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10 Leadership Lessons from JFK

10 Leadership Lessons from JFK

John F. Kennedy remains a popular president. He was one of those rare presidents who became more popular during his time in office. In the last Gallup poll before his assassination, Kennedy’s approval rating stood at 70 percent!

Some pundits have dismissed Kennedy as “all profile and no courage.” But a closer look reveals that behind the charisma, smile and bold rhetoric, lay courage aplenty, plus vision and substance.

  • Craft a compelling vision. By 1960, a new generation of “Baby Boomers” was coming of age. What was to be their challenge? In his Inaugural Address, Kennedy gave them one: “Now the trumpet summons us again-not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are-but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation-a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself. Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that effort?” He dared young Americans to take on the status quo and to push themselves to the limit.
  • 'JFK and the Unspeakable' by James W Douglass (ISBN 1439193886) Face adversity with a smile. John F. Kennedy was born with an unstable back, which he aggravated further in sports and in the PT-109 incident. Also, he nearly died of scarlet fever as an infant, was mistakenly diagnosed with leukemia as a teenager, developed Addison’s Disease, which could be controlled only with painful cortisone treatments, suffered from allergies, bad eyesight, slight deafness in one ear, and much else besides. Born into a wealthy family, yet cursed with a sickly body, Kennedy could have given in to self-pity and sat on the sidelines. He refused, facing his maladies with a smile and joke. He was thus well-prepared to deal with the frustrations of political life.
  • Don’t follow the crowd. John F. Kennedy set his own course in life, always wary of being seen as anybody’s “man.” As a young man, he spent much time in Europe watching his father make blunder after blunder as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, and young Kennedy resolved not to repeat them. He rejected his father’s crabbed isolationism in favor of a robust internationalism personified by Kennedy’s hero, Winston Churchill. He and his brother Bobby investigated corruption in U.S. labor unions, particularly the Teamsters. He also took on the American Legion, the House Democratic leadership, the Pentagon top brass.
  • Educate yourself. A passion for self-education might be one of the most reliable markers of leadership: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan were mostly self-taught. Jack Kennedy became a reader during his childhood illnesses as he lay flat on his back in hospitals. History, biography, and historical fiction, such as Churchill’s History of the First World War and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, were among his favorites. Before becoming president, Kennedy traveled the globe, visiting places few Americans had ever been, such as Vietnam. The contrast he witnessed between pre-war and post-war Berlin demonstrated vividly the possible consequences of world war, especially if it became nuclear.
  • 'Churchill: The Power of Words' by Winston Churchill (ISBN 0306821974) Learn to communicate. Kennedy was a poor public speaker at the start of his career. He spoke too fast, failed to pause for audience reaction, tended to speak from the larynx rather than the diaphragm and so wore out his voice quickly. He spoke with a pronounced regional accent. He dealt with this by keeping his talks short, and leaving time for questions. But he worked hard to improve himself, hiring voice coaches and a speechwriter, Theodore C. Sorensen, who helped him craft memorable phrases and imagery. Kennedy was also one of the first politicians to receive media training. His live press conferences became a White House tradition. He cultivated reporters who wrote favorable stories about him and his family and declined to write about his affairs and illnesses. He used his communication skills to rally the nation to fight the Cold War, soothe its fears, inspire unity, and achieve its highest aspirations.
  • Don’t let crises manage you. Perhaps the most important quality a leader can possess is the ability to manage a crisis without letting the crisis manage the leader. Kennedy projected a calm confidence that communicated to those around him and to the country. For example, during the Cuban missile crisis (October 1962), Kennedy remained calm and refused to retaliate. To prevent future miscommunications, Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to establish a “hotline” between the White House and Kremlin.
  • Build a team and find your “Bobby.” No one gets to the top alone. To reach and hold a major leadership position, you need to build a team. Kennedy learned early how to get along with people from all walks of life. He could charm European aristocrats as well as bell hops and cab drivers with equal felicity. His intensity and purpose proved irresistible, and most people who worked for him remained devoted to him (no member of the Kennedy circle ever wrote even a remotely hostile memoir.) When Jack’s first Senate campaign manager proved incompetent, he turned to his brother Bobby, who impressed Jack with his organizational abilities. Bobby took charge, firing those who failed to perform and promoting those who showed drive and determination. He became indispensable to his brother, who defied the charges of nepotism to name him attorney general. Everyone at the top needs someone whose advice he can trust implicitly.
  • Add a touch of showmanship. When Kennedy became president, the presidential aircraft was painted in an orange-white-and-black paint scheme with the phrase “Military Air Transport Command” stenciled on the side. For the New Frontier, this simply wouldn’t do. So Kennedy called in Raymond Loewy, a great industrial designer. Loewy came up with the pale blue and white paint scheme and the words “United States of America” stenciled on the fuselage. Kennedy also discovered the aircraft had a codename: Air Force One. That was too good a name to keep secret, and Kennedy began using it publicly.
  • 'Profiles in Courage' by John F Kennedy (ISBN 0060854936) Learn from mistakes. When Cuban exiles invaded that country with U.S. support early in his administration in an effort to overthrow Fidel Castro, the effort collapsed ignominiously. Kennedy did not blame the previous administration, whose idea it was. Instead, he accepted full responsibility, saying, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” Still, there were consequences. The director and deputy director of the CIA were both sacked. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were required to give their opinions to him in writing. Never again would Kennedy simply trust anyone’s word. Instead, he questioned his advisers to ensure all options were explored.
  • Do what’s right. Courage is a leitmotif running through Kennedy’s life. He possessed enormous physical courage, playing rough sports like football and starring on the Harvard swimming team despite his fragile frame. Before the United States entered World War II in 1941, Jack enlisted in the navy. After the PT-109 was sunk by a Japanese destroyer, he joked with his men to keep their spirits up. His best-known book is called Profiles in Courage, which chronicles the stories of United States senators who risked their careers by supporting unpopular causes.

When African-Americans were agitating for their civil rights, Kennedy at first hesitated to embrace their cause, fearing it would damage him politically. But on June 11, 1963, he did so wholeheartedly. Kennedy was the first president to call for equal rights for all Americans. And his words could not be taken back once he had spoken them. In addition to his physical courage, he had inner courage as well.

