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“Mr. Head Democrat”: The Future of American Politics

September 9th, 2010 // 11:39 am @

In my recent book, The Coming Aristocracy, I wrote that the United States now lives in the era of the permanent campaign.

A young pollster in the Carter administration, Patrick Caddell, coined the term back in 1976, and he hit the nail right on the head. America used to gear up for campaigns, elect one of the candidates, and then settle down to let the winner lead the nation.

Not anymore.

Now we elect a candidate and then immediately increase the fervor of the debate. We pick sides before an election, and once the election is over we get really serious about the fight.

In the modern era of politics since Watergate, this permanent battle trend has continually increased. It is a new kind of politics, where few things are about leadership or wisdom and everything is about beating the other side.

In the last presidential campaign, I expected Senator Clinton to win the election — and I was surprised when Barack Obama took his party’s nomination. I quickly set out to learn everything I could about him, from original sources — his writings, speeches and public utterances.

What I found was interesting: Obama’s pre-presidential record and especially his book, The Audacity of Hope, was a blend of dynamic-populist leadership with an old-line liberal politics. The Democratic Party hadn’t seen that mixture since JFK.

My prediction was that Obama’s populism would him bring him a victory and then we’d see whether he emphasized leadership or liberalism. If he emphasized the leadership aspect, I said, he would become one of the great presidents of American history.

It was Leader Obama versus Politician Obama, and I was very interested to see which one would win out in the realities of modern Washington.

Three Americas

So far Politician Obama has dominated. This leaves the United States in an interesting place. In fact, it changes everything.

If you watched the historic night of the 2008 election and listened to the now-famous “Yes We Can” speech, you may not realize that this was the height of the Leader Obama.

Politician Obama has changed everything since that night.

For example, Leader Obama did something truly amazing in the modern political era — he carried a majority of the wealthy voters (those who make over $200,000 per year). He was the first Democrat to do so in the post-Watergate era, and this amazing statistic seemed to indicate a new type of politics ahead.

But his hard shift to the left after inauguration has changed this dynamic.

Note that the change isn’t among conservatives — they never liked him and few voted for him. The shift is in the 39% of the voting population that now don’t want to be called either liberals or conservatives.

This tri-lateral divide of the American political landscape is fascinating. There are roughly 28% of us who would donate to the Sierra Club, a competing 28% who would donate to The National Rifle Association, and a whopping 39% made up of two kinds of people: those who would donate to neither, and those who would donate to both!

We have the liberals in one camp, the conservatives in another, and in the largest faction we find a mixed group called independents. The far left and extreme right form their own small camps at the fringes.

“Mr. Head Democrat”

When President Obama took office he had a 70% approval rating — liberals, most of the far left, and nearly all of the independents. By September 1, 2009 his approval rating was down to 50%.

This is the biggest fall in the history of new presidents in so short a time, as David Brooks recently wrote in The New York Times. Brooks also noted that national anxiety is higher now than before Obama took office, and 59% of Americans now think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Three events have underscored just how wide the divide in our nation has become. First was the outcry against President Obama’s address to school children — clearly many saw him as a politician rather than their president.

Second was the surprising money-raising power generated by Congressmen Wilson shouting “you lie” during the President’s speech (which the Senate rewarded by promptly adopting what Wilson was promoting with the outburst).

Third was the interesting way that President Obama managed to use his speech on health care to effectively accomplish two things: appear totally in charge and at the same time give up on many of the main points the Obama Administration had earlier supported (e.g. deficit spending on health care, no capped tax exemptions on health care, and raising taxes on the rich to pay for health care, etc.).

The strategy seems to be to get any bill called “Health Care” to pass.

These three concurrent events all point to one thing: President Obama is seen less as President of the United States and more as the Head Democrat. Politician over leader.

Ironically, this was the same story in the Bush Administration. Conservatives saw him as the President and liberals as the Head Republican. Today the roles are reversed.

But the telling point is how independents see the president. When they see a president as leader, popularity and support soars; the opposite occurs when independents see a president as politician.

Independent Power

The power resides in the independents, though neither major party has yet to admit it. Independents want three main things:

  1. Wise use of money by government.
  2. Strong national defense.
  3. Decentralization of power along with maintenance of state, local and individual powers.

Independents are more pragmatic than ideological, they don’t engage in emotional party-supporting, and they just want things to work.

Independents want to be safe from international and terrorist attacks, free, and prosperous. They want a strong government that does certain things very well and leaves the rest to the state, local or private sectors.

When the Bush Administration started its tenure with these goals, it won the conservative and independent votes and support, but lost independents when it turned to big government answers and huge spending increases (much higher than Clinton Administration budgets) in its final term.

When Leader Obama promised to cut foreign spending and bring a new era of real leadership to Washington, independents supported his candidacy against the daunting possibility of continued Bush-like policies under McCain.

