Orrin Woodward: Life Leadership

NY Times/WSJ best-selling author Orrin Woodward shares his life leadership secrets.

  • Orrin Woodward

    1
    Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE Leadership. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

    This blog is an Alltop selection and ranked in HR's Top 100 Blogs for Management & Leadership.




  • Rascal Radio 7 Day Free Trial

  • Email Me

  • Orrin’s Latest Book


  • Mental Fitness Challenge

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,130 other subscribers

  • Categories

  • Archives

Archive for October, 2010

Ludwig Von Mises – Morals over Money

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 27, 2010

Character is not a binary switch, meaning one cannot divide people into two Manichean groups, one with character and the other without.  Instead, think of character, less like an on/off switch and more like the spectrum of colors.  A few people having little to no character, a few others, having character that cannot be bought, while the masses fall into a spectrum of character, having a portion of character, moving from a little to a lot.  The more character someone has, the harder it is to buy them out, resisting offers of rewards or punishments intended to bend their character to comply with the wishes of the exploiters in life.  Most people have a price, yielding their character at that point, surrendering their principles to their pocketbooks and peace.  But a few, only a courageous few, will hold onto their principles, withstanding vociferous criticism, eschewing lucrative financial gains, no matter what to maintain their character.   Although few in number, they appear regularly on the stages of history, standing for their convictions, regardless of the price to be paid.  Whether one agrees with their stand or not, everyone should respect their convictions.  Imagine history without the likes of St. Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, George Washington, Adam Smith, Ludwig Von Mises, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Theresa, to name just a few.  History is altered when men and women of character refuse to surrender at any price, valuing living authentic lives based upon their deepest principles, rather than receive the applause of the world, while knowing that they have sold out.  Standing for justice regardless of the strength of the opposition or the personal cost entailed in the stand is not for the weak of heart.   Thankfully, even though few in number, others, with the same convictions, but less courage, discerning the truthfulness of the stand, will rally around the leader, creating a movement that changes the course of history.  

Mises pictureLet’s review one such life,  a man by the name of Ludwig Von Mises, an economic leader who stood for truth in an era when most economist stumbled over themselves bowing to a lie.  There is an old saying, “Any dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim against the current.” Mises swam against the currents, defending free enterprise and classic liberalism when nearly all were chasing after the perks offered by teaching government intervention and control.  Many other economist intellectually understood the errors in the Keynesian policies, knowing in there heart and minds that government spending sprees would only lead to massive debt and unemployment, but willingly surrendered their convictions for personal advancement during the Keynesian bubble turned train wreck.  Mises, a one man band against his profession initially, refused to go along with the charade, pointing out the logical fallacies, calculating the long term consequences, influencing other economist not to sell their minds for money and prestige.  Mises, a prototypical example of a man without a price, lived his life by the motto from Virgil, the Roman poet who wrote, “Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito,” meaning, “do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it.”  Mises proceeded to do just that for the duration of his long life.

In fact, Murray Rothbard, one of the great economists and minds of the twentieth century wrote of Mises:

Holding these views, and hewing to truth indomitably in the face of a century increasingly devoted to statism and collectivism, Mises became famous for his “intransigence” in insisting on a non-inflationary gold standard and on laissez-faire.

Effectively barred from any paid university post in Austria and later in the United States, Mises pursued his course gallantly. As the chief economic adviser to the Austrian government in the 1920s, Mises was single-handedly able to slow down Austrian inflation; and he developed his own “private seminar” which attracted the out­standing young economists, social scientists, and philosophers throughout Europe. As the founder of the “neo-Austrian School” of economics, Mises’s business cycle theory, which blamed inflation and depressions on inflationary bank credit encouraged by Central Banks, was adopted by most younger economists in England in the early 1930s as the best explanation of the Great Depression.

At a time when the stream was flowing to Statism, whether in the form Nazism, Fascism, Socialism, or Communism or the New Deal, Mises had overcome the hysteria of the times to think deeply on the underlying issues.  Rothbard again, shares Mises contributions in the following way:

For Mises was able to demonstrate (a) that the expansion of free markets, the division of labor, and private capital investment is the only possible path to the prosperity and flourishing of the human race; (b) that socialism would be disastrous for a modern economy because the absence of private ownership of land and capital goods prevents any sort of rational pricing, or estimate of costs, and (c) that government intervention, in addition to hampering and crippling the market, would prove counter-productive and cumulative, leading inevitably to socialism unless the entire tissue of interventions was repealed.

As I write this in 2010, after years of inflationary government policies, causing government debt to reach unsustainable levels, with socialistic thinking engendered into the masses through a school system funded by our Statist bureaucrats, Mises looks like a prophet.  Few will ever understand the courage it must have required of Mises to sustain such personal and professional animosity, all the while, believing that time would prove him right, knowing that truth is more important than professional perks. In fact Robert Heilbroner, a famous economist, more of the socialists flavor, but honest in his research of the data, in his article conceding the defeat of socialism to free enterprise, titled, The World After Communism, concluded:

But what spokesman of the present generation has anticipated the demise of socialism or the “triumph of capitalism”? Not a single writer in the Marxian tradition! Are there any in the left centrist group? None I can think of, including myself. As for the center itself—the Samuelsons, Solows, Glazers, Lipsets, Bells, and so on—I believe that many have expected capitalism to experience serious and mounting, if not fatal, problems and have anticipated some form of socialism to be the organizing force of the twenty-first century.

… Here is the part hard to swallow. It has been the Friedmans, Hayeks, von Miseses, e tutti quanti who have maintained that capitalism would flourish and that socialism would develop incurable ailments. Mises called socialism “impossible” because it has no means of establishing a rational pricing system; Hayek added additional reasons of a sociological kind (“the worst rise on top”). All three have regarded capitalism as the “natural” system of free men; all have maintained that left to its own devices capitalism would achieve material growth more successfully than any other system.

Heilbroner confronted the socialistic demise in the late 1980’s, not by diverting people’s attention, not by making excuses, but by honestly admitting that Mises, and his followers, were right all along.  I respect Heilbroner for calling out the ‘elephant in the room‘ avoided today’s Statists oriented economists.  The socialist/statist economist and politicians were wrong, even when a million of them called untruth the truth, it doesn’t alter the real truth.   Mises and his small band of rascals, although deprived of honors and recognition in their lifetime (with the exception of Hayek’s Nobel Prize the year after Mises death, probably in deference to the recently fallen defender of free enterprise), stood for truth and time has proven them right.  Government intervention, far from being a modern day elixir, has damaged economies and markets wherever its poison has been imbibed.  Sadly, once an untruth sinks into the consciousness of the body politic, rooting out the cancer can be a long term process.  As Mises stated in his magnum opus, Human Action, “Economics deals with society’s fundamental problems; it concerns everyone and belongs to all. It is the main and proper study of every citizen.”  All citizens should study the history of political, economic and spiritual freedoms, the very freedoms that under-gird all of our liberties enjoyed today.

One might be thinking, if Mises pointed out the fallacies of bank inflations and socialism as early as the 1920’s, why did we proceed for nearly a century on a spending binge, resulting in the near bankruptcy of most governments in the West?  The answer revolves around character, or, more precisely, lack of character.  ‘Follow the money’ – FTM, is the main principle that modern day politicians use to justify their egregious behaviors.  FTM along with it’s brother SFM – ‘something for nothing’ combine to make a powerful force, overcoming principles and character wherever they are allowed to prosper unchecked.  Since most people have a price, referring back to the spectrum of character,  educators and politicians FTM’d into supporting Keynesian policies, rationalizing their sell out, by the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, offered to all willing to following the current.  The current that Mises opposed in his battle for truth against the modern currents.  Exploiters love something for nothing and will follow the money to determine their current convictions, no pun intended.   Meaning, that sadly, most people’s convictions are arrived at by following the external currents, not by, following their internal character.  FTM may sound cynical, but no professional in the historical or economic fields, interpreting historical events properly, can accurately understand motives and methods without thinking through FTM.   Since few can withstand the heady effects of money, power and prestige, FTM is usually the best indicator in studying the world’s actions.  Outside of the a select few like Mises, the minority character centered individuals, FTM is nearly a fool proof method in economic and historical studies.  But how are both educators and politicians rewarded for supporting faulty Keynesian economics?

Let’s start with the politicians, and what they gain by FTM and SFM.  Politicians, especially in modern day democracies, are constantly in need of at least two things.  The first being money.  If politicians had a way to tax the people without having to announce an unpopular tax increase, they would think they had died and gone to political heaven.  Keynesian economic thought made this heaven come to earth, by morally justifying, what previously had been verboten.  Keynesians taught that, by inflating the money supply, reaping the benefit of paper money not backed by gold or any other real wealth, at the expense of the masses by lowered value of their money, politicians could enjoy more money and power while maintaining popularity in office.  Keynesian’s provided an amenable world-view for politicians, condoning their SFM tendencies through inflationary money policies (read: a secret tax on the citizen’s money) without having to risk an election day disaster, proclaiming to all that they didn’t raise taxes.  Instead they applied a secret tax (worse than income tax in certain cases) applied through inflating the money supply. Since it’s not understood by the mass of people, politicians, hiding behind the Keynesian mantra, pass along to future citizens, citizens that the current politician doesn’t need to pander to, in order maintain peace with current electorate.  Like John Maynard Keynes, the economic systems founder, when fighting back against the rational economist, who pointed out the logical long run fallacies of Keynes’ proposals, stated, “In the long run, we are all dead.”  Perhaps a funny quip to confound the people, belying the immorality of modern economic methods by providing politicians with free money at posterities expense.

The economist, on the other hand, benefit from the prestige gained by supporting the immoral Keynesian policies.  It would take an individual of Mises like character, to withstand the promises of advancement, by supporting the Keynesian theories of government intervention throughout the economy.  Why do universities support government intervention?  Can you say FTM?  Who is funding nearly all the universities in America and the Western world?  Government anyone?  Statist Government?  The very government, who partners with educators to convince the masses on the benefit of inflationary and socialistic methods, then rewards the same educators by money grants, by prestigious university posts, and by government advisory roles in the Statist government created by said propaganda.  If you follow the money, it flows something like this in a simplistic rendition: government prints paper money, stealing value from all Americans, takes some of money to reward economist educators (I use that word loosely), who write mighty tomes (propaganda) in support of said governments, creating a virtuous cycle of advancement for exploiters in both the political and educational fields.  All of these benefits paid for at the expense of the masses, who being ignorant of the scheme, merely wonder why it becomes tougher every year to make a living.  Politicians win by spending money that isn’t theirs; economists win by receiving advancements by teaching untruths; the citizens lose by swallowing the lie, surrendering ‘we the people’ to ‘we the exploited.‘  The losses endured come in several forms.  First by having the value of their hard earned dollars reduced yearly, forcing people on fixed incomes to go back to work or seek government handouts, selling their freedoms in the bargain, the dollars loses value every year.  Second, the citizens are filled with propaganda on the benefits of Statist interventions, even though, after five thousand years of recorded history, socialism/statist policies have never worked.  This reminds me of the Kings of  Statist policies, Hitler and Lenin.  Hitler, that master manipulator through propaganda said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”  How about this classic from Hitler as well, “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”  Not to be outdone, Lenin said, “A lie told often enough becomes truth.”  If economists are rewarded for following the company line, and the companies in this case is funded by the government, then it doesn’t take a grand conspiracy, but merely an understanding FTM and SFM, to see why our present economy is failing.  It’s hard for anyone to stand in the workplace, especially, if the boss rewards certain behaviors, while punishing others, leaving people in a moral quandary, pitting their money against their morals.
We have surrendered economic truth to the peace and
affluence of the elites all at the expense of the mass of citizens.   It
is time for a group of men and women, like our founding fathers, to
stand for truth, no matter where it leads.  If everyone continues the
charade parade, society as a whole is the loser.  Even those who benefit
in the short term will lose when the system collapses.  Whether you are
a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, an Independent, or undecided,
you have a vested interested in weeding out the intoxicating effect that
SFM and FTM have over our body politic.  God only knows the future
course of our country, but let it not be written, in the hour of need,
that our great country was abandoned by leaders, who lacked the courage
and character to make a stand.  Millions of men and women will surrender
to untruth, the subsequent lies engulfing the world in darkness, but
when one courageous person has had enough, one person, be it man or
woman, who being sick and tired of the lies and darkness, lights a match
inside his soul with truth, scattering the darkness of the millions by
the light cast from one soul set burning brightly on the oil of truth!
Where is the next generation of men and women, willing to set there soul
on fire for truth?  People, who, as Mises life motto from Virgil said,
“do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it.”  God
Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Finances | 1 Comment »

