Cure for America’s Lack of Vision and Direction– New Leaders Needed…

“We must be silent before we can listen. We must listen before we can learn. We must learn before we can prepare. We must prepare before we can serve. We must serve before we can lead.” ~ by William Arthur Ward 

Starting and building a better America is all about leadership – a “flash of brilliance”, honing the idea, building an involved team and followers and developing strategic plans based on vision and experience. What have I missed on –Oh Yeah, creating an environment for growth and clearing a path over and through all negative objectors and real obstacles. Yet the image of leadership in government and business is at an all-time low, according to national leadership experts, considering the political debacles, record business bankruptcies, and executive fraud cases. For example read what James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner in their book on Leadership view credibility as the foundation of future leaders. They say “Leaders we admire do not place themselves at the center; they place others there. They do not seek the attention of people; they give it to others. They do not focus on satisfying their own aims and desires; they look for ways to respond to the needs and interests of their constituents. They are not self-centered; they concentrate on the constituent. . . Leaders serve a purpose and the people who have made it possible for them to lead . . . . In serving a purpose, leaders strengthen credibility by demonstrating that they are not in it for themselves; instead, they have the interests of the institution, department, or team and its constituents at heart. Being a servant may not be what many leaders had in mind when they choose to take responsibility for the vision and direction of their organization or team, but serving others is the most glorious and rewarding of all leadership tasks.” ~ by James Kouzes and Barry Posner in Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It.

If the country is to recover financially, politically, and emotionally new transformational leaders will have to emerge. It will take new leaders who understand that leadership is a about flexibility, serving people through participatory processes,  not power and commands. These leaders will identify the problems people want solved not made-up issues such as deficit spending during a time of joblessness and poor consumer confidence. These new leaders will be citzen-centered rather than self-centered, having the mental mindset of collaboration and flexibility, authenticity, innovation and focus on problem solving and results. They will have the required passion, perseverance, assertiveness and ethical character to do what is right to achieve shared goals.  For example, having everyone including the very rick 2% of Americans and big Corporations  pay their fair share to get America back on track. What these new leaders will focus on is developing relationships across party lines so as to find common ground in making America strong again.

Let’s examine the lack of leadership in our government. This Citzen-Ccentered leadership style will be  different from many media reports that  see leadership as position power and character driven. Leaders  before being elected will have to show proven track records for producing results through democratic processes and engagement with people. Here are some of the keys for succeeding as a leader in the 21st Century::

  • Communication skills of Active Listening and Empathy are the most important skills for a future leader. We need to pay attention to the words and actions of others while suspending judgment long enough to allow your thinking to catch up with your emotional instincts. Why? Because as leaders, if we speak too soon, we shut off communication and stifle innovation and problem solving.  When shut of communication we create divisiveness and encourage decreased involvement and participation. We create an environment of win-loss thinking and dictatorial mandates that do not gain the support of followers. Thus, creating a more tribal  and patrician approach to governance than pluralist involved electorate.
  • Leadership is a learned behavior, not a character trait. Good judgment, for example, is certainly a hallmark of exceptional leadership, but it isn’t something you are born with. “More than anything, good judgment comes from listening and learning how to cooperate and gain public or employee support for their vision and initiatives.
  • Communicating and storytelling. This is not a skill everyone is born with, but it’s a skill we can all develop. People on your team want to believe! They want to believe you know where we are going, that you keep your promises or you will get us there even if you are not  sure of the exact path at this moment. They want stories that inspire them and encourage their involvement in creating their own constructive solutions to problems.
  • MMFI Rule and Recognition for contribution for team success. This is necessary to sustain motivation during the hard times. It’s not hard to do and doesn’t require a lot of effort or expensive gifts. A thank-you note or peer recognition is enough most of the time.
  • Negotiation is a practical skill for every leader. Negotiation is often misunderstood to be the domain of clever deal makers. It’s actually really simple. Make very clear requests for a promise. Understand exactly what the promise is – what is being done, when, and what the standard of excellence is, and then check up on the status to make it happen.
  • Leadership for Others rather than focus on personal achievement and ambition. We need leaders who use power as a tool for inspiring others to create a better future for all not the select few , not as a tool for retaining their position or perks.
  • Assertiveness–Firm and decisive decisions that take courage and spine to make.  

These are the process and  leadership skills essential for 21 Century Leadership, inspiring excellence, and meeting followers needs. They are easily practiced, and serve as the foundation for successfully attracting funding, talent, making tough decisions and persevering in reach the vision that inspired us all in the beginning.

In this fashion the transformational leadership deficit is really an “opportunity” for selfless people to get involved and put us back on the path of freedom, caring and economic security.  So practice the leadership skills needed, and step in when you are ready. Now is your golden opportunity – let’s see how many of you are up to the challenge. We need you all.

