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Learning Leadership from - Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Posted By: Chris Boleman   2/16/2014

What can we learn from a book (well, really an essay) written and published over 200 years ago?  Answer = a lot. 

Clearly, there is lots of rhetoric from Mr. Paine, but as I read through the message, several themes and quotes surfaced that are still (if not more) relevant today then when Mr. Paine first penned his essay.  The 10 most significant points (ordered by how they appeared in the essay) are noted below.

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#1 – Paine was not a fan of monarchies
p.15 - “The world the monarch acts in differs so materially from the world at large.”
This quote allowed me to reflect on what Peter Senge says in Fifth Discipline regarding ‘personal and universal purpose’ of the new leader.  In other words, people connect with leaders that are clear and transforming regarding both their personal and universal purpose and from my perspective, this means that the most effective leaders have these two purposes aligned as one (or very similar).  The problem with a monarch is that they are typically ‘self-serving’ and don't connect to the universal purpose of the so called followers. 
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#2 – Change
p. 19 – “Because a child has thrived upon milk, it is to never have meat.”
I loved this quote.  It left me with the affirmation that because something works in one setting or at one time, does not mean it will always work.  The leader must be challenged to always study the landscape and the environment to determine if the organization is best equipped to address the intended objectives.  Change is hard, but it is also necessary.
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#3 - Respect of Others
p. 27 – “Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us?
Clearly Paine intended this for Great Britain, but a lot can be said for this quote.  Too many times (inside the team), instead of celebrating the success of others, they will go the other direction in an attempt to tear people down.  Remember, everyone has unique talents and strengths…the key is to respect those in each other and appreciate them.
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#4 – Perseverance
p. 28 – Paraphrased – Leaders can accomplish by craft and subtleness in the long run what he cannot do by force and violence in the short run.
Leadership is clearly long term.  Transformation is on-going and takes time.  Leading with violence (power, fist pounding) is a short term solution to win battles not to change long term outcomes.
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#5 – Scanning the Environment
p. 29 – “It is seldom that our first thoughts are truly correct.”
Powerful statement that has deep meaning to great leaders.  It is a quote that forces leaders to look inward at their own decisions and determine if their decision is working and more importantly, are they close to their own decision to accurately determine if it is correct?  
Hmmmmmm.
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#6  - Team
p. 34 – “No single colony is able to support itself, and the whole, when united, accomplish the matter and more.”
While there is always individual accountability for each person / entity individually, the sum of their parts and their work collectively, wins every single time.  The key items for the leader are:
- ensure people are conducting assignments they are comfortable in doing,
- ensure they know how their work effects the entire team,
- constant communication to all team members throughout
- building trust amongst team members and the leader for the project to be completed
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#7 – Decision Justification
p. 44 – “Men read by way of revenge.”
This one was very personal to me.  When making tough decisions, I frequently seek out what other organizations are doing, what the research says, and written justification on the issue at hand.  It builds confidence when defending a decision.
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#8 – Courage
p. 47 – “The longer it is delayed, the harder it is to accomplish.”
In a leader role, this is the most meaningful quote / concept in the entire essay.  It is clear that when change is needed or a tough decision has to be made, the longer you wait, the worse it becomes.  It has a way of festering inside the leader, but more importantly, if obvious, it becomes toxic to the team (organization) if not addressed.  No doubt, the toughest decisions are the most difficult, but remember, they are the ones that are most needed for the health and prosperity of the team / organization.
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#9 – Vision
p. 52 – “Independence is the only BOND that can tie and keep us together.”
Clearly, Paine said this in reference to America’s independence.  However, it is equally as meaningful for teams to identify and work toward a common vision.  For America, it was independence, for a company, it might be customer service and for 4-H it is about making the best better.
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#10 - Character
 p. 53 – “When men have departed from the right way – it is no wonder why they stumble and fall.”
Nothing is more important than doing the right thing. It  defines who we are, our ethics, and our character.  As leaders, we will never make all the right decisions, but we can always do our best to do our part to do “what is right.”  And remember, as leaders, we are always on stage.
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References
Paine, Thomas (2005). Common Sense and Other Writings. Barnes & Noble Classics. ISBN 0-672-60004-8.
Senge, Peter M. (1990), The Fifth Discipline, Doubleday/Currency, ISBN 0-385-26094-6

 

 
I Hope
Posted By: Chris Boleman   2/2/2014

I Hope, by Chris Boleman

I hope you get in the race,
To find your meaningful place.

I hope you forgive,
So you can live.

I hope you can grieve,
Because it means you believe.

I hope in your life’s search,
It includes a church.

I hope you also pray,
And it is every day.

I hope you can be wrong,
And bounce back strong.

I hope you are left by the pack,
Only to bounce back.

I hope you are on a team,
That pushes you to dream.

I hope you win and lose a few,
But neither defines you.

I hope you will be low,
Because it helps you grow.

I hope as you rise through the ranks,
You remember to say thanks.

I hope you find love,
So you can rise above.

I hope you truly care,
And this you will share.

I hope….

 
The Tree!
Posted By: Chris Boleman   12/24/2013

by Chris Boleman

The lights are off, the room is dark as the family awaits the final touch.  Then, without warning, someone plugs in the cord and the Christmas tree lights up with indescribable beauty.  And what does every person in the house do?  Immediately, they all look up to the most gorgeous star that has ever rested on the top of a Christmas tree.

The words and sounds of “awe,” “wow,” and “cool” are being said as they all point toward the multi-colored five-point star.  The entire family is mesmerized by the illumination of the family Christmas tree.

As their eyes start to come down from the star, the family laughs as they highlight their favorite ornaments collected over the years from family vacations and other noteworthy family moments and accomplishments.  Stories of Hawaii, Disney World, 4-H Roundup, Little League, graduations, and the county fair fill the air with laughs as they toast each other with their Christmas mugs filled with hot chocolate and topped with marshmallows.

Until the grandfather asks for everyone’s attention.   It was a simple clearing of the throat.  Yep, that is all he had to do to establish control of the room and garner everyone’s attention.  He is respected that much.


“Keep going down the tree,” he starts saying as he points at the base of the tree.  “Go all the way to the bottom…the base.  See what’s there kids?”  The family’s age range is 3 – 85 (he was 85), but to him, they are still all kids.

“The base is where it starts.  The base is the roots.  The base is where water feeds and nourishes the entire tree.” He pauses as the entire family looked toward him.  He continues, “Do you see what I am saying?”

 
They simply look at him with unmistakable respect.

 
He continues in his trademark baritone voice (even though it is not as strong as it once was…age will do that), “No matter how high you go in life and no matter how bright the star at the very top of the tree, it means nothing without the strength of the base.”

He stops only to clear his throat, “Never forget that.  All of you, never forget the base.  It defines you.  It is your ethics, your character, your values, your beliefs, your spirituality.”

He pauses once again.  This time to wipe away a tear.

 
“So feed it…the base.  Feed it, nourish it, and never forget the power of the base.”

 
A last pause.

 
“Pray with me.”

 
Reviews for "Bright Side Christmas"
Posted By: Chris Boleman   12/14/2013
The first set of reviews and comments are coming in on the new book, Bright Side Christmas.  Read below!
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

  • "Bright Side Christmas is a must-read! It captured my attention on the first page and was hard to put down. Dr. Boleman outdid himself with an awesome collection of short stories that reminded me to approach each new day with the excitement we feel as Christmas approaches, positivity, hope, and the value of showing how much we care. Don't miss out on the opportunity to read and share Bright Side Christmas with others this holiday season."
  • "Dr. Boleman as I complete "Bright Side Christmas" I think of how many inspirational and powerful stories that are included. The best part of this easy read is that you can think of people in your life that fit the characters or that need the message that is written in each story."  
  • "I have always been a fan of Dr. Boleman's books but this one is just great! Maybe it's the magic of combining the Christmas spirit with Dr. Boleman's upbeat style but it's just fabulous! This is a book that will lift your spirits and leave you with a smile. It's a fun and easy read that I can see turning into a holiday tradition for our family."
  • "Bright Side Christmas will not only put you in the holiday spirit, it will inspire you to be a better person!  These short stories are entertaining, impactful, and teach readers life lessons in leadership and character.  Dr. Boleman has given us all a gift by sharing his creativity and imagination with us insightful book!" 
  • "The only problem is that the stories are so good that I finished the book in two days. Excellent read and true to Chris's tradition, 'very inspirational'".

