Orrin Woodward: Life Leadership

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

  • Orrin Woodward

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    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.




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Archive for May, 2012

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 30, 2012

The older I get and the more I study the more I realize the full truth of the statement – Birds of a feather flock together. Indeed, I learn as much, if not more, about a person from his associations than I do from spending time with him personally. Why is this so? Because people can play a role for a period of time, but their association gives them away their true interests.

One of the most significant reasons why the Mental Fitness Challenge (MFC) is sweeping the nation is the power of the community groups to help the changes stick. In other words, even if a person works on his attitude, if he still associates with whining, complaining, stinking-thinking attitudes in his free time, he will struggle greatly in his personal transformation. In contrast, Will Rogers stated, “A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people,” so a person must associate with others who sharpen him.

Roger’s quote explains how a person can overcome tough personal circumstances and still succeed in life. Simply put, by changing his information and association inputs, he or she will start to change the result outputs. This doesn’t mean a person should ditch his old friends, but it does mean he should be discerning of the environment so his new inputs influence his friends, rather than the old inputs influencing him. The LIFE Business is a step-by-step program to change the inputs, association, and outputs, in order to win in life thanks the the LIFE Business Compensation Plan.

Success isn’t easy, but then again, neither is failure. However, the price of success is paid in easy monthly installments of desire, discipline, and deeds, while the price of failure is ignored until it becomes an unmanageable mountain of debt, destruction, and despair. I walked down the failure path for years; but thankfully, by God’s grace, I was turned back from the precipice of purposelessness and detected my magnificent obsession. Laurie and I want to reach one million people plus with life-changing truths that make a difference in their lives. What is your magnificent obsession?

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Life Training, Mental Fitness Challenge (MFC) | Tagged: | 93 Comments »

Dan Hawkins: Making Decisions

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 29, 2012

Dan Hawkins has become one of the best communicators and teachers in the LIFE Business. In truth, he is a model for what the LIFE products can do in a person’s life. In what other business can a mechanic working at an auto dealership transform himself into one of America’s top entrepreneurs and life coach? When people ask me what is the product in the LIFE business, I could say the Mental Fitness Challenge (MFC), since it’s sweeping the nation right now; however, in actuality, the real product is the improved people in the LIFE community, that accept responsibility for who they are and where they are going.

Congratulations to Dan and Lisa Hawkins for setting the pace on what is possible for people with the courage to dream. In a couple of weeks, I will be staying at the nearly 8,000 square foot new home. I can remember just a few years back staying at their 1,000 square foot house. Dreams come true to those who are willing to make reasons, not excuses. Author Steven Pressfield highlighted the importance of self-mastery in the quest for freedom with this profound quote:

“It may be that the human race is not ready for freedom. The air of liberty may be too rarified for us to breathe. Certainly I wouldn’t be writing this book, on this subject, if living with freedom were easy. The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.”

Dan and Lisa developed self-mastery through the concepts available in the MFC and now enjoy FREEDOM! Here is Dan’s latest video.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Mental Fitness Challenge (MFC) | Tagged: | 41 Comments »

Western Civilization and Judeo/Christian Influences

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 27, 2012

Here is a portion of a fantastic article by Cheryl Stansberry on the influence of Christianity on Western Civilization. Just as trees dies when the roots are damaged, so too will Western Civilization die when its roots are neglected. In my quest to re-educate the West on its past, this research paper will help immensely. Our family has been reviewing this article and discussing its key implications. One of the missing ingredients in today’s histories is the moral aspect. History without morality tends to downgrade into useless dates, names, and events; instead of the actual moral battle between good and evil. Regretfully, the reason most people do not enjoy history is that they were exposed to the subject without being taught the underlying moral struggle within it.

I have had my personal battles with injustice and have learned greatly from the experiences, leading me to understand history at a whole new level. It is through the struggles in life that resolutions are made and it was through my struggles that I (and my co-founders) resolved to start the LIFE Business, giving people the opportunity to grow into the people God intended them to be. What struggles in your life helped you resolve to change? Enjoy this portion and please discuss what you learned below. Thanks!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

The Influence of Christianity on Western Civilization

The positive influence of Christianity is far reaching especially in the rich history and culture of Western Civilization despite a long standing ignorance or adamant denial of its contributions. The Bible itself is responsible for much of the language, literature, and fine arts we enjoy today as its artists and composers were heavily influenced by its writings. Paul Maier, in writing the forward to the book How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt, says this about the profound impact Christianity has had on the development of Western Civilization:

“No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement—whatever—has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done. Its shortcomings, clearly conceded by this author, are nevertheless heavily outweighed by its benefits to all mankind” (Schmidt 9).

Contrary to the history texts treatment of the subject, Christian influence on values, beliefs, and practices in Western culture are abundant and well ingrained into the flourishing society of today (Schmidt 12). In the Old Testament book of Hosea the writer states: “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” a statement that can well be applied to those today who are forgetful of the past (The Reformation Study Bible, Hosea 4.6a).

Schmidt writes regarding liberty and justice as seen by today’s culture:

“The liberty and justice that are enjoyed by humans in Western societies and in some non-Western countries are increasingly seen as the products of a benevolent, secular government that is the provider of all things. There seems to be no awareness that the liberties and rights that are currently operative in free societies of the West are to a great degree the result of Christianity’s influence (248). History is replete with examples of individuals who acted as a law unto themselves “often curtailing, even obliterating the natural rights and freedoms of the country’s citizens (249). Christianity’s influence, however, set into motion the belief that man is accountable to God and that the law is the same regardless of status. More than one thousand years before the birth of Christ the biblical requirement given by Moses comprised an essential component of the principle that “no man is above the law.”

