Tag Archives: Housley Principled Leadership Program

Gratitude

21 Apr

We wrapped up the Stelos Alliance’s spring session of the Housley Principled Leadership Program yesterday on the fourth anniversary of Kevin’s death. This scheduling coincidence made the gratitude offered by the students a perfect tribute to our departed friend. The lessons learned in “Housley” memorialize a great man and set extraordinary young leaders on a learning path that will last a lifetime.

The topic of the final session is, “Service: Choice or Obligation?” This is a conversation about what we as citizens owe to our country. Is there something required beyond lawful behavior and paying taxes? Since it has now been two generations since we last had conscripted military service in the United States, even defense feels like a remote responsibility. How then do young citizens acknowledge the advantages bestowed upon them by their heritage? Is there a debt that is due to our patrimony and, if so, how and to whom should it be repaid? These are questions for us all to consider.

While we talked about the changing national ethos regarding service to country we concluded that the benefits that accrue to the giver are substantial and that systematically uniting the privilege of citizenship with responsibility is essential to preserving the long-term health of the republic. The students in the Housley program can articulate the benefits of being raised in the best country on earth. Far from being needy and narcissistic, these student leaders are prepared to dedicate themselves to serving their country and setting an example for their peers.

This is something that would make our friend, Kevin Housley, very proud. He offered himself to the community in numerous official roles and to the country in countless other capacities. He lived by the principles that we teach in the program. As the HPLP instructor and giver in this instance, I can positively proclaim that I benefit at least as much as the students. This goes well beyond the satisfaction of hearing their voiced appreciation. I learn from teaching, and it is making me a better leader. The program is both a gift from and a tribute to my good friend. It seems like yesterday that we gathered in the church to say goodbye. After four years I still miss him very much. I offer my gratitude.

Stumbling on Happiness

26 Mar

Why would someone remember fondly the day they went fishing in 28 degree weather with a broken hand and diarrhea? Well, we caught a bunch of fish and had a lot of fun. I remember being very happy.

We took a little detour this past week during the Housley Principled Leadership Program session and spent three hours talking about happiness, contentment, fulfillment, and life satisfaction. Since all of the program participants are planning to become titans in whatever field they choose to pursue, we though it made sense to think about where all of this striving is really going to take us. No one wants to wake up in their fifties and wonder what the hell they have been doing for the past thirty years.

If we are going to follow the instructions of our forefathers and pursue happiness, then we should spend a little time defining it and exploring how to get it. Money seemed to be a big factor in most students’ assessment of what will make them happy, but the evidence says otherwise. Once our basic needs for shelter, sustenance, security and stability are met, more money doesn’t seem to increase our day-to-day contentment (but we did determine that it can buy toys, freedom, experiences and “life satisfaction”.)

The real problem with happiness is that human beings are horrible at judging the things that will make them happy in the future. Using research found in one of my favorite books, Stumbling on Happiness, by Harvard psychology professor, Daniel Gilbert, we looked at the reasons why we are often unable to predict what will make us happy.

First, humans use past experiences to forecast happiness, but our memories do not serve us well. Our brains remember the good stuff and tend to forget or gloss over the bad (like my fishing experience.) Second, the way we feel in the present affects the predictions we make about the future. Anyone who has ever been grocery shopping on an empty stomach can attest to that. Lastly, we have a tendency to significantly overestimate the impact future events will have on our happiness – both positive and negative. The phrase, “I would be eternally happy if only ______” is almost never true even if “it” happens. The same is true for our ability to deal with tragedy and manufacture happiness afterwards.

I highly recommend reading the book and asking yourself – with the benefit of understanding the inner workings of your brain – whether those things you are striving for are really going to make you happy. The answer may lead you down a completely different path where you may stumble upon some happiness of you own.

You, Inc.

9 Feb

The title of this week’s Housley Principled Leadership Program session is “You, Inc.”

We are identifying and sharing the qualities or attributes that we respect in others. These characteristics are most likely the building blocks of the person that we each aspire to be. Using the metaphor of a brand, we will explore the need to ensure consistency between our behaviors and the promise our personal brand represents.

In an effort to gain a better awareness of myself, I have been contemplating the list of characteristics I respect in others. This has been tremendously helpful in understanding my own reactions toward the people in my life. My short list of most admired qualities includes a tremendous work ethic, reliability, competency, fearlessness, and social engagement. I also like people that are funny, humble, adventurous, positive, curious, and respect themselves.

Each of these attributes has its own story and I can’t yet claim that they represent my personal brand promise, but I am proactively attempting to live up to these descriptions. My hope is that one day my colleagues will describe me using all of these words…even humble (but then, hey, almost nobody’s perfect.)

Abundance

2 Feb

Abundance is a great word and an even better mindset. Preparing for Session Two of the Stelos Alliance’s Housley Principled Leadership Program is providing me with the opportunity to relearn some timeless lessons and reassess my approach to leadership.

This session is titled, “The Attributes of Effective Leadership” and covers a lot of ground including proactivity, integrity, empathy, prioritization, interdependence, and understanding your personal mission. These are all important characteristics of a good leader; however, I believe that the most important is the attitude of abundance.

Those that believe that life is a zero-sum game are limiting not only their leadership effectiveness, but also their success. An abundance mentality creates a framework for human interaction. Seeking alternative solutions that create a “win” for all parties is hard work that requires both empathy and creativity.

This is not about being “nice” or compromising your principles. It is not about settling or giving in. It is about balancing courage and toughness with consideration and understanding. You can’t do that if you think that someone else has to lose in order for you to win. There is enough pie for everybody and by working together we can find a way to make it bigger…and it will probably taste better.

Know Thyself

27 Jan

Today we launched the second edition of the Stelos Alliance’s principled leadership program delivered in memory of our good friend Kevin Housley. The program is designed to give talented young people the opportunity to learn more about themselves and what it takes to influence others to action through principled leadership practices. The curriculum launches twenty-four super star students on a journey toward a life of consequence. Their goal is not just to lead, but to matter.

Session One is all about self-awareness. How many of us find ourselves well into adulthood without a true understanding of what motivates us, our attitude toward life, or how we are perceived by others? Human beings are terrible judges of what will make us happy and mild to moderate delusions help most of us get through our days of chasing elusive goals that are not really that important. The gift of honest introspection must be cultivated by the principled leader. If you have been to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, then you know that this is ancient wisdom (you also know that it is one hell of a hike up). One of the inscriptions on the temple wall says simply, “Know Thyself.” Wise old Greeks.

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