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Marissa Mayer’s Tardiness at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) Tardiness has a detrimental effect on the organization. Tardiness is a display of disrespect. Establishing ground rules, documenting violations, using an official discipline process and identifying larger workplace issues can go a long way toward correcting issues with executive tardiness.

Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

The other factor compounding Mayer’s coldness was that she had the awful habit of being late, all the time.

Every Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. California time, Mayer’s staff would gather for a three-hour meeting with the boss. Mayer demanded all of her staff across the world join the call, so executives from New York, where it was 6:00 p.m., and Europe, where it was 11:00 p.m. or later, would dial in, too. Inevitably, Mayer would show up at least forty-five minutes late. Some calls started so late that Yahoo’s executives in Europe didn’t hang up till after 3:00 a.m. their time. Mayer had approximately two dozen people reporting to her during her first year at Yahoo. In theory, she was keeping up with each of them in a regularly scheduled weekly meeting. In practice, she would go weeks without talking to people because she was so busy.

For a while, each of those two dozen people thought that Mayer was just picking on them, individually. The people who had been at Yahoo before Mayer joined assumed that this meant she was going to fire them soon. The people Mayer had hired into the company, including HR boss Jackie Reses and CMO Kathy Savitt, were even more puzzled. Why had they been hired only to be ignored?

But then, during one of those long waiting periods after 3: 00 p.m. on a Monday, a conversation unfurled that revealed all. Making small talk, one executive said to another: “Did she cancel one of your one-on-ones again?”

A third jumped in: “Oh my God, she does that to you, too?” It turned out that everyone in the room and on the call had been canceled on by Mayer, frequently.

Mayer was also constantly late to product reviews. The meeting would be scheduled for 2:00 p.m., and around 2:15 p.m., Mayer’s assistant, Trish Crawley, would come out and say, “Really sorry. She’s going to be late. We’re not sure when she’ll get here.” Then it would 3:00 p.m. and then 4:00 p.m., and then Crawley would come out and say the meeting was canceled.

The standard joke was that if you had a review with Mayer, you should expect not to know when it was going to be and that it would change at the last minute. It was annoying for people who worked in Sunnyvale. It was brutal for remote teams in India and Europe.

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Seven Innovation Rules for Microproducts & Low-Cost Design

  • Seven Innovation Rules for Microproducts & Low-Cost Design Understand the problem your product needs to solve. You can do this by bringing customers into the development process. Don’t know what it is like living without electricity? Talk to people who do.
  • Make it uber-cheap. Brands like Louis Vuitton and Apple add to a product’s price tag. Microproduct designers do the opposite. If it’s not affordable for somebody living on a few dollars a day, it’s not going to fly.
  • Shrink it down, make it small, and divide it by 600. Small units keep a product cheap, manageable, and easy to transport and distribute. Choose materials accordingly.
  • High tech is OK. Since the 1970s, a movement championing “appropriate technology” for developing countries has shunned high tech. However, it’s come so far that it’s no longer expensive. Modern information technology is a pillar of the micro revolution.
  • Combine ideas. Learn to think in an interdisciplinary way. Harness sustainable energy to new payment systems, education to unconventional design methods. Microproducts bring together innovations in different areas.
  • Think big. Scale up as fast as you can. How can you help millions of people access this product or service quickly? How will you distribute it?
  • Perfect it. Make prototypes and test them before rushing your product to market. It might be small and cheap, but that does not mean it doesn’t need refining. Your product is too important not to perfect—it could change someone’s life for the better.
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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Tesla’s Elon Musk is a Snarky CEO

Books Recommended by Elon Musk

On the 02-May-2018 quarterly results call, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, snubbed Wall Street analyst who called his performance “bizarre.”

When Toni Sacconaghi, a senior sell-side equity research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, asked about the company’s capital expenditures, Musk responded, “Excuse me, next. Next. Boring questions are not cool.” When Joseph Spak of RBC Capital asked how many of those who’d reserved a Model 3 sedan have actually gone ahead with the reservation, Musk directed the call’s operator to switch to YouTube remarking, “These questions are so dry. They’re killing me.”

Prominent Tesla bear, Cowen & Co.’s Jeffrey Osborne, wrote a note where he declared that “Tesla’s earnings calls have always been one of the best free sources of entertainment out there, but this one was the over top [sic].” He added,

In one of the most bizarre earnings calls we have ever heard, Tesla refused to address analyst questions on capex, cash burn and other “boring bonehead questions” while providing commentary on “barnacle” like third-party contractors and anecdotes on an ineffectual “flufferbot”.

'Elon Musk' by Ashlee Vance (ISBN 0062301233) On the first-quarter call, CEO Elon Musk also promised a reorganization” this month. He said,

I’m feeling quite confident about hitting positive cash flow in Q3. This is not a certainty. It does appear quite likely in my view. We are going to conduct a reorganization, restructuring of the company this month and make sure we are well set up to achieve that goal. In particular the number of third-party companies we’re using has gotten out of control. We’re going to scrub the barnacles on that front.

Osborne had previously said,

The story keeps breaking down here in terms of the ability to hit overambitious targets from management … so the tone of the release last night certainly has been a bit watered down and I think they’re just starting to try to regain a little bit more credibility … but in general we just see continued execution delays, a lack of profitability over the next two to three years and, with Elon Musk’s world domination strategy, just with the additional factories he wants to build over about 15 to 20 billion dollars of additional capital that he’s going to need to build these battery and car factories in Europe as well as in China.

Tesla stock promptly dropped more than 5% in after-hours trading.

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Posted in Investing and Finance Leaders and Innovators

Quotations from Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz’s Book “Pour Your Heart Into It”

Howard Schultz‘s Pour Your Heart Into It touches on the best management and business practices and the techniques that Schultz used to found and lead Starbucks to the international coffee corporation it is today.

Starbucks has become an emblem of the current specialty coffee movement and a “hip” lifestyle. Starbucks coffee bars have opened in small towns and major cities alike, first in America, then around the world.

Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz

“Pour Your Heart Into It” Chapter Titles and Lead Quotations

Starbucks is a international coffee house chain with more than 17,000 stores. Founded in 1971 to roast coffee and sell it straight to drinkers at branded shops, it was only a regional company until Howard Schultz purchased it in 1987.

  • Chapter 1: Imagination, Dreams, and Humble Origins
    “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery in The Little Prince
  • Chapter 2: A Strong Legacy Makes You Sustainable for the Future
    “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received.”
    Albert Einstein
  • Chapter 3: To Italians, Espresso is Like an Aria
    “Some men see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were, and say ‘Why not?'”
    George Bernard Shaw, often quoted by Robert F. Kennedy
  • Chapter 4: Luck is the Residue of Design
    “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
    Peter Drucker
  • 'Pour Your Heart Into It' by Howard Schultz (ISBN 0786883561) Chapter 5: Naysayers Never Built a Great Enterprise
    “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh
  • Chapter 6: The Imprinting of the Company’s Values
    “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Chapter 7: Act Your Dreams with Open Eyes
    “Those who dream by night in the
    dusty recesses of their minds
    Awake to find that all was vanity;But the dreamers of day are dangerous men,
    That they may act their dreams with open
    eyes to make it possible.”
    T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia)
  • Chapter 8: If it Captures Your Imagination, it Will Captivate Others
    “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, … begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Chapter 9: People are nor a Line Item
    “Wealth is the means and people are the ends. All our material riches will avail us little if we do not use them to expand the opportunities of our people.”
    John F. Kennedy, State of the Union address in January 1962
  • Chapter 10: A Hundred-story Building First Needs a Strong Foundation
    “The builders of visionary companies … concentrate primarily on building an organization—building a ticking clock—rather than on hitting a market just right with a visionary product idea.”
    Jim C. Collins, Built to Last
  • Chapter 11: Don’t Be Threatened by People Smarter Than You
    “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men [and women] to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
    Theodore Roosevelt
  • Chapter 12: The Value of Dogmatism and Flexibility
    “The only sacred cow in an organization should be its basic philosophy of doing business.”
    Thomas J. Watson, Jr. “A Business and Its Beliefs,” quoted in Built to Last

How Starbucks Became Successful

  • Chapter 13: Wall Street Measures a Company’s Price, Not Its Value
    “There are only two guidelines. One, what’s in the long-term best interests of the enterprise and its stakeholders, supplemented by the dominant concern of doing what’s right.”
    Robert D. Haas, President, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Chapter 14: As Long as You’re Reinventing, How About Reinventing Yourself?
    “The difference between great and average or lousy in any job is, mostly, having the imagination and zeal to re-create yourself daily.”
    Tom Peters, The Pursuit of Wow!
  • Chapter 15: Don’t Let the Entrepreneur Get in the Way of the Enterprising Spirit
    “No organizational regeneration, no national industrial renaissance can take place without individual acts of courage.”
    Harvey A. Hornstein, Managerial Courage
  • Chapter 16: Seek to Renew Yourself Even When You’re Hitting Home Runs
    “To stay ahead, always have your next idea waiting in the wings.”
    Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • Chapter 17: Crisis of Prices, Crisis of Values
    “It is by presence of mind in untried emergencies that the native metal of a man is tested.”
    James Russell Lowell, “Abraham Lincoln,” in North American Review, ]anuary 1864
  • Chapter 18: The Best Way to Build a Brand is One Person at a Time
    “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.”
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk
  • Chapter 19: Twenty Million New Customers are Worth Taking a Risk For
    “Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
    Helen Keller, The Open Door
  • Chapter 20: You Can Grow B1g and Stay Small
    “The fundamental task is to achieve smallness within large organization.”
    E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered
  • Chapter 21: How Socially Responsible Can a Company Be?
    “The evidence seems clear that those businesses which actively serve their many constituencies in creative, morally thoughtful ways also, over the long run, serve their shareholders best. Companies do, in fact, do well by doing good.”
    Norman Lear, Founder of the Business Enterprise Trust, Quoted in David Bollier’s Aiming Higher
  • Chapter 22: How Not to Be a Cookie-cutter Chain
    “Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks.”
    Mark Rothko, In The New York Times, June 13, 1943
  • Chapter 23: When They Tell You to Focus, Don’t Get Myopic
    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too; …
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
    Rudyard Kipling, “If”
  • Chapter 24: Lead with Your Heart
    “Leadership is discovering the company’s destiny and having the courage to follow it. … Companies that endure have a noble purpose.”
    Joe Jaworski of the Organizational Learning Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz's 'Pour Your Heart Into It'

Selections from Howard Schultz’s Analysis of Starbucks’ Spectacular Success

Schultz sponsored Starbucks as the “third place,” distinctive from home and work. Many of its shops have comfortable padded chairs and sofas. In recent years they offer free Wi-Fi for customers who want Internet access for their computers. Some Starbucks are in shopping malls, bookstores, supermarkets, college campuses, and airports. Baristas mix a range of coffee drinks.

  • “When you really believe—in yourself, in your dream—you just have to do everything you possibly can to take control and make your vision a reality. No great achievement happens by luck.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “I believe that the best way for an entrepreneur to maintain control is by performing well and pleasing shareholders even if his or her stake is below 50 percent. That risk is far preferable to the danger of heavy debt, which can limit the possibilities for future growth and innovation.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “It’s one thing to dream, but when the moment is right, you’ve got to be willing to leave what’s familiar and go out to find your own sound.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Whatever your culture, your values, your guiding principles, you have to take steps to inculcate them in the organization early in its life so that they can guide every decision, every hire, every strategic objective you set.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Every step of the way, I made a point to underpromise and overdeliver. In the long run, that’s the only way to ensure security in any job.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “If you want to build a great enterprise, you have to have the courage to dream great dreams. If you dream small dreams, you may succeed in building something small. For many people, that is enough. But if you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.”
    Howard Schultz
  • 'Onward How Starbucks Fought for Its Life' by Howard Schultz (ISBN 1609613821) “Treat people like family, and they will be loyal and give their all. Stand by people, and they will stand by you. It’s the oldest formula in business, one that is second nature to many family-run firms. Yet in the late 1980s, it seemed to be forgotten.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “While Wall Street has taught me a lot, its most enduring lesson is an understanding of just how artificial a stock price is. It’s all too easy to regard it as the true value of your company, and even the value of yourself.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “At a certain stage in a company’s development, an entrepreneur has to develop into a professional manager. That often goes against the grain.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. Don’t do things the way they’ve always been done. Don’t try to fit the system. If you do what’s expected of you, you’ll never accomplish more than others expect.”
    Howard Schultz

The Recipe to Starbucks Success

The name Starbucks is borrowed from the first mate of the whaling ship in the Herman Melville novel Moby Dick. The logo for Starbucks is also nautical, a siren who in the original image had a mermaid’s tail.