One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Deuteronomy 19.15)

Thus the accuser, regardless of position in society, could not arbitrarily incarcerate or execute the accused and was himself subject to the law. The New Testament also mandated two or more witnesses in ecclesiastical matters regarding an erring Christian in Matthew 18:15-17 (Schmidt 249). The criminal and justice systems of many free countries today employ this Judeo-Christian requirement of having witnesses testify and in British and American jurisprudence, witnesses are part of “due process of law,’ a legal concept first appearing under King Edward III in the fourteenth century (Schmidt 249). One startling example of the concept that no man is above the law is seen in the conflict between the Christian emperor Theodosius the Great and St. Ambrose. It happened in 300 A.D. when some in Thessalonica rioted and aroused the anger of the emperor who overreacted by slaughtering approximately seven thousand people, most of whom were innocent. Bishop Ambrose asked the emperor to repent and when Theodosius refused, the bishop excommunicated him. After a month Theodosius prostrated himself and repented in Ambrose’s cathedral. Often mistaken as a struggle for power between church and state, the evidence in which Ambrose’s letter to the emperor cited sole concern for the emperor’s spiritual welfare conclude this as being the first instance of applying the principle that no one is above the law (Schmidt 250).

Posted in Faith, Freedom/Liberty | 41 Comments »

LIFE & Team: Compensated Communities

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 24, 2012

As a kid growing up in the LakeVille school district, wrestling was big. There were great coaches, many strong farm boys, and a rabid fan base. I started organized wrestling (my two brothers and I were always wrestling at home) as a 7th grader and loved it; however, in the 8th grade LakeVille lost its millage and sports were canceled for the year.

Regretfully, I stopped wrestling when sports returned my freshman year of high school, playing basketball instead. Looking back, this was a huge mistake, since basketball, although a great game, wasn’t tapping into my potential like wrestling did. Fortunately, my junior year I returned to wrestling, albeit woefully behind my former teammates. I tell you all of this to make a few points about wrestling and to draw an analogy of my wrestling experience with the new Mental Fitness Challenge program.

First, to be a good wrestler it requires two key attributes:

1. Physical and Mental Strength
2. Technical wrestling skills for leverage

I don’t care how technically skilled a wrestler is; if he doesn’t have physical and mental strength, he won’t be a good wrestler. On the other hand, he can have all the strength needed to be a great wrestler, but if he doesn’t have the technicals skills to leverage his strength against his opponents, he will still never be a champion.

In many tournaments, I witnessed muscle-bound kids tossed around the mat by physically less impressive opponents who knew how to leverage the strength they had. Consequently, I realized quickly that, although I was strong enough, I needed a crash course on the technical skills for leverage in order to win. I could toss many of the kids around, but they would eventually wear me down using leverage to use my strength against me. In my senior year, I wrestled varsity at 126 pounds. It’s practically unheard of for someone to wrestle varsity at LakeVille as a senior (kind of like drinking water from a fire hose) :), but it was what is was.

Thankfully, I had an assistant coach who spent extra time with me, drilling me through routine after routine, making the moves part of my sub-conscious mind rather than having to consciously think about every action. At first, I was an average wrestler at best. Eventually, however, with my coach’s help, I developed the technical skills to leverage my strength against my opponents to compete. Accordingly, I spent the second half of the year wrestling many of the opponents who had beaten me in the first half and evening the scoreboard. :)

In the same way, the Mental Fitness Challenge develop mental strength which is a non-negotiable for success. Indeed, to be a champion in any field requires mental toughness to withstand the pressure and setbacks. However, with that said, mental toughness alone isn’t itself sufficient to create champions. Likewise, in each field, technical skills and leverage points must be learned to effectively capitalize on a person’s improved mental toughness. In relation to the compensated community field, the MFC builds a person’s mental toughness and the Team teaches the technical skills to leverage his results to build a large community.

For the many customers of LIFE, the MFC is sufficient because it teaches the mental toughness to achieve greatness when combined with the technical skills and leverage points in the customer’s profession. In contrast, for those involved in the LIFE Business compensation plan communities the Mental Fitness Challenge is essential but not sufficient. To build large communities one must develop the technical understanding around Power-Player and its inherent leveraging capabilities.

Essentially, someone in LIFE and MFC without studying the Team training materials is like a strong wrestler being tossed around the mat. He is strong, but doesn’t understand how to leverage his strength in his chosen sport or profession. I study the principles for mental strength and community building skills, because I remember being one of those wrestlers getting beaten on the mat and I refuse to simulate it again in my current field! :)

Every profession separates the professionals from the amateurs in the same way: 1) Mental strength and 2) leveraging specific skills repeatedly. The community building field is no different. Power-Player is our play and it scores every time we run it properly. Effective execution of Power-Player requires the same hunger, discipline, and practice to become a champion as it does for a winner in any field – mental strength and leverage skills.

I am thankful for my brothers, who helped me develop my physical strength by wrestling at home; however, placing second in the District meet as a first-year varsity wrestler (an unheard of feat) was the work of an encouraging assistant who invested his time to teach me the leverage skills for wrestling. Similarly, if you are in LIFE, are you willing to invest the time to develop your leverage skills or do you think mental strength is sufficient? Champions in LIFE will master the mental toughness provided through the MFC and the technical skills for leverage provided by Team and win on a huge scale.