Conflict – The Five Steps to Resolution

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 26, 2010

Over the years, I have, through reading books and studying great leaders, developed a five step pattern to resolve conflict.  Conflict will occur, whether its addressed and resolved, or not addressed and festering is up to the leaders in the community. I know of no other process that leaders can apply to their communities that will yield as positive a result as mastering the conflict resolution process.  Conversely, I know of no other way to as quickly destroy a community as conflict aversion.   The five step process will only work when both parties want to resolve the conflict, which, surprisingly, isn’t a given today.  If both parties are not sold out to the idea that the relationship is more important than the conflict, then no amount of effort from one party will resolve the issue.  It takes two or more to get into conflict and it takes the same parties to resolve it.  Relationships can bring so much joy into a persons life, sadly, damaged relationship can bring so much heartache into a person’s life.  Mastering the ability to resolve conflict quickly, without letting it fester, will improve your relationship and leadership influence.  To resolve any conflict, we must assume that both parties desire resolution, willing to sit down in person, meaning a face to face meeting to discuss.  This is a major point in resolving any conflict as one cannot pick up the unspoken queues of body language over the phone, through email, etc. If both parties will not agree to sit down, then, most likely, one of the parties no longer values the relationship enough to expend the time and effort. With these background agreements in place, here is the five step pattern to resolve conflict:

1. Affirm the Relationship – I am here because I value your friendship more than I value the discomfort of confronting my hurt feelings.
2. Seek to Understand – Covey’s thoughts on listening are worth their weight in gold, teaching one to seek the others persons feelings, thoughts and perspectives first.
3. Seek to be Understood – After understanding, share one’s feelings, thoughts and perspectives, not in an attacking mood, but in an effort for other party to see one’s views.
4. Own Responsibility by Apologizing – Seek to see where any, if not all of the conflict is one’s responsibility, learning to respond differently in the future.  A genuine apology not only affirms the relationship but can do wonders in releasing hurt feelings.
5. Seek Agreement – After both parties have apologized, accepting responsibility for their parts in the conflict, seeking agreement means re-uniting on the common vision that drew both sides together in the first place, agreeing that the cause is bigger then the conflict is for both parties.

Let’s review each of the five steps, learning the process to strengthen relationships through each misunderstanding, instead of, losing relationships each time a misunderstanding arises.  The first step is to affirm the relationship before diving into the details.  An example opening statement to start the process of resolution, “I am here, even though it’s uncomfortable, because I value our relationship, and would rather be uncomfortable resolving our misunderstandings than comfortable with misunderstanding in our relationship”  If you think about it, one must value the relationship to sit down, because if one didn’t value the relationship, then why sit down for conflict resolution at all?  Let the other party know why you are sitting down, stressing the importance the other party has played in your life, even asking for prayer to start the process, if both parties are amenable to that.  The goal of the beginning affirmations by both parties, is to validate the other person as a human being and a valued relationship.   When hurtful issues come up  later in the process, both sides should understand that the goals isn’t to attack the person, but only address the issues.  People are affirmed, while issues are addressed and adjustments in behaviors made to restore, if not strengthen the relationships.

The second step of the process is to seek understanding from the others person’s vantage point.  This is a critical step in the process.  The goal should be to listen intently, seeking to see the conflict from the others view, not justifying one’s positions.  Let the other party know that you are here to listen and understand what happened from his or her perspective, giving freedom to the other party to share feelings, hurts, and thoughts so you can expand your insights into how the conflict initiated, thinking solutions to ensure better conduct in the future.  By letting the other party unburden themselves, not taking the words personally, but taking them professionally, remembering that hurting people can hurt people, one frees the other party from the bitterness building within.  Only after listening to the other party, asking questions to clarify and understand, seeking not to defend one’s actions, but only to clearly state the other party’s position, expressing concern over the pain caused by the conflict, is one ready to move to the next step.  Even though hurting others may not have been one’s intention, it usually is the reality which should create an empathic spirit before one shares his or her side of the issues.  Many times, the hurt is over an expectation not met by one or both parties.  Expectations, not clearly spelled out in a relationship, can lead to hurts over expectation not met.  Better communication reduces false expectations and the subsequent conflict surrounding them.  After listening, one should state back to the other person the concerns addressed, affirming them by summarizing the views expressed, displaying the value placed on the others thoughts and feelings. Genuinely listening to another person is one of the most affirming things that you can do to build people and release misunderstandings.

The third step in the process is to seek to be understood.  By this point, you have affirmed the other person by words, by listening, and by taking the time to sit down, only now should one share lovingly the issues from one’s perspective.  Hopefully, by affirming the other party, making deposits into the love/respect tank of the other party, they will listen intently to one’s feelings, hurts, and thoughts.  The goal is not to blast the other person, but to address the issues, sharing where, in the future, things can be handled differently.  Remember, resolution is the object, not justification.  One must bring up the issues, but one should not assign motives to the other party.  For example, one might state that the other party neglected to call, but when one states that they did so on purpose, one is leaving the real of humanity and entering into the realm of God, because God only knows the motives of others, certainly not us.  In fact, it’s hard enough to comprehend our own motives, let alone, claiming to know the motives of others.  Share the tough issues without being dogmatic, meaning not saying – you always, you never, etc.  Give the other party as many benefits of the doubt as possible. The Bible states, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”  In most cases, if the other party has been affirmed, listened to, and loved, the willingness to accept some responsibility for the conflict is increased, making resolution possible.  If you focus on incorrect behaviors and actions, rather than incorrect people and motives, your chances of resolution are enhanced greatly.

The fourth step is to own as much of the conflict as possible within the realm of truth.  Leaders search for ways to be responsible while protecting the egos of the other party.  Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to be in conflict.  The objective, for both parties , is to see where their actions caused pain to the other side, leading to apologies and a restored relationship.  Why is it so hard for people to apologize for actions hurtful to others?  Many people, even though they know that they are not perfect, refuse to apologize to others, leaving a trail of broken relationships in their wake.  But every leader learns that a genuine apology creates more good will than a thousand justifications will ever do.  Since we all know that we aren’t perfect, also knowing that others know that we aren’t perfect, what is so hard with apologizing and admitting what everyone knows anyway?  The higher that one climbs the leadership ladder, the more that one has to apologize to others, simply because, leaders juggle many things at the same time, leading to some being dropped accidentally.  One must learn to apologize properly to others, coming from your heart, not just your lips.  But leaders, also, must learn to accept apologies from others, harboring no ill feelings moving forward.  As Alexander Pope, the great English writer, wrote, “To err is human, to forgive divine.”  Leaders will err, leading to sincere apologies.  Leaders will be hurt by others, leading to sincere forgiveness offered to others apologies.  If two people genuinely value their relationship, willingly following the five step pattern for resolution, apologizing where they have erred, then restoration is nearly a given.

The fifth and final step in the process is to seek agreement in roles and responsibilities as the partner in the future.  Both parties have been affirmed, both sides have been heard, apologies have been made where appropriate, and now agreement for the need to unify is confirmed.  The issues, having been flushed from the relationship, leave only the bonds of love and unity remaining.  Seeking agreement conveys the strengths of both parties in accomplishing the communities objectives, affirming again the value of both parties working together for the common good.  The vision of the community aligns the task of each person together, creating a unity in the team, generating results much easier by the interdependence amongst the leaders.  Agreement between the leaders is a form of ‘buy in’, making both leaders desire unity in the team to accomplish a mission bigger than either one of them.  Conflict between them is now in the past, a restored unity, leading to greater accomplishments, is in the future.  Unity in a community, creates harmony and results, while conversely, lack of unity in a community, creates disharmony and decline. Leaders understand that conflict is a given, but resolution is a choice.  Communities who choose to follow the five steps of conflict resolution will enjoy the strength of unity propelling them to uncommon results in the community’s quest. Like I said at the beginning of this discussion, in my twenty plus years of leadership training, I know of no other single strategy, that will hold a team together as well as mastering the five step process of conflict resolution. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Life Training | 1 Comment »

Rascals – Having Fun, Making Money, & Making a Difference

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 24, 2010

Alright, I am going to go light on everyone day.  After, some lengthy tomes, violating nearly every rule of blogging, I want to post on my good friend, Chris Brady, and his top selling book Rascals.  The book has received rave reviews from many corners which doesn’t shock me in the least.  Chris has captured the importance of living an original life.  I love the saying, “You were born an original, don’t die a copy.”  On this Sunday, contemplate your original gifts, contemplate the wonderful opportunity to live free, and ponder what part you are to play in keeping the world free.  If you need some help in thinking about what freedom means, that yearning to follow the road less traveled, then I cannot recommend anything greater to you than reading Brady’s book, Rascals.  The book will challenge you to fulfill your purpose and strive for something more than a 9 to 5 life.  While you are picking up the book, let me offer you a glimpse of a Rascal that I saw on a YouTube video recently.  My son, Jordan, told me that I had to see this video and I laughed out loud as I saw a Rascal enjoying life and doing what he was called to do!  Are you following your dream?  Are you a Rascal?  Pick up Brady’s book and take the self test in the book to see how you score.  Enjoy the video of the drummer Rascal!  God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in All News | 1 Comment »

Conflict Resolution & Relationship Bombs

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 23, 2010

The more animals in the barn, the more ‘doodoo’ to deal with.

One of the most important skills for leaders, but sadly, one of the most misunderstood and rarely used, a lack that leaves most people with only a fraction of the influence deserved, is conflict resolution. Whether building a tribe for business, a volunteer organization for charity, a church community, or any other group of people, the ability to resolve conflict is essential. Think of any successful city, they have developed specific processes to handle garbage successfully.  From gathering garbage, to shipping it out, burning in an incinerator, or placing into a land fill, all villages plan for garbage and the resolution of it.  Can you imagine what a city would look like if it didn’t have a specific plan to handle garbage?  In the same way, every leader must have a plan to handle conflict (garbage) in his or her organization, resolving it at the source, strengthening the relationships through a better understanding of the expectations on both sides.  Conflict is like a fire, easier to snuff out when it’s small, but nearly impossible to handle when not dealt with quickly.  Imagine going to bed at night, glancing into the corner, you notice a small flame flickering; but, deciding to ignore it, you go to bed, thinking you will address it in the morning.  Probably not a good plan if you like your house.  Just as, not addressing conflict, is not a good plan, if you would like to maintain your relationships.  A famous bumper sticker read, and I am going to paraphrase for younger ears, “Doodoo Occurs.”  ‘Doodoo’ will occur in all of your relationships.  It’s a given, because we are all imperfect human beings.  There is no such thing as a ‘no maintenance’ relationship, so how one maintains key relationships is  critical in one’s ability to lead.

Hurt feelings, which lead to conflict, start when one’s expectations of another person’s responsibilities and commitments are left unfulfilled.  This can happen for many reasons, some as innocent as a lack of communication about one’s expectation.  Meaning, that its hard to fulfill a commitment that one is unaware they are committed to.  For example, if I was expected to pick up my wife at 5 pm and go to dinner, it would probably help if I knew that was the plan.  It would be easy for me to miss this responsibility, if I did not clearly understand this was the plan.  Personally, I have lost count of the number of times that people were hurt over expectations not clearly delineated.  Expectations are taught through the cultures formed in each community, but also through conversations between individual members.  When expectations are not fulfilled, an essential principle is to not assume the worst in others behaviors.  Perhaps they just didn’t understand what the expectations were.  Sitting down quickly with the other party, lovingly addressing the situation, and apologizing for your role in mix up, will do wonders in restoring the bonds of friendship, strengthening the speed of trust in your relationships.  Everyone in the community is responsible to convey the mutual expectations in each relationship. Improved communication will nip conflict at its source,  reducing issues to deal with, since most people want to perform up to the expectations of others.

But even when the expectations are spelled out, conflict will still happen,  We are human beings, capable of so much good, but also, imperfect, impetuous, unreasonable, not to mention over-emotional at times. The Bible states, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”  Love in a community is the bond that holds relationship together when disappointments occur.  Only a coward will dwell on his hurts, running the hurts over and over again in their mind, like an never ending instant replay, while avoiding the only person able to salve his wound.  Cowards prefer their hurt feelings over a restored relationship.  As the old saying goes, “Bitterness and resentment is like drinking poison expecting someone else to die.”  Don’t get bitter, but do get braver, brave enough to sit down with the other person, seeking to understand why the expectations on both sides are unfulfilled.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, moving into how to resolve conflict, until we understand a few of the major ‘relationship bombs’ to avoid in any conflict.  Improper conflict resolution can take a small issue, one easily resolved in a couple of hours, and, through the violation of the principles ruin life long friendships; simply because, the offended party preferred to nurse the hurt rather than nurture the relationship. How sad for both parties, not to mention the community, suffering from the residual damage associated with the immature actions from one, if not both, parties.