The first Starbucks location opened in the United States, in Pike Place, Seattle in 1971 and the company developed globally with a brand recognition that has been compared to the longer standing, brand-distinctive McDonald’s Fast-food Empire.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators

Welcome to An Era of CEO Activism

Welcome to An Era of CEO Activism

Gone are the days when managers would shrink back from revealing their beliefs and viewpoints on matters that had little to do with their company’s routine endeavors.

Leaders should think carefully before jumping on the closest soapbox. Starbucks’s Founder and CEO Howard Schultz learned that the hard way in 2015 when he started the Race Together campaign in the aftereffects of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Schultz inspired Starbucks baristas to converse about race relations with customers whilst serving them their morning coffee. That didn’t come down with easy. In due course, Starbucks dialed back the initiative.

  • Topic: Race relations. Starbucks’ Howard Schultz got into hot water after he launched Starbucks’ Race Together campaign which encouraged baristas to talk about race with customers.
  • Topic: Vaccination. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg incurred the wrath of anti-vaccine commenters when he posted a picture of his Infant daughter visiting the doctor for routine vaccinations.
  • Topic: Common Core Education. ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson aroused the ire of education advocates when he referred to American students as “products” that companies simply don’t want to buy.
  • Topic: Global Warming. Unilever’s Paul Polman has publicly maintained that businesses and governments should commit to environmentally sustainable practices.
  • Topic: LGBT Rights. CEOs of Salesforce, Apple, Intel, Dow, Bank of America, Facebook, Yahoo! and others have come out against a wave of anti-LGBT legislation in several states.
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Posted in Global Business Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Engage in a Constructive Leadership Dialogue

Conduct Soul-searching Interviews with Outsiders

Engage in a Constructive Leadership Dialogue If you are a leader, what is your most important job? As stated by John Kotter, leaders groom organizations for transformation and help them manage as they struggle through it. That is their foremost job. However, how do they go about doing it? Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, once said: “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.”

Evidently, setting a direction for the future is an important aspect of leadership. Telling what the organization should become in the long term and how it should get there becomes the foremost duty. Soon after taking the helm of IBM, Lou Gerstner announced, “The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.” Some people nailed his hide to the wall for that statement. He explains that reporters dropped the words “right now” from his statement. Gerstner felt that IBM was long on vision statements, but short on getting the job done. Fixing the company was all about execution.

Creating a Culture of Leadership

Execution is nothing but aligning people, motivating them, and creating a culture of leadership. Kotter contrasts execution with equally important but managerial duties such as planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, controlling, and problem solving. The value of a wonderful strategy is only achieved when it is carried out. And it is the people who make the grand vision a reality. That’s why, as Jack Welch points out, leaders need to make it a priority to plant and nourish talented people at every level.

If you lead a big organization like General Electric, you might have assets at your disposal like the GE John F. Welch Leadership Center at Crotonville, the world’s first major corporate business school. Here everyone from important customers and partners to present and future GE leaders come together to identify opportunities and debate issues. But few organizations have the resources to invest like GE. They can’t operate a dedicated leadership center.

Creating a Culture of Leadership The constraint of a smaller budget is hardly an excuse to not operate key levers that drive superior performance in people. Going back to Welch’s garden analogy, some aspects of cultivation are free, such as sunshine. But how you choose to orient your garden in relationship to the sun makes all the difference. If you place your garden under a large shade tree, you cut it off from necessary nourishment.

While a leader needs to have a strong sense of the direction, cultivating new culture by changing people’s frame of mind and behaviors is the hardest part. In doing so, they can follow the profit-at-any-price model by relying on fear, pressure, and greed, or they can follow a more sensible leadership model based on inspiration, motivation, and enthusiasm.

Four Bad Leadership Models

Even leaders who articulate a convincing vision, inspire followers, and display passion and courage to take on challenges can have wasteful traits that limit them. These tend to manifest themselves in four ways:

  • Know-it-alls: They start believing that they know and do this better than anybody, and believe that they don’t need others as much as others need them. So they tend to treat others as dispensable and tune them out.
  • Micromanagers: They get mired in minutiae and sometimes miss the forest for the trees. By measuring too much, they measure nothing.
  • Perfectionists: They spend too much time doing things right rather than doing the right things, thereby losing focus. They take any constructive feedback as a direct hit and return what they see as not-so-friendly fire.
  • Detached: They become emotionally distant and lose the intimacy and connection to other people. To any push-back, they respond: “Tough! If I can do it, so can you.”

When these behaviors occur, the results follow quickly: Any constructive confrontation within the executive team ends almost immediately. Honest exchange of ideas on options and their pros and cons ceases. What is happening on the ground to the foot soldiers becomes irrelevant. The pressure people feel becomes unbearable. The “guilt trip” that nobody else is pulling their weight becomes harder to take. Any semblance of work-life balance is lost. Conversations become one-way streets, and people feel like glorified order-takers. It seems like they have ceded all authority to the boss.

The leader is quickly surrounded by loyal sycophants in the inner circle who simply want to ride the coattails. Everyone else is in the outer circle-albeit with more self-esteem, yet fearful to say that the emperor has no clothes. Soon people start telling the leader what the leader wants to hear, lest their heads are chopped off. Collaboration comes to a grinding halt, and providing lip service becomes the politically correct thing to do. Everyone looks out for themselves, and any mutually shared goals, if they exist, take a back seat. Any sense of intimacy, camaraderie, and belonging on the team becomes non-existent.