Where liberals voted for Obama in the 2008 election, many independents voted more against Bush/McCain.

Later, as President Obama shelved his Leadership hat and flexed his Liberal-Partisanship muscles, independents were disappointed and reluctantly began to wane in their support for the Obama Administration. This trend is just getting started.

Independents are also withdrawing their support from the Democratic Congress — as they watch it too turn to party politics and shun leadership.

Of course, liberals still consider the President a great leader, as many conservatives did even when President Bush tried to spend and regulate his way to popularity.

But independents aren’t tied to any one party. They want results, and they’ll support candidates, Presidents and other officials who get the results they seek.

In this environment, leadership means getting support for your projects from your own party plus independents. Anything else fails.

Three issues drive presidential politics in the U.S.: national security, the economy, and a sense of leadership. Win two, and you win the presidency. Win three, like the Republicans did with Reagan and the Democrats did with Obama, and you win the Congress too.

In the fall of 2009, President Obama is winning only one — the leadership thing — and this because he is a superb speaker, and so far independents see no true alternative to his leadership.

He must pass a health care bill, no matter what it actually does or says, just to maintain this leadership edge. Lose that, and the nation will return to a Carter-like period of no-trust and malaise.

A Tipping Point Trend

Of course, liberals naturally think President Obama is winning all three and conservatives say he is losing them all. That’s normal.

The fact that he has also lost the majority support of independents is the issue. He won on the leadership thing, but has turned increasingly politician ever since.

This rise of the independents is creating an interesting tension between the two-party system and the voting electorate.

If the Obama Administration backs away from hard-line liberalism, the expansion of government, and attempting to solve everything through increased regulation, and instead emphasizes leadership and pragmatic policies that really work, independents will swing Democrat in the polls and future elections. If not, they won’t.

Either way, the power of the independents will increase the divide between the left and the right. Indeed, divisiveness is a hallmark of an era of shifting like the one we are experiencing.

The first two such shifts in American history created a new political party — the Democratic Republicans in 1798 and later the Republicans in 1856.

The last time we faced such a major shift we totally restructured government power by creating the Social Security Administration, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, a host of secretive agencies in Washington, and a drastic increase in government regulations and red tape.

Whatever the current shift brings, let’s hope for more of a Freedom Shift than a transfer of more power to Washington.

Some may say that a rebirth of freedom is too hard, that we can’t do it. Our response should be, “Yes we can.”

In truth, it is a matter of leadership over politics.

If independents keep being stifled in both of the major parties, their frustration will continue to grow.

When they side with the Democrats, the result is usually more spending on national programs that further undermine America’s fiscal strength, free-market system, and national defense.

When they side with Republicans, the result has been increased spending on international projects and even corrupt governance that weakens the economy, freedom, and American power.

In short, at some point independents are likely to either totally reform one of the parties or just start their own.

Investing in the Future

On a personal level, many independents are investing in gold (which always seems to increase in value when the government spends beyond its means) and McDonald’s (which grows when the economy is booming and keeps growing internationally even when the U.S. economy recedes).

On a national level, during a time of shifting it is natural to see people a little confused about where they stand. After all, the constants they have believed probably don’t apply anymore.

For example, Republicans are no longer the party of the rich and Democrats have quit being the party of the little guy. Also, voters can no longer count on the old certainties that Republicans want to reduce the size of government and Democrats want to decrease foreign involvements and focus on domestic policy.

Indeed, now both Republicans and Democrats drastically increase government spending and foreign entanglements — whoever is in office.

Learning From Both Sides

I once invited a regional politician, a well-known liberal and vocal Democrat, to speak at a graduation ceremony. His speech was liberal and, well, liberal.

Afterwards conservatives railed and argued for days about my selection of speaker. The students, in contrast, learned a great deal and the speech provided material for many long discussions and assignments.

A few liberals congratulated me on our selection of speaker, but conservatives called with their frustration. A few donors even stopped sending contributions.

A few years later we invited a conservative talk-show host to speak, and the entire process repeated itself — this time the conservatives were happy, the liberals were upset, and once again the students and anyone willing to relax and listen learned a great deal.

The most intriguing lessons from both of these events came from the few who made a point of really listening and learning from views not naturally their own. We often learn more in our disagreements than from those who just repeat what we already believe.

Nearly all who closely listened and learned from the speaker of a differing viewpoint exhibited the basic views of independents. This is a rising power in America, as of yet mostly unnoticed, but sure to shift everything in the years ahead.

Winning Elections Through Leadership

I doubt that any U.S. President, liberal or conservative, will be seen by the nation any time soon as truly “Mr. President” rather than “Mr. Head Democrat or Republican.”

When it does happen, it will be because Mr. or Madam President drops partisan politics and adopts the values of independents: strong national defense, a free economic system that spurs prosperity, and a strong and active government that does what it should and also leaves the rest to state, local and private entities.

