off as inauthentic, hurting the relationship. But with the right heart, following the principles suggested, anyone can build relationships that will last a lifetime, leading to the joy associated with true fellowship, creating a foundation for leadership excellence. When gathering with true friends for a night of fellowship, food, and fun, the laughter and learning brings happiness to all that are present, because the friendship is founded upon trust developed through proper application of the friendship principles. Friends allow you to relax and be yourself, knowing that you will be loved, faults and all. If you want great friendships that will last a lifetime, then be a great friend first. There are several books that I recommend to help in becoming a true friend to others. The first is Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People and the second is Les Giblin’s, How to Have Confidence and Power with People. These two books did more for me, in relating to people, than any other people skills books. With these books and the six principles that I am about to share, you will radically transform your relationships.

The first principle in developing healthy relationships is to learn that people are drawn to happy open people, not unhappy closed people. By following the resolutions discussed previously in this book, one will find greater happiness in life. Happiness isn’t something to be sought directly, but is found indirectly by applying personal discipline to a worthwhile goal or dream. Having a positive attitude is one of the quickest ways to draw people towards you. Attitude is a magnet that draws or repels, depending upon whether it’s a positive or negative one. Resolution #3 covers positive attitude and EQ, so I won’t go into much detail here, but refer back to it for further comments on attitude. A second factor in drawing people to you is the power of a genuine smile. Smiling is part of the universal language for the world, communicating happiness and openness. When traveling internationally, even when one doesn’t speak the language, a baby smiling can bring smiles and cheerfulness to all around them. When people see you smile, it’s surprising how many people will smile right back at you. If you believe that you are happy, but aren’t smiling, please notify your face.

Another key to communicate openness and approachability is personal appearance. How you dress and groom communicates to others how you feel about yourself. Dress for success is more than just a catch phrase. Grooming for success is just as important. For example, if you have breath that would knockout a camel cold, get some breath mints, gum, or mouth wash. Body odor is another quick way to communicate that you are unapproachable. If they can’t get within ten feet of you without gasping, it might be difficult for you to nurture a longterm friendship. First impressions, whether we like it or not, do have a huge impact on our ability to have a second impression. Being approachable means that you attitude mentally, your smile and smells physically, and your looks aesthetically communicate friendliness to others. If you are not sure how you are doing, ask your spouse or close friend. Allow them to speak honestly, with the goal being to improve in openness and approachability.

The second principle in developing people skills is to take a genuine interest in others. What is a person’s favorite subject to talk about? If you guessed themselves, then you just won the jackpot. Friendships are based upon mutual interests, so learning about others interests is a key step in the process of nurturing relationships. For example, a person’s name is sweet to their ears. When you meet people, be sure to take the time to learn, and pronounce their name properly. Even, if you have to ask them to repeat their name, they won’t be offended as it displays an interest in them. With a name like Orrin, I have had to repeat my name many times, but I was always impressed when someone took the time to get my name right. The best way to do this is to say it several times during the conversation, complimenting them by your care to remember their name, and, through repetition, storing it into memory.

One of the quickest ways to display an interest in others is to listen to them. Stephen Covey titled it, “seek first to understand, then be understood.” You have two ears and one mouth, let’s use them in that proportion. I find that I learn much more when I listen, rather than talk. I believe you will discover this too. Ask questions and then listen. What questions you ask? Why not start with the FOR method - Family, Occupation, and Recreation? These are great starter questions to get someone talking about themselves, helping you learn more about them. For example, if you just met John and he is a dentist, ask, “John, how did you get into the dental field?” I love hearing the stories develop after that question. Whether is was a parent who encouraged them, a friend in the field, or a dream from childhood, it’s fascinating to learn people’s stories. All stories have a dream, struggle, victory component, and as I listen, I am listening for the key struggles that were overcome. Afterwards, I can point out to them how they played like a champion, finishing what they started. Usually, during the discussion, the new friend will pause, realizing that he has been doing most of the talking, and will probably need encouragement to continue. Remember, he is used to people only talking, not listening, so he is probably wondering what is wrong with you.

