2014 Vector Correctors

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A New Year and new challenges to test us in our journey of life. It is also a fine opportunity to review 2013 and the lessons we’ve learned, in personal relationships at home, our market place, school, sports, church or community. Life and leadership is ALL about people. When our relationships are sound; when we serve others; when we are sensitive and compassionate; we will find that we provide inspired influence. Take a one day at a time and touch a life.

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A humbling thought: People will forget what we said. People will forget what we did. But people will never forget how we made them feel. [Anonymous] All of us would be better off if we applied this truth to our individual lives and leadership.

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Last December, former South African President Nelson Mandela died. World leaders commented on the character and impact the former President had in his country and around the world. This comment stood out to me, “He taught us that to respect those with whom we are politically or socially or culturally at odds is not a sign of weakness, but a mark of self-respect.” Application, RESPECT OTHERS!!!

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Everyone is accountable to someone. That is a leading principle for Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway. Mr. DeVos goes on to say, “Only when we take full responsibility for our actions can we shed the burdens of our mistakes and go forward.” There are consequences for all our actions, either good or bad. Unfortunately, we are living at a time when people at all levels of leadership try to avoid accountability. Let’s always remember: THE BUCK STOPS HERE!!!

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Each day there are personal contacts that remind us how important loving others is to our success as leaders. In the home, market place, community or daily activities, we should show simple kindness, respect and love for others which can have a profound influence. Leading is not “just taking a walk or talking the talk,” but brings others with us by being an example of integrity, respect, character, authenticity and love. Try it and you may be surprised.

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Freedom is not free. Just ask one who has served in a combat environment. Human nature causes us to desire personal freedom which is reasonable, but with personal freedom comes responsibility which comes with consequences for our actions. This can be a wonderful teaching point for all of us.

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“Aim to persevere.” That little statement caught my eye. Life is more than money, intelligence, fame or power. And nothing beats persistence. The greatest single factor in success is sticking with it. Eternity’s work is often done over years, not days. If you want to succeed, don’t quit, stay on the job. Persistence pays!

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Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of WW 2 war German concentration camps and a noted author and speaker said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” Live each day to its fullest. Cherish the moments. That is a challenge for all of us.

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George Washington Carver said, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” Be sensitive to all the people around you.

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There is a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned by earlier generations made us complacent and selfish. For too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going, wanting to answer questions, while not knowing how to ask them. Vision and the ability to communicate, is an important attribute of leadership.

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Coach Mike Krzyzewski brought championships to Duke Blue Devils and the US Olympic basketball teams but the death of his older brother jarred him and he realized it is lonely at the top. “Leadership is lonely…You can’t show weakness. Who do you talk to about your fears? About your anxieties, about your nervousness? You don’t talk to anybody”. The great leaders I’ve met surrounded themselves with strong people who provide both personal as well as professional assistance.

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Compassion helps to heal the hurts of others. That is why compassion is foundational for every leader. The old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is accurate. Compassion transcends the work place. It earns the respect of those who we influence and lead.

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There is an old saying that PRIDE comes before a fall. Many of us could quote examples of true stories and personal experiences of “falls” in our lives. Pride is when EGO takes over and we think too highly of ourselves. EGO was presented by a preacher as Edging God Out. That thought may resonate with some but it is worth considering for all.

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Respect and humility are hallmarks of great leaders. True respect is earned by serving with compassion, sensitivity, loving, listening and really caring for those around you. Humility is an inner attitude or state of mind that life’s purpose is not about us, but others. M. Scott Peck said, “Humility is a true knowledge of oneself as one is.” Who are you REALLY?

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At the American Football Coaches meetings in January the theme of Life Beyond the Game was addressed in many of the sessions. Coaches should be instilling values, character and lifestyle that will form the student athlete twenty years from their playing days. Former Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry instilled that vision in many on his teams. That was Coach Landry’s legacy and why several of his players told me years later they learned more about life from Landry than the X’s & O’s of the game. The same can be true for every leader regardless of the venue.

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Wherever it is that you go in life
Do your best and do your part

Autograph your work with excellence
Craft your life into a beautiful work of art – Frank DiCocco

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“Personal growth is essential to good leadership.” Insightful words from a strong leader, Hudson Armerding. Reading a book authored by a successful leader every month helps keep us focused on the fundamentals of being a successful leader and positive influencer of people.

