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Memorial Day: A Day of Leadership and Sacrifice

Posted on July 1, 2016 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (2)

Memorial Day: A Day of Leadership and Sacrifice

---by Rev. V. Jesse Smith

Today, we pause from our daily activities to pay homage, respect and appreciation to members of the Armed Services who demonstrated the greatest characteristic and aspect of leadership--sacrifice. These leaders sacrificed their lives in order that you and I can enjoy the freedoms we cherish today. The true essence and character of a leader is what he or she is willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.

 

The word “sacrifice” means to give up something which belongs to you willing. Members of our military have exhibited over and over again that they are willing to give up their lives for the benefit of all Americans to live under their blanket of justice, freedom and equality in the United States.

 

Because of their commitment to America; their discipline in one of the four branches of our military; their faith and hope in God; their leadership in foreign and enemy lands; and their vision to see a world free of terrorism and dictatorship, we, in the United States, have the ability to enjoy the liberties we so often take for granted, and liberties for which so many men and women of the Armed Services died. Seldom do we realize that the joy and freedoms we embrace in America are the benefits which our military men and women fight to keep in place every day of the year.

 

So today, I write this short essay just to say to every military soldier, past and present, to every veteran, past and present, to every family member who suffered the loss of a loved one abroad or at home, thank you for your leadership and your sacrifice. Thank you for your sacrifice and willingness to die on the battlefields of our enemies in foreign and enemy lands; thank you for suffering an injury on a member of your body in defense of our freedom; thank you for the exemplary leadership you conveyed in bringing to justice one of the greatest enemy in the world today—Osama Bin Laden. Thank you for sacrificing your family to leave and go abroad to protect our freedom at home; thank you for being willing to go to countries who are in need of financial and physical aid on behalf of all of us in the United States; thank you for making America the most powerful nation in the world.

 

Because of who you are and what you do, you allow us to be all that we can be in one of the greatest nations ever to exist in the world—the United States of America.

 

Thank you men and women of the Armed Services for your leadership and sacrifice on this blessed, sacred and honorable Memorial Day.

 

Remember, “Experience shapes your leadership, until your leadership is developed to shape your experience.”

 

7 Ways Leaders Deal with Difficult People

Posted on September 13, 2015 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

7 WAYS LEADERS DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE

- By Rev. V. Jesse Smith

Is there someone in your life that just gets on your last nerve? Do you have an employee who if they never came back to work, it would just make your day and be worth the profit loss? Have you experienced working with a supervisor, director, manager or boss who, if you asked him a question related to your job, you wish you would have never asked because their attitude stink in the nostrils of civilized people? If you said “YES” to any of the aforementioned, then this article is especially for you.

As leaders, we are called to grapple with this challenge of dealing with difficult people every day. Difficult people have the ability of getting underneath our skin and disrupting our whole day, if we allow them. Difficult people carry with them so much negative energy that “if they went into a dark room, they would develop,” said motivational speaker, Les Brown.

Unless you as a leader discover a way to deal with difficult people in your life, you will end up being a miserable leader, a miserable person and living a miserable life.

As leaders in our chosen field of genre, we are challenged to deal with difficult people every day, and still provide vision, passion and leadership to those we lead. Here are a couple of ways to deal with difficult people as a leader:

1) Have the Right Attitude: There is a favorite passage in Scripture which reads “The enemy walks around like a roaring lion seeking to find whom he may devour.” Difficult people are constantly scoping to see what can they do to get on your last nerve? They want to know your weak spot. Their thinking is “What can I say or do to piss you off?” They feed off of negativity and love causing conflict.

As a leader, your approach to dealing with difficult people must always be to have the right attitude. Having the right attitude means that you have already identified this person as needing negative energy to survive and you have made up in your mind you will not allow this person to feed off of you.

The right attitude means that you will not allow difficult people to have such an influence on you that you now become one of them. Leaders with the right attitude say to themselves “I know who I am about to deal with, therefore, I am going to rise above their narrow thinking and stay focused on the goal and task at hand.”

A leader with the right attitude—and who knows how and when to use this attitude— will be so victorious that it will frustrate the person being difficult and either force him out of your life, or make him so jealous of you that he will devise his own demise. If a tick has no blood on which to suck, it will inevitably die. Likewise, if a difficult person has no negative energy on which to thrive, his presence will inevitably be eviscerated.

2) Acknowledge their Presence: Many people believe the best way to deal with difficult people is to ignore them and they will leave. But this kind of thinking is illogical. Such thinking is tantamount to having roaches in your house and ignoring them with the belief that eventually they will stop permeating. To stop roaches from permeating in your home, you have to first acknowledge that you have a roach problem. Ignoring the problem will never make the problem go away.