Like I have said many times: A person either hates losing enough to change or he hates changing enough to lose. I hate losing; therefore, I change. LIFE is creating a group of interdependent mentally tough leaders, who have mastered the skills of community building through the play that scores every time and its called: Power Player.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Leadership/Personal Development, Mental Fitness Challenge (MFC) | Tagged: | 61 Comments »

The Petition of Rights

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 22, 2012

The Petition of Rights is the second key document in the history of English-speaking people’s freedoms, following the Magna Carta. The Petition didn’t state any new principles; rather, it was recognition of rights against the tyrannical abuse by the King Charles I. King Charles, because he needed funds for war, repeatedly violated private property by seizing assets and money from his subjects. For example, in 1627, Charles initiated “forced loans” against his people because parliament refused to approve any further taxation.

King Charles I threatened his subjects with imprisonment without trial or habeas corpus, if they refused his demand for loans. Seventy gentlemen were jailed without charges against them merely for refusing to loan the king money. King Charles I, in other words, believed he was above the law of the land, making freedom and law only as good as the whims of the sovereign, certainly not solid ground for enduring freedoms. The Petition of Rights listed five key principles that Charles I violated and demanded redress:

1. Parliamentary approval of all taxes
2. No imprisonment without due cause
3. No rejection of habeas corpus without evidence (legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention)
4. No forced quartering of troops in people’s homes
5. No arbitrary imposition of martial law in the land

The courage mustered by the English Parliament to stand their ground is inspiring to freedom fighters around the world. Had parliament surrendered to the King’s power play, the Magna Carta would most likely be buried under the authoritarian precedences.  Instead, however, parliament revived the Magna Carta and courageously said “no” to King Charles I, refusing to surrender the principles of freedom for pragmatic “peace without justice.” The Magna Carta and the Petition of Rights have the same goal in minds – justice under rule of law. By checking the use of arbitrary force against the people and insisting the kings, nobles, and subjects all live under the rule of law, justice was saved.

The English-speaking world would be practically unrecognizable today had the legal mind of Edward Coke not placed his pen to paper and documented the English rights against any and all usurpers. Communities must learn and love their freedoms as much as the English Parliament did in the 17th century. Thus the reason for LIFE and the Mental Fitness Challenge. Below is an excellent summary from Dr. Bill Long.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Petition of Right I (1628)

Bill Long 1/10/05

Understanding the “Process” of the Petition

 A piece of paper is never so alive as when its principles are also in the hearts of the people.

If you were to do an Internet search for “Petition of Right,” you would come up with an 11 paragraph document that stated the “objectives” of a 1628 legal reform movement. This movement not only led to the English Civil war in the 1640s but also expressed many ideas of the American Revolution. The Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution contains some of the principles first articulated in the Petition of Right. But the petition didn’t just emerge whole-cloth. It was shaped in difficult circumstances, where liberties had been dramatically curtailed. The purpose of this and the next three pages is to discuss the purposes of the petition, the manner in which it took shape and some of its provisions. This essay will consider the background to the petition.

Incensed at the Five Knights Case

Although the detainees were remanded to prison after the case concluded in November 1627, the issue of their imprisonment without charge did not die. As a sign that even the King’s Bench was not fully satisfied with its decision, the judgment never was entered on the record. Then, in January 1628 the prisoners were freed in anticipation of Charles I calling another Parliament (it would be his third since his accession to the throne in March 1625). He needed more money, and it would have been impossible to get Parliament to agree on more taxes if the loan “refuseniks” were still behind bars. Thus, he had to show an example of “magnanimity” by releasing them. However, elections did not go in the Crown’s favor. All “Refusers” who ran were returned to Parliament. The die was cast, even if the Crown didn’t realize it.

Thus when Parliament met in March 1628, the King wanted to take up the issue of subsidies immediately, but the House of Commons had other ideas. Still stung by the arbitrary imprisonment of loan refusers and by more recent decisions of Charles to quarter troops in private dwellings in order to save money and to enforce martial law throughout the Kingdom, the Commons decided upon a “personal rights” agenda. They agreed in principle to taxations for foreign wars, but were more concerned with addressing (and redressing) the issue of remedies for a freeman falsely imprisoned.

The Petition Takes Shape–Draft I

Catherine Bowen Drinker, in her prize-winning biography of Coke (The Lion and the Throne) states it well: the issue before the Commons was whether to go by way of bill, petition or remonstrance. The last was quickly dismissed because the Commons wanted to express more than their dissatisfaction with existing conditions. The first was also discarded because a bill (a statute) suggested that the Commons would be declaring new rights or rights insufficiently clarified in the traditions of the people. But Coke’s approach, along with others, was to see what they were doing as expressing rights long recognized rather than devising something new. Thus, a petition was the effective vehicle. But another distinction had to be made, between a petition for grace and a petition of right. The former was a request from a freeman asking the King’s mercy or largesse whereas the latter was a sort of demand (even though called a petition) for rights to be recognized. They would seek the latter.

By the end of March 1628 four basic concepts for the Petition of Right were articulated by the Commons. These were: (1) no imprisonment of freemen without cause shown. The King’s command alone was insufficient to hold a man; (2) habeas corpus was not to be denied; (3) [overlapping with the preceding] the prisoner would either be bailed or released after a habeas hearing; (4) there would be no “tax, taillage, loan, benevolence” commanded or levied without the approval of Parliament.

Defending and Revising the Petition

The thing that really stuck in the craw of the Commons was that freemen had been imprisoned without cause by royal order. But in order for the Petition to have teeth, it had to be approved by the House of Lords and assented to by the sovereign with the traditional language, supposedly going back to Edward I: “Let right be done even as it is desired.” But the House of Lords responded to the four propositions of the Commons in April with a series of paragraphs beginning with “His Majesty would be graciously pleased to declare.” In other words, the Lords wanted to transmute the petition of right into one of grace.

At the heart of the disagreement in April between Commons and Lords was whether the “intrinsical prerogative” of the King, assumed in the wording of the Lords’ answer, could trump the common law of the land. Coke declared that the language of “intrinsical prerogative” was not much found in the laws of the land. If the Commons had to agree to the wording of the Lords, it would be tantamount to agreeing that their rights were a matter of grace. In Coke’s words, “Reason of state [the philosophy of the Lords] lames Magna Carta.”

The negotiating continued throughout the Spring. Finally, the debate within the Houses of Parliament centered on one phrase, a phrase suggested by the Lords, to which the Commons could not assent. It was a request to preserve liberties but “to leave entire the sovereign power” of the monarchy. By the end of May, the Commons had convinced the Lords to drop the phrase, arguing that traditional royal prerogatives would not to be threatened by the peoples’ declaration of their desire to be safe in their persons.

 Conclusion

Charles finally acceded to the Petition in June 1628. His agreement was secured for two reasons. First, he needed the subsidies which the Commons were holding up because of the Petition. Second, he managed to secure agreement from his hand-picked judges that the Petition would not be interpreted in a sense contrary to his desire. But the tide really had turned now against Charles. His seemingly bold actions early in his reign, while he was still a man in his mid-20s, ended up recoiling upon his head. Trust had been irrevocably broken through the Five Knights Case and his attempt to limit the effect of the Petition of Right ultimately was of no avail.

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, LIFE Leadership, Mental Fitness Challenge (MFC) | 16 Comments »

Magna Carta: The Great Charter

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 21, 2012

Here is an excellent short history of the Magna Carta, one of the first building blocks of English speaking freedoms, from the Constitutional Rights Foundation.  In fact, several of the points from the Magna Carta were carried forward into the United States Constitution, as well as each of the commonwealth nations of the former English Empire. The key to the document was the agreement for the nobles to check the king’s actions, ensuring the protection of the subjects against tyranny. Although the original Magan Carta agreement didn’t last long, many of the principles themselves have withstood the test of time.

The goal of the LIFE community and the Mental Fitness Challenge is to reteach the principles of freedom and following, along with the other six F’s into communities of learners. The only way to ensure freedom is to ensure knowledge, since a person is only as free as what he or she knows. Enjoy the article.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Meeting at Runnymede

The Story of King John and Magna Carta

Myth and history are intertwined in the England of 800 years ago. We all remember the outlaw, Robin Hood. From his hideout in Sherwood Forest, he and his band of Merry Men preyed on the rich and gave to the poor. Their archenemy was the Sheriff of Nottingham, who took his orders from the sinister Prince John. While Robin Hood never existed, John certainly did. He was the central character in a real life drama that led to a milestone in human liberty: Magna Carta. Prince John’s older brother, Richard, became king of England when their father, Henry II, died in 1189. King Richard I (also called Richard the Lionhearted) spent almost the entire 10 years of his reign away from England. He fought in tournaments, led crusades and waged several wars on the continent of Europe.

Since Richard needed revenue to pay for his adventures, he taxed his subjects heavily. At one point Richard was captured by his enemies and held for ransom (a common practice in feudal Europe). Richard’s tax collectors in England had to raise an enormous sum of money to free him. Despite Richard’s demands, the people back home in England loved him as a conquering hero.

When Richard died in 1199, John became King. Unlike his brother, John tended to stay at home and run his kingdom on a day to day basis. John, however, continued his brother’s harsh tax policy. Because John lacked Richard’s heroic image and charisma, his subjects began to hate him for his constant demands for more tax money.

King John vs. the Church

King John made more enemies when he refused to accept the appointment of Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important position in the English Catholic Church. By so doing, John challenged the authority of Pope Innocent III in Rome, who punished John by excommunication. John retaliated by taxing the Church in England, confiscating its lands and forcing many priests to leave their parishes.

While King John carried on his dispute with the Pope, powerful English landowners called barons conspired against him. Fuming over John’s heavy taxes and other abuses of power, the barons plotted rebellion. To head them off, King John made an unexpected move.

In 1212, King John agreed to have Stephen Langton become Archbishop of Canterbury. John also promised to compensate the Church for its money and lands. John even went so far as to make England a fief of the Pope. King John still ruled England, but, as John’s liege lord, the Pope gained tremendous prestige throughout Europe. Pope Innocent was delighted and in 1213 ended John’s excommunication. With John now under the protection of the Church, the resentful barons retreated—at least for a while.

King John vs. the Barons

Convinced that his throne was again safe, King John returned to one of his favorite projects. For years he had dreamed to retake possession of lands in France that had once belonged to his ancestors. Once before, John had led a military expedition to France. Although he won a number of battles, John failed to decisively defeat the French king. Now, in 1213, John planned another campaign.

An invasion of France required many soldiers and more money. Under feudal law, a liege lord had the right to call upon his vassals to provide knights or money during times of war. From the English barons, all vassals of King John, he demanded men-at-arms or gold to support his new French war. Many of the barons refused, having little interest in John’s quarrel with the French king. Enraged, King John set out to punish them by attacking their castles.

Early in 1214, he abandoned his domestic quarrels and left with a force of loyal barons and mercenaries (paid soldiers) for France. History repeated itself. John succeeded in winning some battles, but failed to gain control of the disputed lands.

The Road to Runnymede

Soon after returning to English soil in October 1214, King John resumed his demand for money from the rebellious barons. His demands fell on deaf ears. Sensing John’s weakness after his failure in France, the barons began to make their own demands. In January 1215, a group of them appeared before King John asking for a written charter from him confirming ancient liberties granted by earlier kings of England. Evidence suggests that the newly appointed Archbishop Stephen Langton may have encouraged these demands.