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Leaders who refuse to be accountable forfeit the right to be trusted. We’d rather NOT have anyone ask us the tough questions or even ask them ourselves. But that is the price one pays to be a leader.

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Being a willing servant leader is a decision we intentionally make. Service above self should be the hallmark of what others see in us. Serving and loving are the bookends of our character. Will we apply them 24/7 in our lives?

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Following are some foundational gems to apply to your leadership skills:
1. Know who you really are and what you stand for.
2. Empower your associates—delegate.
3. Squint with your ears—listen.
4. Be decisive—the buck stops with you when decisions are made.
5. Learn by failure.
6. Be a visionary.
7. Servant leaders are the most successful.
8. Integrity—a cornerstone for impacting others.
9. Continue to develop your leadership skills.
10. Love your people because without them no one is following and you are just taking a stroll.

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Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is courage to continue that counts. Words from Winston Churchill that should motivate and encourage us to keep on keeping on. When there is a”bump in the road,” a crisis, maybe a screwup, keep pressing on and do the right thing, being an example to others.

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Alabama football coach, Bear Bryant, said,”Be aware of yes-men. Generally they are losers. Surround yourself with winners. Never forget — people win. Get people who work for your organization because it means something more than a paycheck.”

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Decision making can be a challenge for leaders at all levels. Three questions to consider:

1. Is it right? Is it the right decision, done with integrity, is it fair, is it in the best interest of the organization?
2. Is it responsible? Will it have a positive impact on the organization and the people you serve? Is it in line with the organization’s mission and purpose?
3. Is it respectable? Will it increase respect for your people and organization? Can it stand the test of scrutiny by the media, public and those outside the organization?

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Dependability is an essential attribute of a leader. It is more essential than ever with the younger generation. Many come from homes where there were few if any who cared enough to nurture, mold, shape and love them and show them the way they should live. Now leaders, because they are “influencers” have that responsibility. You may find you are doing more personal counseling then personnel counseling.

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Chuck Swindoll says, “Leaders who refuse to be accountable to anyone forfeit the right to be trusted and followed.” Surround yourself with several professionals who will tell you if you are leading with integrity i.e. doing the right thing, the right way for the right reason.

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Learn from others. Ask questions. Be a good listener. Get a pulse beat of what is going on around you. Don’t put your head in the sand because your butt will be exposed. Ignorance is bliss. Be the leader God called you to be with integrity, compassion and love.

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“Only the man who can impose discipline on himself is fit to discipline others,” wrote William Feather. Self-discipline is a MUST for all leaders regardless of venue. Check yourself and be accountable to others.

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Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” Leadership is not just a title, name on a door or parking place, it is influencing others and taking responsibility for everything you say and do. The BUCK does stop on your desk.

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Saint Francis de Sales said, “Be who you are and be that well.”

Never make excuses.

Never give up.

Never let someone else dictate your attitude.

Never let others dictate your character,

Never forget who you are or who you want to become.

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Respect that others may not have the same value, integrity, or character that are foundational in your life. Remember respect is earned!!! Four “B’s” Can sum it up: Be responsible Be accountable Be reliable Be dependable Then you will attract people to be your followers.

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Effective leaders are visionaries. Casting a vision is important. Planning and goal setting are also essential. Four questions from Colonel Joe Shirey may help you in the Strategic Planning for your organization: 1. What are we doing that should be continued? 2. What are we not doing now that we should be doing? 3. What will we need or should/could be doing in the future? 4. What are we doing that as an organization should be stopped? All the above are worthy of discussion.

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A Pastor friend wrote a provoking thought on legacy that we can all apply to our lives. “Whether you like it or not, whether you accept it or not, whether you believe it or not, your influence will span generations long after you’ve left this Earth.” Pastor Stu Weber.

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Life is not about us, but about who we serve.

  1. It is who we really are.
  2. It is about maintaining principles.
  3. It is about what we believe.
  4. It is about what we stand for—our convictions.
  5. It is about what we can do for others.
  6. It is about the positive difference we can make in the lives of others.
  7. It is about the type of legacy we leave for others to follow.

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Aspire to inspire. Doing the right thing the right way requires persistence. Robert Zimmerman said, “It’s not going to happen just because you want it to happen. It’s going to happen because of our persistent effort to make it happen.” Let God lead us to do the right thing.

