Archive for March, 2013


Does where you stand depend on where you sit?

ImageI have no idea why they even bother to broadcast “news” anymore. Seriously, if I were a mainstream journalist, I would be so embarrassed I’d go incognito. Without even turning on the sound, I can tell where a particular commentator stands.  For example, if you have a “D” after you name, I know what you are going to say, and if you have an “R”, I also know what you are going to say. Truth in reporting has been smothered out by snarky opinions and facts have been replaced with personal attacks and fabrications.

This problem is as old as man himself. It’s the old love of power versus power of love dilemma. Or as my neighbor so beautifully put it, “People don’t want to do right, they want to be right.” And therein is the true reason why leadership is so scarce. General George S. Patton said, “Congress is usually void of leadership. I don’t know that congress will ever have any leadership because they are always running for reelection.” And this type of motivation leads an individual to make all kind of policy shifts and flip flops.

Now it is perfectly acceptable (even enlightened) to change your opinion about things, but you should not change your principles. You must keep your convictions regardless of what the poll of public opinion says. We can uproot and change political parties, faiths, jobs, and relationships, but once uprooted our roots must be firmly replanted on something with sustenance. If we root in the shallow soil of wanting only to be voted “in” or promoted “up” at all costs, we won’t have deep roots and won’t be capable of producing fruit or withstanding the “violent opposition of mediocre minds” as Albert Einstein so aptly put it.

Doing the right thing has nothing to do with you personally proving yourself right. Doing the right thing has nothing to do with which side of the political aisle you sit on. Doing the right thing is about the constant application of the truth because the truth will set you free. That’s exactly why we are so confused as a country and in this endless national morass. We have put ourselves in bondage to perversion of truth and accountability and discipline in all aspects of our national existence. And until we face it, we are not going anywhere because we do not have a root structure that can sustain growth.

Leadership has nothing to do with where you sit; it has everything to do with where you stand. When I was in the military, leadership was about showing the troops how to do the right thing and living it by example. There was structure and the absolute expectations that those at the top would do the right thing, regardless of what it may cost them. They took clear, decisive action and in doing so created better soldiers who would obey and, when necessary, pay the ultimate price.

So for God’s sake, get off the party line and learn to think based on your principles. Just because you’re in one base camp doesn’t mean that the other side should jump off a cliff. 


so you think you can speak

Charlie "Tremendous" Jones doing what he does best...motivating!

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones doing what he does best…motivating!

I routinely get calls from folks looking for two things: they want me to publish or sell their books, and they want me to get them speaking gigs. My father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, was a world-renowned speaker and bestselling author. He claimed that teaching a Sunday school class to a bunch of eight-year-old boys is how he kicked off his public speaking career. I heard this many times growing up and thought, how on earth could speaking in a church basement to a small group of kids prepare you for speaking in front of millions of people??

Later in life, I got the chance to find out. There are three main reasons why speaking in front of children is one of the best ways to hone your public speaking skills.

Honing my speaking skills!

Honing my speaking skills!

1)      Be Simple! My father wrote about the SIB–KIS principle in his motivational classic, Life Is Tremendous. It’s an acronym for See It Big–Keep It Simple. As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” When you distill leadership principles or concepts to kids under ten, you have to really drill down to the basics.

2)      Be Engaging! Great public speakers know how to work the stage and engage the audience. This involves a great deal of movement, voice inflection, and activity. Nothing makes you “work it” like being facing 250 fifth graders staring expectantly at YOU! You better be good…no, you better be great! You better be funny! You better have great stories that capture their attention and you better be moving around and engaging them personally.

3)      Be Ready! There’s no doubt about it, kids say the darndest things. If they don’t think you’re a good speaker, they’ll let you know right away, sometimes even by saying it out loud! Watching the little ones’ body language teaches you immediately what’s working and what’s not. It also teaches you to be ready for any comment or activity at any time throughout your speech.

So you think you can speak? Why not volunteer at a local library, YMCA, or any of the numerous summer programs to test your mettle. Trust me; it’ll be the most challenging and rewarding speaking engagement of your life!


chicken little leadership

0923_ChickenLittle_New_UFSGRAYTrue leaders love a crisis. It gives them the chance to go through the fires and be molded into something stronger and more powerful. The masses love to rally around a leader who lays out a clear vision of how to tackle the problem at hand. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. I’ve worked for some leaders who do just the opposite. They wring their hands and bemoan the challenges and problems they’ve inherited. I remember thinking, “Dear God, why’d you take this job then?” and “Isn’t that why you’re getting paid so much?”

There will always be problems and seemingly unsolvable crises. Welcome to life and being in charge! But Hell holds a special place for “leaders” who “lead” by manufactured crisis. Paralysis justified by fear mongering gets old; make a decision already! When you keep raising the issue again and again and again with no concrete actions to address the problem, it’s insanity. We want action plans from our leaders at the top. Everyone knows that when mid-level managers try to solve an issue NOTHING happens without the commitment and leadership of the person at the very top.

I’ve addressed this very phenomenon in several organizations. When I was a Commander in the Air Force I had a fellow Commander who wanted to utilize our limited resources from a tactical approach whereas I had to consider the overall strategic implications. We tried to work this out, but were coming at the solution from two very different perspectives. The impasse went on for months and the wing leadership did nothing to resolve the conflict.

I did everything I could within my authority and the regulations to deal with the problem but because I was not the one running the show, the ultimate direction of resources was not up to me. But there does come a time when going off the cliff is the only way to draw attention to an issue and a decision. In fact, several of the organizations I left had the wheels fall off their train before any action was taken. I, like most people, don’t deal well with people in ultimate positions of authority who won’t make decisions.

Leaders are supposed to turn crises into opportunities, not run around screaming “the sky is falling” or crying wolf. Working to gain consensus is okay but, in the end, the leader has to make the decision, make it theirs, and then live and die by it. 

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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March 2013

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