Let me address a few ‘relationship bombs’ that are sure to damage, if not ruin relationships.  These bombs must be removed permanently from your arsenal of leadership tools. The are not healthy, productive, or God-centered.  Any community committing to eliminate ‘relationship bombs’ will thrive in today’s bomb throwing world.  However, if the culture of a community approves relationship bombing, restorations become more difficult and the required apologies much deeper if restoration is to be made.  Here are several ‘relationship bombs’ to avoid: the first, dwelling on hurts without addressing to the appropriate party; the second, gossiping to others while unwilling to discuss with the other party.  There are multiple factors in each ‘relationship bomb, so let’s evaluate them, learning which areas to focus on for improvement.

The first ‘relationship bomb’ is when a person, hurting by another person’s actions, instead of addressing the other person, chooses to nurse the hurt, building bitterness and resentment, while the other person remains clueless of the brewing conflict.  Every person must make it a rule for themselves, that, if they think about a hurt more than once, meaning they cannot forgive it the first time, then they need to address as soon as humanly possible with the other party directly. But not in a spirit of attacking, instead, in a spirit of understanding.  Too often, it seems that the offended party, by judging others actions, plays God, assigning malicious motives to others actions, without giving the others the benefit of the doubt.  It’s hard enough to determine your own motives, let alone omnisciently know the motives of others.  Stop playing God and start being a friend to others when in a conflict.  By assuming the best of intentions to the other party, one will find less bitterness, and more a spirit of conciliation, reflecting less on the hurt and more on the time of fellowship with the troubled relationship.

A second factor that hinders conflict resolution is the near limitless ability of human beings to self deceive themselves.  Self deception allows one to place all the blame, all the responsibility and all the apologies to the other party, leaving themselves only with all the hurt.  Is it even possible for one side to be totally innocent while the other side completely to blame?  In order to combat self deception, pause before you judge, pray before you become bitter, think about the entire situation from the vantage point of the other participant, perhaps you did play a part.  Empathy is the ability to view the situation from the other person’s perspective, and it’s essential in combating self deception.  Empathy frees you let go of offenses by understanding the conflict from the other side of the table, replacing a judgmental spirit with a graceful forgiving spirit.  Think through the chain of events, asking yourself, “What could I have done differently?”  By making each conflict a ‘teachable moment”, one learns many lesson to apply in the future. The bigger the leader, the quicker he is to take responsibility, seeking resolution for the benefit of the entire community.  The leaders always apologizes first, focuses on the other person’s position, addressing the issue, but not attacking the person.

A third factor that reduces the chances of restoration is holding onto hurts to justify quitting the community or tribe.  If someone is too scared to make the changes confronting them, then many times, they will seek conflict, hoping to use the conflict as a justification for quitting the community.  For example, if someone isn’t growing personally, and is unwilling to endure the pain of changing, a common technique to reduce the angst, is to generate conflict.   Sometimes its at the subconscious level, but they create conflict to justify quitting, making the conflict, instead of unaddressed growth issues, as the reason for exiting, saying things like, “Well, so and so hurt me, how can I possibly continue?”  Of course, they won’t sit down and address the conflict, for fear that it may get resolved if they did that, thus eliminating their justification for quitting during the painful change process.  People looking for an excuse will avoid conflict resolution at all cost, or else, their humpty-dumpty justifications will fall to apart, never to be put back together again.  Make it a goal, to never be the reason another person quits your community.  Remember, hurting people hurt people, so conflict will happen.  But, instead of having a judging spirit, do your best to have a spirit of grace, empathizing with their fears of inadequacy until they realize their own potential.

The second ‘relationship bomb’ is endemic in our modern culture – gossip.  When conflict is not resolved, it doesn’t go away, but only goes underground.  Conflict will be talked about either way, if not with the people involved, then with everyone else not involved.  Gossip is used to justify one’s positions to others when they cannot be justified in a legitimate resolution process.  Sadly, more communities and tribes have been destroyed by this cowardly behavior than nearly any other single behavioral issue.   Gossip is one of the most cowardly, but also common behaviors known to mankind.  It happens when a party feels hurt, but is unwilling or unable to sit down with other party to resolve the conflict.  Because resolution has not occurred, one or both parties will seek to justify their position by character assassinating the other person’s actions and motives.  Sadly, this only hurts many innocent people who should never be privy to others dirty laundry.  Can you imagine showing your neighbors all your garbage in your house before bagging it up and throwing out?  Can you imagine your neighbor coming over and dumping garbage on your front lawn?  When someone comes to dump on you or when you plan on dumping on others, think to yourself, why are you involving others in the process unless they are part of the solution to bring both parties together.  Gossip destroys relationship, destroys trust and destroys reputations throughout a community.  Leaders must protect the reputations of others by closing the circle and not expanding it, seeking justification for their side of the conflict.  Anyone desiring a large community must master conflict resolution and teach it into the culture, having no patience for endless gossip.  If someone gossips to you, ask them, “Can I quote you on this?”  Let the gossiper know that you are taking this information directly to the person gossiped about.  This will do two key things.  One, it let’s people know that you are not a person who feeds gossip.  Second, when you go to harmed party, the one gossiped about, you build his trust by not keeping secrets, and ending the merry-go-round of gossip. Garbage must be cleaned out of a culture, not cultivated in it.

When gossip is allowed to fester in a community, reputations are destroyed.  Biblically, character assassinations are just one level removed from an actual assassination.  Do not play with this fire, put it out quickly, upholding the reputations of all involved, seeking to put on fires, not fan them.  I have been blessed with many long term relationships.  I think of my wife of eighteen years, my friendship with leaders like Chris Brady and George Guzzardo in business over fifteen years.  In this amount of time, do you think it’s possible that conflict may have sprung up in each of these relationship?  Of course, but by practicing the methods of conflict resolution, each of these relationships has become stronger with time, stronger, because each party refused to run to third parties to defend their positions, ruining the reputation of others for selfish justifications. Value your friends reputation more than you value your positions, protecting the relationship for the long term.  But if you value your position more than you value your friends, you begin to slide down the slippery slope of character assassination and conflict resolution procrastination.  The world is filled with people, who, unwilling to improve themselves, choose instead to tear down, making themselves feel higher by lowering others.  Refuse to play the game, rather, choose to be like the biggest leaders, who speak all the good they can of others.  The biggest leaders do speak behind others backs, but they speak only all the good things about others. Nothing builds trust like building others up, whether in their presence or with their friends and them absent.  When someone comes to you in an attempt to cast aspersion on another person’s character, your role shouldn’t be to take sides, but become a facilitator for restoration.  You may not have asked for the role, but when a leader is drawn into the circle by gossip, he becomes part of the solution, not part of the problem, telling people, either go back to the person and address alone, or both of us can go to the person and address.  This is the only two options since proper leadership  doesn’t gossip, but it does address and resolve. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Life Training | 1 Comment »

Andrew Jackson’s Character & The Second National Bank

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 22, 2010

Andrew Jackson, when right or when wrong, was always a man of strong convictions, willing to stand by his principles even when it hurt him personally to do so. It takes character to stand by one’s convictions, especially when a financial motive is offered to tempt one to ignore them.  Character is the ability to follow true principles because they are true principles, regardless of the financial consequences involved.  In today’s ‘situational ethics’ society, principles are twisted to justify nearly any activity, tossing character aside into the dustbin of history.  Much could be learned by studying the courageous stand made by Andrew Jackson against the ‘moneyed interest’ during the re-charter debates for the Second National Bank.  Reading this history makes one yearn to find leaders of conviction to revive America, and the world, out of the moral relativity currently poisoning our society.  Let’s review the historic battle between Jackson and the Second National Bank, learning the lessons of character and conviction so necessary for today world.

Andrew Jackson pictureJackson resided in the thriving American West, witnessing first hand the dire effects of inflationary banking policies in the western land prices.  Jackson learned the salutary lesson of hard money (gold and silver coins) vs. the prevalent paper based inflationary policies loved by bankers and wealthy merchants.  Inflationary methods allowed banks to print paper, pretending the paper had value, even thought it wasn’t backed by gold or silver.  Without a check on the banks, like requiring banks to submit gold for paper dollars when requested, one can easily see how banks would fall into the trap of printing more paper than could possibly be redeemed on demand.  Profits for banks can increase greatly in the short term by interest collected on nothing more than paper, causing more money to flow into the marketplace which raises the prices of consumer goods as more printed dollars are available.  The splurge of printed money only corrects  itself when consumers become aware of the inflationary policies of banks, quickly requesting gold for their inflated paper dollars before the banks runs out their reserves.  In theory, paper money should be a promissory note, representing gold, but easier to carry on one’s person.  The minute the promissory note is not backed by real value (gold, silver etc), it becomes fraudulent with the bank benefitting by printing monopoly money at the expense of all consumers who now own dollars less valuable than before the fraudulent activity. For example, if we doubled the amount of dollars in circulation today, giving everyone twice as much money as they have currently, each dollar would quickly fall to half of its former value, prices would rise as each person’s dollars bid up the prices in an attempt to purchase the means for living.  Printing money does not produce wealth, but it can benefit the few at the expense of the many, a temptation too lucrative to be left in the hands of government politicians and their wealthy patrons.

When Jackson was elected President of the United States, one of his missions was to end the syndicate of control over America’s money supply by three power hungry groups: foreign interests, big business, and big politicians.  Jackson believed that banks ought to run like any other businesses, having to sink or swim based upon their own business acumen, needing reserves to secure their loans provided.  But when a national bank receives the protection of the federal government to ensure its solvency, this is no longer free enterprise, but a form of fascism, where government and business partner, reducing competition amongst banks, and increasing the cost of the entire system.  It would be similar to all automotive companies agreeing to fix prices on cars, certainly improving the profits for manufacturers, while decreasing the downside risk of the manufacturers, all of this, at the expense of the customers.  The Second National Bank received the deposits of the America, ensuring its solvency, providing a special deal for the bank and its investors at the expense of other banks and all customers.  Nicholas Biddle, the president of the Second National Bank, was not alarmed, at first, with Jacksons rhetoric, having heard many politicians boast of drastic changes when entering office, only to conform into the system when elected.  But Jackson character was different, his campaign promises before aligned with his actions after election, necessitating a showdown between the President and the money interest behind the Bank.

Biddle, President of the Second National bank, a scion of a high society Philadelphia family, did not like the rough and tumble behavior of the American political process, preferring to do his work behind the scenes. Jackson, on the other hand, loved the volatile political process and was elected by the populist vote throughout America.  No two people better contrasted the opposing currents in the American stream of consciousness: the first, an equal opportunity for all proponent; the second, wealth and privilege for the few proponent. Jackson shared his disdain for the Bank in his first Presidential message saying, “Both the constitutionality and the expediency of the law creating this bank are well questioned by a large portion of our fellow citizens, and it must be admitted by all that it has failed in the great end of establishing an uniform and sound currency.”  Biddle, not concerned, responded to Jackson’s message with a cool indifference, writing of Jackson, “They should be treated as the honest though erroneous notions of one who intends well.”  Biddle, simply put, did not believe that Jackson had the character and fortitude to fight, let alone win, against the moneyed interest firmly entrenched in America’s political system.  Biddle would soon repent of this mistaken belief.

After confirming Jackson’s intention to not renew the Bank’s charter, Biddle rallied his political forces, including Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, deciding to re-charter the Bank in Jackson’s first term, instead of the waiting until the charter ran out at the end of Jackson’s second term.  The goal being to force Jackson’s hand, since, desiring to be re-elected, Jackson, the money interest believed, would not risk his re-election on the Bank’s charter. But not for the last time,  the Biddle and his crew, underestimated the character of Jackson.  The Bank Bill, with the help of Clay and Webster, quickly passed through both houses, leaving Jackson with a fight or flee choice on his veto decision.  Most people would have simply bowed to the powerful money interest, maintaining their prestige and electability, but Jackson was not like most people.  In a historic veto address, Jackson declared war on the wealthy aristocracy attempting to subvert the American Republic.  His veto address should be read by all Americans who love freedom and equal opportunity for all.  Let me share a small portion of this powerful address:

“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.”

With this shot across the broadsides of the financial elite, a shot that could not go unanswered, especially when delivered by the sitting President of the United States, the elites turned on all of their political weapons.  Biddle realized, finally, that Jackson could not be bought, bullied or bs’ed.  Jackson, having studied the effects of paper money for years, especially the South Sea Bubble debacle of the 18th century, knew more about currency than many of his Eastern elites opposing him, understanding that paper money, not backed by hard currency, was a fraud upon the people.  Biddle, on the other hand, suffered no scruples in issuing propaganda articles in support of his Bank against the interest of the people, even using his money to influence, dare I say bribe, editors to run articles in a move to win the people to his side.  He wrote a letter to one editor, “If you will cause the articles I have indicated and others which I may prepare to be inserted in the newspaper in question, I will at once pay to you one thousand dollars.”  A thousand dollars at that time is equivalent to nearly twenty-five thousand today, certainly enough money to buy the principles of all but the editors of the highest character.  Actions like this only confirmed to Jackson his belief in the unhealthy influence of the Bank, not only with politicians, but also the press, leaving our republican political process in a sad state.  Remember, money and power are only two sides of the same coin. Where money gathers, power is soon to follow; where power gathers, money is soon to follow.

Biddle, not to be denied, declared war on Jackson in response to Jackson war on the Bank.  One of the Bank’s most virulent supporters, a man who could name his price, was Daniel Webster, the famed lawyer and politician from New England.  Even though Webster, originally, had opposed the Banks charter, he found Bank religion when Biddle offered a healthy retainer, helping Webster repent of his previous views.  In the midst of the re-charter controversy, Webster wrote the following missive to Biddle, “ I believe my retainer has not been renewed or refreshed as usual. If it be wished that my relation to the Bank should be continued, it may be well to send me the usual retainers.”  Webster, along with Henry Clay, were more than happy to support the financial elite structure as long as perks and recognition flowed to themselves in this Faustian bargain.  Webster launched a vociferous attack on the policies of Jackson, blasting his veto measure of the Bank.  Biddle had bought some of the best names in Congress to oppose Jackson, forcing consternation among many of Jackson supporters, requesting him to yield on the Bank issue to maintain decorum in the government.  On top of that, Jackson’s popularity suffered greatly by the spewed propaganda unleashed by editors congenial to the financial largesse offered by Biddle for diatribes against Jackson’s policy.

With the political forces in Congress assembled against him, with the editors of the press greased for battle by the outpouring of dollars, Biddle still had one more ace up his sleeve.  He feared that Jackson’s would remove the Treasury deposits from the Bank, starving the bank of the money necessary to maintain its unique power base, saying to Webster, “They will not dare to remove them. If the deposits are withdrawn, it will be a declaration of war which cannot be recalled.”  Biddle launched a campaign of loan closures, calling in loans made from his Bank to many businesses across the country, causing financial panic and loud calls for Jackson’s submission to the Bank’s re-charter.  With banks collapsing across the country under Biddle financial flexing of his muscles, Jackson’s resolve to finish the war only strengthened, witnessing, first hand, the inordinate power that the Bank held over the economy.  Jackson believed that any power capable of causing a panic of this magnitude was not healthy for the freedoms of the American people.  He denounced the Bank’s action to his cabinet, “The Bank has by degrees obtained almost entire dominion over the circulating medium, and with it, power to increase or diminish the price of property and to levy taxes on the people in the shape of premiums and interest to an amount only limited by the quantity of paper currency it is enabled to issue.”  Jackson clearly understood the role that money interest can play in causing inflation and market bubbles, an understanding seemingly lost by today’s politicians with our Federal Reserve System.

In fact, H. W. Brands is his remarkable biography of Andrew Jackson writes of Biddle’s plan to buy off members Congress along with key influencers in Jackson’s administration, “In half an hour,” he boasted to an intimate, “I can remove all the constitutional scruples in the District of Columbia. Half a dozen presidencies” — of bank branches — “a dozen cashierships, fifty clerkships, a hundred directorships, to worthy friends who have no character and no money.”  Another example of Biddle’s intuitive understanding that money and power flock together, by gaining one, the other will follow as night follows day.  Biddle, even in the midst of the government’s withdrawal of Treasury Deposits, remained confident of his ultimate victory writing, “My own view of the matter is simply this…. The [instigators] of this last assault on the Bank regret and are alarmed by it. But the ties of party allegiance can only be broken by the actual conviction of existing distress in the community. Nothing but the evidence of suffering abroad [that is, in the country as a whole] will produce any effect in Congress.… This worthy President thinks that because he has scalped Indians and imprisoned judges, he is to have his way with the Bank. He is mistaken.”  The corrupting effects of power are evident throughout the thoughts, writings, and actions of Biddle at this stage of the war, sharing with another confidante, “My own course is decided, all other banks and all other merchants may break, but the Bank of the United States shall not break.”  Biddle literally believed that he, by causing suffering to America, could control the political leaders of our country, making politicians serfs to the whims of the financial elite.

Jackson stood his ground, eventually winning the war, though not without receiving many wounds along the way.  Re-elected in a landslide, Jackson proved that a person with convictions and character can stand his ground, regardless of the forces aligned against him.  At one point in the battle, Jackson told his Vice-President Martin Van Buren, “The Bank is trying to kill me.  But I will kill it.”  Jackson demonstrated the powerful effect that one man or woman, with the courage to stand strong, will eventually strengthen the spine of others who recognize the fight between right and wrong.  Character, like a lack of character, is contagious.  Anyone can say they have character, but character is not recognized in words, but only in deeds, especially when you will suffer for your convictions.  Jackson accomplished many things in his life, both militarily and politically.  He died a revered American patriot, but, in my opinion, his most courageous stand occurred in his battle against the Second National Bank. May all of us learn the lessons of courage and character from Andrew Jackson’s life. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in All News | 1 Comment »

Billy Durant – Power of Vision

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 21, 2010

I have read thousands of books on successful people, on achievers with drive and tenacity, but one of my favorite entrepreneurs was a young man who grew up in Flint Michigan, by the name of William Durant. Billy Durant, the founder of, not only General Motors (GM), but also Buick and Chevrolet, was a classic case of serial entrepreneurship.  In my opinion, no life story represents the “can do” spirit of Free Enterprise any better than Durant’s, displaying the hopes and fears of the American Dream in all its glory.  His vision allowed him to bounce back after multiple setbacks, setbacks that would have demoralized a lesser person. Starting with nothing but vision and drive, Durant foresaw a world-wide automotive empire, founding Buick, Chevrolet, and Durant Motors, along with the automotive icon, GM.  Sadly, his story doesn’t have a happy ending financially, being forced to sell out his interest in GM to the Wall Street bankers in the early 1920’s; he lost his remaining fortune during the 1929 stock market crash, leaving him near penniless despite his creative genius. A key principle of life is to learn from both great successes and great failures, since many times, failure reveals the lessons better than success can. Being inspired by his dreams, humbled by his setbacks, and educated by his entrepreneurship, I have studied Durant’s life extensively, believing that Durant represents the power of vision better than any other entrepreneur.  It takes vision to sell the future, and Durant, many times, sold his vision without the benefit of money to back it up.  His life exemplifies the power of vision to create tomorrow’s reality.

I have read thousands of books on successful people, on achievers with drive and tenacity, but one of my favorite entrepreneurs was a young man who grew up in FlintDurant, in fact, actually lost GM twice during his entrepreneurial journeys.  The first time,  having built Buick into a major brand name and selling more cars than any other manufacturer, he pursued his brainchild of forming a trust to hold multiple car manufacturers into the formation of GM.  Taking the profits from Buick, he purchased Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac, to name just a few of the successful manufacturers forming the nucleus of GM.  Over the next several years, Durant expanded his empire by selling the vision of GM to other automobiles manufacturers, offering to buy the companies in return for GM stock.  Several times, surprisingly, Durant nearly bought out Henry Ford by offering GM stock in return for bringing Ford Motors into the GM trust, but Ford demanded cash, not GM stock, in order to close the deal.  Henry Ford, not once, but twice agreed to terms to sell Ford to GM, ultimately, only maintaining ownership in Ford Motors because Durant missed raising the necessary cash by the time deadline, once by less than twenty-four hours.  The true Titan of the automobile industry, the true visionary that saw the automobiles meteoric future was the man from Flint, Michigan named Billy Durant, not Henry Ford as we typically learn in the history books.  Can you imagine the history of automobiles had Durant raised the money in time to bring Ford Motors into the GM fold?

As normally the case with huge leaders, Durant’s vision surpassed his financing. Early in the second decade of the twentieth century, during an economic downturn, the car market stalled, tightening cash flows throughout GM divisions. Durant ran out of money, having used all of his and his friends money reserves, forcing him to sell GM to a committee of bankers happy to buy GM at a bargain basement price.  For the majority of people, people without vision, a setback of this magnitude would have knocked them out, but Durant’s vision carried him forward, undaunted by his “failure.”  Acting quickly,  he started another manufacturer, teaming up with a little known (at the time) racer and mechanic by the name of Louis Chevrolet.  With Durant’s business savvy, Chevrolet zoomed to the top quickly, selling cars so fast that it became one of the top manufacturers, even surpassing many of the GM brands.  Meanwhile, the non-visionary group of bankers managing GM, risked little of their precious capital, playing it safe with the new automotive field.  The bankers were no match for the vision and drive of Durant; even though the bankers had plenty of money, they lacked the one irreplaceable factor – vision.  Parlaying his success at Chevrolet, Durant started swapping Chevrolet stock for GM stock with the intention of buying enough stock to wrest control of GM back from the ultra conservative bankers.  In 1916, Durant achieved his goal.  Walking into a GM board meeting, in front of the bankers who had bought his former company, Durant announced that he was now the majority shareholder of GM, proclaiming his desire merge GM with Chevrolet.  One can only imagine the shock and dismay when the bankers realized they had been outwitted by the local business man with world sized vision.  This is a testament to the power of vision as Durant rebounded from an ignominious defeat, having to sell GM to the bankers and turned it into glorious victory by building Chevrolet into a dynasty, buying back controlling interest in his beloved GM through Chevrolet’s success.  Durant refused to surrender his vision of the future for GM, regardless of the odds against him, displaying the power of vision to surmount any obstacles in one’s life.

Durant also developed the unique structure of GM, including centralized administration at GM corporate, but decentralized operations in the various companies under flying under the GM banner.  Understanding that talented people were essential to the success of GM, Durant, with his magnetic vision, drew strong leaders into the GM orbit.  Nearly all the top automotive men of the time either worked for GM, or like Ford, nearly did. In fact, Walter Chrysler, later the founder Chrysler Motors, worked for Durant for many years as the headman of Buick Motors, being paid over $100,000 per year to do so.  Other recognizable top names who worked with Durant were Charles Kettering, Alfred Sloan, along with many other less recognized notables. Durant’s strong vision attracted other visionaries, drawing many talented people into the automotive field and the opportunities arising throughout GM.  His vision included the strategy of selling cars to fit the customer’s budget.  From low end vehicles for first time buyers to luxury vehicles for the wealthier patrons, GM offered products for every customer’s financial situation, with the goal of becoming a one stop shop for automobiles for every customer.

Durant’s successful takeover of GM, however, did not go unnoticed by the Wall Street bankers.  The bankers were not happy that an upstart businessman had outfoxed them for control of GM, and subsequently, developed a comeback strategy of their own.  Selling millions of vehicles and expanding his company across the globe was Durant’s major objectives, but the bankers had another goal in mind for GM.  Knowing Durant’s loyalty to his business partners, partners who had helped him fund Chevrolet and the GM takeover, the bankers began a covert operation to reduce the GM stock price.  Even though GM was profitable, the stock price began to tumble as the bankers flooded the market with GM stock.  Durant, always loyal to his friends, literally purchased millions of dollars of GM stock, not because he needed more stock, but in an attempt to support the stock price, protecting his friends and fellow GM investors from financial harm.  The Wall Street bankers, knowing Durant’s loyalty to his fellow investors would play right into their hands, calmly drove the stock price down until Durant ran out of personal funds. Having over ten million of his own dollars invested (a huge sum even in todays inflated dollars), Durant was at the brink of bankruptcy.   Finally crying ‘Uncle”, Durant was forced to sell on the cheap to a syndicate consisting of J. P. Morgan, the Dupont family, John Raskob, along with other Wall Street bankers.  Durant was booted out of GM for the second time, receiving only nickels on the dollar in real value.  His failure was not a failure in business strategy, but a failure to conceive of the level of animosity generated by a successful entrepreneur bid to maintain control of his own company against the financial powers aligned against him.  Most people would have surrendered their dreams at this point, becoming bitter at the injustices received, but Durant was not like most people.  Instead of wallowing in his misery, having a pity party at his own expense, he quickly started a third automobile manufacturer, know simply as Durant Motors, creating his third successful brand in less than twenty-five years.  But as fate would have it, in 1929, he lost his remaining millions in the stock market crash leading into America’s Great Depression. Durant was left with no money, no company, and few prospects for the future, having reached retirement age financially insolvent.

Is it possible to endure a setback of this magnitude and get up again?  With a strong vision, a strong character and a never say die attitude, one can endure practically anything.  Clearly, to evaluate Durant honestly, as no one is perfect, one must agree that Durant would have benefitted from a more conservative friend to help ‘reality check’  some of Durant’s visions.  A good example that would have helped Durant is the the role that the conservative Bud Walton, Sam Walton’s brother, played for visionary founder of Wal-Mart.  With that said, , no one can discount the strength of Durant’s vision to overcome nearly any setback.  Perhaps Durant should have played it safe after going from broke to millionaire three times in his life, but that just wasn’t the way he played the game.  In his seventies and eighties, at a time when most people are settling down into retirement, Durant was hard at work again in two new fields.  In the late 1930‘s, he saw a bright future, this time in bowling alleys and fast food restaurants, serving the thriving suburbs created by mass use of automobiles.  It’s hard to imagine the entrepreneurial spirit inside of Durant, recognizing the upcoming fast food revolution over a decade before Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame.  Only Durant’s failing health and eventual death in the mid 1940‘s ended his vision. By reading the life  and times of men and women like Durant, one can quickly see the difference that vision has in one’s life, creating the enthusiasm and staying power to endure and fulfill a dream.

There are many lessons to learn from Durant’s life, but let me share just a few.  First, he didn’t have the perfect upbringing, his dad leaving his mother when he was young, being raised by his mom on a minimal budget.  Durant knew that if he was going to make his dreams a reality, it would be from his own efforts and leadership, not from gifts of a rich dad or family.  Not only was he up to the task, but the challenge fired him with enthusiasm to do something great, ultimately creating the largest car company in the world for nearly a century.  Durant understood that it isn’t where you start in life, but how far you go that counts. It didn’t matter if he had to borrow money from a local Flint bank to get started in the horse carriage industry; it didn’t matter if he had to ditch the horse carriage business when automobiles were invented; it’s didn’t matter if he failed as long as his vision didn’t fail him.  It’s vision, not money, that is the true delineator in the quest for success.  Billy Durant’s life teaches us to never let lack of resources stop us from chasing our dreams.

Second, Durant saw a bright future for automobiles, seeing it earlier than others, dropping his carriage business to put all his energies into cars.  As early as 1910, long before most even had a car, he spoke of every household owning a car with road criss-crossing America, dreaming of super highways connecting each big city, providing better travel for all Americans.  This vision compelled him to work in the present to create the future.  Long before the founders of both Ford Motors and Chrysler Motors – Henry Ford and Walter Chrysler; Billy Durant led the field for the burgeoning automobile industry.  Many people have forgotten the name William Durant, replacing him with the legends of Henry Ford, Walter Chrysler, and Albert Sloan, but all of these great leaders merely followed the vision casts by the Titan of automobiles, Billy Durant.  Vision is the key to separate your current reality from your future dreams.  A young man, whose only asset was the power of his vision, accomplished greatness in a new field, symbolizing the dream available to all Americans with vision.  I encourage you to read the biographies of Billy Durant. Here is a superb summary by Clarence Young, a historian of the automobile industry, from the book by Lawrence R. Gustin on Billy Durant.  God Bless, Orrin Woodward

In the creation of the Mass
Production Age, Durant was not only the presiding genius; he was,
indeed, the Titan—and, as was the fate of the original Titans, he was
destroyed by the Olympians whom he had created.


 

It is almost poignant now to
tell the beads of carping criticism reiterated against Durant: He lacked
or ignored technical mastery . . . . . he was a good promoter, but no
administrator. . . .He had no organization. . . . He could not delegate
authority. . . . He made poor choices of executives. . . . He was a
promoter, a gambler. . . . He was wrong in believing in himself. . . .


 

It is completely true that W.
C. Durant had a weakness: He was human.  His humanity included love and
trust of his associates—the not-always-correct assumption that they were
as honorable as he.  He gave a degree and quality of loyalty to “his
people” beyond any measurement; he expected the same magnitude of
loyalty from them.


 

He surrendered the control of
General Motors in 1910 to preserve the company for its investors.  In
1920, his loyalty to his company and its stockholders drove him to spend
more money than he had preserving the value of the company’s name,
reputation, and stock.  As for his feckless choice of executives, he
hired and developed Charles W. Nash, Charles F. Kettering, Alfred P.
Sloan, (also Walter Chrysler and almost Henry Ford) and a few thousand others.


 

What was Durant? . . . . A
small-town boy from a broken home who had no advantages at all except
his own character.  With a borrowed $2000 he built up the largest
carriage company in the world.  With a debt-ridden, faltering motor
company, he created the world’s largest corporation, providing millions
of jobs all over the world in the past 65 years. (Over a 100 years now)


 

Small in stature, W. C. Durant
was larger than life in every aspect of his thought, spirit, and
practice.  He was, indeed, so much larger in concept that he made the
lesser men who surrounded him uncomfortable—he was unpredictable as an
elemental force of nature.


 

Durant was an original genius
who escapes classification and definition; he had an almost godlike
prescience; he had the creativity to translate his vision to reality,
not only for himself but for his fellow men.  He was compassionate,
gentle, charming, delightful, considerate, brilliant, generous,
ingenious, and infinitely loyal.


 

Mass production—the greatest
servant ever tamed to the uses of mankind—was still only an idea when
Durant grasped it.  He more than any other man, implemented this great
multiplier of goods and good for mankind.  He was, indeed, what Dickens
called, “The Founder of the Feast”—and we are still eating at his
bountiful table, although we have forgotten his name.

Posted in All News | 1 Comment »

Economics & History – Austrian Theory

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 18, 2010

Sitting down to read one of my favorite authors (Murray
Rothbard)
, I stumbled across a description of the Austrian School
difference that stunned me, being the best description of the Austrian School Theory of History and Economics that I have ever read.  Dr.
Joseph Salerno
, who wrote this essay, is a professor at Pace University
and delivers a powerful essay on Ludwig Von Mises and Murray Rothbard in
this introduction to Rothbard’s book on banking.  If you would like to
understand why economics matters more today than ever before, being
concerned with the failure of modern day economic messiahs, then this
portion of Salerno’s essay is for you.  Leadership matters and you are only qualified to lead
in fields in which you have mastered the materials.  History, Economics
and Leadership go hand in hand if you plan on making a difference in
our world today.  Enjoy the article and please share your thoughts.  God
Bless, Orrin Woodward

Rothbard’s approach
to monetary history does not focus on measurement but on motives. Once
the goals of the actors and their ideas about the appropriate means for
achieving these goals have been established, economic theory, along with
other sciences, is brought to bear to trace out the effects of these
actions in producing the complex events and processes of history which
are only partially and imperfectly captured in statistical data. This is
not to say that Rothbard ignores the quantitative aspects of historical
monetary processes. Indeed, his book abounds with money, price, and
output data; but these data are always interpreted in terms of the
motivations of those who have contributed to their formation. For
Rothbard, a particular price datum is, no less than the Spanish-American
War, a  historical event,  and its causes must be traced back to the
subjective aims governing human plans and choices.

In flatly
rejecting the positivist approach to economic history, Rothbard adopts
the method of historical research first formulated by Ludwig von Mises.
In developing this method, Mises correctly delineated, for the first
time, the relationship between theory and history. It is Rothbard’s
great contribution in this volume—and his earlier  America’s Great
Depression —to be the first to consistently apply it to economic
history. It is worth summarizing this method here for several reasons.
First, Mises’s writings on the proper method of historical research have
inexplicably been almost completely ignored up to the present, even by
those who have adopted Mises’s praxeological approach in eco-nomics.
Second, familiarity with Mises’s method of historical research
illuminates the source and character of the remarkable distinctiveness
of Rothbard’s historical writings. In particular, it serves to correct
the common but mistaken impression that Rothbard’s historical writings,
especially on the origin and development of the U.S. monetary system,
are grounded in nothing more substantial than an idiosyncratic
“conspiracy theory of history.” Third, it gives us an opportunity to
elucidate the important elaboration of Mises’s method that Rothbard
contributed and which he deploys to great effect in explicating the
topic of this volume. And finally, we find in Mises’s method a
definitive refutation of the positivist’s claim that it is impossible to
acquire real knowledge of subjective phenomena like human motives and
that, therefore, economic history must deal exclusively with observable
and measurable phenomena.

To begin with, Mises grounds his
discussion of historical method on the insight that ideas are the
primordial stuff of history. In his words:

“History is the record
of human action. Human action is the conscious effort of man to
substitute more satisfactory conditions for less satisfactory ones.
Ideas determine what are to be considered more and less satisfactory
conditions and what means are to be resorted to to alter them. Thus
ideas are the main theme of the study of history.”

This is not to
say that all history should be intellectual history, but that ideas are
the ultimate cause of all social phenomena, including and especially
economic phenomena. As Mises puts it.

“The genuine history of
mankind is the history of ideas. It is ideas that distinguish man from
aU other beings. Ideas engender social institutions, political changes,
technological methods of production, and all that is called economic
conditions.”

Thus, for Mises, history:

“establishes the
fact that men, inspired by definite ideas, made definite judgments of
value, chose definite ends, and resorted to definite means in order to
attain the ends chosen, and it deals furthermore with the outcome of
their actions, the state of affairs the action brought about.”

Ideas—specifically
those embodying the purposes and values that direct action—are not only
the point of contact between history and economics, but differing
attitudes toward them are precisely what distinguish the methods of the
two disciplines. Both economics and history deal with individual choices
of ends and the judgments of value underlying them. On the one hand,
economic theory as a branch of praxeology takes these value judgments
and choices as given data and restricts itself to logically inferring
from them the laws governing the valuing and pricing of the means or
“goods.” As such, economics does not inquire into the individual’s
motivations in valuing and choosing specific ends. Hence, contrary to
the positivist method, the truth of economic theorems is substantiated
apart from and without reference to specific and concrete historical
experience. They are the conclusions of logically valid deduction from
universal experience of the fact that humans adopt means that they
believe to be appropriate in attaining ends that they judge to be
valuable.

The subject of history, on the other hand, “is action
and the judgments of value directing action toward definite ends.”!”
This means that for history, in contrast to economics, actions and value
judgments are not ultimate “givens” but, in Mises’s words, “are the
starting point of a specific mode of reflection, of the specific
understanding of the historical sciences of human action.” Equipped with
the method of “specific understanding,” the historian, “when faced with
a value judgment and the resulting action . . . may try to understand
how they originated in the mind of the actor, ”it is true that in
deriving theorems that apply to the specific conditions characterizing
human action in our world, a few additional facts of a lesser degree of
generality are inserted into the deductive chain of reasoning. These
include the facts that there exists a variety of natural resources, that
human labor is differentiated, and that leisure is valued as a
consumer’s good.

The difference between the methods of economics
and history may be illustrated with the following example. The economist
qua economist “explains” the Vietnam War-era inflation that began in
the mid-1960s and culminated in the inflationary recession of 1973-1975
by identifying those actions of the Fed with respect to the money supply
that initiated and sustained it. The historian, including the economic
historian, however, must identify and then assign weights to all those
factors that motivated  the various members of the Fed’s Board of
Governors (or of the Federal Open Market Committee) to adopt this course
of action. These factors include: ideology; partisan politics; pressure
exerted by the incumbent administration; the grasp of economic theory;
the expressed and perceived desires of the Fed’s constituencies,
including commercial bankers and bond dealers; the informal power and
influence of the Fed chairman within the structure of governance; and so
on.

In short, the economic historian must supply the motives
underlying the actions that are relevant to explaining the historical
event. And for this task, his only suitable tool is understanding. Thus,
as Mises puts it.

“The scope of understanding is the
mental grasp of phenomena which cannot be totally elucidated by logic,
mathematics, praxeology, and the natural sciences to the extent that
they cannot be cleared up by all these sciences.”

To say that a
full explanation of any historical event, including an economic one,
requires that the method of specific understanding be applied is not to
diminish the importance of pure economic theory in the study of history.
Indeed, as Mises points out, economics provides in its field a
consummate interpretation of past events recorded and a consummate
anticipation of the effects to be expected from future actions of a
definite kind. Neither this interpretation nor this anticipation tells
anything about the actual content and quality of the actual individuals’
judgments of value. Both presuppose that the individuals are valuing
and acting, but their theorems are independent of and unaffected by the
particular characteristics of this valuing and acting.