I look forward to being led by a President, current or future, whose policies win the long-term support of Party + Independents. That’s leadership. Anything else is merely partisan politics.

Frankly, the next election feels a long ways away, and I hope President Obama will shed his partisan hat and take on the mantle of leadership that comes through so clearly in his book The Audacity of Hope. (I had the same hope with President Bush and his promise of compassionate conservatism, but it never materialized).

If not, other elections will come and the biggest block of voting Americans will go searching for a leader who will finally represent their goals. Whatever happens in elections, this growing group is poised to remake the future of American politics.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Education &Featured &Government &Independents &Liberty &Politics

True Abundance: The 5 Types of Producers

September 9th, 2010 // 11:31 am @

In The Coming Aristocracy I speak of “mini-factories,” which are individuals, teams, partnerships, or small organizations doing things that have traditionally been handled by large institutions. Successful mini-factories are operated by “producers.”

This article describes all types of producers and why they are vital to a free, healthy, and prosperous society.

*Special thanks to Les McGuire for this series.

Prosperity and abundance in a society depend on a certain type of person: the producer. Societies with few producers stagnate and decay, while nations with a large number of producers vibrantly grow — in wealth, freedom, power, influence and the pursuit of happiness.

Producers think in abundance rather than scarcity, take initiative instead of waiting for someone else to provide them with opportunity, and faithfully take wise risks instead of fearfully believing that they can’t make a difference.

In contrast, non-producers provide very little leadership in society and cause more than a majority of the problems. In history, as Jefferson put it, producers are the most valuable citizens.

Of course, he was speaking directly of farmers, but the principle applies to all those who add significant value to society. Non-producers consume the value that is added to society, but they create little value.

But who are the producers? Fortune 500 executives include themselves in this category, and so do small business owners in their first month of operation. Successful investors call themselves producers, as do unsuccessful day traders who claim that they just “haven’t had their lucky break yet.”

Clearly, just calling yourself a producer doesn’t make you one.

In fact, there are at least five types of producers, and each type is vital to a successful civilization. Each of the five creates incredible value, though the currency of the value is not always identical. Without any of the five types, no society succeeds and grows. When all five are creating sufficient value, no society has ever failed.

Producers are needed — all five kinds of them. These are the following:

  1. Prophets, Sages, Philosophers
  2. Statesmen
  3. Investors
  4. Entrepreneurs
  5. Intrapreneurs

Prophets, Sages, & Philosophers

The highest level of value creation comes from prophets, sages, and philosophers.

This category of producers is not limited to the Biblical-type prophets who spoke directly with God, but also includes anyone who teaches true principles. This makes these producers the most important type, because without clearly understood principles all the other types of producers fail.

Indeed, the other producers succeed to the exact extent that they understand and apply true principles.

Prophet-producers include Moses and Paul, who share God’s wisdom with us, and also sages like Socrates or Confucius or Bastiat, gurus like Edward Deming or Peter Drucker, philosophers like Buckminster Fuller or Stephen R. Covey, and those who inspire us to serve like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa.

Whether you agree or disagree with these people, their wisdom causes you to think, ponder, consider, and ultimately understand truth. By applying these truths, a person is able to produce.

Even if you just sit and ponder, letting the truths come to your mind through deep thought or hard experience, true principles are still passed to you through spiritual or creative means.

God is the greatest producer in the Universe, and He shares true principles with us so we can also produce. For value to be created, true principles must be applied.

Ironically, because God, prophets, and other wise people often share their wisdom without asking for monetary compensation, sometimes other types of producers discount the value of their contribution.

But make no mistake: revealing and teaching true principles is the highest level of creating value.

Whether we learn principles through inspiration or intuition, or from the lessons gained through hard work and experience, without principles we cannot produce.

Parents and grandparents are among the most important producers, because they teach principles most effectively — or not. When they don’t, the whole society suffers.

Statesmen

The next type of creating value comes from statesmen.

Do not confuse statesmen with politicians and bureaucrats, who are often worse than non-producers because they actually engage in anti-producing.

In contrast, statesmen create the value of freedom in society. The level of freedom in any nation is a direct result of the actions of statesmen — past and present.

If great statesmen like Cato, Washington, Jefferson, or Gandhi are present, a nation will throw off its enslaved past and adopt new forms and structures which ensure freedom of religion, freedom of choice and action, freedom of property and commerce, and other freedoms.

Together the value created can be called life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Take these freedoms away, and entrepreneurship and investment fade and disappear. There are no exceptions in history to this pattern.

Statesmen like Lincoln, Churchill, or Margaret Thatcher keep a nation from rejecting its freedoms and moving back into a cycle of tyranny and anarchy, where little production of any kind occurs.

In short, without principles there is little freedom, and without freedom all other kinds of production shut down, are regulated out of existence, and cease to be viable options.