John decided to stall for time; he would give the barons an answer later in the spring. In the meantime, John sent letters to enlist the support of Pope Innocent III, and also began to assemble a mercenary army.

In April, the barons presented John with more specific demands. John flatly rejected them. He remarked: “Why do not the barons, with these unjust exactions, ask my kingdom?”

In response, the barons withdrew their allegiance to King John, and started to form their own rebel army. At the head of the rebel forces was Robert FitzWalter, who called himself “Marshal of the army of God and Holy Church.” In an effort to cool things off, John proposed that the Pope settle their differences. With the Pope openly siding with King John, the barons refused. John ordered his sheriffs to crush the rebel barons and they retaliated by occupying London.

A stalemate ensued. The 40 or so rebel barons and their forces held London as well as their own fortified castles throughout England. King John commanded a slightly smaller force of loyalist barons and mercenaries. Unaligned were about 100 barons plus a group of church leaders headed by the ever-present Archbishop Stephen Langton. Langton (who was sympathetic to the rebels if not one himself) began to work for a negotiated settlement to prevent all-out civil war and arranged a meeting to be held at Runnymede, a meadow on the Thames west of London.

Meeting at Runnymede

King John and his supporters, the rebel barons, the neutrals, church leaders and Archbishop Langton all met at Runnymede on June 15, 1215. Significantly, while most of King John’s fighting men were scattered throughout his kingdom, the rebels appeared at full military strength.

Little is known about the details of this historic meeting. We do know that King John placed his seal of approval on a document called the “Articles of the Barons.” Over the next few days these articles were rewritten, expanded, and put into the legal language of a royal charter.

At some point, probably on June 19, King John put his seal on the final draft of what we call today “Magna Carta” or “The Great Charter.” In exchange, the rebellious barons renewed their oath of allegiance to King John, thus ending the immediate threat of civil war.

In its original form Magna Carta consisted of 63 articles or chapters. Many concerned matters of feudal law that were important to the rebel barons, but are of little relevance to us today. Other parts of Magna Carta corrected King John’s abuses of power against the barons, Church officials, merchants and other “free men” who together made up about 25% of England’s population. Magna Carta virtually ignored the remaining 75% of the population.

For people today the most significant part of Magna Carta is Chapter 39:
No free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [property taken] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimized, neither will we attack him or send anyone to attack him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.
Some have interpreted this provision to mean that Magna Carta guaranteed to free men the right to a trial by jury. However, the idea of a jury trial as we would recognize it today had not yet developed by 1215.

The purpose of this chapter was to prevent King John from personally ordering the arrest and punishment of a free man without lawful judgment. According to Magna Carta, “lawful judgment” could only be made by judges ruled by “the law of the land,” or by one’s peers in a trial by combat.

Magna Carta of 1215 was not really intended to be a list of rights for Englishmen or even the barons themselves. It was more like a contract in which John bound himself to abide by its provisions. The barons only wanted King John to satisfy their complaints against his abusive rule, not overthrow the monarchy. The real significance of this document lies in the basic idea that a ruler, just like everyone else, is subject to the rule of law. When King John agreed to Magna Carta, he admitted that the law was above the king’s will, a revolutionary idea in 1215.

Aftermath

King John surrendered significant power when he agreed to Magna Carta. It is doubtful that he really ever intended to live up to all his promises. While John did satisfy some of the barons’ personal grievances, he secretly wrote the Pope asking him to cancel Magna Carta on the grounds that he signed it against his will. At the same time he continued to build up his mercenary army. Not trusting John’s intentions, the rebel barons held on to London and maintained their own army.

Pope Innocent III replied favorably to King John’s appeal. He condemned Magna Carta and declared it null and void. By September 1215, King John and his army were roving the countryside attacking the castles of individual barons, but he avoided the rebel stronghold of London. The barons charged that King John had defaulted on his agreement with them and they were justified in removing him from the throne. They offered the throne to the son of the French king, if he would aid their rebellion.
A long and bloody civil war loomed across England, when suddenly, King John died. A round of heavy eating and drinking apparently led to a case of dysentery causing his death on October 18, 1216. Ten days later John’s nine-year-old son, Henry, was crowned as the new king of England. With John out of the way, the conflict gradually ceased. Less than a month after Henry was crowned, his supporters confirmed Magna Carta in his name. This time it received the approval of the Pope.

Magna Carta, carrying with it the idea of “the rule of law,” was reconfirmed a number of times over the next 80 years, becoming a foundation of English law. Eventually, Magna Carta would become the source of important legal concepts found in our American Constitution and Bill of Rights. Among these are the principle of no taxation without representation and the right to a fair trial under law. These foundations of our own constitutional system had their beginnings in a meadow beside a river almost 800 years ago.

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, LIFE Leadership | 25 Comments »

The Role of Intellectuals in Societal Change

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 20, 2012

The late Murray Rothbard was a polymathic genius. I have read few authors who have studied and understood history, economics, philosophy, sociology, liberty, and power, in as entertaining and informative a manner. I find that, even when I disagree with Rothbard, he still makes me think. In truth, isn’t this the goal of all reading? I don’t read to believe everything the author writes; rather, I read to sharpen myself on the iron thinking of other great minds. Unfortunately, our school systems, newspapers, magazines, television sets, and radio stations are all geared to tell you what to think (propaganda) instead of teaching you how to think (education).