For Mises,
then, if the historian is to present a complete explanation of a
particular event, he must bring to bear not only his “specific
understanding” of the motives of action but the theorems of economic
science as well as those of the other “aprioristic,” or
non-experimental, sciences, such as logic and mathematics. He must also
utilize knowledge yielded by the natural sciences, including the applied
sciences of technology and therapeutics. Familiarity with the teachings
of all these disciplines is required in order to correctly identify the
causal relevance of a particular action to a historical event, to trace
out its specific consequences, and to evaluate its success from the
point of view of the actor’s goals.

For example, without
knowledge of the economic theorem that, ceteris paribus, changes in the
supply of money cause inverse changes in its purchasing power, a
historian of the price inflation of the Vietnam War-era probably would
ignore the Fed and its motives altogether. Perhaps, he is under the
influence of the erroneous Galbraithian doctrine of administered prices
with its implication of cost-push inflation.  In this case, he might
concentrate exclusively and irrelevantly on the motives of union leaders
in demanding large wage increases and on the objectives of the
“technostructure” of large business firms in acceding to these demands
and deciding what part of the cost increase to pass on to consumers.
Thus, according to Mises,

“If what these disciplines [i.e., the
aprioristic and the natural sciences] teach is insufficient or if the
historian chooses an erroneous theory out of several conflicting
theories held by the specialists, his effort is misled and his
performance is abortive.”
But what exactly is the historical method
of specific understanding, and how can it provide true knowledge of a
wholly subjective and unobservable phenomenon like human motivation?
First of all, as Mises emphasizes, the specific understanding of past
events is not a mental process exclusively resorted to by historians. It
is applied by everybody in daily intercourse with all his fellows. It
is a technique employed in all interhuman relations. It is practiced by
children in the nursery and kindergarten, by businessmen in trade, by
politicians and statesmen in affairs of state. All are eager to get
information about other people’s valuations and plans and to appraise
them correctly!

The reason this technique is so ubiquitously
employed by people in their daily affairs is because all action aims at
rearranging future conditions so that they are more satisfactory from
the actor’s point of view. However, the future situation that actually
emerges always depends partly on the purposes and choices of others
besides the actor. In order to achieve his ends, then, the actor must
anticipate not only changes affecting the future state of affairs caused
by natural phenomena, but also the changes that result from the conduct
of others who, like him,  are  contemporaneously planning  and  acting.
Understanding the values and goals of others is thus an inescapable
prerequisite for successful action.

Now, the method that provides
the individual planning action with information about the values and
goals of other actors is essentially the same method employed by the
historian who seeks knowledge of the values and goals of actors in
bygone epochs. Mises emphasizes the universal application of this method
by referring to the actor and the historian as “the historian of the
future” and “the historian of the past,” respectively. Regardless of the
purpose for which it is used, therefore, understanding aims at
establishing the facts that men attach a definite meaning to the state
of their environment, that they value this state and, motivated by these
judgments of value, resort to definite means in order to preserve or to
attain a definite state of affairs different from that which would
prevail if they abstained from any purposeful reaction. Understanding
deals with judgments of value, with the choice of ends and of the means
resorted to for the attainment of these ends, and with the valuation of
the outcome of actions per-formed.

Furthermore, whether directed
toward planning action or interpreting history, the exercise of specific
understanding is not an arbitrary or haphazard enterprise peculiar to
each individual historian or actor; it is the product of a discipline
that Mises calls “thymology,” which encompasses “knowledge of human
valuations and volitions.” Mises characterizes this discipline as
follows:

“Thymology is on the one hand an offshoot of
introspection and on the other a precipitate of historical experience.
It is what everybody learns from intercourse with his fellows. It is
what a man knows about the way in which people value different
conditions, about their wishes and desires and their plans to realize
these wishes and desires. It is the knowledge of the social environment
in which a man lives and acts or, with historians, of a foreign milieu
about which he has learned by studying special sources.”

Thus,
Mises tells us, thymology can be classified as “a branch of history”
since “[i]t derives its knowledge from historical experience.”24
Consequently, the epistemic product of thymo-logical experience is
categorically different from the knowledge derived from experiments in
the natural sciences. Experimental knowledge consists of “scientific
facts” whose truth is independent of time. Thymological knowledge is
confined to “historical facts,” which are unique and nonrepeatable
events. Accordingly, Mises concludes,

All that thymology can
tell us is that in the past definite men or groups of men were valuing
and acting in a definite way. Whether they will in the future value and
act in the same way remains uncertain. All that can be asserted about
their future conduct is speculative anticipation of the future based on
specific understanding of the historical branches of the sciences of
human action. . . . What thymology achieves is the elaboration of a
catalogue of human traits. It can moreover establish the fact that
certain traits appeared in the past as a rule in connection with certain
other traits.”

More concretely, all our anticipations about how
family members, friends, acquaintances, and strangers will react in
particular situations are based on our accumulated thymological
experience. That a spouse will appreciate a specific type of jewelry for
her birthday, that a friend will enthusiastically endorse our plan to
see a Clint Eastwood movie, that a particular student will complain
about his grade—all these expectations are based on our direct
experience of their past modes of valuing and acting. Even our
expectations of how strangers will react in definite situations or what
course political, social, and economic events will take are based on
thymology. For example, our reservoir of thymological experience
provides us with the knowledge that men are jealous of their wives.
Thus, it allows us to “understand” and forecast that if a man makes
overt advances to a married woman in the presence of her husband, he
will almost certainly be rebuffed and runs a considerable risk of being
punched in the nose. Moreover, we may forecast with a high degree of
certitude that both the Republican and the Democratic nominees will
outpoll the Libertarian Party candidate in a forthcoming presidential
election; that the price for commercial time during the televising of
the Major League Soccer championship will not exceed the price for
commercials during the broadcast of the Super Bowl next year; that the
average price of a personal computer will be neither $1 million nor $10
in three months; and that the author of this paper will never be crowned
king of England. All of these forecasts, and literally millions of
others of a similar degree of certainty, are based on the specific
understanding of the values and goals motivating millions of nameless
actors.

As noted, the source of thymological experience is our
interactions with and observations of other people. It is acquired
either directly from observing our fellow men and transacting business
with them or indirectly from reading and from hearsay, as well as out of
our special experience acquired in previous contacts with the
individuals or groups concerned. Such mundane experience is accessible
to all who have reached the age of reason and forms the bedrock
foundation for forecasting the future conduct of others whose actions
will affect their plans. Furthermore, as Mises points out, the use of
thymological knowledge in everyday affairs is straightforward:

“Thymology
tells no more than that man is driven by various innate instincts,
various passions, and various ideas. The anticipating individual tries
to set aside those factors that manifestly do not play any concrete role
in the concrete case under consideration. Then he chooses among the
remaining ones.”

To aid in this task of narrowing down the goals
and desires that are likely to motivate the behavior of particular
individuals, we resort to the “thymological concept” of “human
character. ” The concrete content of the “character” we attribute to a
specific individual is based on our direct or indirect knowledge of his
past behavior. In formulating our plans, “We assume that this character
will not change if no special reasons interfere, and, going a step
farther, we even try to foretell how definite changes in conditions will
affect his reactions.” It is confidence in our spouse’s “character,”
for example, that permits us to leave for work each morning secure in
the knowledge that he or she will not suddenly disappear with the
children and the family bank account. And our saving and investment
plans involve an image of Alan Greenspan’s character that is based on
our direct or indirect knowledge of his past actions and utterances. In
formulating our intertemporal consumption plans, we are thus led to
completely discount or assign a very low likelihood to the possibility
that he will either deliberately orchestrate a 10-percent deflation of
the money supply or attempt to peg the short-run interest rate at zero
percent in the foreseeable future.

Despite reliance on the tool
of thymological experience, however, all human understanding of future
events remains uncertain, to some degree, for these events are generally
a complex resultant of various causal factors operating concurrently.
All forecasts of the future, therefore, must involve not only an
enumeration of the factors that operate in bringing about the
anticipated result but also the weighting of the relative influence of
each factor on the outcome. Of the two, the more difficult problem is
that of apportioning the proper weights among the various operative
factors. Even if the actor accurately and completely identifies all the
causal factors involved, the likelihood of the forecast event being
realized depends on the actor having solved the weighting problem. The
uncertainty inherent in forecasting, therefore, stems mainly from the
intricacy of assigning the correct weights to different actions and the
intensity of their effects.

While thymology powerfully, but
implicitly, shapes everyone’s understanding of and planning for the
future in every facet of life, the thymological method is used
deliberately and rigorously by the historian who seeks a specific
understanding of the motives underlying the value judgments and choices
of the actors whom he judges to have been central to the specific event
or epoch he is interested in explaining. Like future events and
situations envisioned in the plans of actors, all historical events and
the epochs they define are unique and complex outcomes codetermined by
numerous human actions and reactions. This is the meaning of Mises’s
statement.
“History is a sequence of changes. Every historical
situation has its individuality, its own characteristics that
distinguish it from any other situation. The stream of history never
returns to a previously occupied point. History is not repetitious.”

It
is precisely because history does not repeat itself that thymological
experience does not yield certain knowledge of the cause of historical
events in the same way as experimentation in the natural sciences. Thus
the historian, like the actor, must resort to specific understanding
when enumerating the various motives and actions that bear a causal
relation to the event in question and when assigning each action’s
contribution to the outcome a relative weight. In this task,
“Understanding is in the realm of history the equivalent, as it were, of
quantitative analysis and measurement.” The historian uses specific
understanding to try to gauge the causal “relevance” of each factor to
the outcome. But such assessments of relevance do not take the form of
objective measurements calculable by statistical techniques; they are
expressed in the form of subjective “judgments of relevance” based on
thymology. Successful entrepreneurs tend to be those who consistently
formulate a superior understanding of the likelihood of future events
based on thymology.

The weighting problem that confronts actors
and historians may be illustrated with the following example. The Fed
increases the money supply by 5 percent in response to a 20-percent
plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average—or, perhaps now, the
Nasdaq—that ignites fears of a recession and a concomitant increase in
the demand for liquidity on the part of households and firms. At the
same time, OPEC announces a 10-percent increase in its members’ quotas
and the U.S. Congress increases the minimum wage by 10 percent. In order
to answer the question of what the overall impact of these events will
be on the purchasing power of money six months hence, specific
understanding of individuals’ preferences and expectations is required
in order to  weight  and  time  the influence of each of these events on
the relationship between the supply of and the demand for money. The
ceteris-paribus laws of economic theory are strictly qualitative and
only indicate the direction of the effect each of these events has on
the purchasing power of money and that the change occurs during a
sequential adjustment process so that some time must elapse before the
full effect emerges. Thus the entrepreneur or economist must always
supplement economic theory with an act of historical judgment or
understanding when attempting to forecast any economic quantity. The
economic historian, too, exercises understanding when making judgments
of relevance about the factors responsible for the observed movements of
the value of money during historical episodes of inflation or
deflation.

Rothbard’s contribution to Mises’s method of
historical research involves the creation of a guide that mitigates some
of the uncertainty associated with formulating judgments of relevance
about human motives. According to Rothbard, “It is part of the
inescapable condition of the historian that he must make estimates and
judgments about human motivation even though he cannot ground his
judgments in absolute and apodictic certainty. ” But the task of
assigning motives and weighting their relevance is rendered more
difficult by the fact that, in many cases, historical actors, especially
those seeking economic gain through the political process, are inclined
to deliberately obscure the reasons for their conduct. Generally in
these situations, Rothbard points out, “the actor himself tries his best
to hide his economic motive and to trumpet his more abstract and
ideological concerns.”

Rothbard contends, however, that
such attempts to obfuscate or conceal the pecuniary motive for an action
by appeals to higher goals are easily discerned and exposed by the
historian in those cases “where the causal chain of economic interest to
action is simple and direct. ” Thus, for example, when the steel
industry lobbies for higher tariffs or reduced quotas, no sane adult,
and certainly no competent historian, believes that it is doing so out
of its stated concern for the “public interest” or “national security.”
Despite its avowed motives, everyone clearly perceives that the primary
motivation of the industry is economic, that is, to restrict foreign
competition in order to increase profits. But a problem arises in those
cases “when actions involve longer and more complex causal chains. ”
Rothbard points to the Marshall Plan as an example of the latter. In
this instance, the widely proclaimed motives of the architects of the
plan were to prevent starvation in Western European nations and to
strengthen their resistance to the allures of Communism. Not a word was
spoken about the goal that was also at the root of the Marshall Plan:
promoting and subsidizing U.S. export industries. It was only through
painstaking research that historians were later able to uncover and
assess the relevance of the economic motive at work.

