Where's Your Moral Compass - David DeWolf

Where’s Your Moral Compass? Prevention/Forgiveness or Permission/Harassment?

There are certain things that we all know, deep down, are wrong. Murder and theft, for example.

A healthy society seeks to prevent injustice from happening. It is clear about moral absolutes and seeks to protect the innocent. When an offense occurs, perpetrators are held accountable but forgiven. In the optimal situation the individual is treated with dignity. The person is affirmed as good but the action rejected for what it really is – wrong.

In today’s society, we preach a moral compass that calibrates to each individual’s moral code. Our society grants permission to do nearly anything. And then, when someone actually does it, we get vindictive, harass them and sue their ass off if it happens to offend us or play to our personal agenda.

Recently nearly 32 million people were exposed as adulterers due to a hack on the (apparently wildly popular) site Ashley Maddison. The site’s moto: “Life is short, have an affair.”

We live in a sexualized society that preaches to gospel of “if it feels right, do it.” To each his own, we say. We practically celebrate adultery. Just look at the movies we watch, music we listen to, and books we read.

Yet, when it happens to us, or to someone we know, or when it conveniently meets our political agenda, we personally attack those that took us up on the offer. We strip the person of their dignity. We affirm the behavior and destroy the person.

The adultery that these folks participated in was horribly wrong. But something is just as wrong when we encourage folks to participate in such behavior, laugh it off, and then criticize them to the point where they many are compelled to commit suicide when we find out that they actually did it.

Which do you prefer? To know the rules up front, or to be slandered for doing something you were told was OK?

Think about it.

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Why Ben Carson Moved Up a Notch - David DeWolf

Why Ben Carson Moved Up a Notch

This past week, Ben Carson was asked what may be the most common question asked of presidential candidates: “What is the first thing you’ll do if you’re elected president?”

His answer was anything but common.

Mr. Carson declared that on his first day in office he would sit down with elected officials from both parties and discuss priorities in order to find common ground.

Most candidates promise this or that action on their first day in office. They cherry-pick policies that are near their own heart or will stir the base. They make promises they are rarely able to keep because they require the cooperation of others.

Ben Carson’s answer, though, is that of a true leader. He’s going to focus on leading.

And for that reason, he’s moved up in my book.

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Why Trump Has a Chance - David DeWolf

Why I’m Not Convinced Trump’s Dead on Arrival: Why He Has a Chance

Last week I wrote about why I wouldn’t rule out a vote for Trump. Here’s why I’m convinced I’m not the only one and why I think he has a chance at President.

America wants something different. Will it be Donald Trump? I don’t know, but I can almost assure you it won’t be your father’s politician.

Republican or Democrat, it’s obvious that most voters simply aren’t happy with the status quo. That’s why Donald Trump is leading the polls for the Republican nomination, despite what many view as some serious missteps.

It’s why Ben Carson, the former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who lambasted President Obama during a prayer breakfast several years ago and has absolutely no political experience, has taken a huge step forward.

It’s why even Carly Fiorina, the former HP CEO with little-to-no name recognition is moving up.

The career politicians? They are sagging behind.

While many continue to argue that Mr. Trump’s lead won’t last, Carson’s surge is a fluke, and Carly will fade away, I’m not so convinced.

Here’s why:

The media and politicians, not the people, say it won’t last.

It’s the political pundits, the traditionalists, who keep saying that this will end. It’s the people who are holding the alternative candidates up. I’m not convinced that’s going to change.

Ultimately, the will of the people should prevail.

The people are tired of the status quo.

The reason the people are supporting nontraditional candidates is because they are tired of the status quo. We’ve been promised different – by both sides – and we have yet to see different.

The people don’t want a politician. They want a layman. They want one of their own.

The people want a leader, not an expert.

The people want a leader – someone to pull us together and create momentum, as opposed to someone who will divide them apart and create factions. They are simply not concerned about foreign policy, government experience, or Washington know-how. In fact, that’s what they fear.

They realize that a strong leader can surround themselves with the expertise they need but cannot abdicate their leadership capabilities.

The people want moderate, not extreme.

They want moderate, not extreme. The people are tired of extreme positions and divisive rhetoric. They want someone who will calm the tension and paint a vision that the country will rally around.

They want someone that will be reasonable, not someone who will be idealogical.

The people want a fighter, not a schmoozer.

The people are tired of politics. They don’t want the polished answer. They don’t want the politically correct response. The people want a fighter. They want somebody who will tell it like it is and fight for what’s right. They don’t want someone to go toe-to-toe with Iran, to punch Putin in the mouth if he oversteps his bounds, and to hold the line when he says it exists.

They want someone more concerned about delivering on promises than getting reelected.

The American people are screaming for change. Don’t expect Trump, Carson, or Fiorina to go away too soon. These three have staying power – in the form of the people.

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Disciplined execution - David DeWolf

Disciplined execution is only half the equation

Recently an advisor noted that our company’s performance had significantly increased over the last quarter. In his mind, the improvements were a result of disciplined execution and keeping the team’s eye on the here and now. In fact, he recommended that I focus so keenly on execution that I exclude my senior executive team from any strategic discussions about the future of the business.

I was angered by the suggestion, but committed myself to processing the advice. Here are my conclusions.

This individual assessed our situation incorrectly. And, while disciplined execution is a must, I’m convinced that prioritizing execution to the exclusion of strategic thinking would prove detrimental.

Sustained results are rarely produced through a short period of execution. For us, it was no different. 3Pillar’s recent results are the culmination of our team’s execution over the past 18 months. It was at that time that we refined our operating model, tweaked our strategy, and set forth on a journey to take a quantum leap forward as a company. Our recent success is the result of more than just a few months hard work.

