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Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity

Click here for Russell Williams' bio

What is the power valentine?


“We cannot avoid using power, cannot escape the compulsion to afflict
the world, so let us, cautious in diction and mighty in contradiction, love powerfully.”
— Martin Buber

The power valentine? As you picked out a card for that special one over the weekend, did you browse through Hallmark’s Power Valentine's category? You missed it? Well, that’s OK – it wasn’t there! But if I’ve grabbed your attention to read on, let’s find out if there might be truth to Buber’s words of loving powerfully and find out how it defines meaning in your most personal relationships, as well as in the trust relationships you pursue in your professional life.

What is the power valentine? It involves both imaginative and moral thinking to explore love – not as rich, emotional sentiment, but as the ultimate force for good. Forty years ago, I was introduced to the great Jewish theologian, Martin Buber, and his classic book, "I and Thou." This little gem opened my awareness to distinguish between love as emotion for the few and love as thought expressed to the many. Buber purposefully laid out to the reader the two fundamental relationships: I-It and I-Thou. Now, after many years, I know as fact and life wisdom discovered that I-It relationships create conflict; I-Thous build trust.

Buber described how I-It and I-Thou operate in the mind of every individual. I-It relationships are premised on life transactions in which you see others as objects to manipulate for the purpose of you getting something. I-It focuses on me and what I think I need from you. In contrast, I-Thou relationships are not premised on transaction. Rather, I-Thou encounters are ones defined by respect and dignity – most importantly, how I honor and recognize the innate worth of another. While I-It is perpetually preoccupied with me and mine, I –Thou thinks about the significant other.

So what is love’s power valentine? Be sure, you will never find it in February’s card-seeking pilgrimage. No, this annual love fest is meant to focus our feelings shared for the select few. But, love’s power valentine has its work to accomplish in our thoughts and actions every day as we cultivate strong relationships. In doing so, we stretch the boundaries of what it means to connect, discovering that we have the mental capacity to create trust that produces good outcomes – at home, at work and in the community, for others and for ourselves.

Mission Integrity Action

I focus my internal conversation as I pay attention to how I view work relationships. I observe there are two worlds at play in my thinking and behaving. When I find myself in I-It relationships, I notice it’s about me; when I encounter I-Thou relationships, it’s about the significant other.


Russell Williams,
founder/president
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge
ethicaledge.org



Dare greatly for the No. 1 worthy cause


“Credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly.”
— President Theodore Roosevelt

Our 26th president was a bold adventurer who faced defeat often, the most crushing of which was his bid to reclaim the presidency with a third-party candidacy in the 1912 election. This defeat nearly destroyed him.

Daring greatly! When activated, we re-invent ourselves with the Inside Game – the one played between our ears. We rekindle our moral imagination to focus on the timeless mission of the worthy cause.

What is the No. 1 worthy cause? It’s using precious personal assets – talent and time – to benefit another. Professional work has the potential to serve the worthy cause as we look to co-workers, clients, customers and organizations with the intention to give, in contrast, to demand we get.

Years ago, I became awake and alert to the giving versus getting principle when I listened to Dr. Wayne Dyer talk about his first job as a bagger at a grocery store. Dyer quickly discovered how most baggers worked – dulled by mental boredom and endlessly eyeing the clock waiting for the next break. Early on, young Dyer decided he would pursue work differently by giving himself to the worthy cause of becoming a speedy, friendly two-bagger to his customers and his employer – filling two brown bags simultaneously with a smile and a kind word.

Dyer dared greatly to make his work a giving experience. Such moral imagination sounds overly simplistic, yet is sage counsel for every professional. Daring greatly – to energize the giving mind – makes us instantaneously wealthy while simultaneously guiding us to weather the storms when we are marred by dust and sweat, underscoring Roosevelt’s words. Daring greatly to take action on the No. 1 worthy cause of bringing benefit to another is timeless wisdom that shapes both personal meaning and professional productivity in the marketplace.

Mission Integrity Action

This week, I look with fresh eyes into work as I greet challenges knowing I carry the wealth of the worthy cause: I dare greatly as I pursue actions that bring good to clients, co-workers and associates.


Russell Williams,
founder/president
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge
ethicaledge.org



You plus me equals we


“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say 'I.' And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say 'I.' They don't think 'I.' They think 'we'; they think 'team.' They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but 'we' gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”
Peter F. Drucker

Venture back with me to your youth to recall your high school years when you were on an athletic or academic team, or maybe the track, basketball or debate team. Can you remember a standout coach? If so, notice you instinctively recall that the coach you admired was a You Plus Me Equals WE motivator, guide, mentor, teacher – leader.

Drucker had it right. Leaders who lead with WE get their I out of the way. In doing so, they tap into the creative potential and results-driven opportunities that shape WE action.

What is WE leadership? You’ve experienced it in your professional life. It percolates with the recognition that every person is a vital contributor and producer of commonly shared results. WE leadership energizes the power of one, multiplied.

