Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

Inc Magazine Top 20 Leader shares his personal, professional, and financial 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 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.

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

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Posts Tagged ‘Meritocracy’

LIFE’s Meritocracy – How to End the Middle Class Squeeze

Posted by Orrin Woodward on February 7, 2012

“Let us in education dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity” – Thomas Jefferson

A simple definition of meritocracy would be the democracy of opportunity, providing everyone with an equal opportunity to advance based upon, paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jr., “the content of one’s character, not the color of one’s skin.”

However, as I noted in the first two articles (Middle Class Squeeze and the Idle Rich & Idle Poor), Jefferson’s dream is certainly not today’s reality. When a person is confronted with this sobering truth, he can respond in one of three ways. His character is revealed by the path chosen.

Three Responses to the Middle Class Squeeze
The first option is to deny the bitter reality. The person continues to keep his head down, refusing to question the increasing financial and opportunity squeeze suffered by the middle class. This choice reminds me of the Matrix movie, where people live in a coma-of-complacency. Sadly, unlike the movie, the brutal reality will eventually jolt people awake, typically through a business failure or job loss.

The second option is when a person recognizes the reality of the middle class squeeze and plays the victim card. These perpetual victims run around crying to anyone who will listen (fewer and fewer do) until they have swallowed enough poison to poison everyone around them. Every person who associates with these embittered victims hears a monotonous refrain about what could have been, or who is to blame, or what a heavy burden they have to carry. What a waste of potential! No matter what has happened, why surrender the future to the past? If a person is still breathing, then he has hope!

The third option is to turn injustice into education. Since bitterness isn’t a viable option for leaders, this, in truth, is the proper response. Every person suffers injustices at some point in life. However, leaders turn injustices into education for growth, while losers turn them into justification for failure. This group perceives the challenges, but instead of whining about them, they begin working on solutions to win. Winners, in other words, choose to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Why the “Idle Rich” Dislike Leaders
The “Idle Rich” fear effective middle class leadership. Why? Because leaders challenge the status quo, generating change that can threaten the “Idle Rich” and their special deals. The wealthy elites train the middle class to be followers, not educated and effective leaders. Indeed, the middle class are like sheared sheep, tirelessly working to support the lifestyles of both idle groups. If the middle class were to get a true education, not just training, they may ask too many questions and catch on to the real game.

In fact, if the “Idle Rich” had to choose, they would rather have a middle class person fall further down the food chain (this is happening more and more), ending up as part of the “Idle Poor,” versus become a leader and get free. Serfs won’t cause trouble for the elites, but leaders can and do. The Founding Fathers were a middle class group of leaders that broke open the special deal mercantilism of the British Empire. If America hadn’t had leaders like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Henry, Hamilton, Madison, etc, there simply wouldn’t have been a revolution.

Where are the Middle Class Leaders Today?
Middle class leaders are Missing In Action (MIA) or more accurately, (MII) Missing in Inaction. The elites have worn down the middle class through excessive taxation and regulations, making the temptation to surrender to handouts look more appealing daily. One of the most shocking facts about the rigged game is the “Idle Rich” want and need the “Idle Poor.” For without them, the “Idle Rich” could not put the squeeze on the working middle class.

Before I go further, let me explain who the “Idle Poor” are and who they are not. They aren’t those without a job, but are still looking. They aren’t people who receive unemployment, while still searching for ways to support themselves. No, the “Idle Poor” are different. They have totally given up on the idea of self-responsibility, expecting others to provide for their lifestyles. Since there are no free lunches, the government must burden the working middle class even further to now support the “Idle Poor.”

If only people understood that this plays right into the hands of the “Idle Rich.” The “Idle Poor,” in other words, are stooges for the “Idle Rich.” Indeed, without the “Idle Poor,” who swallow their pride, decency, and self-respect for endless handouts, the Big Business/Big Government partnership could not maintain the squeeze play on the middle class. Why? Simply because the “Idle Rich” don’t have enough votes by themselves to continue charade parade. They must recruit people into the “Idle Poor” class, building the democratic majorities to maintain the middle class squeeze.

How Can LIFE Help?
The LIFE Community is a group of men and women who have freely chosen the third option. We are a group who of men and women who are sick and tired of being squeezed by Big Banks, Big Business, and Big Government. We refuse to bury our heads in the sand; we refuse to become embittered; and lastly, we refuse to sit back and do nothing! What if we created communities across North America, teaching personal development, leadership, and teamwork, that people refused to join the “Idle Poor?” This fact alone would create a revolution, ending the middle class squeeze!

We must raise up leaders across North America similar to the founding generation. LIFE has formed leadership communities throughout North America to do just that. Our goal is to educate hard working people on the crucial leadership principles necessary to lead their own lives, rather than be led by the “Idle Rich.” A tough assignment? Of course, but leaders don’t ask for easy, they ask for worth it. This is a worthy endeavor, one that brings out the best in leaders.

Because LIFE is a meritocracy, we expect to receive criticism from the victims within middle class society. What else could leaders expect from a group who demands perpetual handouts from others? Even so, we will never surrender the leadership principles involving character, task, and relationship in a meritocratic community. Only leaders and learners, who love a pay for performance community, will be excited about the LIFE opportunity. Therefore, not coincidentally, that’s exactly who we desire to partner with.

Leadership is a luxury in short supply in Western Society. We are not looking nor expecting everyone to be interested in LIFE. A person doesn’t have to be a leader to join the LIFE community; however, he must desire to improve himself through associating with other hungry leaders. I believe its time to Launch a Leadership Revolution. No matter how bleak it looks, there is always hope. Truthfully, there are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people in situations.