 
Connecting
Posted By: Chris Boleman   11/20/2013

Connecting

 How many times have we heard that listening or communicating is the key to leadership?  There is no doubt that those are both important.  Not to mention the fact that they are clearly interrelated.  It is difficult if not impossible to communicate without listening and vice-versa.

However, I would argue that we forget about taking it passedcommunication. For my money, the best leaders are committed to CONNECTING.  And that is what this poem aims to reveal.

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“But I sent an email to everyone in the company.  Did they not get it?”
Molly said very frustrated to the boss in the midst of a small fit.

“I try every single strategy I can to send out the important info,”
She continued, “I even sent this message twice to help let them know.”

Her boss was puzzled as well and his frustration was  abundantly clear,
“Darn it!  It must bethe email system, get the IT folks down here!”

“No wait.” A female stranger said entering from out of nowhere.
“Please sir, take a look at the screen on the far wall right over there.”

The boss glanced that direction and wondered out loud, “Who are you?”
“I’m here to help you lead this company.  Isn’t that what you are paid to do?”

“Well of course it is. But it is not my one and only company concern.”
“I know, I know.” The stranger said, “I beg you to listenand learn.”

The screen said, “Hello team leader!  It is now time to be your very best!
Take this lesson most seriously so your company can best progress.”

The boss looked frustrated to Molly, and said, “Oh Great!  Here we go!”
Facetiously adding, “yet another so called expert to help us grow.”

Throwing his hands in the air as if to give up, he sat back to take it all in,
And the first word popped up on the screen in big bright letters; ‘LISTEN.’

Agitated, the boss leaned toward the stranger, cleared his throat and said,
“Yes, listening is the key to transformational leadership.  That’s in my head.”

And the stranger quickly responded to that without even missing a beat,

“You are correct sir, but keep in mind that listening is a two we street.”
She continued, “Listening is the first step, but the second is just as great.”

She paused, “As the big boss man, what is you commitment to communicate?”
And now the boss was irritated as he said; “I send emails all the time.”

“Heck ma’am!  I amwilling to bet I am the best dang ‘emailer’ you will find.”
The female stranger laughed and said, “I am sure you most assuredly are.

But, if that is all you do, then to them you are unapproachable and afar.”
The boss now looked back to Molly, “I think I have heard all I need to hear.”

This is another one of these ‘touchy feely’ leadership coaches I fear.”
He went on, “I have to be better at listening and communicating I guess,”

He went on, “Molly, get me some coffee while I learn how to be my best.”
Molly exited and was quick to return with a cup made just for him,

She smiled and said, “two sugars and sweet cream filled the brim.”
He took a sip, “Aww perfectly done, Molly.  You really do know me.”

And with that the stranger said, “You have now experienced step 3.”

She explained, “Listening is number 1, and communicating is number 2.”
But clearly CONNECTING is what the best leaders really genuinely do.”

“Connecting?  Really?”He smirked.  “What in the world does that mean?”
She looked him square in the eye saying, “It means you trust the team.”

She explained, “And equally as important, they know you justas well,”
“Because you see, Mr. Boss Man, that is the message you have to tell.”

She went on, “If you just listen and communicate you will probably be ok.”
“However if you truly CONNECT, well sir, greatness is not too far away.”

“Take that coffee,” she said pointing, “Molly, knew how to fix it for you.”
“That’s connecting! Now apply this message to your entire team and crew.”

The boss man sat silently looking down slightly embarrassed and ashamed,
He knew deep down the stranger was right.  He only had himself to blame.

