Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

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    Former 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 financial, 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. 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.

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Five Laws of Decline & the Athenian Mind

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 19, 2012

I am studying such an interesting period of history—about the ancient Greeks. On one hand, their love of freedom was so deep, they would sacrifice their lives to maintain it. On the other hand, their love of power was so great, they would sacrifice their lives to tyrannize others. How can both of these contrasting thoughts exist inside of one people? In truth, these thoughts exist inside all people, and this is called man’s fallen nature. Man has the capacity for the noblest and ignoblest actions within him, and the history of ancient Greece displays this clearer than practically any historical period. The goal of the LIFE business is to check the Five Laws of Decline (FLD) that I teach in my book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE. The reason I like that there is a group of LIFE founders (Chris Brady, Tim Marks, Claude Hamilton, Bill Lewis, George Guzzardo, Dan Hawkins, and Rob Hallstrand) is that it ensures no one has absolute power, which keeps the FLD in check. I have witnessed first hand the FLD in action, and any company not familiar with these principles is probably affected by them. Here is a portion of the research project I am working on.


Orrin Woodward

Delian LeagueIn 477 BC, the Athenians assumed command at sea, forming a league to compensate themselves and their allies for losses suffered by the Persian kings. Persian holdings and allies were successfully attacked to offset Greek losses during the war. The allies formed a synod, in which each city sent a deputy to represent its interest with an equal vote on the board. Additionally, each city pledged either ships or money to the league for its maintenance and campaigns. Aristides, the “just one,” was appointed medon of the league. His unquestioned character, holding the confidence and trust of all deputies, was essential to its early success. He was assigned to fix the “tributes,” paid by each city, that didn’t provide the assigned number of ships to the temple of Apollo at Delos. Cimon, son of Miltiades, was the most competent commander in all of Hellas. He was appointed Commander of the allied fleet. Both were men eminently fitted to make Athens popular with the allies. Furthermore, the alliance was confirmed with solemn oaths and, according to the customs of the day, by sinking of iron into the sea; until the iron bars should reappear, the oaths would be binding. Thus, the Delian League was formed and Greek freedoms were imperiled.

Aristides’ character and Cimon’s competence were an unbeatable combination, producing victories at sea while maintaining peace amongst the Delian allies. The allies, knowing the character and abilities of Aristides and Cimon didn’t worry that control of both the finances and the fighting were both in Athenian hands. They trusted the character of Aristides and the oaths taken by the allies that stated all allies were equal and suppled either ships or money for mutual defense. Cimon reeled off victory after victory against the beleaguered Persian fleet, and Aristides nobly worked with the allies to ensure fair assessments and ships were contributed by all parties. Unfortunately, the poor precedent of Athenian control over the league’s resources was set. In truth, this wasn’t a significant issue as long as Aristides and Cimon were at the helm. However, since no one can lead forever, when Aristides exited the scene, the allied mistake of surrendering complete control to one city (Athens) became apparent. However, this realization was still years in the future for Aristides & Cimon, for the most part, acted honorably towards the allies.

With Aristides and Cimon moderately running the league, many of the allies chose to pay money rather than provide ships. This worked well with character-based leaders. However, with no board to check and balance the Athenians, when new men with new motives arose, the allied reliance on the Delian League’s oaths was in vain. Words are sometimes sufficient to ensure execution, but without board oversight of political leaders, the FLD will kick in, and someone will abuse the contract for personal power. This became all too apparent for the allies during the Naxos rebellion in 470 BC. With Aristides gone, the complaints against Athenian arrogance and mismanagement grew amongst the allies. Naxos was the first to act upon these unresolved complaints, withdrawing from the league in protest. Athens assigned Cimon to blockade its former ally, thus terminating an alliance of equals and initiating the Athenian Empire. Thucydides writes, “This was the first allied State which was reduced to subjection contrary to the league constitution.” Although history has not recorded the specific grievance, this begins a new phase in the Delian League from equal allies to Athenian subjection of other Greek city-states. A generation before, Athenian men willingly sacrificed their lives for Greek freedoms; now they sacrificed their lives to tyrannize other Greeks.

