More Jackson County Opinions...

JUNE 2, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
June 2, 2004

Putting politicians to the test
And now, ladies and gentlemen, straight from Virgil’s shoebox of observations about leaders and leadership, another installment of enlightenment and wisdom. Plus a bonus: further instructions on how to grade the current crop of politicians.
Please keep in mind that this epistle is written from the perspective of a follower. Having never been a leader, I know no other perspective. However, eight decades of tagging along behind and trying to sort out the authentics and the fakes qualifies me to write this stuff. (Look up stuff)..
Last week we graded ‘em on their dedication. Now that we’ve done that, let’s check out their honesty.
Last week I said, “By all odds, the first attribute of a leader is a sense of dedication.” Several visits to the shoebox in the last few days got me to thinking. I’ve concluded that dedication is not enough. In fact, dedication can be a very dangerous thing.
To what, or to whom, are they dedicated? Is it to the good of the city, county, state or nation, or is it to “Old Self” that keeps getting in the way of leadership and service to all of us? It is not possible to be very dedicated and still be a cheat, a liar and a thief?
Dedication without honesty is worse than dead. Dedication without honesty is alive and well, and has gotten us in a mess in the past. Dedication without honesty will get us in a mess in the future. Dedication without honesty will keep us in a mess until the end of time.
The ideals, of course, are leaders who possess both qualities: dedication AND honesty. But if you can’t have both, which would you prefer, dedication OR honesty? It gets confusing, doesn’t it?
No doubt about it, choosing the right leader is a difficult and serious challenge. But for the sake of our city, county, state, nation and all people everywhere—including followers as well as leaders—it is a challenge that the vast multitude of followers must accept. Followers may not have the stuff of leadership, but we have the numbers (and there’s power in numbers) to choose those who do have the right stuff.
OK, we’ve graded them on their dedication, 1 to 10. Now let’s check out their honesty.
Make no mistake; one important attribute that brands a real leader is his standard of ethics and conduct. A real leader is fair, honest, truthful. If he presents something acclaimed to be a wonderful idea, he also tells what the drawbacks and unsolved problems are. If he makes a mistake, he corrects it He tries hard to tell the truth so far as he can discern it, regardless of personal prejudice.
Although he is dedicated and honest, a real leader should not expect everybody to agree with him on all issues. Other real leaders—and even followers, sometimes—have wonderful ideas, too.
Arguments (disagreements) are bound to happen, and sometimes the real leader wins one. But that’s not what makes him a leader. It’s his reaction afterward. Once the decision is made—whether he won or lost—the argument is over and he gets on with the job.
A real leader is no prima donna. He is not extremely sensitive, vain or undisciplined. He doesn’t wear his feelings on his sleeve. He doesn’t go around with a chip on his shoulder. He is no longer a baby. He doesn’t get off in the corner and pout. He may not forget, but he forgives. He knows that the longer he carries a grudge, the heavier it gets.
A real leader doesn’t use or try to control people. He listens to them. Over time he has learned that people respond more to how he feels about them than to what he says to them. He understands that most life-changing truth is not communicated in the media, in campaign ads and/or rallies, or in secret meetings, but person to person, face to face, heart to heart—out in the open. He doesn’t try to hide or cover up anything. He understands, perhaps from experience, that one’s sins have a way of finding one out. And perhaps he has experienced the freedom that confession and repentance brings.
If a real leader doesn’t control people (there’s a big difference between control and lead), what does he control? He controls things; things—like a schedule—don’t control him. Neither does that bugaboo, that root of evil, that love of money, control him. That rich young man did not own all that wealth; all that wealth owned him.
Remember that if your motive for running is financial gain. Some people will do anything for money, and we don’t call them leaders. Getting paid—especially if it involves cheating, lying and stealing; I don’t care how dedicated you are—doesn’t make you a leader. Whatever you’re doing—now and in the future—if you do it for money and money alone, you will, of all people, be most miserable.
Enough already! I need to quit preaching today and start looking in the shoebox for next week’s sermon.
Here’s a hint: Earlier I said the ideal leader is both dedicated and honest. OK, but what if he’s stupid? Stay tuned.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
June 2, 2004

Behavior Leads To Predictions
Our son Turner is 9 months old, and so we’ve been around him long enough to make some observations about his approach to life. With the understanding that someone his age might not continue to exhibit some of his current preferences as he grows into adulthood, we’re confident that some predictions of ours about his future choices will be correct.
At present, Turner is semi-mobile, mainly because he sees his older brother running around the house, sword in hand, and he wants to skip the crawling stage. He can crawl, but since he would rather use his feet than his knees to get somewhere, he usually ends up pulling himself around on his belly with his arms doing all the work.
Many times, this method of locomotion produces a zigzagging line between where he was and where he’s going, and he invariably stops two or three times en route to Point B to see if he can start walking right then and there. He usually examines this question by pushing up on his hands and feet and waiting to see if he will eventually be standing upright. In the meantime, a pool of drool four to five inches in diameter forms on the floor beneath his mouth.
Prediction: When he is grown, Turner’s impatience with travel delays will lead him to pick modes of transportation that will end up making his trip longer. For example, if for some reason he’s in a large city and has trouble hailing a taxi, he might notice a bus pull up nearby. Rather than wait for an empty cab, he’ll pay the mass transit fare.
Turner also finally has evidence of teeth. Two incisors are cutting through his bottom gum line, after only about six months of profuse, bucket-filling, shirt staining drool. This development unfortunately has not coincided with an interest in non-pureed food items, and so we continue to feed him mush three times a day. If we give him whipped peas, he gobbles them down, but a single squishy pea is treated with disdain and met with a yucky face. The same goes for all other food items containing anything smacking of texture.
Prediction: As an adult, Turner will be one of those people who insists on eating at restaurants that have a hamburger and fries on the menu. He will spurn and use derogatory language to describe any unfamiliar culinary treat, especially sushi.
Turner has a lot more hair than his brother had at 9 months, though it is rather wispy. We’ve had to trim the locks over his ears several times already to keep him from looking too much like Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein. He also has more of a tendency than his brother to roll over when having his diaper changed, which can be fun for the changee, but frustrating for the changer.
One trick I’ve used to keep him from rolling over in those situations is blowing in his face. Notwithstanding the shock of chronic halitosis, he really likes it, for some reason. I know this because he laughs.
Lately, he’s been zigzagging his way over to the various air-conditioning vents in our house. We’ll come in a room where we left him 30 seconds ago, and he’ll be missing, only to be discovered on his belly with his face hanging over a blowing vent, his thin hair fanning outwards and upwards, and his mouth unleashing a steady stream of drool in the opposite direction.
Prediction: Turner will prefer to drive a convertible over a car with a roof, and furthermore, the floorboards of said car will have empty bags from fast food establishments which have burgers and fries on their drive-through menus.
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.


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