We can and do play a part in the future of our country. Remember, America was formed on the efforts of millions of small farmers, farmers who owned their own land and were rewarded based upon their own efforts. Aren’t our families worthy of having a dream for? Aren’t they worthy of going through some struggles for? Finally, aren’t our future generations worthy of persisting onward to victory for freedom’s sake?

I vote yes on all three questions above. The Founders of the LIFE have created a plan to restore Western Culture. Instead of just having a business with a purpose, we went one better. We are building our purpose on business. By combining the foundational principles of leadership, community and meritocracy, we believe we have the right mix to achieve this audacious assignment.

Other companies may play politics, make special deals, and pay based upon seniority, but in LIFE, a person’s pay raise becomes effective only when he does. LIFE doesn’t pay based upon your family name, your past background, or your past results. Instead, LIFE pays monthly based upon one’s monthly performance. Leaders love the LIFE business while posers hate it. Why? Because communities grow only when true leaders are present. In other words, this business exposes the posers.

The game of LIFE has started, are you on the playing field? Or, are you allowing past defeats to prevent your future victories? The choice is yours. All we promise is a level playing field and an aristocracy of leadership based upon achievements as Jefferson envisioned. We have combined all the ingredients necessary for success into the business of LIFE. All, that is, except one – your work ethic. This is what you must add to join the aristocracy of achievement.

Read and watch the LIFE Testimonials for yourself. You will discover that LIFE is a group of average men and women who have chosen to be un-average. LIFE is a community that has chosen to get better, not bitter, when faced with the middle class squeeze. Finally, we have launched the leadership revolution to fulfill our LIFE’s purpose.

What will you do? Remember, destiny favors the bold! Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Meritocracy & the Middle Class Squeeze

Posted by Orrin Woodward on February 3, 2012

Meritocracy and the Middle Class Squeeze

When I was a young, growing up in Columbiaville, Michigan, I loved watching sports. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat taught me so many lessons that I applied to life. In fact, I believe the lessons I learned from watching, playing, and modeling my favorite athletes helped form who I am today. Furthermore, because of my sports heroes, I became an avid reader of sports biographies, learning many of their secrets to success.

I had no idea how instrumental the hundreds of books read of my sports heroes would affect me. In truth, it wasn’t until I began teaching leadership for a profession that I realized what an impact my early reading had on my life. The numerous stories of young men who dreamed, struggled, and persevered until they had their victory, taught me that anything is possible in life if one is willing to work hard enough and endure through the expected setbacks.

Perhaps I was naive and should have known better, but my meritocratic world-view was shaped by playing, watching and reading about competitive sports – one of the last remaining bastions of a performance based meritocracy.  In other words, in the competitive arena of sports, no points are given because of your previous record, your family’s background, or your ability to talk smack. Each game has pre-defined rules, an impartial referee, and competitors who begin equal with the right to become unequal based upon their performance as individuals and as teams.

In high school, I suffered from severe low self-esteem, constantly viewing others as better than myself. In many ways they were better, however, I carried it to the extreme, typically defeating myself before the competition even began. It’s hard to hide from the scoreboard, especially when you are a runner and wrestler. All eyes are upon you and you cannot blame anyone else for a lackluster performance. The scoreboard provides the facts for both victories or defeats.

Although starting late in both endeavors (junior year), I rapidly improved through hard work, great coaching, and experience, ultimately receiving several awards – most improved wrestler my senior year  (losing 5-2 to the national record holder for pins in a high school career),  All-Genesee County in Cross-Country, and anchoring the 2 mile relay that set the school record.  I say all of this, not to relive high school sports, but to share a key principle learned. It’s only through the willingness to endure painful experiences, persistent practices, and constructive feedback that a person can separate himself from the crowd. Simply put, meritocracy demands performance.

With my foundational principles formed along with a Manufacturing Systems Engineering degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering), I boldly entered into my professional career. I believed through the application of the same principles that had helped me achieve success in competitive sports, that I would quickly rise to the top at GM. However, nothing could have been further from the truth.

It’s not that my career didn’t start well enough. For in less than three years of working full time, I had received four patents, was in the process of winning a national technical benchmarking award and received a 19% raise. Additionally, my division committed to covering all my tuition expenses for the #2 nationally ranked MBA program though University of Michigan. I was living the life I had dreamed, being on the fast-track at General Motors and developing a tight relationship with the Director of Engineering of our multi-billion dollar Delphi division.

So what went wrong?

One of the most painful moments in a person’s life is when he realizes there is no port of call for the ship of his dreams. In other words, even people who work hard, waiting for their ship to come in, will find they waited their life away. The old plan of working hard, getting good grades, going to college, and getting a good job with benefits is DEAD! In fact, it’s rotting corpse has been buried for years.

My personal realization of this fact came when Laurie was pregnant with our first child. Naively, I went to my boss and explained to him my dilemma. Laurie was working as an accountant, but we both wanted her to be a stay-at-home mother to raise our family. I asked my boss what I needed to do in order to be promoted to 8th level and receive a company car. I knew it would take this level of income to fulfill the plan of having Laurie home.

One can imagine my shock when I was told that I was only 25, and no matter how hard I worked, or what I accomplished, I would not be promoted until at least 30 years of age. Moreover, our division had over 100 extra 8th levels already so being promoted at 30 was a long shot. Talk about a bubble being burst! This was a blow below the belt that I was completely not expecting. I felt like a rat in the proverbial rat race, running around the maze as fast as I could with dead ends everywhere I looked. I vowed to get out of the rat race, no matter how difficult or painful.

Do you have a story to share of your middle class squeeze? Part II of mine tomorrow. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Family, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »