More Jackson County Opinions...

MAY 26, 2004


By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
May 26, 2004

Grade ‘em on their dedication
Now we know who they are.
So I guess, maybe, it is time to pull the shoebox off the shelf and dig out some of this old follower’s observations about leaders and leadership.
I say “guess” and “maybe” because this old follower is never sure about anything. Certainly not where he is going with this epistle, a.k.a. diatribe and tirade. Only a superficial, egotistical, arrogant leader knows he is always on the right track. Absolutely. Without a doubt. I wish more of them could admit they are wrong occasionally.
By what authority do I write this stuff, you ask? Look, if 80 years of playing Follow the Leader doesn’t qualify me to comment on leadership, I am more stupid than you think I am.
I need to go back up there and delete the word “playing.” It has not always been fun and games. Sometimes it has been pure agony.
You know, of course, who they are: candidates for political office in city, county, state and national elections. And I guess somebody, somewhere in the wider world, is running for something. Wonder how the campaign in Iraq is going?
You think I’m cynical? Hey, what do you expect? After a lifetime of following a multitude of leaders, you’d expect conditions to get better. I honestly don’t believe that has happened. Sure, we are more affluent and have bigger houses and cars and more toys. But better? I don’t think so.
OK, so I am a pessimistic follower. I’ll have you know I’m also optimistic. (Does that qualify as a conflict?) While the nation and its people are down right now, they will rebound. They always have.
Mike wanted to know where all the leaders are, and I told him they are out there. There’s another Harry Truman waiting in the wings.
You know what I liked about President Truman? “The buck stops here.” He accepted responsibility. And he lambasted the music critics who said his daughter Margaret couldn’t play the piano. The leader who doesn’t stand up for his kids doesn’t get my vote.
Speaking of vote, how do you think our elected officials got where they are? It’s the vote, stupid! We put ‘em there. Some of us did, anyway. And we have a right to hold them accountable.
All of those “citizens” who didn’t vote (and that’s most Americans; they don’t even qualify as followers) ought to be horse whipped if they even think about complaining.
Why am I beginning to feel guilty? It’s not because I want to whip somebody. Oh, I know: It’s because I’m letting a lot of good leaders down. I may not be happy with government right now, and I’m not completely happy with myself. (Does that fit the definition of conflict?) However, I am trying to be a better man than I was when I reached the proverbial 21 sixty years ago. If I am not making any progress, an awful lot of good leaders wasted an awful lot of good leadership on me.
Everything I have is a gift from God. And I am indebted to Him and a lot of His children for what and who I am. I’m thinking of four grandparents, two parents, two wives, four kids, five grandkids, an untold number of teachers and preachers, and a host of friends who love me – not if, not because — but anyhow. And you know what? I’ll throw some politicians in there, too. They aren’t all bad. Far from it. See, I’m not all that cynical, after all.
You may think it odd that I included the grandkids among my influential leaders. But didn’t I read somewhere that “a little child shall lead them?” Maybe we should give ‘em a chance — if not to lead us, then to teach us.
I started out to share with you some of the observations I’ve jotted down over the years about leadership. The shoebox is off the shelf, but I haven’t started digging yet. All I’ve done is run around in circles. I told you I didn’t know where I was going with this. Typical follower.
I promise to do better, starting a little later in this epistle and continuing next week. We’ll look at some attributes I’ve seen in good leaders and wish I had seen in some bad ones.
We know who the candidates are. What say we work up a scorecard, and as I mention a leadership quality, let’s grade each candidate, 1 to 10, and on Election Day vote for the one with the highest score.
If you adopt this system, be aware that you are treading on shaky ground. As I’ve said over and over, I am a follower, not a leader. If you are a follower following a follower, it’s sort of like the blind leading the blind. Perhaps you should look to a leader you trust. Surely there’s one out there somewhere.
Now, let’s look in this old follower’s shoebox.
By all odds, the first attribute of a leader is a sense of dedication. A genuine leader is such in spirit, not just in mind and body. He (or she) may or may not have the gifts to achieve greatness, but he will try. And try with everything that’s in him — days, nights, Sundays, Christmas. . .whatever it takes.
He will never give up trying, and will get a great thrill out of the effort. He will out-work, out-sacrifice — and hence usually out-do — the ordinary persons around him, some of whom have a lot more talent than he does.
There is an urgency about a leader’s sense of dedication. With her (or him) it is a calling. And the calling, simply stated, is to help people. She realizes she was elected to serve, not to be served, to love, not to be loved.
Miracle of miracles, she ends up being served, being loved — not because she sought it from others, but because she gave it to others.
As Election Day approaches, listen to the candidates. Read their ads. Get to know them.
Do they seem genuinely dedicated? Are they more interested in serving than being served? Are they more interested in giving than getting? Are they in it for themselves, or others?
Grade ‘em on their dedication, 1 to 10. If there are any 10s on your list, congratulations. Vote for them. Then be a good follower.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
May 26, 2004

Finally, Time To Go Fishing
As of August, I’ll be done with the class work for my two master’s degrees. I’m taking my last class this summer, and most of it will be delivered online, so that I only have to drive to Atlanta twice: once to learn how to log-in to the class chat room, and once a couple months later to take the in person final.
I am most excited about this development because it means that my long hiatus from fishing will be over. That’s of course coupled with the joy in knowing that at least one of my sons is old enough to wield a fishing rod as though it were a sword. We will get around to the use of actual hooks soon enough.
First, I’ve got to get him in that canoe that from disuse has become a regular science experiment full of cobwebs, the attendant spiders, and some many-legged creatures that I’m not sure have been officially discovered yet. When he was born, his mother and I agreed that when our oldest son turns 3, he can get in a canoe on flat still stuff or at most very slow moving water.
Now that he’s finally 3, she insists the agreement was 5, but he’s got a life jacket, and he’s been on motorboats in the ocean, so I’m not sure what the big deal is. If he stands up or starts acting up, I can just tell him to sit down and behave or the hungry alligators that prefer blonde headed boys for appetizers will get him.
As someone who for the next few years at least has a handle on what motivates his progeny, I’m confident this approach will work. I realize that a side effect of resorting to the crocodilian tactic might be that he won’t willingly get on the water again until he’s 5, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Either way, there’s going to be some fishing this fall, and I’m going to take part. I’ve been once or twice a year for the past three years I’ve been in school, but I’ve had such poor luck every time, that I don’t really count those outings. Just about the time I start getting the casts right, just about the time I figure out what they’re taking, my boat turns into a pumpkin and I’ve got to wait another six or eight months to get back on the water.
As it is, I’ll have to get out all my neglected gear, go through my flies and make sure the barbs aren’t rusted off. I’ll have to clean my lines, and maybe even replace a few things. Somehow, though, I think I’ll manage.
I don’t even have to have any record-setting, fish-tale-worthy days. If I can hook into a few, fight a few, and land a few, even out of many (many) hours on the water, I’ll be a happy man. This fall, the full benefits of delayed gratification will be more than something on the far off horizon, like it’s been for the last few years. And best of all, when interested people ask the question, “What did you do with your MBA? What did you do with your MHA?” I can tell them, “I finally went fishing.”

Oscar Weinmeister is assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.
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