Leadership requires that you act when you see a problem, not that you ignore it so it can fester. Difficult people should not be ignored, but acknowledged. My favorite book says, “Resist not evil, but overcome evil with good.”

When I was over a prestigious organization in New York, I had a difficult person who served on my staff that was just a thorn in my side. While I could have easily ignored him and went on about my business, I decided to especially acknowledge him at staff meetings. When he came up with an idea, I gave him the assignment to execute it and report back to the staff the progress of the assignment. What did this do for me?

First, it put the spot light on him in front of the entire staff. It showed either that he was a bright guy and had a gift to share with others, or that he was touched in the head, and would shun into oblivion by his co-workers never to become problematic again. The latter worked.

As a leader, don’t allow the difficult person to fester in your midst. Acknowledge the problem and deal with him. By allowing him to fester in your organization, he has the capability of destroying the morale of your team and clouding the vision of your business, organization or group.

3) Have the “COME TO JESUS” talk: I used to think having to tell someone he was fired was the most difficult talk or conversation to have with someone. However, with the advent of The Apprentice Show (NBC Television) and Donald Trump’s notable words “YOU’RE FIRED,” being fired has become an acceptable and anticipated conversation.

I have since come to learn that the most difficult conversation to have is a conversation with a difficult person. What makes this conversation so difficult is that often the difficult person does not know he or she is difficult.

A significant number of difficult people don’t believe they are difficult to deal with because they have convinced themselves that their way is right, or that this is just the way they were born, and everybody else needs to get use to it and accept them. I am sure you have heard them say many times “Look, this is just who I am…I am not going to change…”

As a leader, don’t fall for this nonsense. You do not have to be a “doorstep” for anybody. At some point, you will need to have a conversation with the person that is real, raw and honest.

I call this conversation the “COME TO JESUS TALK.” Jesus was very honest, raw and real when he had conversations with the religious leaders (difficult people) of his day. He taught his Disciples when speaking with difficult people to be “Wise like serpents, but harmless as doves.”

The COME TO JESUS talk with difficult people means that you really express how much of an irritant this person has become in your life; you explain to the person what actions they exhibit that literally drive you crazy; you clearly articulate specific examples of how this person has become problematic to you, your business or organization.

It is not an easy talk, but it is one which must be had in order for you to keep your sanity. Keep in mind that as you express these concerns to the person, you must keep your mind open for their feedback. They may not realize what they did to you was annoying you and making them difficult to get along with you. I doubt this very much, but you never know. In short, have the COME TO JESUS talk and then let divine law take over.

4) Don’t become Confrontational: Negativity feeds off of negativity. Don’t get into an argument or confrontation with difficult people. This is exactly what they are looking for. I often look at them as though they are crazy and exhibiting irrational behavior. When you don’t argue with them, then they don’t know how to handle you or the situation, and embarrassment kicks-in, which in turn, kicks them out. Now, that’s leadership at its best.

Difficult people do things with the motive of making sure you become confrontational. The best way to handle that is to NEVER become confrontational. As a leader, not becoming confrontational means being cognizant of the language a leader uses when dealing with difficult people. Refrain from using language such as “You know better… I told you…that doesn’t make any sense…why should you be in the meeting…etc. Such language only serves as fuel for an all-ready hot boiling situation.

Instead, approach it from the stand point of using language which entices them to your way of thinking and brings their defenses down. For example, use language similar to “I understand your point, however…or…good point David, may I suggest another way of approaching this issue…or...that’s an interesting perspective, let me think on it and get back to you by end of week…” This approach allows them to see that you are at least acknowledging their point of view and you are not just knocking it down or ignoring it. They are looking for a fight, but don’t give it to them.

5) Put Things in Proper Perspective: Understand that as a leader, people are in your life for a reason. They are there to serve a purpose. You may not understand what that purpose is right now, but as a leader, it is ultimately your job to discover what it is. The difficult person may be in your life to show you that as a leader, you have to work on your inability to be patient with people. It may be to reveal your lack of tolerance for people; it may be to show that you need to discipline yourself and become more of an active listener rather than always a speaker.

As a leader, you have to put things in proper perspective. The Apostle Paul in the Bible declared that he had a thorn in his side which he prayed to God 3 times to remove, but God did not do so. Paul realized the thorn was in his side for the purpose of keeping him grounded and not arrogant. Although the bible never identifies the thorn Paul had in his side, one can arguably conclude, based on the nature of Paul’s work, it was dealing with difficult people (author’s assumption). It just may be that the difficult person in your life is a thorn to keep you humble as you are catapulted into greater leadership responsibility. Keep a proper perspective.

6) Look for Common Core Agreements: Even though the person may be difficult to deal with, find something upon which you can agree with the person to lessen his resistance against you. For example, on the issue of whether the person should have been consulted before a decision was made, he might say “Who do you think you are? I should have been spoken to and allowed to have input on this project. I am just as important as anybody else in this company.” Your response might be “I agree that you are important to the company, what suggestions do you have with respect to how we can complete this assignment?” When you agree, you lessen tensions. Perhaps, this is why my favorite book says “Agree quickly with your adversary.” Therein lies the wisdom of leadership.

7) Don’t Take It Personal: Finally, leaders don’t take things personally. If you take it personal, you will become emotional and lose your vision. Even if the person wants to make it personal, always rise above their level of immaturity. In the end, they will be seen as the fool, and you will be seen as the wise. There’s a reason why Jesus called the man a “fool” in the Bible. Don’t take it personal. It’s all about leadership growth.

Conclusion: Dealing with difficult people is not an easy thing with which to grapple as a leader. Such a challenge requires patience, endurance and tolerance. Difficult people always want to put leaders on the defensive and will often play the victim mentality. As a leader, you must rise to the challenge and use these 7 principles to effectively deal with difficult people.

Good Luck.

Leadership Lessons from Occupy Wall Street Movement

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

LEADERSHIP LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM OCCUPY WALL STREET MOVEMENT

--By V. Jesse Smith

First, this article is not about agreeing or disagreeing with those who are part of Occupy Wall Street. Each of us may have our own belief on whether what they are doing is wrong or right. For the purpose of this article, it is irrelevant whether what they are doing is right or wrong. What is important, however, is looking at what they are doing on Wall Street and what is motivating them to do it; and similarly, how we can emulate what they are doing on wall street in our own individual lives to achieve our dreams and goals in life.

For nearly 6 to 7 months, the media and world have been arrested and captivated by the events of everyday people from around the country, rising up with righteous indignation, and saying in no uncertain terms that corporations and banks must pay their fair share of taxes in America while enjoying the American Dream. These everyday people have titled themselves the 99%. Their essential belief is that it is morally wrong for 1% of the population to control 99% of the wealth of the nation.

Whether we fundamentally agree or disagree with their philosophy or method, their actions can teach all of a lesson: if we dedicate ourselves to following our dreams and goals in life similar to the way they have dedicated themselves to occupying wall street, we all can achieve our individual dreams.

So what leadership lessons can we learn from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that we can apply in our own individual lives? At the outset, I think there are three (3) things we can learn from this movement. They are as follow:

1) Develop a Philosopy of Belief That Will Bring About Change:

What the Occupy Wall Street movement teaches us is that when you have a philosophy of belief that motivates you into action, then change will result from that belief. The Occupy Wall Street folks had a belief that corporations and bankers should pay their fair share taxes in America. This was their core belief. They organized, galvanized and motivated people around this fundamental philosophy of belief. This philosophy of belief motivated them to take action and occupy wall street to let the corporations and bankers know that they must pay their fair share.

So what is your philosophy of belief in achieiving your goals and following your dreams. Do you have a philospy of belief that you can be successful in life regardless of your circumstances; do you have a philosophy of belief that you deserve to be happy in life; that you deserve to be prosperous in life; that you are as smart, powerful and equally qualified to get that job that you have wanted since you were born. What is your philosophy of belief that will motivate you to change your way of thinking about life?

When you look at other people who have become successful in life you will discover that they had a fundamental philospy of belief. Tyler Perry, that great mogule of media entertainment, had a phiolosopy of belief that he could be successful at putting on plays and entertaining people and be wealthy at it. He carried this belief within in him even though he was homeless and sleeping in his car still trying to pursue his dreams and goals in life; he held on to this philosophy of belief even when he had no soles at the bottom of his shoes, yet, he kept walking and knocking on doors trying to sell his script to broadway. It was Mr. Perry’s philosophy of belief that changed the way he perceived his situation. It was his philosophy of belief in himself and the God whom he served that allowed him to reach his dreams. What is your philosophy of belief? Discover it and now then start living it.

2) Surround Yourself By Like-Minded People:

One of the most interesting thing about the Occupy Wall Street movement is the intriguing story of how that movement development. The movement was not started by a well-established Civil Rights group; it was not called into existence by some present, past or distant leader; nor was it birthed into existence because of some foreseeable terrorist act. Rather, the movement came together because of a few people, mainly youth, who got together and started camping out in front of the stock market in New York City because they were upset about the fact that big banks and corporations were not paying their fair share of taxes. Word got around about what was going on in down town New York, and people who were like-minded began to join their campaign and occupy wall street with other people. The media caught attention to this fact and began to broadcast it around the nation, and upon seeing this on television, other people joined wall street occupiers, and then like-minded people within other cities began occupying wall street in their own cities. The occupy wall street movement took flight because their were like-minded people who surrounded themselves by other like-minded people.

Success attracts success. It is just that simple. Wealthy people marry wealth people. Celebrity stars marry celebrity stars. Can you see where I am going with this? If you want to be successful in life, you must surround yourself with successful people. Dr. Dennis Kimbro once said that “if you are the smartest one in your group, then you need a new group.” This statement has never exclaimed a more profound truth. Why? As long as you are around people who know as much as you do, then you will never grow to your next level of greatness. By surrounding yourself with people on the same level as you, then you remain in mediocrity and never evolve into mastery of your life. When I was growing up, I made it my business to make sure that the circle in which I traveled were people who could challenge me, or who could take me my next level of greatness. Who are the friends that surround you? Do they push you towards your dreams? Do they encourage you to reach for the stars? Can you learn from them, or use them as resources to increase or enhance your person, business, company or community. If not, then you need a new set of friends.

3) Get Disgusted With Your Current Situation:

What proved successful for the Occupy Wall Street movement was the fact that they were fed up and disgusted about how they were living and about how banks and corporations were living. In short, they were fed up and disgusted about their condition—their current situation. They got tired of paying taxes to government where that same government allowed banks and corporations to pay either minor taxes or no taxes at all to achieve the American dream. Many of the Occupy Wall Streeters realized that the only way their condition is going to change is if they take their condition and place it right on the door steps of those who they believe was responsible for their condition. Whether what they did was right or wrong will be long debated. But, what caused them to do what they did was the fact that they were fed up and disgusted about their current conditions and wanted to change it.

It has often been said that God will never change the condition of a people until the people rise up and begin to change the condition themselves. If you are not happy with your life, then you have the power to change it. If you are not happy with the job you go to everyday, you have the power to change it. If you are not making enough money to live a comfortable life, you have the power to change it. The fact of the matter is that you will never change your condition until you become tired and disgusted of being in the condition in which you are in.

I often tell the story conveyed by Zig Ziglar in which tells us of young boy who walked to school one morning and saw a dog laying down on a porch next to an old man sitting in a rocking chair. The dog was moaning and groaning as he laid on the porch. The young boy inquired with the old as to why the dog was moaning and groaning. The old man responded that the dog was moaning and groaning because he was laying on a nail. The boy quite inquisitively responded, then why don’t the dog just get up off the nail? The old man responded because the “dog isn’t hurting enough yet.” The moral of the story is that you will never get out of the situation you are in until you have reached a point where you are hurting enough to get up and change your condition.

As long as you keep working at a job you hate, you will keep living a life of misery. As long as you keep putting off writing the book, you will keep denying yourself greatness. The question is are you hurting enough in the current situation you are in? Are you hurting enough to open up your business, or start your church? Are you hurting enough to get up and change your situation? Learn from the Ocuppy Wall Street protestors and get disgusted with your current situation and change your condition—today.

Whether we agree with protestors of Wall Street or not, there is something to learn from them about our own individual greatness. When you have a philosophy of belief in yourself which allows you to be surrounded by like-minded people, and you become disgusted with your living condition, then you will inevitably change your life for the better, and move into your next level of greatness. So let’s learn something from this event with Occupy Wall Street and achieve our individual dreams.

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About the Author: V. Jesse Smith is a national motivational speaker who conducts Leadership and Self-Improvement seminars throughout the nation encouraging people to live their dreams by improving their skills. He is the president and founder of Heights of Greatness Leadership Institute and can be reached at www.hgli.org or [email protected] (661) 992-9052.

 

3 Leadership Principles from State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

3 LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

---by V. Jesse Smith

On Monday, January 20, 2015, President Barack Obama, the leader of the free world, gave the State of the Union address to the nation. He spoke with such eloquence, conviction and professionalism. Whether you are a supporter of President Obama or not, one has to acknowledge that he represented our nation with scholarly excellence and erudite brilliance. He also gave us several universal leadership principles of which I will only highlight three (3) in this article. I believe we can apply these leadership principles in our lives. They are as follow:

1) Highlight Your Accomplishments as a Leader: As a leader, we often fail to highlight the accomplishments we achieve in our personal or professional life for fear of being arrogant, pompous and/or egotistical. However, as a leader, against traditional wisdom, it is necessary for you as a leader to highlight the accomplishments completed under your leadership. Such acknowledgment validates you as a leader, and inspires and motivates those who follow you in your business or organization. If you are a leader of an organization, highlighting the successes of the organization helps serve as a measuring your-stick of progress. It doesn’t say what you did, but it does say what “we” did under your leadership.

President Obama started his State of the Union address by reminding America that the State of our Union is strong and going well. He immediately highlighted the accomplishments that America has made under his leadership. Moreover, he highlighted specific detailed accomplishments which he believed Americans would immediately resonate with as citizens of this great country. President Obama highlighted the following:

• “Over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.”

• “Our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.”

• “Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined.”

As a leader, how well have you highlighted the accomplishments you have achieved personally and professionally? How well have you highlighted the accomplishments of your business or organization? Do your employees or staff know what they have accomplished as a company either by way of profits, services or products? When you highlight your accomplishments as a leader, people feel proud to be part of that accomplishment. President Obama by highlighting his accomplishments, citizens felt proud to be Americans and part of a leadership that was and is making America great.

2) Don’t Get Stuck on Policy: There are two kinds of leaders: transformational and transactional. A Transformational leader is a visionary leader who is unafraid to test the waters, disturb the status quo and become unconventional. On the other hand, a Transactional leader is one who maintains the status quo; who goes along to get along, and who is resistance to change and evolution.

President Obama told the nation that under his leadership, he thought it was time to change the policy that the United States had with Cuba regarding its universal embargo against Cuba. “If a policy has not worked for over fifty-years, it’s time to try something differently.” Clearly, President Obama is a transformational leader and not a transactional leader. As a transformational leader, President Obama was not afraid to test the waters with Cuba and re-establish Cuba relations with President Raul Castro. He was not afraid to disrupt the status quo. He realized that we as a nation could no longer go with the myopic view “go along to get along.”

As a leader, you have to realize that if something is not working in your life, business or organization, don’t be afraid to change and do something else. People may not understand why you are doing a change when it is against policy, but your leadership insight must give you the energy to change that policy if the policy is not accomplishing that which it was designed to do. Thus, don’t be a transactional leader, instead, be a transformational leader. A transactional leader will keep you stuck to that policy and therefore unproductive for the rest of your life.

3) Realize the Best Revenge is Massive Success: Successful leaders realize that their success attracts haters. It is unfortunate, but when you are a successful leader, you will attract people who are jealous and envious of your success. They will bad-mouth you; slander you; lie on you and portray you as unfit for leadership. How should we respond to such haters? Don’t seek revenge; just continue to be successful at what you do best. Frank Sinatra, old blue eyes, once said that “the best revenge against someone who has done you wrong is massive success.”

President Obama beautifully and skillfully proved the aforementioned leadership principle at the State of the Union address. During his magnificent speech to both Houses of Congress, President Obama stated that he “had no more elections to run.” After making this statement, the Republican side of the Congress broke out with zealous applaud as to say “we are happy you are not running again.”

However, President Obama swiftly and quite astutely responded to their applauds by stating “…that’s because I won both races.” What a Kodak moment!

The best revenge against your haters is massive success. President Obama ran for the White House two times and beat the Republicans at their own game. He did not need to get revenge against them; all he needed to do was to do what he did best—represent the American people and win the presidency for two terms.

As a leader, are you good at what you do? If you are, then don’t worry about what your enemies and haters are saying about you. Do what you do best. Don’t seek revenge on how to get back at them. Just be massively successful at what you are doing. While they may hate you on the outside, inside they desire to emulate you. Beat them down by staying motivated; beat them down by remaining disciplined; beat them down by being massively successful at what you do best.

In conclusion, President Obama illustrated three (3) principles of leadership we can all incorporate in our leadership skills. First, always be mindful to highlight your accomplishments as a leader of your life and/or the organization you represent. Secondly, be flexible in your leadership. Don’t get stuck on policy. If something in your life or organization is not working, be willing to try something different. Lastly, as long as people hate on you that means you are doing something right. As a leader, don’t seek revenge against them; just be massively successful at what you do.

Remember, “your experience shapes your leadership, until your leadership kicks in to shape your experience.”

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About the Author: V. Jesse Smith is a national motivational speaker who conducts Leadership and Self-Empowerment seminars throughout the nation encouraging people to live their dreams by improving their skills. Mr. Smith is the author of two (2) well-received books and is president and founder of Heights of Greatness Leadership Institute. Mr. Smith can be reached at [email protected] (661) 992-9052.


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