Vision of a Leader–Poem by M.W. Hardwick

Vision of a Leader…by M.W.Hardwick

I  See the Needs of Followers

I care …I weep …So  much to do

I Choose to Compromise…Never Hammer

I am a Voice for those …less fortunate

I Have the Luxury to Reflect… Reflect …Reflect

I Have the Power to Believe…I Believe it

I Have the Hope and faith in the future

I get bruised and battered…I get Back Up

Failures…only Make Me Stronger

Today is always testing a New Beginning

Obstacles lie before me …Can’ t Stop me now

I get bruised and battered…I get Back Up

Failures…only Make Me Stronger

I see a better Future

Together we can do more…

I Never Give Up…I Never Give In…I never give in…

I am the Leader for all…


My voice…goes on..goes on …Till it doesn’t

Negotiation by White House Team failed! Why? Incompetence.

“The country needs & demands bold, persistent experimentation…take a method & try it: If it fails, try another.” FDR

President stepping on it. The bear trap was set and the president and his so-called negotiating team walked right into it and are now stuck. What went wrong? Let me lay out a few errors in the White House deal with Republicans:

1. President Obama talked about changing or letting the tax breaks for the wealthy expire during the campaign. He even said the “tax cuts for the wealthy offended his conscience”. (Indiana Speech on the campaign trail 2008) . Then when elected and having the political capital to do something about these taxes the White House and Congress did nothing but “kick the can” down the road. Then at the 11th hour Obama refuses to take a strong stand and hands off the negotiations to, Tim Gittner  and his Budget Director, two incompetent weak links, who caved-in to the “Party of No”.

2. White house had no negotiating strategy but to get something done. They are incompetent or disinterested in representing the people who elected him.

3. Sent VP Biden down to the Congress to tell the Democrats who had just come through a tough beating in the election. Biden’s message on the Tax Cut deal–” take it or leave it”. This is arrogant and unacceptable way to treat dully elected officials. A serious miscalculation and unacceptable and incompetent way to govern in a Democracy.

2. Republicans are now circulating a strategic memo to start calling the new tax cuts if passed the Obama tax cuts. Then when they come into power they can start screaming about the deficit and failed Obama policies.

3. Didn’t realize you can’t negotiate with a dishonest broker, someone who has a hidden agenda. or is operating to destroy you.

4. Democratic negotiating team had no vision or clear-cut goals going into the negotiation

5. President Obama is obsessed with bipartisanship at any cost. 700-900 Billion to the top 2% wealthiest people in the US.

What is next–a revolt of the true democrats and smart policy makers to not let this happen on their watch. For example, Nancy Pelosi will not let a vote happen on this horrible tax plan.

Where do you stand on this Tax Plan?


Mental Toughness “16 Second Cure” and other ideas for Surviving Stress

Teddy Roosevelt’s Way, “When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.”

Winning seems so easy and natural for the Nadal’s and Feder’s of the tennis world. And in other sports too. But the real secret seems to be mental preparedness and toughness.  The perception that winning is easy we know is false but it does look like their work is play. Many of us chalk it up to just being a “natural” or born with the right genes. The old nurture vs nature argument. Now with new neurological research we are starting to see the power of the “brain” and it’s plasticity and ability to be re-wired through practice and cognitive behavioral techniques. Maybe it is time  for all of us to better understand how these new discoveries can provide a better quality of life and explore how we can develop new skills and through mental training.

In other world’s such as politics and business MT is also an important factor in being successful.

Obama seems to have it –calm and”kool” under pressure yet lacking some toughness in regard to negotiating big deals HCR, Oil Spill etc. Especially, if you are a progressive which we now he maybe in his heart but has difficulty turning it into acceptable and practical ways when the opposition just wants to say “no” to most policies he introduces.  So for leaders in the 21st Century maybe “Mental Toughness” becomes the X-factor for success.

So what is mental toughness? It can be defined as the ability to access and maintain focus and determination to complete a course of action despite complexity, difficulties or unknown consequences. Some say it is the will to never give-up or quit. So the question is: Can “mental toughness” (MT) be taught or is innate? Let’s look at the sports world where MT is often used to describe super stars. Many athletes and coaches think, MT is an innate quality or talent that you are born with and they believe can’t be taught or learned because it is a part of your DNA or it isn’t. According to this school of thought mental toughness is usually something you’re born with and is reinforced early in life by your parents and environment. These authorities believe  it’s hard to take a sensitive “mommies boy” and make him tough no matter what you do. This obviously is the nature argument. The nurture position states that people can be shaped and learn from different experiences, modeling and teaching.

Motivation and MT roots
The root of mental toughness lies in motivation. Those who are deemed mentally tough typically exhibit what sports psychologists call “intrinsic achievement motivation.” A study featured in Psychology of Motor Behavior and Sport defines this as the desire to be self-determining. People who are intrinsically motivated are self- starters, willing to push themselves to the brink for the love of their sport or activity. They need little encouragement to give their best effort, and they often do well setting their own goals. For others, who are called “game players” they only begin to jell when the pressure of competition is on. They go through the motions in practice and drive coaches crazy. They only shine in the chance to compare themselves with others. These guys have what’s called “achievement motivation”  and play best under the gun. You hear them say things like give me the ball I want to take the penalty kick or final shot when the BB game is on the line. They do not fear failure failures and  all things being equal between two competitors, whoever is higher in achievement motivation will be the better athlete, hands down.