No matter how entrepreneurial your spirit, you would not have created much value in the economy of Nero’s Rome, Russia under Stalin, or even Boston under the Stamp Act.

Without freedom, only prophets survive as producers — all other types of producers need both principles and freedom to flourish. The greater the understanding of principles and the freedom of the society, the greater the opportunities for producers.

Indeed, almost nothing creates more value than increasing freedom.

Only when freedom is widespread would the other types of producers have the peace to think that statesmen don’t add value. And frankly, when freedom is widespread is the very moment that it is in the most danger of being lost — it is at such times that statesmen are the most valuable producers.

Of course, the well-known statesmen like Lincoln or Jefferson only appear on the scene when there are a lot of lesser known individuals studying, writing about, talking about, and promoting statesmanship. Only generations with lots of statesmen produce true freedom that allows widespread educational and economic opportunity.

Most of the history of the world shows the absence of such statesmanship, so most of the population of the world were serfs, peasants, slaves, and other non-producers. Yet it is the true nature of all mankind to be producers, leaders, nobles.

Jefferson called this the “natural aristocracy,” and it happens only in those rare pockets of history where statesmen create and perpetuate freedom. Next to true principles taught by prophets, sages, and philosophers, freedom is the highest value that one can add to any society.

Investors & Entrepreneurs

The third type of producer is the investor, and the fourth type is the entrepreneur.

This needs little commentary among producers, who nearly all realize that entrepreneurship is necessary to create new economic value and that even the best entrepreneurial ideas and leaders can fail without adequate capitalization.

Robert Kiyosaki lists investors as the highest of his cash flow quadrants and business owners, or entrepreneurs, next. He is right on. Without investors, many, if not most, entrepreneurs would fail. Without both “I’s” and “B’s,” to use Kiyosaki’s language, no society can make significant or sustained progress.

Moreover, without investment and entrepreneurship many of the principles taught by prophets and most of the freedoms vouchsafed by statesmen would go unused — and eventually be lost.

Prophets, sages, philosophers, and statesmen are dependent on investors and entrepreneurs, and vice versa. As I said, no society is really successful unless all five types of producers effectively create value in their unique but interconnected ways.

Part of the value created by investors and entrepreneurs is obvious: They provide capital and establish institutions which build society. Every family and every individual benefits from their services.

Perhaps less known, but just as important, investors add the vital value of experience. Kiyosaki and Buffet both affirm that without personal knowledge and significant experience in a business, almost everyone who tries their hand at investing fails.

A society without adequate investment and entrepreneurship will see little, if any, progress.

An American, a Frenchman, & a Russian

The old joke is told of an American, a Frenchman, and a Russian, lost in the wilderness, who find a lamp and rub it. Out comes a genie. He offers them each one wish, for a total of three.

The American pictures the large ranch owned by the richest people in the valley where he grew up, and wishes for a ranch ten times its size, with flowing streams and meadows full of horses and cattle. His wish is granted and he is transported home to his new life.

The Frenchman pictures the farm and cattle of the largest estate from his home province, and pictures one just like it. Again, his wish is granted.

Finally, the Russian pictures the land and herds of the rich family in the steppes where he grew up, and wishes that a drought kill the cattle, dry up the grass, and bankrupt the aristocratic family.

The joke isn’t really very funny, though it brings big laughs with audiences of producers. They get it.

The Frenchman, thinking like an entrepreneur, wants the good things that life provides, and is willing to go to work to produce them. The American, who thinks like an entrepreneur and an investor, is willing to go to work also, but wants to see his assets create more value. The Frenchman wants value, the American plans for value, increased market share and perpetual growth.

In contrast, the Russian in this parable can only think of one thing — getting even with those who seem to have more than him.

This is the same as Steve Farber’s lament about the sad state of our modern employee mentality — where “burn your boss” is a slogan of millions of workers who see their employer as the enemy.

The Employee v. Owner Mindsets

Initiative, vision, effective planning, the wise use of risk, quality execution — all are the contributions of entrepreneurs and investors. Without them, any society will decline and fall.

Yet the non-producer mentality is often deeply ingrained in most people. For example, a visiting speaker once told the student body of how challenging it was to get his employees out of their “serf” mentality.

As the founder of a growing manufacturing technology company, he pulled in all his two dozen employees and offered them liberal stock options. He explained that if the company met its projections, they would all be very wealthy — and he abundantly wanted to share the prosperity.

Yet only a few of them would take the options. They only wanted cash salary, and mistrusted the whole concept of stock ownership.

At first he just offered it, thinking they’d all jump on board. But when only a few did, he pulled them in one by one and tried to make the case for stock. Still, only a few more took the stock.

The company grew, expanded, and then its value soared. Suddenly, one month a half dozen of the company’s employees were independently wealthy. They met, made plans, some stayed with the company and others moved on.

But the real story happened with the eighteen who had refused the stock. They were still paycheck-to-paycheck employees. And they were very angry! Most of them met with the founder in his office, and many of the meetings ended with yelling, names called, and doors slammed.

The entrepreneur couldn’t believe it. NOW these employees wanted their millions. But it just doesn’t work that way. “I begged you to take the stock,” the owner told them. “Now, I can’t help you. Why didn’t you take it when I offered?” he asked.

They had no answer. Only that: “I worked as hard as Jim and Lori, so why can’t I get the same payment?”

Entrepreneurs and investors understand that work is very, very important, but that high levels of compensation come to those who create value. Like the Russian in the joke above, this man’s employees felt they had been “ill-used.”

Consider the impact of this scarcity mentality on any society that adopts it. Freedom is naturally lost, and prosperity slows down and eventually becomes poverty. Entrepreneurs and investors are essential to societal success.

Intrapreneurs

The fifth type of producer is the intrapreneur.

In a free society, investment capital is plentiful — but only effective entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can turn capital into increased value. This takes initiative, wise risk and leadership, just like the other types of producing.

While entrepreneurs found or own businesses, intrapreneurs work for and lead established businesses — but unlike traditional employees, intrapreneurs lead with the Producer mindset. They run their department, team, or company with an abundance mentality, an attachment to true principles, and a fearless faith in people and quality.

Intrapreneurs don’t really have jobs even though they are usually W-2 employees. Like entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs consider themselves on a mission to help society, to give it what it needs and wants, to truly serve others.

Like all producers, they believe in a deep accountability, refuse to assign blame, don’t believe in failure, and give their heart and soul to serve the customer. They add huge value in financial terms, leadership, and relationships — sometimes with people they’ve never met.

They pour quality into everything they do, and thereby deeply serve all who benefit from their product or service.

Great entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have a deep faith in the market, as long as it doesn’t go against true principles or subvert freedom.

Without the initiative and risk of entrepreneurship, few intrapreneurs would have a place to work and serve; likewise, without intrapreneurs there would be few successful companies. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that there would be any.

The Synergy of Created Value

For any company to succeed, all five types of producers must fulfill their unique roles. This is even more true for any nation.

Producer Type Currency
Prophet Principles
Statesman Freedom
Investor Capital
Entrepreneur Prosperity
Intrapreneur Quality

To see how vital all five types of producers are, consider the past. Major world powers in history have failed in the same way.

First, the people stop giving heed to the wisdom of the prophets.

Second, voters or those in power replace statesmen with politicians, whereupon freedom steadily decreases.

Third, the natural result is increased regulations and taxation, ridiculous lawsuits and judicial decrees, and governmental policies that discourage and then attack producers, initiative, and the abundance mentality in general.

Fourth, investment capital flees the nation to follow the Rule of Capital — it goes where it is treated well.

Finally, the people have a scarcity mentality, refuse to listen to the prophets or elect statesmen, and entrepreneurs go where investment gives them opportunity. The nation stagnates and declines.

Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, Spain, Italy, Bismark’s Germany, and Han China all followed this pattern. Each was a major center of world power, influence and prosperity, and each declined into a third world nation. France copied this pattern in the 1800s, Britain followed it in the 1900s, and the United States is on an identical track today.

Specifically, the U.S. is at the point where it is increasing its regulation, experiencing absurd lawsuits and court decisions, and increasingly adopting policies that discourage entrepreneurship. The next step is to openly attack investment and entrepreneurship.

And when investors find higher profits in other nations, while facing decreasing returns along with public hostility and rising taxes at home, U.S. investment will dry up. History is clear on this point. There are no exceptions.

The only hope is for a new generation of producers to effectively promote freedom. In fact, the U.S. has been at this point twice before — in 1860 and again in 1939. Both times enough statesmen arose, most of them unknown to all except avid readers of history, to push aside the politicians and save our freedoms. Britain saw the same thing happen in 1216, 1620, 1815 and 1937.

Other nations have followed a similar pattern. When the people listen to the prophets, statesmen promote freedom, and investors and entrepreneurs/intrepreneurs build the nation.

When the sages are ignored and statesmanship is seen as abstract and worthless, investors go elsewhere — capital flees to other nations, and the home country declines. With such decline comes moral decay, the loss of political and economic freedom, and the end of opportunity.

Abundance is a true principle, yet through history most governments have made it their major goal to crush abundance and prosperity in the masses and give it to the aristocracy or royalty.

Anyone who thinks this can’t happen in America hasn’t closely studied history.

Overcoming 3 Crucial Mistakes

Many producers make three predictable mistakes. Any producer who knows these mistakes and avoids them will be a better producer and create more lasting value in society.

Producer Mistake #1: The Generation Gap

First, producers seldom encourage their own children to follow the producer path. Many young producers will disavow this, arguing that they’ll do all within their power to teach the abundance mindset to their children.

And most of them do, until the children start to get close to adulthood. At this point, many producers realize just how hard the producer role is in life and seek to help their children avoid the pain and challenge of this path.

Many producers recommend that their children become professionals — doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers. It is ironic how many very successful college-drop-out producers make sure that all of their children attend the most prestigious colleges available and major in the normal career fields.

Even the producers who train their oldest child to follow in their path often send the younger children in other directions. And hardly any producers pass along the producer mindset to their grandchildren.

Of course, if children or grandchildren choose to take a different path in life, it is usually wise to support their decisions and love them unconditionally. But training them in social leadership, abundance, creating value, serving society, and the producer mindset is good for them no matter what path they take in life.

The historically effective solution for this is for producers to put real time, thought, planning and execution into their grandparenting role — long before they are grandparents. Quality grandparenting is a way for all producers to engage the prophet role for their family, to help pass on their wisdom and understanding of true principles to future generations.

Great parenting fulfills this same function, and is part of propheting — the highest level of production.

Producer Mistake #2: The Blinders

The second mistake many producers make is to think that their particular brand of producing is the only one that creates real value.

Like the old parable of the carpenter who believes that all of the world’s ills can be fixed with a hammer, sometimes producers get so focused on their type of producing that they narrowly discount the value of the others. Focus is good, but narrow thinking usually limits one’s effectiveness.

For example, a statesman who believes that changing government is the only real answer to society and that freedom will fix all problems, will likely reject the moral teachings of prophets and consider them mere “philosophy.” Such a person limits his statesmanship because he just doesn’t get it.

So does the statesman who thinks freedom is the only goal, and that entrepreneurs are just in love with money — he will likely try to use law against entrepreneurship, which is the opposite of statesmanship.

A true statesman sees that all five types of producers are vital to society. Similarly, when prophets undervalue statesmen, freedom of religion and independent thinking are often lost.

Likewise, an entrepreneur who discounts the teachings of prophets may feel successful because he’s made a fortune selling pornography. “After all, I just gave the market what it wanted,” he says.

No abundance-minded entrepreneur would think this, because value is only created when principles and freedom aren’t attacked. If economic value reduces moral or freedom values, total value is actually decreased.

Or, consider the entrepreneur who thinks building profitable businesses is the only way to create value and therefore does little to promote statesmanship — in his older and wiser years he will likely regret the regulated and declining world which he sees his grandchildren inheriting.

When entrepreneurs undervalue statesmen, politicians and bureaucrats win the day and capital is discouraged and eventually attacked. The wise entrepreneur or investor will see the great value added by prophets and statesmen, and he will create more value in his life because his broader view will help him make better decisions.

The examples could go on, but suffice it to say that significant problems occur when any of the five devalue any of the others. However, when all five types of producers understand, highly value, and actively support each other, all types of producers experience synergy — and the value created is exponentially increased.

Producer Mistake #3: Arrogance

Finally, the third common mistake made by producers is to look down on non-producers.

One of the true principles taught by prophets is that every person is inherently as valuable as any other. True abundance means that we respect people, whatever their chosen path — as long as it is good and honorable.

Producers, all five types, are truly vital to society, but that doesn’t make producers any better than anyone else. In fact, true abundance producers know that every person is a genius. Every single person. Some decide not to develop it much, but everyone is a genius. And producing is really just about getting people to develop that genius.

Producers who understand this point are the most effective, because they do it all for the right reasons — a true love of and desire to serve others. This is what abundance really means. Everything else falls short.

This is true abundance, so abundant that you spend your life voluntarily serving others (in contrast, true scarcity would be to spend your life on yourself). Real value means people value — and creating value really means helping people choose better lives.

This is what all five types of producing are all about.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Culture &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &History &Leadership &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Statesmanship

Censors Versus Bashers: The New Education?

September 9th, 2010 // 11:24 am @

A friend once suggested that we should remove the writings of Robert Kiyosaki from our curriculum. When I asked him why, he said that Kiyosaki’s books contain a number of errors.

“Do the writings of Marx contain errors?” I responded.

“Well, yes,” he admitted.

“What about the writings of Freud, or Dewey?”

He agreed that these contain errors also.

“Should we remove them from the curriculum, too?” I asked, “Or do you think the students actually get a better education by reading these authors and facing their errors head on?”

“That makes sense,” he said.

I asked, “Which books do you know that contain no errors — that are totally perfect?”

He said that the scriptures come to mind, but he couldn’t think of any other books with no errors.

Before I could continue, he broke in: “But when you’re reading these known classics, of course you point out the errors. In the case of Robert Kiyosaki, people just read it and accept it at face value.”

I replied, “But isn’t that all the more reason that a great education would include reading Kiyosaki and other influential books of our time and considering their truths as well as their errors?”

We had an excellent discussion, and he left agreeing that students were better off reading Kiyosaki and really thinking about it than not reading it at all.

Push Your Comfort Zone

But the question concerned me because I’ve heard it so many times before. Like the concerned parent who didn’t want her son to read or discuss Lord of the Flies.

After realizing that we would be discussing its flaws, she suddenly was very excited for her son to participate. Or the executive who objected to The Tipping Point because he felt that some of the conclusions weren’t adequately substantiated. When told he could share his views with the group, he was excited to attend.

thethinkerThe amazing thing is that so many of us today just assume that if someone puts a book on a reading list she must agree with everything it says.

Or we assume that if she has strong disagreements with something, she won’t recommend reading it — a sort of reverse censorship.

The result is the end of learning. If you don’t study new ideas that challenge the accepted wisdom, all that is left is brainwashing.

You end up with people who just accept whatever they read at face value; or you get people who believe they are deep thinkers because they know how to disagree with whatever they read.

Both of these extremes are lacking. The whole point of an education is to learn the ability to discern between good and bad, right and wrong, excellent and mediocre, true and false, useful and irrelevant, etc.

The best way to learn this is to experience great classics, and clarify their truths as well as their errors.

Once we gain this skill, we should apply it to current books, ideas, candidates, etc.

So why do we sometimes want to only read things we already agree with? At one level, it’s just more comfortable.

But at another level, education is about pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones — especially in our thinking.

The Battle

Unfortunately, we may be living in a strange conveyor belt saturated world with two competing sides — the Censors and the Bashers*. The Censors only want to read things without errors or personality. In other words, textbooks.

Every teacher knows that the quickest way to get rid of controversy is just to “dumb something down” to professional or technical jargon.

Ironically, when a book doesn’t say anything important, when it is “boring,” nobody seems to disagree with it. C.S. Lewis worried about just this thing when he wrote that our textbooks are educating “men without chests.”

The new formula for selecting a curriculum seems to be: No Genius or Personality = Flat and Dumbed Down Reading = No Controversy = Good Curriculum.

Of course, this makes for terrible education, because it shuts down thinking. The Censors don’t mean to do this, but the result of only reading what you agree with is the end of real thinking.

As for the second group, the Bashers, they thrive on controversy. But they never build anything. They just attack, criticizing those who are trying to make a positive difference.

Bashers never risk anything to make the world better, but they think they’re helping if they attack those who do. They are the natural response to the Censors.

Censors try to make sure that no controversy occurs, and in the process they unwittingly stop thinking (and suggest that everyone else do the same).

Of course, it’s vital to shelter children from evil and confusion, but Censors take it to the level of trying to shelter adults from dangerous ideas. In history, this always has terrible results — from Caesar to Hitler.

Bashers criticize the Hitlers of the world, but attack good ideas with just as much gusto. In fact, Bashers have come to believe that thinking means criticizing. They seldom use the word “thinking” without the modifier “critical” thinking.

But real thinking, including actually applying new ideas to build and improve the world, requires much more.

Are these two extremes the result of two full generations of conveyor belt education? Censors read The Lord of the Flies, Marx, Kiyosaki, or anything else that challenges the currently accepted wisdom, and say: “Let’s take this off the list — it has errors.”

Bashers, on the other hand, read the same books and say: “Here are all the errors; let’s list them one by one and focus on them.

Better still, let’s just attack the authors.” They believe this is critical thinking, but most of the time it only amounts to criticizing.

Be a Builder

Educated people, in contrast, read with eye for errors and also an openness to truth and application—whatever the source.

In fact, that’s a good definition of what it means to be educated: the ability to recognize and apply truth, regardless of its source or delivery.

As a result, a truly educated people is a free people. What we need is to be thinking people, and that is the purpose of education.

Even if some of our schools fail to educate, we can still put thinking at the center of our reading. Consider this three step approach:

  1. Let’s read the challenging books of our time, and carefully think about what they say.
  2. Where they’re wrong, let’s discuss and learn from the errors.
  3. Where they’re right, let’s work hard and take risks to apply them and build a better world.

As my friend and I finished our conversation, he surprised me — and taught me something. He said, “Before I leave, can you suggest several books I should be reading that will help me think more deeply?”

The truth is, most people aren’t really Censors or Bashers at heart. We just get into bad habits. Most people are really Builders, if you give them a chance.

In a world where widespread Conveyor Belt thinking has conditioned many of us to automatically censor or bash new ideas, we all need to do more thinking.

This simple but profound change could make all the difference in our society’s future. It would certainly have a wonderfully positive impact on modern education — or even just the personal education of anyone who applies it.

I think my answer surprised him, too: “I suggest that you start by reading Kiyosaki again, and this time write out a list of everything you learn that is true.

Then put it next to your list of errors. Finally, as you study both lists, consider what you can use from the lists to make a positive difference in the world.”

To his credit, my friend was open and excited to think, learn, and build.

*Thanks to James E. Faust for the concept of “Bashing vs. Building.”