Given the
propensity of those seeking and dispensing privileges and subsidies in
the political arena to lie about their true motives, Rothbard formulates
what he describes as “a theoretical guide which will indicate in
advance whether or not a historical action will be predominantly for
economic, or for ideological, motives.”39 Now, it is true that Rothbard
derives this guide from his overall worldview. The historian’s
worldview, however, should not be interpreted as a purely ideological
construction or an unconscious reflection of his normative biases. In
fact, every historian must be equipped with a worldview—an interrelated
set of ideas about the causal relationships governing how the world
works—in order to ascertain which facts are relevant in the explanation
of a particular historical event. According to Rothbard, “Facts, of
course, must be selected and ordered in accordance with judgments of
importance, and such judgments are necessarily tied into the historian’s
basic world outlook.”

Specifically, in Mises’s approach to
history, the worldview comprises the necessary preconceptions regarding
causation with which the historian approaches the data and which are
derived from his knowledge of both the aprioristic and natural sciences.
According to Mises:

“History is not an intellectual
reproduction, but a condensed representation of the past in conceptual
terms. The historian does not simply let the events speak for
themselves. He arranges them from the aspect of the ideas underlying the
formation of the general notions he uses in their presentation. He does
not report facts as they happened, but only  relevant  facts. He does
not approach the docviments without presuppositions, but equipped with
the whole apparatus of his age’s scientific knowledge, that is, with all
the teachings of contemporary logic, mathematics, praxeology, and
natural science.”
So, for example, the fact that heavy speculation
against the German mark accompanied its sharp plunge on foreign-exchange
markets is not significant for an Austrian-oriented economic historian
seeking to explain the stratospheric rise in commodity prices that
characterized the German hyperinflation of the early 1920s. This is
because he approaches this event armed with the supply-and-demand theory
of money and the purchasing-power-parity theory of the exchange rate.
These “presuppositions” derived from praxeology lead him to avoid any
attribution of causal significance to the actions of foreign exchange
speculators in accounting for the precipitous decline of the domestic
purchasing power of the mark. Instead they direct his attention to the
motives of the German Reichs-bank in expanding the money supply. In the
same manner, a modern historian investigating the cause and
dissemination of bubonic plague in fourteenth-century Europe would
presuppose that the blossoming of religious heresy during that period
would have no significance for his investigation. Instead he would allow
himself to be guided by the conclusions of modern medical science
regarding the epidemiology of the disease.

The importance of
Rothbard’s theoretical guide is that it adds something completely new to
the historian’s arsenal of scientific preconceptions that aids him in
making judgments of relevance when investigating the motives of those
who promote or oppose specific political actions. The novelty and
brilliance of this guide lies in the fact that it is neither a purely
aprioristic law like an economic theorem nor an experimentally
established “fact” of the natural sciences. Rather it is a sociological
generalization grounded on a creative blend of thymo-logical experience
and economic theory. At the core of this generalization is the insight
that the State throughout history has been essentially an organization
of a segment of the population that forsakes peaceful economic activity
to constitute itself as a ruling class. This class makes its living
parasitically by establishing a permanent hegemonic or “political”
relationship between itself and the productive members of the
population. This political relationship permits the rulers to subsist on
the tribute or taxes routinely and “legally” expropriated from the
income and wealth of the producing class. The latter class is composed
of the “subjects” or, in the case of democratic states, the “taxpayers,”
who earn their living through the peaceful “economic means” of
production and voluntary exchange. In contrast, constituents of the
ruling class may be thought of as “tax-consumers” who earn their living
through the coercive “political means” of taxation and the sale of
monopoly privileges.

Rothbard argues that economic logic dictates
that the king and his courtiers, or the democratic government and its
special interest groups, can never constitute more than a small minority
of the country’s population—that all States, regardless of their formal
organization, must effectively involve oligarchic rule. The reasons for
this are twofold. First, the fundamentally parasitic nature of the
relationship between the rulers and the ruled by itself necessitates
that the majority of the population engages in productive activity in
order to be able to pay the tribute or taxes extracted by the ruling
class while still sustaining its own existence. If the ruling class
comprised the majority of the population, economic collapse and systemic
breakdown would swiftly ensue as the productive class died out. The
majoritarian ruling class itself then would either be forced into
productive activity or dissolve into internecine warfare aimed at
establishing a new and more stable—that is, oligarchic—relationship
between rulers and producers.

The second reason why the ruling
class tends to be an oligarchy is related to the law of comparative
advantage. In a world where human abilities and skills vary widely, the
division of labor and specialization pervades all sectors of the economy
as well as society as a whole. Thus, not only is it the case that a
relatively small segment of the populace possesses a comparative
advantage in developing new software, selling mutual funds, or playing
professional football, it is also the case that only a fraction of the
population tends to excel at wielding coercive power. Moreover, the law
of comparative advantage governs the structure of relationships within
as well as between organizations, accounting for the hierarchical
structure that we almost invariably observe within individual
organizations. Whether we are considering a business enterprise, a chess
club, or a criminal gang, an energetic and visionary elite invariably
comes to the fore, either formally or informally, to lead and direct the
relatively inert majority. This “Iron Law of Oligarchy,” as this
internal manifestation of the law of comparative advantage has been
dubbed, operates to transform an initially majoritarian democratic
government, or even a decentralized republican government, into a
tightly centralized State controlled by a ruling elite.

The
foregoing analysis leads Rothbard to conclude that the exercise of
political power is inherently an oligarchic enterprise. The small
minority that excels in wielding political power will tend to coalesce
and devote an extraordinary amount of mental energy and other resources
to establishing and maintaining a permanent and lucrative hegemonic bond
over the productive majority. Accordingly, since politics is the main
source of their income, the policies and actions of the members of this
oligarchic ruling class will be driven primarily by economic motives.
The exploited producing class, in contrast, will not expend nearly as
many resources on politics, and their actions in the political arena
will not be motivated by economic gain to the same degree, precisely
because they are absorbed in earning their livelihoods in their own
chosen areas of specialization on the market. As Rothbard explains:

“the
ruling class, being small and largely specialized, is motivated to
think about its economic interests twenty-four hours a day. The steel
manufacturers seeking a tariff, the bankers seeking taxes to repay their
government bonds, the rulers seeking a strong state from which to
obtain subsidies, the bureaucrats wishing to expand their empire, are
all professionals in statism. They are constantly at work trying to
preserve and expand their privileges.”

The ruling class, however,
confronts one serious and ongoing problem: how to persuade the
productive majority, whose tribute or taxes it consumes, that its laws,
regulations, and policies are beneficial; that is, that they coincide
with “the public interest” or are designed to promote “the common good”
or to optimize “social welfare.” Given its minority status, failure to
solve this problem exposes the political class to serious consequences.
Even passive resistance by a substantial part of the producers, in the
form of mass tax resistance, renders the income of the political class
and, therefore, its continued existence extremely precarious. More
ominously, attempts to suppress such resistance may cause it to spread
and intensify and eventually boil over into an active revolution whose
likely result is the forcible ousting of the minority exploiting class
from its position of political power. Here is where the intellectuals
come in. It is their task to convince the public to actively submit to
State rule because it is beneficial to do so, or at least to passively
endure the State’s depredations because the alternative is anarchy and
chaos. In return for fabricating an ideological cover for its
exploitation of the masses of subjects or taxpayers, these “court
intellectuals” are rewarded with the power, wealth, and prestige of a
junior partnership in the ruling elite. Whereas in pre-industrial times
these apologists for State rule were associated with the clergy, in
modern times—at least since the Progressive Era in the U.S.—they have
been drawn increasingly from the academy.

Politicians,
bureaucrats, and those whom they subsidize and privilege within the
economy thus routinely trumpet lofty ideological motives for their
actions in order to conceal from the exploited and plundered citizenry
their true motive of economic gain. In today’s world, these motives are
expressed in the rhetoric of “social democracy” in Europe and that of
modern—or welfare-state—liberalism in the United States. In the past,
ruling oligarchies have appealed to the ideologies of royal absolutism,
Marxism, Progressivism, Fascism, National Socialism, New Deal
liberalism, and so on to camouflage their economic goals in advocating a
continual aggrandizement of State power. In devising his theoretical
guide, then, Rothbard seeks to provide historians with a means of
piercing the shroud of ideological rhetoric and illuminating the true
motives underlying the policies and actions of ruling elites throughout
history. As Rothbard describes this guide, whenever the would-be or
actual proprietors and beneficiaries of the State act, when they form a
State, or a centralizing Constitution, when they go to war or create a
Marshall Plan or use and increase State power in any way, their
primary  motivation is economic: to increase their plunder at the
expense of the subject and taxpayer. The ideology that they profess and
that is formulated and spread through society by the Court Intellectuals
is merely an elaborate rationalization for their venal economic
interests. The ideology is the smoke screen for their loot, the
fictitious clothes spun by the intellectuals to hide the naked plunder
of the Emperor. The task of the historian, then, is to penetrate to the
essence of the transaction, to strip the ideological garb from the
Emperor State and to reveal the economic motive at the heart of the
issue.

In characterizing the modern democratic State as
essentially a means for coercively redistributing income from producers
to politicians, bureaucrats, and special interest groups, Rothbard opens
himself up to the charge of espousing a conspiracy theory of economic
history. But it is his emphasis on the almost universal propensity of
those who employ the political means for economic gain to conceal their
true motives with ideological cant that makes him especially susceptible
to this charge. Indeed, the Chicago School’s theory of economic
regulation and the public choice theory of the Virginia School also
portray politicians, bureaucrats, and industries regulated by the State
as interested almost exclusively in maximizing their utility in the
narrow sense, which in many, if not most, cases involves a maximization
of pecuniary gain.  However, economists of both schools are inured
against the charge of conspiracy theory because in their applied work
they generally eschew a systematic, thymological investigation of the
actual motives of those individuals or groups whose actions they are
analyzing. Instead, their positivist methodology inclines them to
mechanically impute to real actors in concrete historical circumstances a
narrowly conceived utility maximization.

Posted in Finances | Leave a Comment »

Failure to Plan is a Plan for Failure

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 9, 2010

I was a young twenty-four year old engineer, recently graduated from GMI-EMI (Kettering today),  looking to move ahead at AC Rochester (a division of GM), when I heard that Edward Deming was coming to Michigan to speak on Statistical Controls.  Many probably don’t recognize the name of Edward Deming, a famous statistician who helped the Japanese recover from WWII, but in Japan he is revered, even having one of the top Japanese industrial awards named in his honor (Deming Award).  Being a hungry engineer, I quickly signed up for his class, looking forward to learning how to apply statistics into my professional life.  What I learned did improve my professional life, but what it did to my personal life was even more impactful.   Deming taught with an informal style, asking questions to the audience, patiently waiting for answers.  At work, as a fuel pump engineer, I was in the middle of a series of designed experiments, testing the viability of different product designs, so when Deming asked, “Why do we perform test?”, I thought I had the answer. Since no one raised their hand, being fearful of saying a wrong answer, the room became uncomfortably silent.  Not able to stand it any longer, I raised my hand, answering that we run test to make decisions between different methods. Deming smiled while slowly placing another slide on the projector and stated, “We run test to make predictions.”  He went on to explain how the test determines whether our predictions were accurate or if we need a better model to improve our ability to correctly predict real world results.  

PDCA Cycle pictureI doubt if Deming’s intention was to teach this principle in the life changing way that it hit me, but his words landed on fertile soil, beginning a revolution within me.  If we perform test in our lives to learn whether our life models accurately represent reality, then it stands to reason, that the quicker we run test, the sooner we learn whether our models depict life as it is, rather than life as we want it to be.  In other words, life is an ongoing test, an opportunity to predict certain results based upon certain behaviors, testing the predictions real time, determining whether our predicted hypothesis were correct or need adjustment.  Deming meant it specifically for learning about products and services, but his words went deeper within me to learn about life and purpose.  I thought to myself, that if the models I currently lived by were not accurately representing reality, I would quickly learn this through failed predictions when I running life’s tests.  Meaning, if my predicted outcomes consistently failed, I must be working with an incorrect model in need of adjustments.  Let me give you a humorous example to make my point.  When I was a five year old, I had the most vivid dream that I was swimming under water while breathing freely.  Upon awakening, I announced to my mother that I could swim under water while breathing.  My mom, a near saint of epic proportions, patiently explained to me that I must have been dreaming as human beings cannot breathe under water since they do not have gills.  Being the strong choleric child, confident in my own ignorance, I ignored her explanation and announced to my brothers and sister, that later that day at the local pool, I would prove to the world that I could swim and breathe under water.  Anticipation built throughout the day as I handled all objections thrown at me by my unbelieving brothers and sisters, until finally I was in the Whaley pool about make history with my underwater breathing exploits.  With my mom, observing through the parents window, and my siblings, witnessing live at pool side, I proceeded to dive under the water, swimming leisurely from one end of the pool to the other.  At the appropriate moment, I expanded my young diaphragm, quickly inhaling a lung full of water, disproving my predicted model amidst my flailing arms, gasping breaths and reddening face.  My prediction had failed under rigorous testing conditions.

