Archive for September, 2011

A few days ago I wrote a post about a conversation I had when I was in the Army.  Click here for the link.  The short version is that during a lull in a training day, we were tasked to pick weeds out of a rock bed.  One of the other trainees said that they did not join the Army to pick weeds out of rock beds.  That post was generally about entitlement and the current trend of people who think they’re too good to do real work.  This post is going to be about the same conversation, but from a different perspective.

One thing that I purposefully left out of the details of this conversation is the rank of the person I was talking to.  At the time I was just a lowly Private (E2) and the complainer was a West Point cadet.  The interesting aspect of this conversation lies in the fact that this cadet was (unless something happened) on her way to becoming an officer in the Army.  She was on the road to be in charge of other people and to possibly make decisions that would put soldiers into life threatening situations.

My response to her, at the time, was that she needed to remember that day.  I told her that at some point, she would be in charge of people and she would need to know that this is how the other half lives.  I told her that soldiers were to do what they were told and that menial work is something in which most soldiers have an intimate knowledge.  I told her to remember that day when she is in charge of others.  I told her to remember it so that when she was leading people, she could do so with compassion and understanding.

Too many people lead by their position alone.  They are the boss, they tell you what to do, and make sure you do it.  They are sure to let you know, regularly, that they control your paycheck and, in turn, your life.  That is not leading. That’s just pushing.

Take over to the water cooler, minions!

If you are in charge of someone or many someones, think about how you get things done.  Do you use fear?  Do you use manipulation?  Do you make sure everyone knows you run the show, sign the checks and have all of the power?  If so, you are probably getting poor performance from your team.

On the other hand, do you spend any time figuring out the abilities, knowledge, passions and talents of those you lead?  If you spend time figuring out where people shine, you can organize your team better and get better performance from your people.  If you show your team that you care about them and their needs, talents, passions, skills and abilities, you show them that you care about them as a person and not just as an employee or volunteer.  If you make a shift in your leadership to take into account those under your care, you will be amazed at how much better your team will take care of you and the tasks at hand.

It also helps to remember how you felt when you were in their shoes, especially if you don’t have a boss anymore.  How did you like hearing your boss bark orders at you?  Do you still have a boss who treats you poorly?  If so, does that give you the excuse to do the same to your subordinates?  Pulling people along instead of pushing them around is a mindset.  People love to follow their leaders, but they generally do not enjoy being pushed by insecure or egotistical tyrants.


by Bryan Allain

I was able to get a hold of a copy of 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo before its official release, and I am excited that I got a chance to read it!  I would like to start off by saying thank you to Bryan Allain and the Killer Tribes team for allowing me to be a part of your book release.

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo is amazing.  It is a quick read, but it’s packed with helpful tips, thoughts and information.  The information is not so much about how to tweak your blog so you can get more traffic.  This book is pretty much as the title says.  It helps you hone your writing, your website and your focus to bring out the best in your blog.  This book is truly about finding your blogging mojo.  If you just want more random traffic to your blog, this is probably not the book for you, but if you want to improve your blog and pull in dedicated readers, this should be your next book.

Bryan Allain writes with humor and insight, showing that you can still have fun blogging after 10 years online.  Only having a few days to read the book, I was not able to perform all of the 31 tasks yet, but I look forward to implementing the ideas Bryan shared.  I believe it will help me to refine my writing, find my reader base and help build a stronger community through my blog.

Here is the important information for those of you looking to improve your online presence:

You can order the book on Amazon here –

You can get the book as a PDF here –

You can check out Bryan Allain’s blog here –

“I didn’t join the Army to pick weeds out of rock beds.”The words were spoken over a decade ago.  In fact, it has been almost 15 years since I heard them.  I remember the conversation well.  I was in jump school at Fort Benning, GA and there was a break in the training.  The Army doesn’t like to pay its soldiers to sit around and do nothing (especially in a training environment), so when there is a lull in legitimate work, special provisions are made.  Cleanliness is a virtue in the military, and someone has to make everything neat and tidy.  The task at hand was a simple one, and not nearly as degrading as spending an entire Saturday cleaning bathrooms.  Our task at the time was picking weeds out of a gravel bed.Sometimes we have to do things that sound stupid, or seem like a waste of time.  There are always tasks that we have to do that we just don’t want to do.  We are, inherently, selfish beings who have been told to look after number one.  We are groomed to put ourselves, our needs, our desires, above all others.  We are also told that we should bail out of any situation that does not bring us joy and pleasure.

Nobody joins the Army to pick weeds out of rock beds.  But sometimes picking weeds out of rock beds just so happens to be the assignment for the day.

This is how the Army determines success

I love to complain about things.  I’m not bragging about it, but I generally need to vent about whatever is frustrating me.  At times I can take things a little far, but I know that if I don’t say something about it, I just sit and fume about whatever the problem is.  I know I complained about picking the weeds, but there is a big difference between complaining and feeling superior to the non-enjoyable parts of work.  I did not join the army to do menial tasks in the hot, July sun but that was what I was told to do.  I was not too good for that job.

I just got back from standing behind a concession stand at an Ohio State University football game this afternoon (I like to wait a few days before I edit and post my articles for those of you wondering why you aren’t reading this on a Saturday evening or a Sunday morning) and honestly, I did not want to go and help out.  I was not being paid for it, and this was supposed to be my first Saturday to relax at home with my wife in far too many weeks.  I was asked by a very close friend of mine who needed a couple of people to fill up gaps in the team.  I reluctantly accepted and woke up way earlier than I wanted to this morning to get up to the stadium by 9am.

Once I got over myself; my lack of sleep, my lack of quality time with my wife… I was able to enjoy myself.  I may not have enjoyed running around and fetching hot dogs, waters, popcorn, pretzels and all sorts of other stuff.  I may not have liked getting up early on a Saturday.  I may not have wanted to spend eight hours away from my wife.  But you know what?  I love helping people.  That’s why I’m in ministry.  That’s why I work for a school district instead of a corporation.  That’s also why I showed up this morning.  Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, because it helps others.  Someone has to serve food to hungry football fans.  Someone has to clean the bathrooms, and yes, someone even has to pick weeds out of rock beds.