Noted historian Evelyn Abbott describes the metamorphosis of the Greek mind:

A change so striking of necessity excites our curiosity; we would fain trace the steps by which it was brought about. Who was to blame for consequences so disastrous? Was it the Athenians, who in the plenitude of their power destroyed the fair promise of united action in Hellas, in order to establish a maritime empire in the place of an equal league of confederate cities? Or did the allies, in the feverish restlessness of Hellenic independence, refuse to submit to the control inseparable from any form of confederation?

Clearly, we can see the workings of the FLD in the actions of Athens. Whereas before, they fought to maintain the freedoms of the greater Hellas against the Persian oppressors, with the taste of tributes and absolute power, the Athenians transformed into the worst oppressors, hypocritically denying to other Greeks what they valued so greatly themselves.

34 Responses to “Five Laws of Decline & the Athenian Mind”

  1. Don and Jan Fallis said

    Thanks Orrin for your thoughts. What is even more powerful is the fact that YOU and the other PC are welcoming ALL OTHERS of the LIFE Community to come join you at that level. Thank you for your Leadership which will change the world. I am proud to be a part of what will go down in History as the Freedom Shift process.

    Don Fallis

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Don, great point! Anyone who is willing to step up and lead, we invite to help us lead the LIFE Ship to millions of people and change the world one person at a time! God Bless, Orrin

  2. Interesting… I wonder… How the FLD affects times, is there an average cycle of this Pride? Is it a century, maybe two, before a society, or a community, or an organization realizes how hot the water is getting? (Referring ofcourse to the analogy of the frog in the pan of water, upon a stove)
    How drastic are the events, throughout history, that awaken the people? Is the drasticity (if that’s a word) similar? Is it mass death that provokes change? Poverty?
    My real question is…. Can it be saved before it hits that low?

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Robby, short answer is: yes, it can be reversed. Stay tuned for more updates as I explain how. thanks, Orrin

  3. I can’t wait to read your book on this!!!

  4. Orrin Woodward always posts great articles. This reminds me how Judge Andrew Napolitano talks about how the same generation that gave us the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, even some of the same people, later enacted laws of contradictory tyranny. He and Lew Rockwell call it “Libido Dominante”, the lust to dominate.

  5. Derek c. said

    I am currently reading Karl Popper’s books entitled ‘The OpenSociety and It’s Enemies’. Everyone do likewise

  6. Elaine Mallios said

    So true Orrin. We are fallen people so the tenant of justice is manipulated by the few as soon as they figure out they can. Friends and family living in Greece say this has not changed for them. Corruption and expected handouts have lead to violence in the streets. The Greek news is as inadequate as most media and propagandized. The lessons are so blatant. How can they not see it? How can we not see it here in America?

  7. jimmy varghese said

    My parents are from India and India is a country of innovation however without implementation due to widespread corruption. As the country is getting more advanced this issue is starting to be further addressed and a freedom shift is beginning to create a huge middle class as America was. Sadly our country is losing the integrity we once stood for. The LIFE organization will the be the Paul Revere’s of this century to turn us back to the greatness we once were! Great post Orrin!

  8. Great post Orrin! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kevin Hamm said


    So dark the con of man. I believe the PC is a great defense against the FLD, but short of God’s kingdom, with THE perfect, eternal king, there will always be the risk, with succession, of the FLD to gain a foothold. How vigilant we must be as we form the first 1000 PC members. If those first 1000 are “on purpose”, and span two to three generations in age, we have the hope of making a difference for some time to come. Thank you for making such a valiant effort. Many of us are joining you.

  10. J & P Harteis said

    Thank you, Orrin, for keeping us ever mindful & vigilant! This is not just a responsibility for those in power, but a responsibility for us all. We have so much to gain or so much to lose – the choice is ours. This reminds me of the book, A Tale of Three Kings, as everything in life comes down to our fear of the Lord, gaining wisdom, losing pride & how all of this effects our everyday lives. We need an army of a million+ Godly people who are willing to take a stand & fight for righteousness! Thanks for leading from the front!

  11. Jason Halteman said

    Orrin, Thank you for all your research you have done to help us understand how to reverse our declining culture. I can honestly say that I am learning more from your book Resolved and the posts you have made here than I am currently learning in my college coarse “Global Conflict”. We are studying why societies decline, and I am finding that the mentality of most people is that our society is in decline because of other external forces, such as challenger nations, which we can not control. It seems that our society is looking to pass blame and not take responsibility for anything. Thanks to the information I am learning from you, I will be giving a speech near the end of my semester citing your infromation from the 13th chapter of “Resolved. I’m not usually excited about speeches but this one I am.