Cultivate listening into one of your most developed skills. A genuine interest in others will come through in your conversations, taking listening to the highest level of active listening. Active listening is the key to help others feel comfortable talking while intently listening. Stay focused on them, looking them in the eyes, nodding with understanding, empathizing with the success story being shared. In order to learn more of the dream, struggle, victory life story, you may need to ask questions during the active listening process. Questions like: “Really, why is that?”; “Serious?”; “What kept you going?”; “And then what happened?”; “No kidding?”; “That’s amazing!”; “Unbelievable”; How did you keep going?”, and many other short comments to inspire other to talk while you actively listen. I know, this isn’t rocket science, but listening skills are the most effective and underutilized people skill. I want to ensure everyone understands the importance of drawing others out, as nothing bonds people to you as quickly as active listening does, since nothing compliments a person more than taking a genuine interest in them. I have found over the years that I have learned much more by listening to others, and, when I was ready to talk, I had their undivided attention. I like to learn from experience, but if I listen well, I can learn from others experience also, not having to repeat the same lesson that others have taken for me. By listening to others, you learn from experience - their experiences, saving you time and money. To sum up, applying active listening skills, when you meet others, displays a genuine interest in them, paying a huge compliment by listening and learning valuable lessons along the way.

The third principle in developing true friendship is finding value in others. Before people will find value in you, they typically must first feel valued by you. This can create a chicken and the egg scenario where each person is waiting for the other to value them. I have witnessed so many discussions where each person attempts to one up the other by rolling out his list of achievements. Instead, let the person share their achievements and be truly impressed. By giving relationship oxygen to the other side, they can breathe easier and listen after you have valued them. Let’s stop the crazy cycle by valuing others first, it cost nothing (unless your self pride is more important than others self worth), but it pays huge dividends. How does one find value in others? Les Giblin, the author of How to Have Confidence and Power with People, give the Triple A formula that is pure gold in relationships: Accept, Approve, and Appreciate. I encourage you to read over and over again, Chapter 6 of Giblin’s book covering the three A’s. It really is that good! Let me share an overview of the Triple A formula here to help define the terms and start the learning process.

Acceptance from one human being to another creates peace, allowing one to relax and open up. When someone is constantly judging everything said and done, it doesn’t allow the other person to relax, making friendship nearly impossible. Acceptance does not mean you approve of everything that the person does, but you will never influence anyone that you don’t accept as a human being first. I have found, that only after accepting the person as they are, that it frees them up to become what they want to be. A mentor’s acceptance brings peace and joy, allowing the other person some breathing space to develop personally. Acceptance to the soul is like food for the body, giving people nourishment, providing energy for further improvement. By accepting people as they are, they start desiring further food, creating a process of growth, nurtured along by your acceptance of them. Most people get this wrong, thinking they cannot accept someone until they do everything right. The problem with this is that no one does everything right, leaving all of us unaccepted, if everyone thought this way. All of us need to grow, I certainly know that I do, but when people accept me for the way I am, this gives me the soul nourishment to keep moving on. Since we have a full time project in working to improve ourselves, we should judge lightly the faults of others. How many people in your life are you feeding with acceptance?

Approval moves beyond acceptance of the person into approval of specific actions and talents. While acceptance is more an absence of negatives, approval is the recognition of a person’s positives. In the Triple A formula spelled out in Giblin’s book, I view acceptance as the appetizer, approval as the main dish, and appreciation as the dessert, in the buffet for the human soul. In order to approve someone, you must be looking for the attributes that you respect and admire in others. I believe the reason most people do not take the time to approve of others is because they are too busy seeking acceptance, approval and appreciation for themselves. When you can get over yourself, you will be in a much better position to help others get over themselves. Focus everyday, on pointing out to those closest to you, the things that you respect and admire about them. Approval is like oil in an engine, making everything run smoother with less friction. Interestingly, approval has more of an impact, when the approval is in a less than obvious attribute. For example, pointing out to a professional car racer that you admire the way he drives won’t have the same impact as pointing out you admire his relationship with his children. Be a professional observer of excellence in others, and then point it out! Most, so preoccupied with themselves won’t observe, but even if you do observe, it only reaches the other person by sharing your positive observations. What is the point of observing without sharing? How many people are you approving in your life?