Sam Walton shaped a business empire with WE. An example of institutionalizing WE in his business empire was the employment of thousands of senior adults to stand at the entrance of stores to put a friendly "Hi & Welcome" to the Wal-Mart shopping experience. Walton instinctively knew that WE personalizes the mission of an organization by having it everywhere present. WE leadership is fearless in its intent to put the mission of the organization on the face of every employee.

It’s impossible to fake WE leadership. Why? At the center of WE leadership is trust. WE organizations, by their behavior, are driven by relationship building as the fire that fuels explosive results. In contrast, organizations built on positional authority will usually shape cultures where employees are viewed as units of production, capable of constant incompetence unless supervised to minimize failure. Do these organizations produce results? They do, but with significantly reduced incentive for personal initiative.

Mission Integrity Action

WE leadership is at work in every one of us. Watch your You Plus Me Equals WE cooperative teambuilding come alive this week in your professional encounters with colleagues and clients.

Russell Williams,
founder/president
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge
ethicaledge.org




Find your shining moments


“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” — M. Scott Peck

Our finest moments? Well, they are not to be confused with one shining moment at the end of March Madness! But, as we find our attentions focused on conversations with business friends, be ready to encounter the moments with another when you hear the search for truer answers.

But, what about truer answers for professionals confronting the continuing unsettled economy? Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, appeared on "60 Minutes" to take his case to the public, bluntly informing his audience that although he is long-term bullish on the economic leadership and entrepreneurial vitality of the American economy in the next decade, high unemployment, troubling deficits and financial uncertainty for small businesses will be on our national plate for the next four to five years. No politician – and Bernanke is not one – would ever take to the airways for such frank commentary on troubling economic times.

Agreeing or disagreeing with the Federal Reserve chairman’s assessment is not the point of my remarks. What is? I have spent a good bit of time in 2010 listening to conversations by professionals in small business, education and nonprofits. I’ve heard two distinct conversations: The Rapids and The Currents. The Rapids focuses on the unknown. Typically, this conversation is characterized as: Keep your oar in the water to maneuver through the next scary moment. I met such a moment in April when I learned that a heretofore trusted investment adviser for Passkeys Foundation had committed fraud with foundation assets. For three months I felt myself nearly capsizing in The Rapids as I tried to keep my oar in the water.

The Currents conversation is distinctly different. It is the conversation of reasoned hopefulness. It is the marshalling of the inner core of personal beliefs, wed to intention and action, that point us in the direction of steady movement. I am not describing The Currents conversation as bravado in the face of disaster. Rather it is the silent, quiet certainty that says: Moving forward is what I do; it is what is true. It is always the fresh answer. So, too, I have experienced The Currents conversation in the last three months as The Rapids of the foundation’s financial losses have given way to the Currents of my recovering the tangible assets of renewed ideas, clarity and commitment.

Mission Integrity Action

The Currents? They are our shining moments. They take us from trouble into truth. Be attentive to The Rapids and Currents conversations with co-workers, business associates and clients. If you hear someone in The Rapids, simply listen. If you hear someone in The Currents, thank them for their encouraging clarity.



Russell Williams,
founder/president
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge
ethicaledge.org
Thoroughbreds run in the distance


“Great is the art of beginning; but greater is the art of ending.”
— Lazurus Long

I saw an inspiring film, "Secretariat," over the recent weekend. Knowing, in advance, the outcome of the last Triple Crown Feat did not diminish the excitement of watching and recalling the spring of 1973 when the greatest of the great thoroughbreds charged from behind the pack and ran his way into racing immortality.

Bold Ruler sired Secretariat. Before Secretariat, the offspring of Bold Ruler had a poor record on long-distance races. The Belmont Stakes, the last race in the Triple Crown, is the longest. Racing experts of the day didn’t think Secretariat could handle the distance. He proved them wrong – big time! He won by 34 lengths over his rival, Sham, and set a race record that has not been approached in the last 37 years. Great thoroughbreds run for distance. Secretariat proved he could.

So, where am I leading you with this racing remembrance? The gate has opened on 2011. It’s time to begin anew. You are off and running! Your hands are on the reins of professional expectations. You are ready to ride holding intentionality as your whip while you eye the field. You are positioned to move, pursue, strive, take on challenges and explore opportunity! It’s good.

What will be your focus as you leap out of the gate to become a thoroughbred thinker and achiever in 2011? There are three attitudinal aspirations that will keep you focused on efficiency of action. This trifecta provides you with timeless wisdom for timely productivity. So, run your 2011 race with I Am! I Can! I Will!

I Am! You have a unique God-given skill set designed for creative, extraordinary and positive outcomes. Your I Am skill set is a focused mind and emotions equipped for problem solving.

I Can! Your mind and emotions act in cooperative I Can relationships. Your 2011 relationship mantra is simple, but challenging to execute: Every professional relationship is a test for your best. Your commitment to call forth excellence will bring unexpected people and opportunities to you.

I Will! When it’s going good and when it’s not, you will make your choice to be grateful. Your I Will gratitude shall become a constant source for energy renewal while you run as a thoroughbred – going the distance with enthusiasm.

Mission Integrity Action

I run as a thoroughbred in 2011 with I Am skills; I Can best effort; and I Will gratitude.


Russell Williams,
founder/president
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge
ethicaledge.org



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