We can laugh at my naive five year old experiment, but all of us suffer from delusions hindering our performances in life.  Each false hypothesis or model that we live under ensures we won’t produce proper outcomes in that area.  As a twenty-four year old engineer, I learned from Deming why it’s necessary to test each of your working models of life against real world experiences.  A wrong hypothesis will lead to wrong results every time.  Deming went on to explain a four step process that he used to verify his predictions, describing his steps as Plan, Do, Check, and Act – Deming’s PDCA process.  After working with this simple four step process, I adjusted it slightly to read Plan, Do, Check, and Adjust – Woodward’s PDCA for life process.  Each of the four steps of the process is essential to making predictions and testing for results to ensure whether the predictions accurately reflect reality.  Without knowing it, when I was five years old, intuitively I had understood that my theory (breathing underwater) needed to be proven, or in this case disproven, by a process of testing.  Every area in your life can be improved by disciplining yourself to apply the PDCA process.  Failure to plan is a sure way to plan for failure.  Believing incorrect models of life only ensures continued failures.  But when you follow a PDCA process, allowing the data to speak to you, making revisions where necessary, and repeating the test, it will allow one to improve rapidly.  The faster you make adjustments, the faster you will improve in life.

Let’s go through each step of the PDCA process starting with the Plan step.  What is the Plan and how do I use it to improve?  The Plan is a way to test ones hypothesis or models of life.  For example, if you believe you are a poor public speaker, but also know that improved public speaking will help you in business, then you have a dilemma.  Either you settle for less results, knowing that you are not a good public speaker, or you improve your public speaking which produces greater results.  A Plan would help you improve your public speaking by creating an environment for you to develop your skills.  Good questions are the key to good Plans.  What is the difference between good speakers and poor speakers?  What are the 20% issues that produce 80% of the results when it comes to public speaking?  What area can I focus on today so that my next public speaking effort will display more of the right actions and less of the wrong actions.  A proper Plan requires looking at yourself honestly, not as you want to be, but as your currently are.  In order to improve, the first step is to admit areas where you can improve.  Reading a good book on public speaking, discussing with your mentors or other great speakers, evaluating yourself honestly on your skill levels, is the beginning of a Plan for improvement.  The PDCA process works in all areas of life from Faith, Family, Finances, Fitness, Friends, Fun, Freedom, and any other area you can identify.  Each person’s PDCA’s are different, but all must recognize that they can become excellent public speakers, or anything else, if they are willing to endure the hardships associated with the PDCA process.  By necessity, the PDCA process will push you to failure so that you can revise your plan.  Everyone fails in the PDCA process, so be prepared for failure, not letting a process failure make you believe that you are a failure.  Since the majority of people will never run a PDCA process, thus eliminating their ability to improve by design, we shouldn’t be shocked by the dismal results produced.  What is shocking to me, is how many people even after learning this process will not implement consistently into their lives.  Develop your Plan to improve and then begin implementing your Plan.

This leads us to the second step in the PDCA process – Do.  The best Plan in the world is worthless unless we Do it.  Like the old saying goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” I have heard it said that there are enough great plans in Washington to fix the political mess if they were implemented.  But plans without actions will never get the job done.  One of my favorite books in the Bible is called the Book of Acts, not the Book of Thoughts, not the Book of Best Intentions, but the Book of Acts.  Greatness begins when someone takes the Plan and has the courage to act upon it.  Just Do It as Art Williams stated years ago, now used as Nike’s slogan.  Let’s go back to our example of public speaking, if you have identified areas to improve, now it’s time to get out there and SPEAK!  Failure isn’t final, but it is feedback for your further growth.  The only true failure is failure to Do, since if you won’t Do, you will not advance to the last two steps in the PDCA process to improve.  One can watch videos on bike riding all day long, reading the latest journals on bike riding skills, but until one rides a bike, real learning hasn’t occurred. The PDCA process is literally designed for a person to apply himself until failure occurs.  In fact, unless a person goes to failure, he cannot make any course corrections, adjusting our actions to improve for the next test.  This explains why only the courageous few will apply the PDCA process, because it will force them to failure, exposing them to their own weaknesses.  Everyone has the courage inside of them. It may be dormant through years of disuse, but it’s in there waiting for him to bring it to the surface through the power of his vision and will.  Like Mr. Williams said, “Just Do it, and Do it, and Do it again!”

The third step, Check, is crucial to the growth process because few will let the data speak without defense mechanisms kicking in to protect their fragile egos. I love the statement, “In God we trust, all others must bring data,” for it represents the truth of the Check step in the process.  Ronald Reagan said it this way, “Trust but verify.”  Let’s go back to the public speaking example again.  If you develop your Plan to improve, Do your plan, but won’t check your results, then it’s going to be hard to make any Adjustments for further improvement.  Public speaking gives you immediate feedback by the crowds response, cheering when you inspire, laughing when you entertain, crying when you reach their hearts.  Seek feedback, check your results, not just looking for routine comments like “great job”, but digging in with your mentor to find the good, the bad, and the ugly in the performance.  Why don’t more people seek out feedback or review the scoreboard on their current performance levels?  Simply put, it can hurt when you find a gap between what you want to be and where you’re at.  Many would rather delude themselves, protecting their brittle self confidence, than confront the facts to improve their performance.  Remember, running from data doesn’t change it, but only your ability to improve based upon the numbers.  The ostrich may stick its head in the sand, hoping to avoid the lion by refusing to look at him, but sadly, that has no bearing upon the lion’s dinner plans. You must Check your results, identify the gaps between your goals and results, making adjustments to continually to improve.

The final step, in a simple but not easy four step process is Adjust.  You Plan; You Do; You Check; You Adjust – these four steps will propel you to greatness when applied daily to your life.  After each test, evaluate what you can do even better.  Celebrating your victories, while making adjustments on your defeats.  A key principle here is to find a defeat in every victory and find a victory in every defeat.  The defeats keep you humble, the victories keep you hopeful.   Balance is the key in the PDCA process to keep both pride and hopelessness at bay.  There has never been, in the recorded history of man, a perfect performance.  There is always room for improvement, no matter how great the achievement.  The student must Check the data, making the Adjustments in his thinking, actions, beliefs, etc, to improve further.  Success is a journey, not a destination.  No one ever arrives at success, they merely journey through the PDCA process, improving daily, enjoying life as the great adventure it is.  Will you suffer setbacks?  Of course, but setbacks only reveal to you false models that need PDCA work.  Will you achieve success?  People disciplined enough to apply the PDCA process will rapidly improve in so many areas, that friends will not understand how it was possible for them to change so profoundly. Be patient with yourself and the PDCA process when you are first implementing it into your life, remembering that, like anything, it takes time to get comfortable with any new process.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, oak trees do not mature overnight, and success takes time to form the new daily habits learned through the PDCA process.  After Adjusting, it’s time to start again at step one – Plan.  Take your Adjustments and revise the Plan, starting the PDCA process again with a better understanding of yourself and your performance gaps.  Success becomes assured when you realize that you are like an unstoppable improvement machine.  The only person capable of interrupting your PDCA process is you, liberating you from your past failures, propelling you to future successes. Perhaps it’s time to give yourself permission to win by applying the PDCA process to your life. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in All News | 5 Comments »

The Power of Tribes – Seth Godin

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 8, 2010

Seth Godin, one of my favorite thinkers, discusses the power of tribes around the world.  Tribes are communities of true believers in a mission or cause.  The future belongs not to corporations, not to the wealthy, but leaders who can build tribes.  In fact, Seth Godin, in the video below states, “Tribes, not money, not factories, is what can change our world.  Not because you force them, but because they wanted to connect.”  The TEAM is a community where people wanted to connect to build a better life and world.  What Tribe are you a part of?  What Tribe are you working with to change the world.  Seth talks our heretics making radical changes in the world.  My good friend, Chris Brady defined them as Rascals.  Rascals of the world are uniting, leading a movement and making change.  Here are the the three questions for every tribe according to Seth Godin:

1. Who are you upsetting?  If you aren’t upsetting someone, you aren’t changing the status quo.
2. Who are you connecting?  Connect with other like minded people.
3. Who are you leading?  Tribes are leadership led, not management led.

Watch the video, identify your tribe and start leading.  God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in All News | Leave a Comment »

Success Never Goes on Sale

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 6, 2010

Success never goes on sale, but most people spend their whole life dickering over the cost, never making the purchase.

Dickering pictureSuccess comes at a price, but then again, failure comes at a price.  We are given our gifts, talents and energies for this life, not permitted to bank any for eternity.  If one must spend it anyway, why do so many dicker over the price of success? Ending up paying the full price for failure because they were unwilling to pay the full price for success?  For the last seventeen years of my life, I have had a front row seat, witnessing both types of behavior numerous times, pondering what is the difference between winners and potential winners.  I believe that the main difference between the people who win and the people who try hard is the willingness to pay the price.  So many people that I know, in their attempt to find an easier path to success, have ended up taking no path at all.  Success never goes on sale, but most people spend their whole life dickering over the cost, never making the purchase.  Success boils down to three simple steps:

1. What do you want?
2. What does it cost?
3. Pay it.

Many will state their dream; some will determine its cost; few will pay its price. Only the few achieve success, less because of innate talent, but more by a strength of will. Identifying what you want, picturing yourself in your new conditions, feeling the exhilaration of having accomplished your dreams in your mind, are all parts of developing your dream.  My good friend Chris Brady says, “Success is a picture in your minds eye.”  What is your picture?  Do you see it clearly?  This is a necessary step on the journey to success.  Discuss with your spouse if you are married, developing a clear picture of what your future looks like.  Yes, the picture may change as one walks down the success road, but one must begin where one is at.  There is power in a vision that is focused.  Vision is tomorrow’s reality expressed as an idea today.  Lock in your vision to move ahead to the next step.

Developing a vision for the future can be fun, but determining the cost of that vision requires confronting reality as it really is.  What type of person will you need to be to fulfill the vision inside of you?  What areas do you need to start working on today?  Is there a mentor that you can help you develop a step by step plan to achieve your vision?  Are you prepared to pay the price over a mature time frame?  Two to five year plans are real time frames for success, but many people are dejected after two to five phone calls.  The price for success is not paid in one lump sum, but paid in installments over time, having to pay all the installments before you receive the prize.  This is one of the reasons that success is so tough for today’s microwave aged short term society.  Our credit card society buys things today, paying for them later.  True success is different, paying for it consistently over two to five years, receiving success only after full payment is made.  What did success cost me?  Much of the price for success I gladly surrendered, giving up my: bad habits, stinking thinking, poor associations, poor self worth, lack of Faith, and lack of discipline.  With the benefit of hindsight, I now realize that the true cost for success is trading your old self to build a better new self.

Now that we know the cost, all we have to do is pay it.  Sounds simple enough, why don’t more pay it?  It’s almost as if people believe they already deserve their dreams; thinking that if they stand around long enough, their dreams will be handed to them without payment.  Let me clear your mind of this delusion.  I have never personally witnessed someone achieve their dreams without a resolution to pay more than the perceived price, willingly going above the asking price to ensure the victory is purchased.  One will hear people talking about waiting for their ship to come in, but I believe that one must build your ship since no ship is coming.  Waiting for your ship to come in is like waiting for someone to hand you success, it’s not going to happen.  Decide today that you are worthy of a great victory and pursue this victory with everything you have.  But what if I don’t feel worthy?  Not to worry, I didn’t feel worthy of success either. But after you pay the price, knowing you have done everything that it takes, you will feel worthy of the victory.  In other words, the work comes first and the feelings come after, not vice versa.  Many winners work through a sense of duty, long before they feel like a winner.

In closing, remember that the true blessings of success is not the material results, but the person you become in the process.  The true victory is in an improved you, not the improved material conditions; although, it certainly isn’t something to complain about.  God is less concerned about your outside conditions and more focused on the condition of your heart.  People wonder if success is worth it.  I think that is the wrong question. Instead, they should be asking is failure worth it.  No one gets out of this world alive, but striving for success will teach you principles that will lighten, not only your load, but the load of all around you. What do you want?  What does it cost? Pay it! God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Posted in All News | Leave a Comment »