After reading Rothbard’s analysis of the Revolutionary War from his book Conceived in Liberty and the role of intellectuals in the conflict, it became crystal clear to me who the court intellectuals are today.  Invest the time to read Rothbard’s analysis of 18th century America for yourself. See if you can identify some of the court intellectuals today who share the ruling statist ideology in our society. Likewise, think of some of the anti-statist authors and organizations who faithfully teach our English heritage from the Magna Carta, Petition of Rights, and Bill of Rights. These great documents protected the citizens against un-checked statist power, helping create a society ruled by law to protect life, liberty, and property.

Did anyone ever study these three documents in high school? How about college? Amazingly, three off the most precious documents in the history of the English-speaking people that, along with the King James Bible, flowered freedom to a level previously unknown throughout the world is largely forgotten. Even though these documents produced a level of liberty that was the envy of every other European nation. Indeed, the West would not even be conceivable without these documents. However, if this is true, then why aren’t these great truths shared in every school in every English speaking country? Moreover, is there anything that English speaking citizens from around the world can do about this catastrophic, at least from a liberty perspective, series of egregious events?

Call me a dreamer, but if only there were communities who inspired people to begin a self-directed education. If only people began reading, learning, and sharing from the original sources with one another to learn the great truths of freedom by working around society’s purveyors of propaganda. :) Imagine the impact of millions of people taking the Mental Fitness Challenge and launching a self-directed education into their personal lives while associating with others taking the same journey? Yes folks, the road ahead will be challenging; however, great leadership is only revealed when the obstacles encountered cannot be resolved with anything less. Like my friend Chris Brady says: Today’s the day!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

The essence of the state throughout history is a minority of the population, constituting a power elite or a “ruling class,” governing and living off the majority, or the “ruled.” Since a majority cannot live parasitically off a minority without the economy and the social system breaking down very quickly, and since the majority can never act permanently by itself but must always be led by an oligarchy, every state will subsist by plundering the majority in behalf of a ruling minority. A further reason for the inevitability of minority rule is the pervasive fact of the division of labor: the majority of the public must spend most of its time going about the business of making a living. Hence the actual rule of the state must be left to full-time professionals who are necessarily a minority of the society.

Throughout history, then, the state has consisted of a minority plundering and tyrannizing over a majority. This brings us to the great question, the great mystery, of political philosophy: the mystery of civil obedience. From Etienne de La Boetie to David Hume to Ludwig von Mises, political philosophers have shown that no state—no minority—can continue long in power unless supported, even if passively, by the majority. Why then does the majority continue to accept or support the state when it is clearly acquiescing in its own subjection? Why does the majority continue to obey the minority?

Here we arrive at the age-old role of the intellectuals, the opinion-molding groups in society. The ruling class—be it warlords, nobles, bureaucrats, feudal landlords, monopoly merchants, or a coalition of several of these groups—must employ intellectuals to convince the majority of the public that its rule is beneficent, inevitable, necessary, and even divine. The leading role of the intellectual throughout history is that of the court intellectual, who, in return for a share of, a junior partnership in, the power and pelf offered by the rest of the ruling class, spins the apologias for state rule with which to convince a misguided public. This is the age-old alliance of church and state, of throne and altar, with the church in modern times being largely replaced by secular intellectuals and “scientific” technocrats.

When state rulers act, then, to use and aggrandize state power, their primary motivation is economic: to increase their plunder at the expense of the subject and the taxpayer. The ideology that they profess and that is formulated and spread through society by the court intellectuals is an elaborate rationalization for their economic interests. The ideology is the camouflage for their looting, the fictitious clothes spun by the intellectuals to hide the naked plundering of the emperor. The economic motive behind the ideological garb of the state is the heart of the issue.

But what of the actions of the rebels against state power—those infrequent but vital situations in history when the subjects rise up to diminish, whittle away, or abolish state power? What, in short, of such great events as the American Revolution or the classical liberal movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Of course, an economic motive exists here, too, in this case one of defending the private property of the subjects from the depredations of the state. But our contention here is that, even when conjoined as in the American Revolution, the major motive of the opposition, or of the revolutionaries, will be ideological rather than economic.

The basic reason for this assertion is that the ruling class, being small and largely specialized, is motivated to think about its economic interests twenty-four hours a day. Manufacturers seeking a tariff, merchants seeking to cripple their competition, bankers looking for taxes to repay their government bonds, rulers seeking a strong state from which to acquire revenue, bureaucrats wishing to expand their empire—all of these are professionals in statism. They are constantly at work trying to preserve and expand their privileges. Hence the primacy of the economic motive in their actions. But the majority has allowed itself to be misled largely because its immediate interests are generally diffuse and hard to observe, and because the majority comprises not professional “antistatists” but people going about their business of daily living.

What can the average person know of the arcane processes of subsidy or taxation or bond issue? Generally, he is too wrapped up in his daily life, too habituated to his lot after centuries of state-guided propaganda, to give any thought to his unfortunate fate. Hence, an opposition or revolutionary movement, or indeed any mass movement from below, cannot be primarily guided by ordinary economic motives.

For such a mass movement to form, the masses must be fired up, must be aroused to a rare and uncommon pitch of fervor against the existing system. But for that to happen, the masses must be fired up by ideology. Only ideology, guided either by a new religious conversion or by a passion for justice, can arouse the interest of the masses (in the current jargon, “raise their consciousness”) and lead them out of the morass of daily habit into an uncommon and militant activity in opposition to the state.

This is not to say that an economic motive—for example, a defense of their property—does not play an important role. But to form a mass movement in opposition means that the people must shake off their habits, their daily mundane concerns of several lifetimes, and become politically aroused and determined as never before in their lives. Only a commonly held and passionately believed-in ideology can perform that role. Hence our conclusion that a mass movement like the American Revolution must be centrally motivated by a commonly shared ideology.

How then do the masses of subjects acquire this guiding and determining ideology? By the very nature of the masses, it is impossible for them to arrive at such an opposition or revolutionary ideology on their own. Habituated as they are to their narrow and daily rounds, uninterested in ideology as they normally are, it is impossible for the masses to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps to hammer out an ideological movement in opposition to the existing state.

Here we arrive at the vital role of the intellectuals. Only intellectuals, full-time (or largely full-time) professionals in ideas, have the time, the ability, and the inclination to formulate an opposition ideology and then to spread the word to the people. In contrast to the statist court intellectual, whose role is a junior partner in rationalizing the economic interests of the ruling class, the radical or opposition intellectual’s role is the centrally guiding one of formulating the opposition or revolutionary ideology and then of spreading the ideology to the masses, thereby welding them into a revolutionary movement.

An important corollary: in weighing the motivations of the intellectuals themselves or even of the masses, it is generally true that setting oneself up in opposition to an existing state is a lonely, thorny, and often dangerous road. It is usually directly in the economic interests of the radical intellectuals to allow themselves to “sell out,” to be co-opted by the ruling state apparatus. The intellectuals who do choose the radical opposition path, who pledge—in the famous words of the American revolutionaries—“their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor,” can scarcely be dominated by economic motives; on the contrary, only a fiercely held ideology, centering on a passion for justice, can keep the intellectuals to the rigorous path of truth. Hence, again, the likelihood of a dominant role for ideology in an opposition movement.

Thus, statists tend to be governed by economic motivation, with ideology serving as a smokescreen for such motives, while libertarians or anti-statists are ruled principally and centrally by ideology, with economic defense playing a subordinate role. By this dichotomy we may at last resolve the age-old historiographical dispute over whether ideology or economic interests play the dominant role in historical motivation.

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: | 30 Comments »

The Meaning of Liberty

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 17, 2012

Liberty is nearly a sacred principle for most North American citizens. With that said, however, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of us do not understand all of its implications. For example, liberty doesn’t mean license, since a person isn’t free to do anything he likes as robbing and pillaging violate others rights. Furthermore, liberty doesn’t demand society to live according to a person’s preferences enforced by coercive means. Rather, liberty implies a respect for the God-given rights of others, refusing to use violence against others, unless in self-defense.

This confusion over the meaning of liberty seems to be at the forefront of today’s culture wars. Humanists want to force everyone in school to be fed their world-view; while on the other hand, many Christian leaders want to use the public schools to force-feed a Christian world-view. One example I have read, from many, is a 1980′s article from the Humanist magazine:

I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool, daycare, or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved.

I disagree with this philosophy for numerous reasons, one being it’s totalitarian implications. Indeed, in a free society, both the Humanist and the Christian agendas for our State school systems are improper, because they surrender liberty of thought to a monolithic mindset of one size fits all. The liberty philosophy, on the other hand, would step back from the problem further and ask: why have a public school system at all? Why not privatize the educational system so that humanist, Christians, Jews, etc, can teach the principles that they believe to their children. Isn’t freedom in education foundational to freedom in society? It seems peculiar that America values freedom so greatly, yet surrenders the freedom to educate their children to the State.

Why battle it out in public schools when liberty demands freedom for all world-views to compete in the marketplace of ideas? School vouchers would bring freedom and competition back to the woefully struggling American educational system. This isn’t a knock on the many hard-working teachers attempting to make a difference in a poorly designed system; rather, I am simply stating the “the Educational Emperor has no clothes on,” so to speak. :) America will fall further and further behind if we continue to use our schools as indoctrination and socialization facilities, instead of its intended roles as learning, thinking, and doing educational centers. By giving parents the power of the purse, schools would quickly start serving the customers, not their own agendas. This is what the FREE in Free-Enterprise is all about.

America was the bastion of free enterprise and freedom for the individual, but now fights totalitarian style battles with the next-generation’s minds. America as a whole is the loser as our kids are quickly falling further and further behind in education as compared to other countries. Despite the fact that America spends more money per child than all the rest, we struggle to place in the Top 50 nations in education. This is a national embarrassment! The Mental Fitness Challenge is a program to restore some of the lost principles of a proper education back into the marketplace. Early results indicate the need is massive and the hunger is present within the populace.

Here is an article on Thomas Jefferson’s views to start the discussion on how we can free education from the powers-that-be. Even though I disagree with the humanist positions, I would fight for their right to liberty in the education of their children. Similarly, I would hope there are enough liberty loving people left in all philosophies to do the same for my family.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, Freedom/Liberty, Orrin Woodward | 56 Comments »

Challenge Groups & Community

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 16, 2012

The Challenge Groups kicked off around the country this week, and the feedback has been amazing. Communities are essential to the health of individuals, families, and society. The LIFE business builds communities and bonds them together through the Mental Fitness Challenge. If you attended a Challenge Group last night, please share your thoughts and highlights.

Here is one of several articles I have written on community.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

The Desire for Community

The more I read, the more I realize the true secret to success in business and life is related to the strength of relationships within a person’s community. The myth of rugged isolated individualism, although enduring, is, in truth, only a myth. Economic, educational, even political effectiveness are all improved when people work together. Please don’t misunderstand me; I haven’t turned to economic communism; however, I do comprehend better than I previously did how so many people have been drawn into this evil illogical doctrine. Specifically, most people, if given the choice between being alone or in community, will choose community, even if the association is Biblically wrong, thus communism’s growth. In fact, a cursory look at organizations as diverse as communism, the mafia, and gangs will exhibit the enduring need for community.