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“Team” has no “I” in it. That is why leaders/coaches and others in positions of influence strive for unity in their organizations. A strand of thread is easily broken, but twist five strands together and you will quickly notice the difference in its strength. The same is true of people. Take Redwood trees: they can grow to over 100 feet because their roots, although shallow, are intertwined with each other.

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The Air Force core values are “INTEGRITY, SERVICE BEFORE SELF AND EXCELLENCE IN ALL WE DO.” These are values for all of us to follow. Tom Landry, former Dallas Cowboys coach, said “Help me to incorporate excellence into every detail of my daily life, and help me to improve the lives of those I lead by inspiring others to live with excellence, too.”

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LEADERSHIP—is revealed by how we motivate others to use their time on the job as well as their free time.

MATURITY—is revealed by what we do with our time on the job and in our free time.

CHARACTER—is revealed by what we do in secret.

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Scientists are sometimes so bright in their field they may miss foundational attributes of life. Not so with Albert Schweitzer. He said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others—it’s the only thing.” He obviously knew something about leadership, Who is following your example?

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Be responsible

Be accountable

Be reliable

Be dependable

Be honest

Be respect-worthy

Be trustworthy

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Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Habits of duty, honor and integrity will serve us and those around us because that is who we really are.

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“Do something to have a positive impact on someone else today.” Coach Nick Sabin, Alabama football

Having a positive impact for someone every day is motivational and a strong indicator of our sensitive spirits. A positive spirit can affect the entire team.

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Ambitious people set goals. Passionate people work toward those goals. Committed, successful people finish the job and accomplish those goals.

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  1. Always do the right thing.
  2. Always be genuine.
  3. Always be responsible.
  4. Always be accountable.
  5. Always be reliable and dependable.
  6. Always be honest.
  7. Always be respectful.
  8. Always be humble.
  9. Always honor your commitments.
  10. 10.Always be in control of yourself.—Frank DiCocco

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Noted author Stephen Covey said, “If you want to change the world, the place to begin is with yourself”. Change is never easy even on especially the personal basis. So check your character and see if you are for REAL. If not, seek to change and be the person God designed you to be.

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Teamwork divides the tasks and doubles the success. As a leader, do not thing you can do it all. The  best leaders surround themselves with talented people who can multiply, expand and increase the output of the organization. Sometimes it is a tangible way and other times it may be in the vision of the leader. Don’t stymie the team by withholding the opportunities.

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On a visit to Marine Recruit Training Base, Parris Island, a marine gave me a card the Corps uses to strive for excellence. Five words keep their work in focus; ”PROPER-PLANNING-PREVENTS-POOR PERFORMANCE”. Applying those words to any venue will make a difference.

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“Make a Difference in the Lives of Others” was the title of an article I reviewed. Life is about the lives we touch each day: Make a difference. Live to love and love to serve. Learn the importance of putting others before yourself. Learn the importance of serving others ahead of yourself. Try to leave the world a better place because you were here.

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Conviction is so needed in today’s world. Know who you are, like who you are and be who you are!!!! Character, integrity, values, ethics, humility and love come to mind when I think of one’s character. If that is who you REALLY are then you will earn the respect of others because you will be respecting them. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well, “Men are respectable only as they respect.”

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The founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy wisely said, “It is when we stop doing our best work that our enthusiasm for the job wanes. We must motivate ourselves to do our best and by our example lead others to do their best.” We serve and influence by being the right example.

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Julie Ackerman Link concluded a devotion “SOW WHAT” with these words: “Sow a thought, reap an act; Sow an act, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character; Sow a character, reap a destiny.” What kind of seeds are you sowing today that will be your legacy?

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The Hail Mary pass is the last attempt to score points and win a football game. Perseverance through 60 minutes of the fame is essential. Never quit or fail to give your best. Perseverance is necessary on the job also. Quitters seldom are the strength of any company, but those who “hang in there” are valued and inspire the entire team. Julie Andrews said, “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Hang tough, your time is coming. 

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2014 is coming to an end and we hope that the Vector Correctors have served you well during the past five years. If you have any feedback that will be meaningful, please send them to dick@liaap.com. Have a blest, happy and wonderful New Year.