Other researchers have said that motivation is important but brain chemistry can over ride desire/motivation if  the player experiences anxiety. With too much anxiety detrimental changes in our brain and biochemical reactions take place. Stress research calls this the flight or fight response.  Now we have new brain research evidence reported by Dr. James Loehr, a famous performance psychologist, and Daniel Goleman, known for his work in  Emotional Intelligence, that links negative thoughts and arousal with the stress hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is produced by the adrenal cortex.  Cortisol has been associated with feelings of anxiety, tension, helplessness, and loss of control.  Positive thoughts and pleasant experiences are linked to a positive trigger or rush of adrenaline, and an increase of epinephrine and norepinephrine. The positive jolts make for better performance.

Having an optimistic attitude can help increase the positive effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine.  Optimism, which produces these positive brain chemicals reduce many anxiety symptoms and can provide performers with the positive energy to focus and concentrate on the activity at hand.

By learning to “look on the bright side,” of challenges and seeing stressful situations as opportunities for growth, you increase the likelihood of producing a positive mental and arousal state.  This positive mental state leads to a chain of biochemical events that mobilize the brain and the body to cope more effectively with the situation.  A positive reaction to stress can then lead to what Dr. Loehr, calls the challenge response, which counteracts the negative effects of stress and improves your performance and enjoyment in presenting and speaking to groups. The challenge response helps leaders and high performance jocks to be more calm, relaxed, alert, energetic, inspired, and enthused. Mental Toughness, a phrased coined by internationally renowned peak performance guru Dr. Jim Loehr, has it roots in tennis, where Loehr first came to prominence. Applied to tennis, Mental Toughness training specifically targets physical rituals before and after points to help create focus and calm during a tennis competition. Practicing Mental Toughness techniques prior to your matches will help you handle more stress during your matches.Read more:


In his research, Loehr noticed that top champions followed similar behavior patterns between points. For example, as soon as a point ended, whether the player won or lost the point, he would change the racket to his non-dominant hand to release tension in his playing arm. At the same moment, the player would turn away from the net and begin his walk to the baseline. Top players looked only at their strings, the ground or their opponents between points. They did not look into the crowd, at their coach, passing airplanes, ballboys or umpires.

Loehr created a ritual for players to use to improve their mental toughness, starting with the racket switch, turnaround, walk past the baseline to the far end of the court while looking at the racket strings, then returning to the baseline to serve or return serve. Loehr called this pattern the 16-Second Cure.


As the concept of Mental Toughness grew in popularity, other sport psychologists began to develop their own variations of the concept. A devotee of Loehr, Dr. Bryce Young, developed his Play, Recover, Prepare system for mental training, which is similar to Loehr’s 16-Second Cure. Like Loehr’s four-step cure, Young’s three-step system requires players to follow a set routine between points. Young also promotes self-confidence, breathing, imagery and pre-serve and pre-return rituals.


“You idiot!,” “You can’t play tennis!,” and other negative self-talk not only brings you down emotionally, it can improve your opponent’s attitude as she sees that you are not as confident as she thought. Regulating self-talk is a key component of Mental Toughness training for any performance activity. Remaining outwardly and verbally positive is important enough that some coaches recommended complimenting an opponent on a winning shot immediately after they hit it, to take away any notion in them that they have beaten you mentally.

How is your mental game in life?  Try to develop healthy rituals and positive self-talk to handle the pressure at work it’s worth the effort and will help you triumph over burnout.

Obama’s “Yes We Can” Leadership Elements– Self-Efficacy and Community Organization

Psychologist Albert Bandura, the father of Social Learning Theory in 1977, defined self-efficacy as our belief in our ability to succeed in specific situations. The concept of self-efficacy emphasizes the role of observational learning through modeling and social experience in the development of personality. So how did Obama develop his high self-efficacy?  Continue reading “Obama’s “Yes We Can” Leadership Elements– Self-Efficacy and Community Organization”

Obama Message revisited–Strong but Sobering Rhetoric

As I stood on the lawn to the left side of the Capitol in the yellow ticket section, I waited in anticipation of the swearing in. Roberts fumbled and they tried again. Got it done. Historic moment!

Obama took a deep breath and started his speech.   After a few minutes I was feeling a little let down as he rattled off the troubles we are facing  after Bush played “Nero” and watched our economy go up in flames. This speech was a wake-up call from Obama. Not uplifting, but certainly a sobering list of the problems we need to tackle with transparency and smart solutions. The list was overwhelming and the challenges daunting.

We know that political leaders from Cicero on through Lincoln to Ronald Reagan used rhetorical effectiveness to inspire and motivate people to follow their imperatives and agenda for change. Leaders mobilize others with their ideas, insights, words, presence and delivery of speeches. The way people speak and deliver words of praise and concern reveals their values, beliefs, mental priorities, and philosophy of life. Did Obama read the audience and moment correctly or did he miss an opportunity to inspire? Continue reading “Obama Message revisited–Strong but Sobering Rhetoric”