Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Age of Democracy

The culture trend of our day is quickly sweeping us into the age of democracy.

For over two centuries the US culture has been an age of Constitutional Law, but over the last 80 some years we’ve been shifting, changing. The massive and insanely rapid technological advances we’ve been seeing over this period of time have greatly aided this shift towards a far more democratic form of government.

The odd part of this trend, and it seems almost contradictory, is that as governments, businesses, and banks get bigger and bigger, the close relationships built between them and the people at large are getting further and further apart. How many people have, or have had, a close personal connection with someone who has major decision making power in say Amazon, Apple, the Green Bay Packers, Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae, The Presidency, Nike, The New York Times, Samsung, Google, etc.? Or are they under such lock and key, special body guards, and highly private and invention only parties and meetings?

The further away these powerful people get, it seems the more involvement customers want in those companies. The bigger the company gets and the richer these men and women become, the more the people despise and seek after their demise. The more polarized politicians and companies get on issues, the more the flood gates open of hateful memes, tweets, and vines.

We want to have our cake, but we demand to be able to eat it too. This is not a good place to be.

The Age of Democracy

The desire to have the cake and to eat it too very nicely sums up the sentiment that Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville and The Federalist by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay wrote about on democratic forms of government. Let me be blatantly clear, this does not mean the democratic party, simply the democratic form of government as opposed to a republican form of government.

A big win for the whims of men, as opposed to the rule of law, came in a time of crisis and several companies were considered too big to fail. Many people were angry and understandably frustrated that they were too small to be cared about; thus being allowed to fail. Many people lost their jobs, their homes, their security, their credit, and their confidence in the law.[i]

When the law is on our side we’re all for it, but as soon as the benefit for another starts hitting our wallet we can’t stand for the treachery. When government and bank representatives came knocking on thousands upon thousands of homes saying you no longer own this property and you have two minutes to be out. Let me back up a step real quick: by law they were required to give eviction notices with ample time to move.

So many people thought they owned their home, it was not just a house, but their home. Their car. Their things.

The hard cold truth of the matter is that if it’s mortgaged, if it’s financed, if it’s collateral it belongs to someone else. Period. There is no security in debt. The piles of paperwork to sign for a home, a credit card, a car payment, same as cash checks, and title loans are so easily signed. The immediate pressure of paying the wolf pack of money collectors to get them off our backs, or to provide for the expected
Christmas joys, or whatever the case may be comes so easily. But we agreed to pay the piper when it is time, and we struggle to understand why my home isn’t actually mine. Why the judge would be so cold, why the Sheriff is so cruel, why the real estate agents would do such a thing, why our very own government is doing these things to us.

We then cry out, demanding to have our cake. We then cry out foul play. We then cry out to be saved. Big business, big banks, and big government have leveraged the law to win big. They’ve turned the law against the people, making so much fine print that the average person making a living, living a good life, won’t be able to understand.

As more and more people come out hurt and wounded, blind-sided by The Three Bigs (big business, big banks, big government), the people are the biggest of them all and they demand that they are too big to fail. If government officials want reelection, if bankers and businesses want customers and not riots, they’ll start giving the benefits demanded. This has led to the modern middle class squeeze. The wealthy know how to get breaks, the poor get the benefit, and the middle class ends up paying.[ii]

Many of the American Founding Fathers wrote—and many political scientists before and afterwards also came to a similar conclusion—that once a people realize they can vote themselves benefits the society is not far from destruction.

By Whims or By Law

The law used to be in favor of the people at large. But somewhere in the last 80 years the people have stopped studying the law, paying attention to what the heads of each sector of society are up to, and holding themselves and others to the bounds of the law.  

If we were to divide the United States into two parts, I think a very clean line would be made between those who understand how the law works, and those who don’t. Those who know, often prey on those who don’t.

The law should be the check and balance between the elite and the other classes, but also amongst themselves. Once the law is used as a whimsical tool to aide one business over another, or one group over another, then the firm foundation by which the referee on human nature is founded cracks, slips, and crumbles. Then it becomes every man for himself. It degrades to whose whims can win over the law more than the next man’s. This war of human nature and its whims does not end well.