“Molly, I want to meet with every employee, it is time to re-earn their respect.”
The stranger was gone as he and Molly stared at the screen that said ‘CONNECT.’

 
The Bond!
Posted By: Chris Boleman   6/16/2013
Happy Father's Day to All the Dads!

The Bond, by Chris Boleman


Their callused hands and advice are sometimes rough,
Not to mention that their honesty can be a little tough.

But there is something about their most gentle heart,
That teaches us about life and separates them apart.

They can make their point with just a simple stare,
Arms crossed, head nod, and a point to over there.

It might mean to rinse the steer or clean the stall,
Or unload feed, exercise the lamb, or slop the hog.

We learned early at the barn their love was so strong,
That’s why we’d run to them when something is wrong.

They taught us our virtues and values during our teens.
Agree or disagree, it was toward them we would lean.

Today, final approval is what we still want from them,
Even though now that the barn is empty, dusty, & grim.

And during those times we didn’t agree all the time,
But trust me, as you age, Dad was right; you will find.

Who knew a four-legged animal could create such a bond?
A lifetime bond between a Dad and his daughter and/or son.

 
Love and Leadership!
Posted By: Chris Boleman   5/18/2013

Love and Leadership, by Chris Boleman

It’s easy to get caught up in all kinds of things,
So listen closely to what this message brings.

And leadership experts have all kinds of theories,
But in the end, I can state this very clearly.

Leading from the heart is what it’s all about,
That’s for sure, I have absolutely no doubt.

Leadership is love, relationships, and caring,
That’s the story I am interested in sharing.

So read all the books and learn all you can,
Acknowledge the experts and give them a hand.

And all their details will make you stronger,
To help you be a great leader so much longer.

But never forget the power of leadership love,
Trust me, it will take you far, far, far above!

 
This Cowboy's Perfect Christmas
Posted By: Chris Boleman   12/24/2012

This Cowboy’s Perfect Christmas, by Chris Boleman

He was up well before the alarm, just like any other day,

Sippin’ coffee and readin’ his Bible seeing what it had to say.


This cold morning’s routine is simply more of the same,

Even on Christmas day, feeding livestock was today’s game.


So off he and Ol’ Blue went to handle the day’s chores,

He’d have to break ice, and that would take him at least ‘til four.


And as he drove around making sure everything was fed,

The thought of a joyous Christmas went through his head.


He reflected on all the folks celebrating together as one,

Comfortable knowing he preferred this life to that kind of fun.


So he just smiled to himself because he really was content,

Managing this historic ranch; well, he had nothing to resent.


Because he just loved being on this ranch and being outdoors,

These are the moments he knew that any other work was a bore.


And as he leaned over the fence watching the day turn to night,

He just hoped others understood why to him, this just felt right,


Of course, the day’s chores all took longer than he thought,

But that didn’t stop him from grilling that ribeye he’d bought.


When it was ready, he sat down at the kitchen table with Ol’ Blue,

After all, it was bitterly cold out there, so he got to stay inside too.


Back to his Bible he went petting Ol’ Blue as both watched it snow,

Another year, another calf crop, another Christmas was about to go.


To this old cowboy, this was another perfect ranch day and night,

And he is so thankful Jesus Christ pulled him from dark to light.


Then, he looked to his left and there walked in his lord and savior,

Saying, “Sir, you’re now in heaven and this is your ranch forever.”


 
The Aggies' Big Night
Posted By: Chris Boleman   11/11/2012
The Aggies' Big Night, by Chris Boleman 

We had heard the chant before of “ROLL TIDE ROLL,”
This is what they hollered prepping for their BCS Bowl.

But we stunned them by going twenty points ahead,
We had the National Champions down, but they were not dead.

Then they made their run as we knew they would do,
Could we hold on to beat the mighty Tide and Saban too?

They continued to close the gap and it was looking bad,
Those Facebook, Twitter, and TexAgs posts were pretty sad.

Back and forth it went as we tried to hang on and cope,
Then #2 hit his favorite target, the undersized Ryan Swope.