Appreciation is the dessert in relationship foods for the soul. When you appreciate someone, you communicate to them that they are special to you, not just another face in the crowd. Appreciate is the opposite of depreciate. When something depreciates, it loses its value; but when something appreciates, it gains in value. Are you appreciating those closest to you? Are you increasing the value of your friends and family by appreciating them? Little things make all the difference here. When you set an appointment, be on time as that communicates you value the other person. Another is to thank people personally for a job well done. Single out what you appreciate about them as a person and in their work, making them feel special and separated from the crowd. If you really want to appreciate others, then share all the good you can about them to others. When others do great work, share your appreciation, not just with them, but to everyone that they know. This is the proper use of talking behind someone else’s back, all the good that you know about them. Everyone wants to feel accepted, approved, and appreciated, sadly most people believe condemning, criticizing, and complaining will help to change people, but nothing could be further from the truth. You catch more bees with honey than you ever will with vinegar, so put away the vinegar for good, and start attracting people to you through the Giblin’s Triple A formula.

The fourth principle to build lifelong friendships is building a shared vision of the future. Friendships are based upon shared experiences, the more positive experiences that people share together, the more friendships are strengthened. Conversely, when friends lack a common vision, they lose shared experiences and eventually lose the bonds that drew them together in the first place. All of us have had friends from high school that didn’t continue, having lost the common vision (geting out of school), and the shared experiences. Lifetime friends are different, they are built upon common visions that last longer than the high school or job where they met. My lifetime friends all have strengths and weaknesses (just as I do), but friends magnify each others strengths, while protecting each others weaknesses. Few people think through why they have the friends that they have, but essentially, friends build social communities, providing value to each other by leveraging each others strengths and enjoying each others company. In other words, the friends that you have, you have because you admire certain strengths that they possess, enhancing your life by the strengths in their life. In the same way, your strengths increase your friends enjoyment and success on their journey of life. Shared visions, shared experiences, shared strengths while protecting weaknesses, forms the recipe for long lasting enjoyment for both parties in life long friendships.

But in life, struggles will occur, blurring the common vision. Friends will need empathy from one another to endure the hardships thrown at them. When a friend is hurting, its important to be there for them, listening to his situation, understanding his pain, empathizing with him, while redirecting his focus to solutions. Friends must learn to reframe the struggles in each others lives, giving a better perspective to help friends endure. When friends fall into a pit, it’s your responsibility to help them find the way out. A true friend empathizes with, but never sympathizes with their friends struggles. Meaning, friends will feel each others pain, but not jump into the pit with each other. Instead, friends throw ropes down into the pit to help their friends get out. Listen, understand, empathize, but then reframe and help them move ahead. All friends will go through challenges, but a true friend helps them see the light at the end of the tunnel of darkness. Friends will remember that when the chicken hit the fan in their life, that you took the time to be there, creating bonds of friendship that will stand the test of time. Friends who help each other in times of need are rare, so hold onto these friends. I count a person’s real wealth to be in the quality of friends developed, not monetary net worth developed. Are you a priceless friend to your friends?

Fidelity to the reputation and character of one’s friends is another key principle in enduring friendships. What is friendship if it isn’t loyal to one another when needed? Loyalty to friends doesn’t mean, my friend right or wrong, but it does mean my friend, let’s help him do right. A true friend doesn’t exit the scene when life gets tough, rather, he enters more boldly to help out. Fair weather friends are not really friends at all. It takes real courage to stick by people when they’re dealt painful cards in life, but that’s exactly when true friend are needed. When someone hurts a friend, they hurt all his friends as friends stick together. In this situation, friends must rally together to focus on resolving the dispute between friends. If your friend is following the conflict resolution principles, but the other side isn’t, then the other side will know they have violated your friendship as well. Conversely, if your friend is not following conflict resolution guidelines, you must sit down in love and loyalty and speak truth to them with the hope that both sides will follow the appropriate principles. Friends have a responsibility to be loyal to their friends, abandoning a friendship only when a friend abandons truth repeatedly, creating a situation where defending your friend would put you on the side of untruth. Even in this situation, I let my former friend know that restoration is possible when truth is restored in his life and our relationship. Loyalty, fidelity and honor are not used much in today’s society, but life long friendships must be based upon them. In my opinion, next to truth itself, loyalty is the most valued principle in a true friendship, forming the glue that holds friendships together during the storms of life.