If community is essential to human beings, then the question is: How do we incorporate community into a society without sacrificing life, liberty, and property? Since liberty cannot exist where the State dictates, the idea of community and freedom precludes State control. Therefore, free communities are misnomers unless they are voluntary organizations. However, although the non-involvement of the State is essential, it isn’t sufficient to create community. The other side of the equation is for people to learn how to work within a community setting. Consequently, the atomistic rugged individualism of American myth must be replaced by men and women who work within a Biblical framework of ordered liberty and love. In other words, the greedy, self-centered capitalist is not a true picture of a free-enterprise Biblical community. In fact, this caricature of American freedoms pinpoints what is plaguing America – the loss of community roots and liberty (Social Power), instead, replaced by today’s (State Power) crony capitalism.

State Power vs. Social Power

Murray Rothbard, the late dean of Austrian Economists, wrote in Conceived in Liberty:

My own basic perspective on the history of man, and a fortiori on the history of the United States, is to place central importance on the great conflict which is eternally waged between Liberty and Power, a conflict, by the way, which was seen with crystal clarity by the American revolutionaries of the eighteenth century. I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life. But liberty has always been threatened by the encroachments of power, power which seeks to suppress, control, cripple, tax, and exploit the fruits of liberty and production. Power, then, the enemy of liberty, is consequently the enemy of all the other goods and fruits of civilization that mankind holds dear. And power is almost always centered in and focused on the central repository of power and violence: the state. With Albert Jay Nock, the twentieth-century American political philosopher, I see history as centrally a race and conflict between “social power” — the productive consequence of voluntary interactions among men — and state power. In those eras of history when liberty — social power — has managed to race ahead of state power and control, the country and even mankind have flourished. In those eras when state power has managed to catch up with or surpass social power, mankind suffers and declines.

In sum, wherever State Power flourishes, Social Power declines. Thankfully, however, the reverse is true as well. By standing on the intellectual shoulders of both Nock and Rothbard, we see that societies can be organized around two competing philosophical choices:

1. State Power: Top down external discipline and the subsequent loss of liberty endured.
2. Social Power: Bottom up internal discipline and the subsequent ordered liberty enjoyed.

Restoring Social Power – Volunteer Communities

The first option (State Power) is the real-life history of America since around the Civil War, with State Power moving ahead and Social Power in subsequent decline. Since 1913, however, the battle has become a full-fledged drubbing, with State Powers triumphing in the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Income Tax amendment, and the democratic election of Senators. In truth, it’s hard to fathom a worse mix of legislation (as related to Social Power) in one year, in one country, than what occurred in America in that disastrous year of 1913. In other words, 1913 wasn’t just (to use Oliver DeMille’s term) a freedom shift, it was a freedom rout. DeMille’s soon-to-be-released book 1913 will elaborate further on these fateful events.

The second option (Social Power) is America’s (and the West’s) best hope for freedom. America needs a community restoration, starting, not from the top down (State Power), but rather, from the bottom up (Social Power), in order to revitalize America. Social Power is fueled by social capital – a sociological concept which refers to the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective results in any endeavor – to paraphrase Robert Putnam, in is classic Bowling Alone. Putnam explains the key role of social capital, “A society characterized by generalized reciprocity is more efficient than a distrustful society, for the same reason that money is more efficient than barter. If we don’t have to balance every exchange instantly, we can get a lot more accomplished. Trustworthiness lubricates life. Frequent interaction among a diverse set of people tends to produce a norm of generalized reciprocity.” Furthermore, Putnam argues, “Does social capital have salutary effects on individuals, communities, or even entire nations? Yes, an impressive and growing body of research suggests that civic connections help make us healthy, wealthy, and wise. Living without social capital is not easy, whether one is a villager in southern Italy or a poor person in the American inner city or a well-heeled entrepreneur in a high-tech district.” Social capital matters, in other words, both personally, professionally, and politically.

Converting Dreams into Realities through Communities

Putnam goes on to list five specific areas where the trust and understanding inured by social capital helps translate aspirations into realities:

1. Social capital allows citizens to resolve collective problems more easily through improved teamwork.
2. Social capital greases the wheels that allow communities to advance smoothly through improved trust.
3. Social capital helps widen the awareness of fellow citizens that their fates are intertwined through improved understanding.
4. Social capital serves as conduits for the flow of helpful information and resources to accomplish community and individual goals.
5. Social capital improves individual lives through psychological and biological processes. In fact, numerous studies suggest lives that are rich in social capital cope with trauma and illnesses significantly more effectively.

Despite social capital’s overwhelming advantages, Putnam acknowledges its decline, writing, “Americans have had a growing sense at some visceral level of disintegrating social bonds.” Furthermore, he writes, “More than 80% of Americans said there should be more emphasis on community, even if it puts more demands on individuals.” In sum, social capital isn’t just the fuel for Social Power – a necessary check on State Power – but it also enhances individual lives through the sense of belonging engendered within communities. Strikingly, then, the decline of social capital, not only attacks society’s freedoms, but also attacks an individual’s well-being. Simply put, America cannot remain free without a revival of Social Power through building social capital in voluntary communities. With so much at stake, why aren’t more people focused on restoring voluntary communities throughout America and the West? That question will be answered in further articles on Social Power and communities. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Leadership/Personal Development, Life Training | Tagged: | 79 Comments »

Resolved to Change

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 15, 2012

A person either hates losing enough to change, or he hates changing enough to lose. These are the two options available to anyone at any time. The Mental Fitness Challenge is a program of personal change designed for the person that wants to grow, change, and win at the next level. What areas in life would you like to improve? What are you doing to create the appropriate changes in your life? Here is a video describing what George Washington did in order to change.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , | 27 Comments »