We would give up a few more plays but they couldn’t put us down,
This team, these coaches, and the 12th Man were upset bound.

And it was with that momentum that we refused to fail,
After all, we had the belief and a quarterback named Manziel.

So to Aggies everywhere, lets not forget this moment in time,
The day we beat mighty number one as the 12th Man shined!

 
The Underdog, by Chris Boleman
Posted By: Chris Boleman   11/4/2012
The Underdog, by Chris Boleman

Underdogs are loved and revered by just about everyone,
Something about rooting for them is just so much fun.

Is it because we get tired of seeing the same team win?
Because that is what seems to happen again and again.

Or is it more than that? Is there something different there?
Is it about a unique, overachieving team that makes us care?

There is just something cool about a team reaching new heights,
They’ve got that extra toughness, competitiveness, vigor,and fight.

You know the teams, where no one saw their success coming,
But they get on a streak, as all the naysayers come running.

Then they tell you why they are winning (like they have known),
When really it is the team and their confidence are what’s grown.

Because with underdog teams, success begins to breed success,
And the constant motivation keeps them at their very, verybest.

We love them because we’ve seen them down and counted out,
As fans we gave up on them, thank GOD they didn’t just pout.

We see them rise up again because of determination and resiliency,
That’s why when they win, we talk about how they have made history.

So that is why we love the underdog, or at least that’s what I think,
They help us realize there’s hope when our current situation stinks.


 
Look on the Bright Side
Posted By: Chris Boleman   9/23/2012

Look on the Bright Side, by Chris Boleman

Just look at the brightness of that daylight sky,
Don’t worry about what is next or even why.

Just appreciate the beauty of the majestic rainbow,
Embrace the moment; forget about tomorrow.

Appraise the flowers; the colors it brings to the eye,
Enjoy it for what it is; it will quickly pass you by.

Soak in the atmosphere and nature’s sounds,
A quiet, crisp, peaceful sunrise; birds all around.

The angelic morning kiss from a loving spouse,
Before the daily noises emerge from this house.

Each moment in time has two uniquely different sides,
Promise me you’ll choose the bright one; enjoy the ride.

 
Is It?
Posted By: Chris Boleman   8/3/2012

Is It?

By Chris Boleman

I often hear people say, “it is what it is.”
But I sure hope it’s so much more than this.

In my opinion, it’s really what we make of it,
Taking advantages of life or do we just sit?

I think too many people really do just sit,
They would rather complain or throw a fit.

The best folks attack problems as best they can,
Learning and doing in an effort to be a better man.

Others sit on the sidelines watching it ALL go by,
Making snide remarks about the hard working guy.

Then they want to ask why failure seems to finds them,
Asking why not that person over there or her or him?

I really wonder why they have not figured this out,
While others pick themselves up, they sit and pout.

For them, “it is what it is” is simply a perfect fit,
For others, hard work, dedication, and some whit.

But they don’t see it because they criticize others,
Is there any reason to discuss these folks any further?

 
Those Rear View Mirrors
Posted By: Chris Boleman   5/26/2012

by Chris Boleman

You’ve been waiting your whole life to get out of this place,
All buckled up, off you go, jumping in the real world’s race.

You just graduated and the whole world is in front of you,
This is a fresh start, out with the old, replaced by the new.

With that cap and gown casually tossed in the back seat,
Hopefully you’ve learned from your mistakes, no repeats.

You put that old car in drive and the next chapter begins,
Looking through that windshield for your life’s next wins.

Aww, isn’t that view through the windshield so very bright?
It sure is a big ol’ world out there, no apparent end in sight.

Its that time to dream, set goals, and dare to visualize,
But listen for a minute and take this old-timer’s advice.

Notice mirrors to the left, in the center, and to your right,
No matter how far you go, those mirrors are never out of sight.

They remind you who you are and how you got to right here,
They are there to offer courage when you have doubt or fear.

Or maybe they are there just to keep your ego in check,
They can get you back on point when your life is a wreck.

They represent your foundation, your ethics, and your values.
And even those very special people that clearly impacted you.

They are a reminder of your family, church, school, and town,
They could be just what you need when you are feeling down.

Glance through the mirrors so you see the folks there with you,
Those are the folks that help your push forward or pull back too.

Now, you do need to look through the windshield and dream,
Just remember those mirrors are there to remind you of the team.

Such as life as this ol world goes round and round and off you go,
Those three mirrors are there no matter if you move fast or slow.

You see, they serve as your life’s check-point to help you steer,
And never forget, “all those objects are closer than they appear.”

 
The Greatness of Moms
Posted By: Chris Boleman   5/13/2012

The Greatness of Moms, by Chris Boleman

Ever wonder why they are great?
We all have one, so we can relate.

They are there after a bad date,
Calm us down when we are irate.

Cook our favorite dinner plate,
Embrace our own soul mate.

They see passed our bad traits,
And are so patient, willing to wait.

This is purposeful, its sure not fate,
Just a couple of reasons moms are GREAT.

 
Monday is a GO!
Posted By: Chris Boleman   4/29/2012

Monday is a GO, by Chris Boleman

MONDAY is here so be ready to go,
Attack the day like the very best pro.

You must decide to tackle it head on,
From the start; even well before dawn.

Brew the coffee and make it stout,
Feel free to let that alarm clock shout.

Whatever you do, don’t hit that snooze,
That’s the first step of defeat, you lose.

Get to work with a smile on your face,
Log into your email and lead the chase.

While they discuss their weekend’s play,
And some tell how they dreaded this day,

But you’re ahead, off to a start that’s great,
This is how YOU determine your own fate.

If this doesn’t work, there’s one thing to say,
Remember, FRIDAY is only four days away.

 

 
The Finish Line
Posted By: Chris Boleman   4/8/2012

HAPPY EASTER!

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The Finish Line, by Chris Boleman

Well, I guess this really is my life’s finish line,
Its kinda weird; seems like it got here in no time.

The doctor clearly said I didn’t have very long,
He’s the expert so he was right and I was wrong.

I was very fragile, weak, and so deathly sick,
Now I’m here and don’t need my walking stick.

These bright colors are like no other I have seen,
Compared to the hospital, those colors were mean.

But these colors are simply impossible to describe,
They offer indescribable comfort and a peaceful vibe.

And all these people; they act like they know me.
They line both sides of the path as far as I can see.

They look familiar, but younger and so at peace,
Their genuine smiles are welcoming to say the least.

They’re waving me on in unison; kinda like a cheer,
For the first time I feel no worries, stresses or fears.

I just can’t get over how great I feel as I continue on,
It sure feels like heaven; I just hope I am not wrong.

I am now at this path’s end with these folks now behind me,
I look up and see a face as I feel a most comforting breeze.

A question comes from above asking if I believe in him,
A look back making sure he is talking to me and not them.

Their full love and encouragement are perfectly clear,
I fall to my knees shouting YES as I wipe away tears.

I am then embraced and I realize he really is forgiving,
I now know this isn’t the finish line; it’s just the beginning.


 
They Call Me Stripes
Posted By: Chris Boleman   4/1/2012

They call me ‘Stripes’ around this place,
I have black ones from my tail to my face.

It's springtime meaning its calf-buying season,
No one will buy me and that’s for good reason.

Everyone comes out and they just walk passed me,
Those others have the attributes they want to see.

I hear them say my friends are thick and stout,
And those traits are just not what I am all about.

I am a fun steer with personality and a little crazy,
While my pasture mates stand around all fat and lazy.

But I am the bargain meaning you won’t pay as much,
And how gentle I am, go ahead you’re free to touch.

Look into these eyes; there is no way you can say no,
Write the check, pull that trailer around and lets go!

Load me up & I promise we will do great, we really will,
The best thing is I will help these kids learn life skills.

So, sure those others might be muscular and stout,
Teaching your kids responsibility is what I am about.

So, let the fun begin; let's start this teaching today,
I’m a great investment for as little as you just paid.

    

 
 
 


 

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