Lastly, friends celebrate each others victories together. Can you be as excited for a friends victory as you are your own? This is essential for true friendships as friends should be each others greatest cheerleaders. Friends are not jealous of one another, nor suffer from envy, but do all they can to lift their friends up. Friends aren’t competitors, but huge fans and encouragers of one another. Why wouldn’t you celebrate when a friend succeeds at any worthy endeavor? A friends victory lifts the tide for everyone surrounding them. Friends dream together, laugh together, struggle together, have victories together, and celebrate together. Be the biggest cheerleader of your friends successes. Let your friends know how much you admire their strengths, sharing your thankfulness to be part of their lives. This will form bonds of loyalty, letting your friends know that you are proud of their successes, and proud to be their friend. Friends lift one another up when they are together, but also are the biggest cheerleaders of each other when they aren’t together as well. Be the type of friend, who cheers their accomplishments behind their backs, sharing all the good that you know about them. No one is an island unto themselves, having friends who cheer one another’s successes is essential in making life meaningful and fruitful.

True friendship is a lost art in today’s “Me” generation, but that only increases the value of a friend when you really find one. The best way to find friends of this caliber is to be one to others. In life, if someone identifies a couple of friends of this quality, then he is a blessed man. Make a personal commitment to give more to each relationship than you receive. This is much tougher to do in practice when you find true friends as they are focusing on giving more than they receive. Friendship brings so much joy into life and should be cultivated daily. Conversely, damaged relationships bring so much pain to life, and should be resolved quickly. The older I get, the more I realize that my real wealth is in my faith, family, and friends, making me more conscious to nurture the relationships that have brought so much joy into my life. In today’s world of feckless and fickle friends, give to others a friendship based upon fidelity and faithfulness. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. - Matthew 12:34

It’s amazing how much one can learn from a person just by listening. People who believe that they have a positive attitude, give away their negativity when they speak. I like to begin mentoring sessions with, “Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good we will celebrate, the bad we will make adjustments, and the ugly we will pray about.” This is sure to get people talking, helping me to identify, not just what happened, but how they are thinking about what happened. Which, in the end, is more important than the event; since the event happens only once, but how they think about the event repeats over and over in their minds and hearts. Painful experiences happen to both achievers and non-achievers. The difference is in the responses, achievers learning from the bad cards, choose to draw more; while non-achievers complaining about the cards of life being stacked against them, choose to quit the game. But what’s actually stacked against them is their own thinking. Winners received the same stimulus, but chose to respond differently than the non-winners.

When something bad happens to a winner, he immediately focuses on minimizing its effects, learning anything he can from the situation. No pity parties, no woe is me attitudes, just resolution and teachable moments. The extent a person wins in life, is many times, related to how quickly he can go from problem identified to problem solved, learning through the pain of the process. When people stay down for weeks, months, sometimes even years at a time, can they honestly expect a positive outcome? There is only so much mental energy, when it’s spent dwelling on negative thoughts, allowing them to enter the heart, eventually pouring out of the mouth, why is anyone shocked that so little is accomplished in life? The key is pulling the weeds (negative thoughts) upon entering the mind, not allowing them to move into the heart and out the mouth. Weeds are much easier to pull when immediately seized when they enter the mind, but much tougher when allowed to root in the heart, eventually flowing out of the mouth. Don’t provide fertile soil in the mind for weeds; don’t allow weeds to seed into the heart; and whatever you do, don’t allow negative seeds to spread out of your mouth, infecting other people. The former leader literally becoming a carrier of negativity.

Leaders are gardeners of their own minds, identifying and pulling weeds quickly. True leaders are never down period, choosing to pull weeds promptly. But if they ever were down, they certainly wouldn’t spread the disease to their communities, since they know that pulling weeds is an inside job. If a weed is extra difficult, then leaders have the discipline to seek out their mentors for help, refusing to contaminate others with their weed seeds. One of the first, and most important, assignments of any would-be leader is consistent and prompt pulling of his own weeds. It’s not an option if he plans on inspiring others, since no one is inspired by a bitter attitude and sour faced person. Pull your weeds, guard your mind, protect your heart, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Leadership occurs when people having confidence in the leader, if a person’s attitude is unpredictable, he disqualifies himself for leadership, until he learns to pull his own weeds. Leaders are dealers in hope, change, and growth, beginning inside of them. Perhaps it’s time that we launched a leadership revolution, let’s start the revolution by tending to our own gardens. God Bless, Orrin Woodward