There must be a better way than for those who can’t cover the bills to become outcasts and/or babysat, for the middle class to be squeezed out of existence and be the main group paying, and for the elite to either sit idly by or to be siphoning off the labor of the middle and lower classes. There must be a better way than the self-destruction of a democratic or whim ruled society.

Simple or Complex?

What I’m about to propose is nothing amazing or outstanding. It’s not revolutionary, neither is it necessarily exciting and cool.

I’ve mentioned these things before in previous blogs and speeches. I’ve heard them mentioned dozens of times in various places by my mentor. I’ve seen these answers pop up in ancient times as well as modern, from the blue side as well as the red side, the poor side as well as the rich. They have been a common universal answer to practically every problem faced in the course of human nature.
The formula for greatness, for success, for freedom has always been simple. Rarely easy, but very simple. There is a lot of stress, fear, and doubt in our society today, many run from one place to another looking for the fix, the solution, the hero to save the day. We go from making one political party dominant to then making the other party dominant, and then back again. This mad scurry and swinging pendulum won’t stop until we take a deep breath and decide to hunker down and do the hard work necessary to enact the simple solutions needed.

Looking to the Future

We must develop in ourselves and spread the skills and principles of entrepreneurship.

We must become voracious readers and deep thinkers in all things great. This is definitely including the fine print of businesses, governments, and banks.

We must build communities. Building support groups, friend groups, trusting groups. There is strength and power in numbers. There is security, aide, and encouragement in great communities. Communities enable, fill gaps, connect, lead, develop, and strengthen empathy; communities
humanize and aggrandize the whole.

Become a student of success, find the simple solutions for yourself. I’ve found them to be as simple as entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship, being a voracious reader and thinker, and building communities.[iii]

The people have been breaking themselves against the law and not understanding what is going on. One or the other will give. What if both give? What if we lead out by using the three vital principles from above and we all come out of this struggle victors, a free society, a nation of opportunity and prosperity? 

Maybe we’re the next founders of the new golden age of America.

[i] The Financial Matrix by Orrin Woodward
[ii] “The Middle Class Squeeze” by Orrin Woodward
[iii] Freedom Matters by Oliver DeMille (Or 1913)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Which is Better: More National, Or More Local?

The Federalist Papers is one of the greatest collections of thoughts and analysis on freedom available. There is a wealth of knowledge and passion for establishing and maintaining a society that fosters freedom, opportunity, and widespread prosperity.

The authors—Hamilton, Madison, and Jay—are deep thinkers and powerful writers. I often wrestle to understand many of their concepts and phrases, but it is well worth the struggle!

As I’ve been studying the Papers again, I keep finding myself disagreeing on a common point over and over again. Normally in a book I’m excited about the disagreement, I will write an argument or a reference for why I see they are wrong and what I think the correct perspective is. With these Papers, though, I haven’t been as apt to write my initial disagreements and thoughts as I am with other books and authors. I’m concerned that I am wrong and that I just don’t understand why they are correct yet.

Let me make a quick aside. I disagree with many things written in the Federalist Papers, where I think they have something flat out wrong. But when it comes to this caliber of men and women or this caliber of classic, I take some extra time to think and process to make sure I’m finding the principle and not disagreeing over a surface issue.

The Disagreement

For example, in Federalist Paper #23 Alexander Hamilton makes his argument for “giving the Union energy and duration” through a strong national government. He says, “we must abandon the vain project of legislating upon the States in their collective capacities; we must extend the laws of the federal government to the individual citizens of America.” My initial response was an emphatic, “no! We do not want more national control over the individual!” Then I stop, think about it, and say, this is Hamilton we’re talking about, what is he seeing about the principles of freedom that I am not?
This is one example out of several where I have had the same line of thinking with Hamilton and Madison. I’ve been mulling over this for several days now as I continue to read, and I think I understand what is happening. Neither of us is necessarily right or wrong, we must understand the times!

As the Power Pendulum swings from one pinnacle of Tyranny to the other of Anarchy the direction we should be facing is completely different.

Understanding the Times

In the Era of the Founding Fathers there was not enough federalism, not enough Union, not enough national strength. They had just broken off from a tyrannical head and were slow to accept another head that was further than a few days’ ride. They were weary of confederating together into another national government that would boss them around. They were on the brink of anarchy and desperate for the balance, security, and strength that Union brings.

