Read It and Weep

Lance Ideas, Leadership Comments

July 4th: the day to remember when Leading with IDEAS and politics weren’t mutually exclusive concepts. If you haven’t ever read the reasons for America’s divorce from Great Britain, take ten minutes to do so now. It wasn’t just about taxes…

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Why weep? — because in 229 years, we have “progressed” from that clarity of purpose and understanding to stuff like this: “3 Reasons the American Revolution Was a Mistake.”

Of Men and Mice

Lance Simplicity Comments

You finally land your first role as a project manager, and trapping mice is the name of the game. Which approach to take really depends on your objective:

  • Impress your boss
  • Catch mice

Or, put another way:

  • Something created
  • Problem solved

Focus on doing both and you’ll probably do neither. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: which objective are we really trying to achieve?

How Sad

Lance Integrity, Leadership Comments

Color_icon_redAristotle taught that how we talk about things shapes how we think about them. Words matter, which is why the control of language itself was a centerpiece of Orwell’s 1984. It’s all well and good to be able to see many shades of red, but without a rich language that provides different names for them, what difference does it make? Brick, Pink, Scarlet, Rose, Salmon, Cherry … the differences cease to matter if all are simply called “red.”

The same holds true when the opposite occurs: when the subtle differences between the meanings of words get washed away as they become thought of and used as mere synonyms for each other. For example, ever notice how Congress doesn’t “spend” much anymore? Instead, they “invest.” #FunWithFakeSynonyms (They also “invest” in the actual sense of the term, and seem to be abnormally successful at it. But that’s a post blog for another time person.) Even worse, Leaders regularly use words like “resources” and “FTE’s” and “headcount” as synonyms for their own people.

“Integrity” is too often used as another, more sophisticated word for Honesty. It isn’t. More than just honesty, Integrity is about being whole in nature. (Dr. Henry Cloud has an excellent book on the subject.) Think of the integrity of the hull of a ship: no holes, no leaks, no places for the water to pour in, which is contrary to the whole concept of a boat. To be a person — a Leader — of Integrity demands far more than just being truthful. Integrity requires a wholeness of character.

Which brings me to Disney-Pixar’s latest and greatest piece of art: Inside Out. Life isn’t about always being HAPPY!!!, and Leading isn’t about always WINNING!!! Leading and living with Integrity means not trying to hide things we are uncomfortable with by overcompensating on the things that feel better. Often, that does mean facing hard truths when comforting lies are a breath away, but it also means:

  • being Disgusted by the way team members pursue their own self-interest at the expense of others;
  • feeling Fear at the specter of going out on the limb and leading into the unknown (but doing it anyway! You can’t dance with the Fear you pretend doesn’t exist.);
  •  stopping to soak in the Joy of what was accomplished, even if it wasn’t exactly the outcome that lines up with your goal perfectly;
  • experiencing Sadness when bad things happen (yes, this is actually good for you! [movie spoiler at the link]);
  • harnessing and directing Anger into effective ways for facing danger and Evil, rather than bottling it up and setting a timer.

The binary choices to be honest or not can be some of the hardest moves in the game of Life. The pursuit of Integrity, however, is a game on a whole other level. It is 3-dimensional chess compared to Honesty’s Checkers. If you’re a Leader reading this, it’s your move … but are you playing the right game?

Shallow Hal

Lance Ideas, Integrity, Leadership Comments

Today is the release date for Terminator Genisys — which apparently is Hollywood-speak for “Yeah, it’s pretty much the same storyline as the 1984 original.” But long before “Skynet” was the cultural synonym for computer artificial intelligence run amok, a soothingly spoken apology was THE image of mankind’s fear of the rise of the Machine:

While the specter of machines achieving self-awareness marches ever closer to reality, and the debate over whether that is something to fear continues, there is a much more pressing problem: human beings who lack self-awareness. So many of us are moving through life really unaware of why we do the things we do:

  • Why am I afraid of …?
  • Why does that make me angry?
  • Why am I drawn to the same kinds of unhealthy people?
  • Why do I get so frustrated when things aren’t how I think they should be?
  • Why do I put things off and only react to crisis?
  • Why am I uncomfortable — more than just in disagreement — with discussing certain things?
  • Why am I not bothered so much by risk?
  • Why am I afraid to speak up and say what I think in the group?
  • Why am I uncomfortable being alone or in silence?

The same is true for organizations: far too many are so focused on what they do with little to no formulated thought about why they exist to do it at all. These questions are too easily dismissed as ineffective navel-gazing and idealism detached from pragmatic reality, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Because it is rarer than not, the ability to understand oneself and one’s own organization on this level is an immediate advantage. It is the stuff of game-changing success: