"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

Acorns & Forests: Balancing optimism and short-term constraints

sapling2.jpgI practice realistic optimism.

There is a part of me that is a radiant optimist. “I carry the sun in my pocket,” I walk on the “sunny side of the street,” I’m “singing in the rain.” I grew up singing the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.”

Another part of me is the lookout in the crow’s nest, forever scanning the horizon for clouds, reefs, pirates, floating debris, you name it.

Still another part of me is “from Missouri,” the eternal show me/prove it skeptic, unwilling to take mission-critical assertions at face value, wanting to delve behind the screen, look under the hood, learn “the rest of the story.”

Yet I still sincerely believe “where there is a will, there is way” and “think you can, think you can’t: you’re right,” and am a firm advocate of an abundance mentality.


I am a “good” finder

510-pic.jpgI am a good finder: I look for the best in everything and everyone. This is one of my favorite affirmations, part of my personal self-concept.

When dealing with people, most respond better to praise than to criticism. To be most effective, praise must be : honest, earned, specific, genuine, heartfelt, authentic.

That’s quite a list, but if you try, if you look for the good, if you are a flexible reframer, you will find plenty of opportunities to praise effectively.

Being a good finder does NOT mean you are blind or oblivious to faults or negatives, particularly those that are mission critical. Obviously, you still move quickly to correct any cracks in the dike. I am always rigorous in my SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Those who know me know that I am vigilant about protecting against the downside of any venture or investment, incredibly diligent in my risk analysis.


Creating Value vs. Transferring Value

money_hands.gifAs a business person it is my goal to create value.

Value is created when the whole is more than the sum of the parts, when a way is found to make 11 widgets from the same labor or materials that used to only make 10. Value is created when a neighborhood is rejuvenated or a well-designed building is constructed, providing homes that nurture community as well as shelter the body.

I find no honor, joy, or pride in finding ways to merely transfer value.

Value transfer occurs when a CEO packs the board of directors with his buddies and they vote him lucrative stock options for mediocre performance. Money has been transferred from one pocket to the other (shareholders to CEO), but the world is not better off for the transaction, no net increase in prosperity has occurred. It is a zero sum game. CEO wins, shareholders lose. Might even be a net loss, as other employees of the organization become demoralized seeing top management ignoring their fiduciary duties to the nominal owners of the company. Every organization is the shadow of its leadership; when the top ignores its responsibilities to the stakeholders, the balance of the organization generally follows suit.