Today, in the 21st century the power pendulum has overcorrected—thus the too perfect analogy of the pendulum swinging—and have too little “anarchy” or a far more localized power into a very top heavy national, and barely even federal, government that bosses individuals around.

There must be a balance of power between the different levels of governments and the different sectors of society. And depending on where we are as a society and where we should be heading to find the freedom balance—where the pendulum rests in the center. We must be aware of the current playing field and adjust accordingly.

Taking the exact words of the Federalist, or any of the Founding Fathers, and applying them into our modern world will not work. It will not produce freedom in our day and age like it did for them in their time. We must seek out the principles, the reasons and the understanding they had because these can be applied to solve and improve our current situation. Hamilton and I don’t disagree as much as I thought, we’re just living in different times and need to apply the same principle differently.

Two Methods of Approach

When studying the classics there are two main approaches, or perspectives.

There is the approach I mainly discussed above. Study the classics looking for the principles, thinking, and education to be applied directly to the issues and problems of today. The second approach is a historical perspective. Study why they thought and acted how they did, studying what was going on in their time. Obviously studying the historical climate of the time provides principles and application for us today, but the questions, focus, and lessons are completely different than a more principle based approach.

Approaching classics for learning principles to apply or studying the historical climate around the classic can both powerful and great. When I didn’t know I was discussing and arguing with the classics with one foot in each method it can be rather confusing and potentially even dangerous. The principles in the classics can come out warped, twisted, and misunderstood. It makes sense now why the conclusions and answers weren’t adding up for me.

Perspective and approach are key parts to getting a truly great leadership education. Make sure and work with your mentor, make sure and ask great questions, and make sure the approach used is understood and utilized properly. I’ve been enjoying arguing with the classics a great deal more with separating these two methods in my thinking.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Midlife Crisis of U.S. Politics?

Most voters think that whichever candidate gets the most votes will take the nomination for their party, but the reality is more complex.

More people are hearing about the “contested convention” that looks likely for the Republican Party. Even the Democratic race has seen a similar shake-up: Sanders often takes the popular vote, but Clinton wins more delegates.

As Ezra Klein from put it:

“Americans believe their elections are far more democratic than they actually are, and that’s because the most undemocratic institutions—like super delegates and the Electoral College—tend to follow the popular will. But that’s because the popular will is usually clear and easy to follow.

“This is a year, in other words, when voters on both sides will be looking for reasons to doubt the results of their primaries. And they will find plenty of them.”[1]

In a contested convention for the Republican Party most delegates will be able to vote however they would like. This will probably leave their constituents back at home a little upset if they don’t follow the popular vote. Maneuvering has already been taking place to get delegates who are sworn to one candidate by their State’s popular vote, but who would vote for another candidate in case of a contested convention.

Democrats have super delegates who aren’t tied to popular vote and can cast their vote wherever they see fit. They may “pledge” to one candidate during the primaries and this usually coincides with the popular vote of their state, but it doesn’t have to.  

These are just two aspects of the labyrinth of a republican form of government. In other words, a government by delegation or by representation. Every state has its own method of voting for the president, as well as party rules, and how the state itself runs.

Which One?

The question arises here, are we a government of delegation or a government of popular vote? It seems that the people think it’s popular vote—and get confused, annoyed, and angry when thwarted. But the party leaders and government are living by the rules of representation (granted, this is pretty much by default because they are required by law to abide by these rules).

The people are playing Baseball while the delegates are playing Football, and the rules of the two games don’t mix very well. In the overlap, we’re getting major chaos and only one side can prevail.

Before we continue, let’s take a few steps back and take a good look at these two forms of government.

Popular vs Delegate Societies

A pure democracy exists where the majority decides what happens. If 51% of the population wants free health care, then it passes a law and it’s the duty of the officials to make it happen. If 49% wish for slavery, they can’t pass as law because there is no majority.

Things move quickly, and usually vehemently, in a society ruled by solely popular vote. Even Aristotle categorized democracy as a bad form of government. Most of the founding fathers studied many different forms of government as they were putting together the Constitution of the United States. John Adams said:

“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

Think of the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, or The Scarlett Pimpernel by Emma Orczy, or any history book covering the French Revolution, and you’ll get the picture of what everyone was so worried about when it comes to democracies.

On the other hand, a republican form of government exists where the populace gets together and votes for delegates or representatives who then decide what laws to establish. Instead of the populace voting for everything, their representatives or delegates take the duty to maintain society through necessary law-making and executing those laws. A classic example of this is the Roman Republic or the Roman Senate.

Another great example of this is our modern Presidential election. Every four years we have a national election—which is partly done by popular vote and partly done by a delegated vote, depending on the state—and a great number of citizens rally around this great cause. Once it is over most people hibernate again until something exciting comes along, like the next presidential election.

If you’d like to know more of what the role of the average citizen should be during this “downtime,” dig into these two books Oliver DeMille wrote for this very purpose:

1.       Freedom Matters by Oliver DeMille
2.       The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom by Oliver DeMille

What Is Our Identity?

When the endgame is unknown it’s pretty much impossible to win. If I’m given a golf ball on a soccer field, and I’m told to make the loop, what am I supposed to do? What if I’m not given any instructions? Am I supposed to be on offense? Defense? Maybe play goalie. Is there even supposed to be a goalie? Am I allowed to block, where am I to focus to help score, do I want a high score or a low score? Is there a scoreboard?!

Not knowing what you don’t know can be very frustrating and stressful, leaving you without any hope of making progress. We no longer seem to be a nation with a unifying identity. A similar thing happened in the 1770’s between the colonies and the British, again in the 1850’s-60’s with the Northern States and the Southern States, also during the 1940’s with bigger government deals as well as global community issues. We’re in another such period; over the next few years we will likely see society shift again in major ways.

Will it be a shift towards more opportunity, success, and freedom, or something worse?

What is the Coming Shift?

It might be too soon to tell, but this presidential race might just be an omen of the coming shift; a microcosm of what the future holds for the “United” States of America.

This disconnect and misunderstanding of how the elections actually work could be the perfect setting for a democratic revolt. The populace might demand, despite whatever laws, rules, and constitutional measures are in place, that government listen to the voice of the people. To do what the people vote for and right away. No more of this arguing, debating, and political maneuvering in Congress. Let’s get it done!

The checks, balances, and the democratic republican constitutional form of government we now see hanging by a thread could very well be severed and swing us heavily towards a government by the whims of men.

Now, because of the numbers, I know many who read this will still be asking: but why is this shift a bad thing? Isn’t it bringing us more freedom? Isn’t it getting the people what they have so long desired? No more ridiculous laws or government officials telling us what we can and cannot do; we will take the responsibility in our own hands!

If men were angels this would probably work out much better, but as history has shown again and again this is not the case. Remember the quote by John Adams earlier? Remember your French Revolution history? Logically we might “know” these things, but still! Look at what’s happening today in our society. The people are being held back as corruption in high places seeps further and further.

Who will win this fight? The corrupting upper crust of society, or the beaten down and squished populace?

Or is there a third option?

Another Way

Think of it this way: when societies were ruled by the whims of the masses, the leaders that rose to the top were Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Nero, and the like. Historically these are the type of men, and women, who rise to the top and gain control.

On the flip side of this coin is the rule of the wealthy or privileged. Enter the Feudal Age and the ancient and modern systems of slavery. King Henry the VIII wasn’t elected or put on the throne by a revolution of discontented people, he was born into the position. He was at times just as bad for the people and to the people as the tyrants mentioned before. That’s because these monarchs or oligarchies still rule by the whims of men.

What our Founders did differently—as did every other truly free people in the history of the world—was study freedom deeply, and then build organizations or communities that solved the issues of their time. In other words, they took responsibility to get things done themselves, and they developed their leadership to make sure their ventures and communities would succeed.

Let’s Pay the Price

What every free people in the history of the world did different was set up checks and balances, forms and processes, and auxiliary precautions to guard against these destructive tyrants, both of the general people as well as the individual tyrant and everything between. It’s safer in the long run to establish laws, rules, and forms that are no respecters of persons. This has been the formula for establishing freedom for generations.

This means the rules of the game must be understood and upheld by the masses. If the average citizen doesn’t, then we’ll quickly learn to vote for any and every benefit we can. Or we’ll have the threat of having our representatives and upper crust of society take power and rule with an iron fist—squashing the general populace.

I’m not saying the current forms and systems are perfect, but we should understand why they were established in the first place. If we throw off the bonds that make us free we will quickly spiral into an era of major losses of freedom and opportunity for generations to come.

Let’s pay the price of understanding the rules of the game to maintain freedom. 

[1] “This presidential campaign is developing a legitimacy problem,” by Ezra Klein, April 19, 2016

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Whose Policy?

By Ian Cox

In my recent studies I came across a question that took me back: “Who actually decides government policy?”

I have to be honest, I’ve never looked deeply into the answer to this question. Digging in, thinking it over, and actually asking myself this question led me to some very powerful insights.

This is the United States of America, so my knee jerk response was “We the people,” of course! We elect representatives who vote on law and enact policy. If we don’t like what they do, we remove them, right? Well, currently just over 80% of federal incumbents are reelected even with around a 14% approval rating. This is the part that is seen. We get politically involved in issues and causes we really care about. We call our representatives, send our representatives letters and emails, and march on the capitol either in support or in protest.

The people have the most potential energy in setting policy, but we’re often found dormant. It’s usually too late to stop the momentum by the time most of the populace is aware of what is happening.

This brings us to that which is often not seen.

Qui bono?

Who benefits? Interest groups are what I found at the end of the money trail. The well organized and funded interest groups end up with most of the policy making power. They have the most successful lobbyists and broker the best deals.

The Dodd-Frank Act is a great example of the power of the auto industry. They won several special exemptions and treatment in the act. When Elon Musk’s new electric car hit the market nationwide many states passed legislation to make it illegal to sell Tesla vehicles. The auto industry united under a common purpose, funded and organized lobbyist groups to gain the benefits they wanted.

Why are interest groups so powerful in swaying policy?

Vigilance Is A Must!

When a single act of congress, the president, or judge can be your downfall, wouldn’t you protect your interests more effectively?  We the people are always in such a predicament, freedom is a fragile thing that requires much care and vigilant oversight.

Most of the kinetic energy of policy making is found within these interest groups. They understand if politicians want to win their election or ensure their reelection they must have a corner on the media market. That’s who wins. Interest groups “hire” politicians through support of their organization and by funding their campaign.

Potential Energy

Those who put forth the time and effort gain the greater reward. Wherever government is involved in business and day to day microeconomics, interest groups will be greatly involved in setting government policy.

As the case may be, who still holds the most potential energy for freedom?

Never before have the tools and information been so available to be informed and connected with local, state, and national government proceedings as it is today. More citizens demand more value of their vote, hold the line on excellence, and aren’t afraid to try a new representative until they get the one they actually want. If there isn’t approval, clean house!

More than interest group funded media must be studied for this to be successful, but aren’t your interests worth the investment?

Will you, America, become interested in your freedom again?

If you won’t, who is lobbying for you?

Whose policy will it be?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Key Principle for Rule by Law

By Ian Cox
Power of the Scoreboard

A lot of power in any field is lost when there isn’t a scoreboard to check against. How do you know who is winning and who is losing? How do you know when to play harder in order to beat the opponent?
Montesquieu says that having a written constitution gives you that scoreboard on government. You can read the constitution and check it against the government’s actions. The Federal Government must abide by Constitutional Law checked against the scoreboard of the written constitution.

This means that to centralize and expand powers in the government is much more limited, it takes longer, and the debate is usually over specific words and clauses, and any major change must be justified—or else blatantly ignored.

The written scoreboard is always there for everyone to review and ensure that the actions of the government and the system of laws are done by law and not the “whims of men” as John Adams said.

Key Concept

There are many powerful and great aspects in the Constitution of the United States that ensure our nation is a nation of law: the intricate system of checks and balances, the division and separation of powers, the amendment process, the very process of ratifying the constitution, among others.

One of these seems especially pertinent in solidifying the culture and principle of “a government of laws” for our nation. It is a process that is often referenced, hard to use, and rarely accomplished. The last time this key principle of “a government of laws” as opposed to a government “by the whims of men” was last used in 1992.
In and of itself the amendment process may not be all that fancy and strategic like the checks and balances or separation of powers, but the principle found here truly is key.

The Principle

The Amendment power teaches us many things. First and foremost, the Constitution as it stands is not perfect, there may be unforeseen needs, there may be more or better constitutional measures that come to the surface as the constitution itself is put into practice over the years.