So what is it that drives results? Execution is a key component, but, in my experience, sustained results cannot be produced by execution alone.

Execution is the carrying out of a plan. There are three critical flaws to focusing exclusively on execution.

Exceptional plans evolve over time.

The value of a plan is the process of planning that is required to produce it. No plan is perfect, but, as they start carrying it out, great leaders are able to learn and adjust a plan in order to navigate their team to success. They observe weaknesses, analyze threats and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

A crisp focus on execution, at the exclusion of critical and creative thinking, will prevent these tweaks from taking place, and ultimately prove fatal.

The best decisions are made in collaboration.

By focusing their team exclusively on execution, a leader risks making decisions in isolation. Strategic thinking is all about connecting dots. To do it successfully requires the collection of a myriad of discrete data points and alternate perspectives in order to find new intersections and derive new conclusions.

By its very nature, strategic thinking is best done in collaboration. The more minds, the more dots, and the more dots, the more connections to be found.

High performing teams are fully engaged.

Exceptional execution over a sustained period of time requires a highly motivated and fully engaged team. High performing teams buy into the plan they are executing. This typically occurs because they believe in the vision and feel as though their inputs are valued. A team whose opinions are minimized or whose value is limited to carrying out tasks is in great risk of being alienated.

There’s no doubt that disciplined execution is key to achieving goals. However, unless you are doing a simple task, I sincerely doubt you’ll reach extraordinary results if you focus your team on it exclusively.

Because of our approach, I’m convinced that 3Pillar’s recent results have staying power. We’ve created a framework for success and a culture of dignity, not just a nose-to-the-grindstone culture capable of producing short term numbers. We’re building a great company capable of navigating future challenges, not just executing today’s plan.

Don’t get me wrong, we work as hard as anybody else, if not harder, but we’re also inspired to build something great. We believe in where we’re headed. We think strategically, collaborate effectively, and create the future together, as a team. I’ll take my team over myself any day. And I trust them to execute and think simultaneously.

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Why Trump Has a Chance at a Vote - David DeWolf

Why Trump Has a Chance at a Vote

At the first debate for Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump was asked whether he would rule out running for president as an independent candidate. He refused. As any good leader should do, he’s decided not to back himself in a corner and to be forthcoming with where he’s at.

I respect that.

Likewise, many citizens are asking others whether they will rule out a vote for Mr. Trump. It may not be as direct as Megan Kelly’s question, but the underlying message and unspoken criticism is just as thick in their comments as it was in Megan’s question. “There’s no way that you’re one of those loonies who would consider voting for Mr. Trump, is there?”

I, for one, will stand with Trump and refuse to give up my options.

Quite frankly, there’s a lot I like and quite a bit I don’t like about Mr. Trump’s candidacy, but, while we don’t agree on everything, I have total respect for the fact that he’s willing to say what he really believes and stand up and fight. He’s willing to make hard decisions and he’s willing to throw politically correct out the window.

We need more of that.

More than a president that agrees with everything I believe, I want a president that does what he says he’s going to do. I don’t need a president like Obama and I don’t need politicians like the current republican majority. Both have failed us. They promised and failed to deliver. They are morally corrupt. Both failed to follow through on their campaign promises.

Integrity trumps (pun intended) policy in my book.

The last thing this country needs is another politician as president. I don’t want an entrenched Republican or a career Democrat. I don’t want a governor or a senator. And I don’t want anyone who comes across as too polished – or too perfect – in what they say. Frankly, I don’t even want someone who knows too much about international policy.

I want a leader. Not an expert. Leaders surround themselves with experts to help inform their decisions. They stand on principles and make hard decisions. They find ways to compromise without jeopardizing their core values . They fight for what is right. And, they get people moving in the same direction.

We need that. And Trump seems like he can deliver. Not because he said the right things or said that he’ll deliver, but because he is showing it, right now, in the midst of the campaign.

And for that reason, I won’t rule out a vote for Trump. I don’t love everything he stands for, but I can respect the fact that he seems to be a man who means what he says and does what he promises.

Until he proves otherwise, Donald Trump will remain on my list of possible candidates that I may support.

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How to Build Momentum the Easy Way - David DeWolf

Just Do Something: How to Build Momentum the Easy Way

One of the biggest roadblocks many leaders face is their inability to build momentum. Here’s how to build momentum…the easy way.

The secret is to get moving.

And then, incrementally do more. Too many try to go from 0 to 60.

An object in motion stays in motion. Moreover, an object in motion is easier to accelerate than one standing still. Don’t believe me? Go to your local Walmart and buy a medicine ball. Place it on a flat surface and push it with nothing but your index finger. It didn’t go very far, did it?

Now, put the ball in motion by pushing it with your full hand. Using the same finger and the same force as before, give it a nudge. The ball in motion accelerated more than the one at rest. Didn’t it?

This is the concept of the flywheel.

Similarly, an initiative in motion accelerates easier than one at rest. The environmental surroundings push it forward.

In other words – just do something.

Get a win under your belt. Success breeds success.

Recently one of my direct reports was struggling to get a large initiative going. It simply seemed as though there was too much background work, too much research, too much planning that needed to get done. Progress had stalled. In fact there was little to no momentum.

I encouraged the leader to simply announce the initiative. By putting it out there and casting a vision for what was going to be accomplished we were able to get a win under our belt. The win helped us identify the next steps, recruit passionate and able-bodied people to help and to build momentum.

It’s amazing how such a small thing of announcement can help us get started and get over the momentum hump.

How about you?

What are you stuck on what can you not get moving fast enough? Is there a small win or something easy that you can accomplish in a matter of minutes that will help you build momentum?

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