  12. Great article Orrin! History certainly repeats itself!

    Chris Brady

  13. Thanks for the great article!

  14. Frank Froese said

    It was this type of intriguing information that first inspired me to return to student mode. You have reawakened a culture of self education and self development in our time. My life and the lives of my family have been totally altered and set on a proper course by the example you have inspired in those around you. Thank you for continuing to fulfilling your God given purpose.

  15. Denny Suggitt said

    Great post Orrin ! I have learned so much about history since I’ve joined the TEAM and now LIFE ! Great information please keep it coming !

    Thanks again !

  16. Holger said


    Thank you for that article and the research you are doing. It is amazing how the fast FLD take hold of what once was a noble cause. How do you think we can make sure that this does not happen with LIFE and TEAM? Not saying it will, but history, as we can see here repeats itself and the FLD are merciless. So, since pride comes before the fall, I don’t want to assume that this could never happen to us. Any thoughts?

    Thank you!!


    • Orrin Woodward said

      Holger, the question isn’t if it will, the question is how many generations can we hold it off by using a scoreboard and “no special deals” culture. The key is mentorship and passing the baton to people who “get it” in their core. thanks, Orrin

      • Matt Mielke said

        Holger’s question has stirred my subconscious too. I find comfort though in knowing that it will happen and we have a solution – from an earthly perspective “no special deals” and from a divine perspective “the cross.” I’m not strong enough to fight my fears, but I am so glad we have a God who has given us a spirit that is not timid, but courageous, strong, and loving all at the same time. Thanks Orrin for the history lesson. Matt

  17. Maura Galliani said

    Thank you for enlightening me further about “man’s fallen nature” through this example of ancient Greece. The LIFE community can always count on you to continue our history educations while using relevant examples that tie in to what we stand for in our mission(s) … fired up!

  18. The Five Laws of Decline are so interesting to me. Before reading Resolved, I never “saw” them. But understanding systems thinking (loved that chapter!) and knowing the FLD one can certainly see how they are responsible for the decline of everything. It’s good to know about them, for it seems the only way to hold on and work through them is to know them. However, as with everything, someone will stop paying attention and FLD’s will take over! But, that doesn’t have to be on our watch : )

  19. Alison Ruhlman said

    I love learning History!! Especially from reliable teachers that don’t misrepresent the facts to paint the picture the way they want it to appear!!! We can learn a lot from History and I am glad I took the time to read your blog! Thanks for all the time you put into writing it!

  20. Michael Hartmann said

    “A generation before, Athenian men willingly sacrificed their lives for Greek freedoms; now they sacrificed their lives to tyrannize other Greeks.” What’s most distressing is how quickly the Cycle of the Body Politic rolls!

  21. Warren said

    Do you see a parallel working of the FLD in America? Specifically in regard to your quote, “A generation before, Athenian men willingly sacrificed their lives for Greek freedoms; now they sacrificed their lives to tyrannize other Greeks.” If so, where, when? Are there several occurrences? It would seem to me that The FLD kicks in immediately, and is even present during the creation of excellence. although attended to at that time maybe.

    Highest Regards

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Warren, the FLD are always looking for a crack – like water turning to ice breaks up cement. The key is to design systems to reward proper human behavior and to check the launching of the FLD. I will go into more detail in further post, but the short answer is yes, there are many parallels and you are on the right track! thanks, Orrin

  22. Tim Tsirambidis said

    Great article. This is history we should learn from. Thanks.

  23. Peggi Kern said

    Thanks for the article and sharing your thoughts!

  24. KellyJack Nelson said

    Thanks Orrin and everyone, I enjoy reading the comments almost as much as the articles. They show me there’s a group who are striving to understand these thoughts. As we grow in our understanding, possibilities emerge that didn’t exist prior. So there is hope.

  25. Bob said

    Now I get to open my copy of Resolved and look up the 5 laws. I read it but don’t remember anything about that. Good case for re-reading huh!

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