Thursday, March 23, 2017

When Did We Stop Listening To Each Other?

I was barely twenty years old when I wrote those words thirty years ago.  I gave a presentation at a conference of retail managers back in August of 1987, and that was part of my presentation.  I was a very new manager--the youngest in my company's history.  I was promoted to store manager out of desperation--there was nobody else available in that area and it was made abundantly clear it wasn't a permanent position.  Don't get comfortable in that office, because you won't be there long.  However, within a few months I was quickly rising to become the company's top manager--everyone was baffled by that, especially considering many of the managers in that company had been at it for decades. 

It was a different time then, and managers had a "my way or the highway" approach to leadership.  I didn't.  I used a team approach--I had to, because I didn't have any experience or knowledge to draw from.  I realized everybody brought a unique set of skills, everybody had a talent, and everybody had the opportunity to participate in decisions.  We didn't always agree, but everyone got to weigh in.  And when it was time for me to decide, I went with the best plan offered, whether it was my idea or not.  Because of their unique skills and experience I was able to cover my lack thereof.  And it worked well. 

Which is how a twenty-year-old kid with perhaps a nine months of experience winds up sharing his winning management approach to a very big room full of veteran managers with decades of experience at a management seminar at the Holiday Inn.  I wasn't well received.  Believe me.  What I was saying was contrary to everything they knew to be true.  You couldn't run a store like.  And they laughed and laughed at my "new age" ideas on management.  But looking back now with decades of experience under my belt, I was dead on right.  In fact, I still use that approach today. 

We learn more when we listen.  We grow more when we remain flexible.  We accomplish more when we work together.  What I've learned from team building has carried over into my personal life as well.  My core values haven't changed over the last thirty years, but many of my attitudes have changed about a great many things.  That's because I've remained open to change.  I listen to people.  I study both sides of an issue before I make a decision--in fact, I get to know the issues so well, I could argue either side of the debate if I wanted.  I can be swayed, I can be convinced, and I consider it a strength.  I don't mind taking a second look at what I believe is true and modifying it as I go along when there's new information to consider. 

That's the problem we have in our country today.  There is a "my way or the highway" attitude--we don't listen to each other anymore.  We don't learn anything from each other.  We don't seem to get the fact that one group's weakness is the other group's strength.  If I don't agree with you on every point, I'm wrong.  Period.

One thing I've always believed is that other people don't have to share my values, and I don't have to share theirs.  Just because I don't agree with theirs, and they don't agree with mine doesn't mean we're enemies.  It doesn't have to mean one of us is right and one of us is wrong.  It means we're different.  And agreeing to disagree should be a perfectly acceptable in the Land of Liberty.  It used to be. 

We used to learn from those differences, and grow through those unique perspectives.  We celebrated individualism and the unique thoughts, talents, and ideas each of us brought to the table.  But that's not the way it is anymore. 

One group, the rule makers, seem to always be telling everyone what they should do, what they should believe, how they should feel about everything, and how they should live--and viciously attacks and humiliates anyone who steps over the politically correct line that they have taken it upon themselves to establish.  The other side, the freedom lovers, could care less about the rules they never agreed to abide by and go against many of their core values, and they have no problem telling the rule makers all to go pound sand.  That, in turn, causes the rule makers to lose their ever loving minds.  And we've all seen that--it's not pretty.  That's when the name calling begins.  And that's where we are in our loving and tolerant America today. 

We've come a long way, huh?  I wonder if we ever get back to learning from one another again?  I'm hopeful we will.  I'm reminded of what happened to those "my way or the highway" managers back when I started my career.  They made themselves obsolete because they failed to see that the world was changing. 

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, March 16, 2017

My Lent Challenge: The New Testament

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

John 3:16

During Lent I always try and do something to try and improve myself.  I usually try and work on a bad habit I have--patience has always been a challenge for me.  Still is, but I get better at it as I go along.  This year, I decided instead of trying to stop doing something, I'd start doing something instead.  I've always been a Bible reader, but I've never been intentional about it.  I'll open it up, and start reading, and then I'll just drift from looking up reference to reference on a particular topic until I've read long enough.  

I decided this year to read the New Testament all the way through--not necessarily in chapter order, but each chapter in full.  It's not a long volume.  I'm nearly finished, and although I'd consider myself fairly well versed in the New Testament, reading it all the way through has been an interesting exercise.  It's put it in a different perspective for me, and I've made a lot of notes to go back and study further different sections after I've finished.  There are things I picked up that I hadn't before. 

So try it!  You can read through the New Testament in roughly 12 hours.  Many of the chapters you can read in fifteen minutes or less.  As I have, you might find some new things in there you hadn't noticed before.  And in my experience, anything that gives you pause to think is usually a good thing.

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Voltaire's Wisdom About Life

"God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well."

Lodge of Nine Sisters, Paris, France

We all possess the ability to live well. The problem is, so many people really don't know what they want, don't appreciate the things they have, and look to others to fulfill their needs. If you're looking for happiness and contentment through another person, or from external sources, you'll only know disappointment in life.  It has to come from you first.

Being content comes from within. Living well isn't about money, mansions, or expensive cars--money doesn't buy happiness. It never did.  Happiness begins with who you are as a person, how you view yourself, and how you view the world itself.  You always find what you expect, and if you expect disappointment, that's what you're always going to find.

Happiness starts with being content.  Being content starts with being grateful for and appreciating the gifts you have already been given.

~Todd E. Creason

Excerpted from A Freemason Said That? Great Quotes of Famous Freemasons edited by Todd E. Creason (2009)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Todd E. Creason Announces New George Washington Book In The Works

I stumbled on a great idea while I was in Washington D.C.  I thought it would be a series of articles for the Midnight Freemasons, but after playing with that idea for a couple weeks, I've decided it would be better as a book.  There will be more news going forward, but here's what I've got to tell you so far.

It is non-fiction, and like my previous non-fiction series "Famous American Freemasons" there will be a Masonic element to the book as well as a historical element.  It centers around the life and character of George Washington--as General, as President, and as a Freemason.  I hope that in addition to being a good read, it will be a book that will help us take some of those excellent precepts that Washington applied to his own life in the 18th century, and help us apply some of those same values to our own lives in the 21st century.

Looking at a Fall 2017 release!  More will be coming as I get further along in the process.

~Todd E. Creason

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