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Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Education &Featured

The Calm Before the Storm

September 9th, 2010 // 10:42 am @

gatheringstormYears ago I moderated a discussion about the writings of John Adams and how much we need to apply today the things he taught more than two centuries ago.

One of the participants asked poignantly, “So what do we DO about all this?”

Others expressed similar concerns: Theory is okay, but what can really be done to impact society the way the American Founders did? Or the way other great statesmen and stateswomen in history did?

So much needs to be done in society; what can we do to make a difference?

This concern is not an isolated one. For at least the past fifty years, the classroom experience has been widely separated from “the real world.”

Reading, studying, discussing and writing are things done by students and academics — in a place not quite part of the real world of business, family, law, politics and current events.

So it is natural to ask what we can do — as if studying itself is not doing something.

Yet this was not the case for the great statesmen and stateswomen of history. Virtually all of them spent a significant portion of their lives reading, studying, writing and discussing — particularly in the classics.

Yes, they did other things; but it is doubtful that they could have done them without the scholarly preparation in character and competence.

I am not alone in my understanding that there are storms ahead — certainly the cycles of history suggest there are, for our nation and for other nations.

I do not know what they will be, nor do I believe that the future is ominous or doomed. I am an optimist. I believe that the best America and humanity have to offer are still ahead.

So mark these words well: Every generation faces its challenges, and ours will be no different. Our children and grandchildren will face their challenges. This is what I mean when I say that storms are ahead.

Despite a hectic and challenging world, made more complex by 9/11, we are today in a relative era of calm.

It is a calm before the storms that will inevitably come to our generation, just like they have come to all past generations and will come to those in the future — until God and mankind create a better world.

Arguably, the most important things we can and must DO in the calm before the storm is to prepare. Secondly, no type of preparation is more important than character and knowledge preparation — both of which are impacted by reading, writing, discussing and studying.

In 1764 George Washington didn’t do anything “big” to make a difference in society — except read and study and write and discuss great ideas. In other words, he prepared.

He had been at it for over five years by then, and would spend five more years just reading, studying and discussing great ideas before he would (perhaps before he could) do the big things. But when the storms came, he was prepared.

Nor did James Madison, Thomas Jefferson nor John Adams do the big things to make a difference in 1764. All three spent most of the year reading, studying and discussing the great ideas — in addition to the basics of making a living, going to school, raising families or living life.

But in addition to regular life, while most of their peers just made a living or went to school, they choose to do more: they read, studied, wrote, and discussed great ideas from the classics.

When the storms came their peers wondered what to do. But they already knew.

It was still hard, it still took everything their generation had to give, it still tested them to the depths of their bodies and souls — but they knew what to do because of what they had done in the calm: they had read, studied and discussed classics and history, in addition to living their normal lives.

Find a crisis or time of challenge in history, and you will find one of two things: either a nation with at least a few people who read, studied and discussed the classics in the calm before the storm, or a nation that failed to pass its tests, trials and storms.

I have found no exceptions in history.

Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln are examples. They prepared by reading, studying and discussing the great classics during the calm periods; when storms came they knew how to handle them.

Can you imagine the outcome of the American Revolution if the Founders hadn’t read and discussed classics? Or of the Civil War if Lincoln had just done business and politics but never spent hours and hours reading the great works? Or of World War II if Churchill hadn’t read the classics but just been a successful businessman or politician?

And the same applies to lesser known leaders and statesmen at the community and local levels. Application is essential; preparation is vital. And in the calm before the storm, preparation is even more critical than application.

Churchill even titles his history of 1919-1939 The Gathering Storm. And arguably the greatest folly of this period was that the leaders of the time were ignorant of or ignored the lessons of history and the classics.

Churchill himself spent much of this time trying to convince the leaders that the lessons of history needed to be heeded — lessons he had learned in the calm before the storm, lessons he learned in over a decade of reading, studying, writing, and discussing.

Reading, studying, writing and discussing is doing something. At certain times in history, it is the most important thing.

The real question is, are we doing it as well as the Founders? As well as Lincoln, Washington, Churchill or Gandhi? Or more to the point: are we doing it as well as we must? If not, we must improve. We must do better.

If we are doing as well as Lincoln or Churchill or Madison in our “calm” period of reading and learning, then we are DOING something indeed! And it will have consequences.

This is what Leadership Education is all about. Liberty, Prosperity and good government worldwide are a natural result of a world where people read, write, study, discuss and apply history and the classics.

If we do not do these things well, then our “calm before the storm,” our preparation time of the early 21st century, will likely be the same as other periods of history where reading, writing, studying and discussing classics was ignored — the beginning of failure in the storms ahead.

But I do not think so. I believe that in our generation, as in times past, just a small group of committed individuals can make all the difference.

Image Credit: salaud.

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Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Globe and Mail bestselling co-author of LeaderShift, and a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Blog &Education &Featured &History &Statesmanship

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