Sunday, May 20, 2018

Watch Bishop Michael Curry from North Carolina give a powerful sermon at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, primate of the Episcopal Church, gives an address during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, May 19, 2018.

The Economics Loop

The Economics Loop

by Allen Laudenslager

I was watching the Netflix series "Medici: Masters of Florence" and the character of Cosimo Medici is commissioning the completion of the dome on the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower). In explaining to his family why he is spending scarce resources at that time of tight money Cosimo shows a clear understanding of economic systems.

The general population of Florence is in the middle of a recession caused by the war. So much money is being channeled into financing the war that normal trade suffers. Cosimo wants to finish the cathedral while his family thinks they should keep the ready cash in the vaults.

Cosimo realizes that investing in completing the cathedral will directly employ hundreds of workers. Those project will buy bricks and other supplies that will, in turn, employ hundreds of additional workers. Those workers will buy food, clothes, the rest of the things they need for their daily lives. That money will, in turn, will come back to their bank as the bank will directly profit.

Cosimo understands a simple principle that modern business has forgotten. The more money that concentrates in just a few hands the less is circulating in the marketplace. Less money circulating directly results in less growth overall.

The small towns in rural America didn’t die off because of the demise of the small family farm or the advent of machinery. The small towns died because of a diversion of capital. The large corporate agribusinesses concentrated the profits from farming into a few hands and then diverted those profits to the financial centers. Without local capital, the small towns died.

Before the industrial age, the land was the source of wealth. When that wealth became concentrated in too few hands we saw the “land reform” movements. Those movements were a range of political activism extending across to actual revolutions resulting in civil wars.

We are witnessing a similar series of events in the financially based economy in the United States and perhaps globally, or at least in the industrialized section of the world.

I see only three possible solutions. The people into whose hands that wealth is being concentrated, as Cosimo Medici did, recognize that they must invest in the general population. Failing that the government must enact regulations to spread the wealth back to the broader population. When all else fails, then the people will break the system with “pitchforks in the streets”.

Enlightened self-interest should cause the holders of great wealth to recognize that sharing the rewards of economic success with the people who actually do the work is much preferred to government regulation or bloody civil war.

How Baby Boomers Broke America by Steven Brill

Monday, April 23, 2018

Employees Don't Quit Their Job; They Quit Their Boss!

Employees Don't Quit Their Job; They Quit Their Boss!

Employees might join companies, but they leave managers. Too many managers view their position as one of entitlement rather than one of responsibility. In days past, managers would focus on developing their employees. Today they are more focused on self-promotion and securing their position. A managers' job is to facilitate a good working environment for his/her employees. The focus should be to help everyone around you succeed. Managers define culture, and culture under-girds the lasting health, success, and sustainability of an organization.

The biggest danger of leadership: Arrogance

According to research from the University of Washington Foster School of Business, humble people are more likely to be make the most effective leaders. It turns out, humility offers a competitive advantage.

So why has arrogant or narcissistic leaders become the norm:

It has been historically perceived that humility is a sign of weakness and an antithesis to leadership. There is still an expectation that successful leaders are more arrogant than humble. Narcissism is mistaken for self-confidence and toxic leaders seem to be in control of everything. They are able to provide short-term results but the truth is they leave a trail of destruction in their path. Organizations pay heavily for such managers with low engagement, high turnover and reduced productivity. Arrogant leaders have a shelf-life within their organizations. They may “rule the day” but eventually people tire of them and their tactics, which lessens overall commitment from the team. Intimidation and threats of punishment can only work for so long.

The xfactor of great leadership is not personality, it's humility. - Jim Collins

The Power of Humility in the Workplace
Leading with humility means focusing on others and practicing servant leadership. Humble leaders:

1.They put people first. There focus is on serving others. They do not get consumed by seeking out more power. Instead, they seek more ways to help others.

2. They admit their mistakes. All leaders make mistakes. Humble leaders own up to them. They don't play the blame game when things go wrong. Instead they hold themselves accountable. Vulnerability builds trust.

3. They share information and delegate. Humble leaders are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They realize that they cannot do everything. They delegate because the work is more important than their ego.

4. They listen - They are approachable to employees and this allows them to create an environment of open communication and effective feedback.

5. They do not hesitate to give credit where credit is due. They appreciate the contributions of others. They are quick to recognize and reward the efforts of team members.

6They are empathetic to those in their charge. They genuinely care about employees and employees can feel this sincerity. Empathy allows them to build healthy relationships and bond with team members.

7. They are authentic. They are the same person in every situation. This makes them trustworthy. Authenticity goes hand in hand with integrity. They are individuals of integrity.

No matter how educated, talented, rich or cool you believe you are, how you treat people tells all. Integrity is everything.

Humility doesn't mean that leaders can't make tough decisions. A humble leader should not be mistaken for a weak one. It takes strength, courage, and wisdom to practice humility. I have learned that the best leaders are selfless and more concerned with the well-being of their team than with personal titles or status symbols. Easily offended leaders with inflated egos don't build strong teams. You cannot be an effective leader if you feel that you are better than your subordinates. No one likes dealing with egomaniacs. Arrogance is a deterrent, it destroys relationships and lowers employee morale whereas genuine humility has a way of winning others over.

Good leaders empower. Bad ones micromanage. It is dreadful to work under a manager who is more worried about pushing their weight around than building relationships. The role of any leader within a corporate framework is to build up the team and to encourage growth. If we want employees to feel a commitment to the organization; we need to show we respect and value them. This takes humility. For loyalty, there has to be a relationship that develops between employee and employer and this develops over time through trust that gets built and sustained. Once people trust you, they will follow your lead. You won't need to flaunt your title to get them to do the best possible job.

People might tolerate a boring job or long commute, but they are more prone to leave if their boss treats them poorly. Humble leaders get the best from people. They have more influence, they retain top talent, and they earn more respect and loyalty than those who rely upon ego and power. Want to be a good boss? Start by taking a slice or two of humble pie!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

If Only We'd Done Things Differently!

If Only We'd Done Things Differently!
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.

How many of us have said, "If only I'd done things differently."?  Regrets are a normal part of the human experience as we all make poor choices in our lives.  Some of the choices we're faced with are clearly wrong and avoidable, but most of our choices are murky and grey when we're faced with equally bad or good options. Do we buy the Ford or the Chevy? Should I go to this college or that one? Should I major in this subject or that one? Do I join the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps? Should I move to this city or that one? Should I take this job or that one? Should I quit my job? Should I marry this guy/girl? Should we have children? Should we get a divorce?

When faced with important decisions, most of us discuss it with our confidants to get their advice.  Even the President of the United States has trusted advisors to help him make wise decisions.  Our hope is to achieve the best possible outcome by the choices we make. But how many of us confide in God to help us make those tough choices?

God knows what the future holds; He knows every possible alternate reality, but He still gives each of us the freedom to make our own choices. God's ways are not easily understood, but they'll always result in the best possible outcome for us.

But He knows the weakness of our human nature and tries to lovingly lead and guide us on the best path for us to follow. Some choose to listen and follow Him wherever he leads them; unfortunately, most of us do not. We just do what seems right to us at the time and we end up making poor choices and eventually wishing we'd done things differently.

But if we strive to make our hearts humble, pure, loving, trustful, and sincere towards God, He'll show us the best possible way through life. Prayer is an act of love towards God. You don't have to formulaically recite prayers. Pray to God from the depths of your heart while doing the normal chores of life such as cooking dinner, cleaning the house, doing yard work, driving to work, or working at your job. Prayer doesn't even have to be words; it can be just concentrating on God with an attitude of gratefulness for all His blessings.

Don't tell God what He needs to do for you. He knows what you need before you even ask Him. Just ask that His will be done and not yours. Don't be afraid! God sees, understands, listens, and grants. How many graces are granted for one single, true and perfect act of love towards God? How much wealth is granted for an intimate sacrifice made out of love.

Ask and it will be given to you. Look and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. Because whoever asks, will receive, whoever looks, will find, and whoever knocks it will be opened to. God, who is our Father, will give us the good and necessary things for our welfare. So don't be afraid to ask, and don't be afraid to receive.

So we ask, we look, and we knock but our prayers go unanswered. Why? Because what seems right to us today may not be right for us tomorrow. We do not know that because we only know the present, and that, in fact, is a grace from God too. Because God knows the future, He is trying to save us a greater pain tomorrow, so He does not answer our prayers today. So don't be discouraged or angry with God. He has our best interests at heart. Just rest in the fact that God is with us and He's leading and guiding us. Just thank God for his protective care for us and that His will and not our will would be done. A day will come when you'll say, "Thank You, my God, for not answering my prayers! Your Will for my life was so much better!"

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