Derek Sivers put this together as a TED talk. Sometimes the first follower is just as important as the leader!
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This morning it is the 4th of July all over the world; until you cross the international date line at least. Here in America, it is a special day where we celebrate the signing of our Declaration of Independence. The 56 men who signed this document were traitors to the crown of England, but considered heroes here in America. Two of them later became presidents. All were brave! Below is the text. Great document! Take a read through it. I thank you bunch of long dead men for having the courage to stand up and take the first step in making a new country that would be known as The United States of America!
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
I wrote the same post on my startstuff.net blog today, but thought both audiences would be interested.
In a post I wrote a few weeks ago, I called for a revolution in education. In a follow up post, I explained one way to work on that change in the educational setting. Today is day two of that experiment. My students are blogging and commenting on each other’s blogs in Spanish! I even heard through the grapevine that some of them are having fun with it! Some have redesigned the pages to make them more personal, but all have begun writing in the target language! Most importantly, we are successfully integrating their interests with the subject matter which of course makes me happy as an educator! It was stuff worth starting. I will post more updates as I see more results. (If you want to check out their blogs, they are open to the world to see, you will have to scroll down a bit to their names to see the links to each individual blog. I only have links up during this summer session so if you are reading this months from now, the link won’t work…and they are all in Spanish.)
A couple weeks ago, I blogged or ranted about the current education system being stuck in the industrial model it was created for. I also talked about ways to change that model. One of the things I am preparing for this summer class is that each student will be keeping a blog going during the course of the 5 week class. They will also be commenting on 5 other blogs per day…all of this in Spanish of course as the class is Spanish IV. I set them each up with page that is preloaded with a wordpress blog theme. They can change the theme and blog in any way that they choose, just so long as it is in Spanish. I have all the pages, and can easily check to see how they are doing, also, since the post come with a date stamp, they can’t just write a bunch of articles at the end of the semester as students often did with the old “keeping a journal” system. I will keep everyone updated on how it works out.
Yesterday, I was driving across the USA from east to west…found that the Flooding of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers was to me, just an incovenience that added about 200 miles to my trip. (I had to drive north to Saint Louis since Route 40 and 60 were closed.) For the people whose houses I was passing, it was much more than an incovenience. Their lives are completely recalculating! Keep them in your prayers…I saw rooftops sticking up out of the water as I drove by.
Each year, I learn more about putting in flowers and plants. My wife is an avid gardener. The first year, I thought I was being helpful by putting down a load of mulch before we had done any other prepwork to an area we wanted to put a garden in. It looked pretty good! All nice and mulch covered. But guess what? If you don’t first prepare the soil, get rid of the weeds and grass, put down a weed barrier etc. then you are just covering up the problem rather than dealing with it. It was of course a disaster. The next year, we did all the right prep work, and now have a beautiful garden area that doesn’t need a whole lot of continued care!
In leadership, we have problems that arise. We can cover it up with something that looks pretty for the short run, but eventually, the issues will come to the light of day and we will have to deal with them. Dig in, get the hard work done, and later, you can really enjoy the fruit of your labor rather than it being a constant issue that you keep trying to cover up.
Nancy Reagan promoted the phrase “Just say ‘no’” as a campaign to help teens avoid drug addiction. As leaders, people often come in asking for things. Sometimes it is our time, or resources, knowledge etc. It is important to set our priorities so that we can focus on what is most important rather than just what is being asked of us at the moment. It feels good to say “yes” and it makes you much more popular, and it is often hard to say “No” to something that seems like a good idea. We must weigh whether that idea is really something important on our list of priorities or if it is just a distraction from achieving the goals that God has given us. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is “Just say ‘No’”.
It is easy to stay busy. What are you accomplishing? Are you too busy in your day to get anything done? If so, you have a decision to make. Keep letting other people and events control your day or you can set the schedule for it. If you don’t someone else will. The saying on the button above is very true. People will ask you to do things at the last minute including bosses who should know better. The decision is go groan and figure out how to skip lunch to get it done, or to ask where this task falls in level of importance compared to the other things on your list. If you are the boss, it is just as easy to get caught up by the needs of everyone else and not have time to get your job done. Make priorities, make time for them and block that time out so no one else can use it.
Great Leaders are learners, they tend to be readers, and they are constantly looking for ways to improve their abilities and skill sets. Our brains are full of neurons that can send an impulse to other neurons across synapses. I will not attempt to bore you with the science side. Here is the Wikipedia article on the brain. What is interesting is that “Learning occurs when the synapses make physical and chemical changes so that the influence of one neuron on another also changes.” (The Leadership Brain by David A. Sousa p.28) Repeating this process over and over again makes the “firing” of that set of neurons easier. Over time, with high repetition, it can even become automatic given the right stimulus. As leaders, our organizations function as brains. Some function well and run almost automatically while others seem to struggle along. We can learn from the brain that the initial tackling of a new subject is difficult, but with repetition, it gets easier. Even the most difficult of tasks can be accomplished if broken down into a series of neuronic size tasks and then strung together by a series of people working as the synapses. Each time this is finished successfully, it gets easier.
I had a fascinating conversation over lunch with a friend that I really admire. As he and I discuss and at times disagree over issues, I find from time to time that I must either re-think my position on something or be willing to change that position. Confronting ideas that are opposed to the way you think in general is a great thing. I believe that we are both better for the friendship. I pray that in your world, there are people who will disagree with you in love. If all our friends agree with us 100% of the time, then we aren’t growing. Seek out those people who will challenge your presuppositions and grow in your faith, knowledge and abilities as a leader.