Any concept of a team breaks down. Any sense of empowerment evaporates. The vision of the leader becomes a pipe dream. The strategic plan to get there suddenly has strong disbelievers. The short-term results, obtained through draconian measures, become harder to sustain. As Michael Maccoby notes: “Narcissistic leaders can self-destruct and lead their people astray.” So, there is plenty of leadership, but little followership.

Foster Competencies to Compete in the Future

Foster Competencies to Compete in the Future A key challenge for leaders competing for the future is to foster competencies that provide access to tomorrow’s opportunities. Further, as discussed by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad in Competing for the Future, leaders need to find innovative applications of the current competencies. Leaders must objectively assess and proactively improve the caliber of the executive team and the organization as a whole.

However, before a leader can assess the caliber of the executive team, he must take stock of his own. Surveys—whether leadership or 360 degree—are popular and necessary, but rarely tell the leader the whole story. Objective, confidential, and focused interviews by an outsider with each individual on the executive team can deliver unvarnished truth-rich information about what’s really happening behind closed doors. Is there a true strategic alignment? How is the leadership style perceived? How much constructive confrontation occurs? Do people collaborate or simply provide lip service? Is everyone pulling in the same direction?

There are five prerequisites to getting the most from these interviews:

  1. Right reason. First, conduct the interviews for the right reason: improving leadership by eliminating unproductive behaviors. If the hidden agenda is to vilify non-performers or to find scapegoats, the approach backfires.
  2. Objectivity. You need an objective outsider to hold the mirror. This person must not be afraid to find out the truth and tell it like it is.
  3. Confidentiality. The interviews have to be treated as confidential, and the interviewer can’t make any direct attribution to a specific individual. Despite all the talk about openness, blackballing is still a common practice.
  4. Specificity. While recognizing that everyone’s reality is different, the interviews have to focus on direct observations, experiences, and involvement rather than hearsay.
  5. Commitment. There must be a commitment to develop an action plan at the individual and team level.

If these criteria are met, the insights gained from interviews can help create a high-performance culture. The honest feedback and recommendations can raise the candor and constructive dialogue.

Baseball manager Tommy Lasorda said leading people is like holding a dove in your hand. “If you hold it too tightly, you kill it; but if you hold it too loosely, you lose it.” Finding that delicate balance between providing nourishment and pulling weeds is the key to effective leadership. But it begins with looking in the mirror.

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Putting Your Creativity to Work and Improving the Bottom Line

Fostering Creativity at Work

Fostering Creativity at Work When the going gets tough, many companies cut costs, cling to tradition, and stay under radar. Such reaction is short-sighted. There are lessons to be learned from companies like HP, Virgin, Disney, and other innovators who not only stay the course through uncertainty, but excel. The most innovative companies don’t take cover—they get going. They embrace creativity and innovation in both good times and tough times.

Creativity helps us reinvent when faced with opportunity and survive when faced with challenges. Creative people find new solutions and enjoy a timeless advantage.

What characterizes a company? Its people, process, values, size, resources—or maybe it’s an unorthodox approach to business.

Few companies even begin to embrace the power of creativity and reinvention. Yet we see bold possibilities. We see signs of a new era where creativity drives the bottom line—where business escapes tradition and embraces new practices that nurture the cultural creative mindset.

A Time for Unleashing Your Creativity at Work

Rule-breakers tend to be the more nimble upstarts.

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said: “Today business is about the resiliency of ideas. It’s about rallying people and the ideas of people.” Companies don’t simply want to make a better product; they want to dramatically transform their culture to lead their industry. The best organizations are committing more people, resources, time and money to increasing creativity and innovation. It’s a smart investment.

Look at Eli Lilly. Instead of churning constantly inside the company to generate new ideas, they’ve reinvented scientific research and created a free market of ideas. The company founded Inno-Centive, a web-based community of problem-solvers and solution-seekers. They tap scientific minds worldwide to create solutions for financial reward.

Success can no longer be sustained with incremental improvements; we must find new sources of growth to leap forward in much wider measure.

Why is Creativity Important in the Workplace: Creativity and the Bottom Line

Creativity and the Bottom Line Although it is difficult to measure creativity’s impact on the bottom line, we see that four benchmarks make or break the bottom line:

  1. Profitability. A creative company produces more great ideas that impact the bottom line. Better product = sales; efficient method = savings; better service = more customers. Hanes recognized this when they reinvented the T-shirt. The Hanes Tagless Tee shirt is the first innovation in the industry in 10 years.
  2. Industry leadership. Leading companies innovate for the long-term. They are visionary, looking at the future with a wide lens. Today’s rapid pace of change means companies can no longer deliver the same products and services in the same way for long. As technology services evolved, IBM, Compaq, and Intel all had to transform their business models. Fox News helped reinvent the cable news industry, repositioning itself as a lively, in-your-face opinion page. And it became the number-one cable news outlet. Innovate or get left behind.
  3. Retention. A more creative culture equates to happier employees. Creative companies embrace more humanistic values, like leadership support, risk tolerance, individual expression, and intrinsic motivation. Peter Coy, Business Week columnist, writes: “In the Creative Economy, the most important intellectual property isn’t software or music or movies. It’s the ideas inside employees’ heads. Leaders create an environment that makes the best people want to stay.”
  4. Motivation. When people feel their ideas are valued they contribute more to the company. Creative companies have a people-first approach, embracing attributes like autonomy and personal challenge. Winnebago discovered this with their innovation program. Every Friday, Winnebago CEO Bruce Hertzke hands out dividend-savings checks and has his photo taken with employees who have made revenue or savings suggestions. Over 10,300 ideas have been implemented, and employees have received $500,000 for their ideas. Employee creativity saved the company $5.5 million in the first year alone. Yet people are primarily motivated by intrinsic reward.

Leaders must balance financial rewards with recognition, rewarding work, and enrichment from the culture. Brainstorming is just one technique. It even has variants. Such methods can be useful in creating food for thought. Also has the advantage of including staff and encouraging an innovative thinking environment—if done well.

Finally, let’s not forget basic business survival. Creativity is required to innovate but it’s also necessary to keep the pipeline full and move forward.

Fostering Creativity at Work: The Ultimate Measure of Value

Executives who are committed to increasing creativity and innovation must first accept this universal rule: Creativity requires a new mindset, which is produced only from cultural transformation.

Leaders must accept that development of human capital requires a greater investment than other types of capital—in terms of money, time, and commitment. The ultimate measure of a company’s value is its people. In creativity, everything comes down to people. Dick Brown, CEO of EDS, puts it this way: “Most business leaders are more comfortable with numbers. While I am very numbers-focused, you can’t change a business with numbers. Numbers are the end result. You change a business by changing the behavior of its people.”

Yet it’s not enough to hire a few creative people or hold an off-site meeting in hopes of finding an innovation “quickfix.” Leaders must rebuild the culture, align the systems, and develop the knowledge of the company. Leaders must care for, nurture, and sustain the culture. They must rediscover their child-like imagination, find their passion, surprise people, and be a little unorthodox.

Guiding Strategies for Enhancing Creativity at Work

Strategies for Enhancing Creativity at Work Here are some strategies to guide the creative leader:

  • Nurture creativity from the top down and bottom up by finding champions in the ranks of junior positions and senior executives.
  • Encourage “skinned knees” by developing a risk-tolerant culture that values the mindset of creativity and rewards both behavior and results.
  • Enact intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for creativity that value the balance of knowledge and imagination.
  • Redesign structures to allow for free flow of ideas. Divisions often work differently from one another. Create venture groups, autonomous communities, and flexible innovation processes.
  • Allow employees to venture out and learn about the world they serve. Many innovations fail because people don’t understand the customer.
  • Create new ways of learning and reward it. Jack Welch says, “You raise the collective intellect by learning, sharing learning, and acting on that learning.”
  • Increase accountability and recognition for breakthrough ideas that create new sources of growth.
  • Create a new language for creativity that infuses the culture with fresh, simple, goal-focused vernacular.
  • Walk the talk. Deliver on the vision and promises through committed action. Redesign performance measurement and talent management in line with innovation.
  • Surprise people. Do new things in new ways and be curious, energetic, passionate, and open-minded. Use this research as the basis for highly focused idea-generation sessions.

The most creative companies aren’t always the cutest companies. Creativity does not equal whimsy—or any other idiosyncrasy of the extinct dot-com cultures. Fun is an important part of it; people can’t be inspired when they’re bored in tedium. Yet creativity is so much more. In fact, it’s really hard work. The common thread is that inspiration strikes people in different ways at different, and often unexpected, times.

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100 Best Business Books of All Time

Following years of reading, appraising, and retailing business books, 800-CEO-READ creator Jack Covert, ex-president Todd Sattersten, and present general manager Sally Haldorson have selected and appraised the one hundred greatest business titles of all time—the ones that dispense the biggest payoff for today’s occupied readers. It’s a great list, and in the vein of all lists, bound by argument and long-windedness about what is and isn’t contained in this list. Each book gets a couple of pages of outline handling.

Best Business Books on Improving Your Life

Best Business Books on Leadership

Best Business Books on Strategy

Best Business Books on Sales and Marketing

Best Business Books on Economics and Metrics

Best Business Books on Management

Best Business Biographies

Best Business Books on Entrepreneurship

Best Narratives of Fortune and Failure

Best Business Books on Innovation and Creativity

Best Books on Big Ideas About the Future of Business

Best Business Books on Management and Leadership Lessons

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Vincent van Gogh’s First Sunday Sermon

Vincent van Gogh: Christian Missionary, Evangelist, and Visionary Painter

Vincent van Gogh Christian Missionary, Evangelist, and Visionary Painter It is difficult to comprehend the disastrous undertones of Vincent van Gogh’s lifespan and to attach the power and beauty of his work with his lethal decline into insanity and suicide. The eldest son of devout Christian parents, Van Gogh sensed a sense of familial responsibility to what he supposed were their hopes for his life.

First-time readers of Van Gogh’s letters are frequently registered by the fact that their originator possessed a keen spiritual kindliness from his earliest days— undeniably, that his initial occupational predispositions were concerning the life of missionary and evangelist.

Painting did not become his main enthusiasm until, at age 27, his discharge from the missionary society, under whose patronages he had labored, obligated him to seek another means of expression for his spiritual zeal.

In addition to his official duties at the school, Van Gogh ostensibly felt a strong responsibility to comprise himself with the local church congregations. Armed with the self-confidence that regularly comes with practice, he started to teach and to give a sermon, and the letters to his brother Theo are abounding with biblical citation and insinuation. In a heart rendering letter to Theo, Vincent wrote,

It certainly is a strange phenomenon that all artists, poets, musicians, painters, are unfortunate in material things- the happy ones as well-what you said lately about Guy de Maupassant is fresh proof of it. That brings up again the eternal question: Is the whole life visible to us, or isn’t it rather that this side of death we see only one hemisphere? Painters-to take them alone-dead and buried speak to the next generation or to several succeeding generations through their work. Is that all, or is there more to come? Perhaps death is not the hardest thing in a painter’s life. For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it, but looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. One thing undoubtedly true in this reasoning is that we cannot get to a star while we are alive, any more than we can take the train when we are dead. So to me it seems possible that cholera, gravel, tuberculosis and cancer are the celestial means of locomotion, just as steamboats, buses and railways are the terrestrial means. To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.

Vincent’s conception of an “almost smiling” death reflected his fervent faith in rebirth and immortality—an idea that found early articulation in his sermon: “there is not death and no sorrow that is not mixed with hope—no despair—there is only a constantly being born again.” Vincent sought an identification with his father, and chose the profession of his father, a profession in which he could bring God close to mankind. He just wanted to be active in the profession of his father. He went to live with his uncle in Amsterdam, with the purpose of learning Latin and Greek and to prepare for the State examination. In the intervening time, he became anti-social due to all of his piousness. He composed sermons, went to church six or seven times on Sundays, and even visited the synagogue.

Insofar as it was probable to become a missionary in a very short time at the Borinage in Brussels, he decided to go there. But now, at a time when he had tumbled deeper than ever before into the well of self-absorption, he found in it a new treasure: he began to draw again, and now with his whole soul.

  • “You know that I go to the Methodist Chapel … every Monday night. Last night I spoke a few words on the subject ‘Nothing pleaseth me but in Jesus Christ, and in Him everything pleaseth me.'”
  • “Last Monday I was again at Richmond, and my subject was “He has sent me to preach the Gospel to the poorest but whoever wants to preach the Gospel must carry it in his own heart first. Oh! may I find it, for it is only the word spoken in earnestness and from the fullness of the heart that can bear fruit.”
  • “It is a delightful thought that in the future wherever I go, I shall preach the Gospel; to do that well, one must have the Gospel in one’s heart. May the Lord give it to me.”
  • “How difficult life must be if not strengthened and comforted by faith.”
  • “Theo, woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel- if I did not aim at that and possess faith and hope in Christ, it would be bad for me indeed; but now I have some courage.”

Vincent van Gogh’s First Sunday Sermon: 29-Oct-1876: “I Am a Stranger on the Earth”

Vincent Van Gogh's First Sunday Sermon Psalm 119:19: I am a stranger on the earth, hide not Thy commandments from me. It is an old belief and it is a good belief, that our life is a pilgrim’s progress—that we are strangers on the earth, but that though this be so, yet we are not alone for our Father is with us. We are pilgrims, our life is a long walk or journey from earth to Heaven.

The beginning of this life is this: there is only one who remembereth no more her sorrow and her anguish for joy that a man is horn into the world. She is our Mother. The end of our pilgrimage is the entering in Our Father’s house, where are many mansions, where He has gone before us to prepare a place for us. The end of this life is what we call death—it is an hour in which words are spoken, things are seen and felt, that are kept in the secret chambers of the hearts of those who stand by, —it is so that all of us have such things in our hearts or forebodings of such things. There is sorrow in the hour when a man is born into the world, but also joy, deep and unspeakable, thankfulness so great that it reaches the highest heavens. Yes the Angels of God, they smile, they hope and they rejoice when a man is born in the world. There is sorrow in the hour of death, but there is also joy unspeakable when it is the hour of death of one who has fought a good fight. There is one who has said: I am the resurrection and the life, if any man believe in Me though he were dead, yet shall he live. There was an apostle who heard a voice from heaven saying: Blessed are they that die in the Lord, for they rest from their labour and their works follow them. There is joy when a man is born in the world, but there is greater joy when a spirit has passed through great tribulation, when an angel is born in Heaven. Sorrow is better than joy—and even in mirth the heart is sad—and it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasts, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. Our nature is sorrowful, but for those who have learnt and are learning to look at Jesus Christ there is always reason to rejoice. It is a good word that of St. Paul: as being sorrowful yet always rejoicing. For those who believe in Jesus Christ, there is no death or sorrow that is not mixed with hope—no despair—there is only a constantly being born again, a constantly going from darkness into light. They do not mourn as those who have no hope—Christian Faith makes life to evergreen life.

We are pilgrims on the earth and strangers—we come from afar and we are going far. -The journey of our life goes from the loving breast of our Mother on earth to the arms of our Father in heaven. Everything on earth changes—we have no abiding city here—it is the experience of everybody. That it is God’s will that we should part with what is dearest on earth—we ourselves change in many respects, we are not what we once were, we shall not remain what we are now. From infancy we grow up to boys and girls—young men and women—and if God spares us and helps us, to husbands and wives, Fathers and Mothers in our turn, and then, slowly but surely the face that once had the early dew of morning, gets its wrinkles, the eyes that once beamed with youth and gladness speak of a sincere deep and earnest sadness, though they may keep the fire of Faith, Hope and Charity—though they may beam with God’s spirit. The hair turns grey or we lose it-ah-indeed we only pass through the earth, we only pass through life, we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. The world passes and all its glory. Let our later days be nearer to Thee, and therefore better than these.

Yet we may not live on casually hour by hour—no we have a strife to strive and a fight to fight. What is it we must do: we must love God with all our strength, with all our might, with all our soul, we must love our neighbours as ourselves. These two commandments we must keep, and if we follow after these, if we are devoted to this, we are not alone, for our Father in Heaven is with us, helps us and guides us, gives us strength day by day, hour by hour, and so we can do all things through Christ who gives us might. We are strangers on the earth, hide not Thy commandments from us. Open Thou our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of Thy law. Teach us to do Thy will and influence our hearts that the love of Christ may constrain us and that we may be brought to do what we must do to be saved.

On the road from earth to Heaven
Do Thou guide us with Thine eye;
We are weak but Thou art mighty,
Hold us with Thy powerful hand.

Our life, we might compare it with a journey, we go from the place where we were born to a far-off haven. Our earlier life might be compared to sailing on a river, but very soon the waves become higher, the wind more violent, we are at sea almost before we are aware of it—and the prayer from the heart ariseth to God: Protect me 0 God, for my bark is so small and Thy sea is so great. The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, its tides and its depths; it has its pearls too. The heart that seeks for God and for a Godly life has more storms than any other. Let us see how a Psalmist describes a storm at sea. He must have felt the storm in his heart to describe it so. We read in the io7th Psalm: They that go down to the sea in ships that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. For He commandeth and raiseth up a stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to Heaven, they go down again to the depth, their soul melteth in them because of their trouble. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.

He bringeth them into their desired haven.

Do we not feel this sometimes on the sea of our lives?

Does not every one of you feel with me the storms of life or their forebodings or their recollections?

And now let us read a description of another storm at sea in the New Testament, as we find it in the VIth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John in the i7th to the 21st verse. “And the disciples entered into a ship and went over the sea towards Capernaum. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five-and-twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea and drawing nigh unto the ship and they were afraid. Then they willingly received Him into the ship and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.” You who have experienced the great storms of life, you over whom all the waves and all the billows of the Lord have gone—have you not heard, when your heart failed for fear, the beloved well-known voice with something in its tone that reminded you of the voice that charmed your childhood—the voice of Him whose name is Saviour and Prince of Peace, saying as it were to you personally, mind to you personally: “It is I, be not afraid.” Fear not. Let not your heart be troubled. And we whose lives have been calm up till now, calm in comparison of what others have felt—let us not fear the storms of life, amidst the high waves of the sea and under the grey clouds of the sky we shall see Him approaching, for whom we have so often longed and watched, Him we need so—and we shall hear His voice: It is I, be not afraid. And if after an hour or season of anguish or distress or great difficulty or pain or sorrow we hear Him ask us: “Dost thou love me?” Then let us say: Lord Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee. And let us keep that heart full of the love of Christ and may from thence issue a life which the love of Christ constraineth, Lord Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee; when we look back on our past we feel sometimes as if we did love Thee, for whatsoever we have loved, we loved in Thy name.

Have we not often felt as a widow and an orphan—in joy and prosperity as well and even more than under grief—because of the thought of Thee.

Truly our soul waiteth for Thee more than they that watch for the morning, our eyes are up unto Thee, 0 Thou who dwellest in Heaven. In our days too there can be such a thing as seeking the Lord.

What is it we ask of God—is it a great thing? Yes, it is a great thing, peace for the ground of our heart, rest for our soul—give us that one thing and then we want not much more, then we can do without many things, then can we suffer great things for Thy name’s sake. We want to know that we are Thine and that Thou art ours, we want to be Thine—to be Christians—we want a Father, a Father’s love and a Father’s approval. May the experience of life make our eye single and fix it on Thee. May we grow better as we go on in life. We have spoken of the storms on the journey of life, but now let us speak of the calms and joys of Christian life. And yet, my dear friends, let us rather cling to the seasons of difficulty and work and sorrow, for the calms are often treacherous. The heart has its storms, has its seasons of drooping but also its calms and even its times of exaltation. There is a time of sighing and of praying, but there is also a time of answer to prayer. Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.

The heart that is fainting
May grow full to overflowing
And they that behold it
Shall wonder and know not
That God at its fountains
Far off has been raining.

My peace I leave with you—we saw how there is peace even in the storm. Thanks be to God, who has given us to be born and to live in a Christian country. Has any one of us forgotten the golden hours of our early days at home, and since we left that home—for many of us have had to leave that home and to earn their living and to make their way in the world. Has He not brought us thus far, have we lacked anything, Lord we believe help Thou our unbelief. I still feel the rapture, the thrill of joy I felt when for the first time I cast a deep look in the lives of my Parents, when I felt by instinct how much they were Christians. And I still feel that feeling of eternal youth and enthusiasm wherewith I went to God, saying: “I will be a Christian too.” Are we what we dreamt we should be? No, but still the sorrows of life, the multitude of things of daily life and of daily duties, so much more numerous than we expected, the tossing to and fro in the world, they have covered it over, but it is not dead, it sleepeth. The old eternal faith and love of Christ, it may sleep in us but it is not dead and God can revive it in us. But though to be born again to eternal life, to the life of Faith, Hope and Charity, —and to an evergreen life—to the life of a Christian and a Christian workman, be a gift of God, a work of God—and of God alone, yet let us put the hand to the plough on the field of our heart, let us cast out our net once more—let us try once more. God knows the intention of the spirit. God knows us better than we know ourselves, for He made us and not we ourselves. He knows of what things we have need. He knows what is good for us. May He give us His blessing on the seed of His word, that He has sown in our hearts. God helping us, we shall get through life. With every temptation he will give a way to escape.

Father we pray Thee not that Thou shouldest take us out of the world, but we pray Thee to keep us from evil. Give us neither poverty nor riches, feed us with bread convenient for us. And let Thy songs be our delight in the houses of our pilgrimage. God of our Fathers be our God: may their people be our people, their faith our faith. We are strangers on the earth, hide not Thy commandments from us, but may the love of Christ constrain us. Entreat us not to leave Thee or refrain from following after Thee. Thy people shall be our people. Thou shalt be our God.

Our life is a pilgrim’s progress. I once saw a very beautiful picture: it was a landscape at evening. In the distance on the right-hand side a row of hills appeared blue in the evening mist. Above those hills the splendour of the sunset, the grey clouds with their linings of silver and gold and purple. The landscape is a plain or heath covered with grass and its yellow leaves, for it was in autumn. Through the landscape a road leads to a high mountain far, far away, on the top of that mountain is a city wherein the setting sun casts a glory. On the road walks a pilgrim, staff in hand. He has been walking for a good long while already and he is very tired. And now he meets a woman, or figure in black, that makes one think of St. Paul’s word: As being sorrowful yet always rejoicing. That Angel of God has been placed there to encourage the pilgrims and to answer their questions and the pilgrim asks her: Does the road go uphill then all the way?”

And the answer is: “Yes to the very end.”

And he asks again: “And will the journey take all day long?”

And the answer is: “From morn till night my friend.”

And the pilgrim goes on sorrowful yet always rejoicing—sorrowful because it is so far off and the road so long. Hopeful as he looks up to the eternal city far away, resplendent in the evening glow and he thinks of two old sayings that he heard long ago—the one is:

“Much strife must be striven
Much suffering must be suffered
Much prayer must be prayed
And then the end will be peace.”

And the other is

“The water comes up to the lips
But higher comes it not.”

And he says: I shall be more and more tired but also nearer and nearer to Thee. Has not man a strife on earth? But there is a consolation from God in this life. An Angel of God comforting man—that is the Angel of Charity. Let us not forget her. And when each of us goes back to the daily things and daily duties let us not forget that things are not what they seem, that God by the things of daily life teacheth us higher things, that our life is a pilgrim’s progress, and that we are strangers on the earth, but that we have a God and father who preserveth strangers, —and that we are all brethren.

Amen.

And now the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us forever more.

Amen.

Reading: Psalm XCI.

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