The ability to change the constitution is separated, checked, and balanced. It leaves the majority of the constitutional writing power to the states, as it was with its original ratification. This again suggests that we are a Federal Republic form of government, several states united for greater success.

Change should not be arbitrary, but a systematic and deeply analyzed process governed by law and not the whims of the people or government officials.

This simple process of amending the constitution can be seen mirrored in every other part of the constitution. This one constitutional power holds in itself most of the vital principles and processes of law, if not all of them, that the American Founders studied in history and wanted to guard against any possible tyranny—or in other words, rule by law and not the whims of men.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Rare Skill of Succeeding

People who consistently succeed have a secret. Actually, it is more of a skill. True, this is a rare skill, which is why only a few people have it. What is this skill, this rare knowledge that almost always creates consistent success for anyone who applies it?

The rare skill of succeeding starts with having a Great Mentor. Bill Gates’ great mentor was Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs’ great mentor was Andy Grove, and Andrew Carnegie’s great mentor was Thomas Scott. Find a person with the rare skill of succeeding, over and over, and you’ll always find a great mentor helping them in this incredible process.

But to have a great mentor, these leaders first had to engage the skill of finding a great mentor. This is the rare skill. Learn this skill, and your life of successes is assured. Miss out on this skill, and all your hard work will likely only bring minimal results.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s back up and really understand how this works.

Mentors in History

In mythology, Athena, the Greek goddess of warfare, courage, and wisdom, took the form of King Odysseus’ steward named Mentor. Odysseus had been fighting in the Trojan War for 20 years and his wife and home were being bombarded by suitors for the supposed widow. Mentor, or Athena, stepped in and guided Odysseus’ son, Telemachus, in how to “take care of” those pesky suitors. And then challenged him and encouraged him on a grand adventure to discover the fate of his father. Much of the success and greatness achieved by Telemachus was due to his mentor.

In Greek, the word “mentor” means “one who thinks” or “one who admonishes.” Henry Ford is attributed with saying, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few people engage in it.” “Admonish” is no light term—it is to firmly warn or reprimand. Having a mentor means business! The factor that Mentor was a god in disguise in mythology is a pretty big deal. This suggests a real stewardship, authority, and divine intervention tied to seeking out and submitting to a thinking-admonisher.

When I got thinking about this relationship and how long ago it was considered so important, I started looking at other great men and women throughout history and picked the brain of my mentors to see if it really was such a big deal.

What did I discover?

As mentioned before, behind every Great Anybody is a great mentor. Alexander the Great’s great mentor was Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson’s great mentor was George Wythe, and Mahatma Gandhi’s great mentor was Dadabhai Naoroji.

Mentor Mindset

Simply saying, “Yeah, I have a mentor” is not the point. The history of mentoring teaches us:
-          We’re seeking out those wise thinkers who firmly admonish us out of our mediocre ruts and demand greatness from us.

-          Great mentors invest their time in someone who will consistently traverse the path of success.
-          A mentor does not allow a settle-for life.

-          Even through Socrates is considered one of the wisest men, still, he professed that this was only because he knew he was ignorant—a mentor is always progressing himself.

-          A mentor is able to give outside perspective, be emotionally unattached to the situation, teach and expound principles that connect to the scenario, and give challenging assignments to get through slumps and low points.

-          It can be very helpful to seek specific mentoring from someone who has mastered your own trade.

Mentors Have Results

One of my mentors explained it to me this way: In life we’re smack-dab in the middle of a minefield. If we’re trying to make it to a particular point on the other side of this minefield—which might be success, greatness, mission, service, debt-free, flourishing business, etc.—then what might be the fastest way there? Just picking a way and walking won’t get you very far. Using tools to find the mines and mark a safe passage is very dangerous and extremely time-consuming. My mentor then pointed out that following an experienced mentor’s footsteps through the minefield allows us to move very proficiently and effectively.

The benign relationship of Watson and Sherlock Holmes is a great example of following in someone’s footsteps through a minefield. Watson would draw some conclusions that appeared true on the surface, because what else could have explained it? Sherlock admonished Watson not to take the evidence as indisputable proof for what he believed or wanted to be true, but to take the full evidence and facts to tell what the reality is. In other words, deductive reasoning is much more accurate than inductive reasoning. This enabled them to solve so many mysteries—and ultimately, achieve great success.

Mentors Admonish Greatness

Being around, following, and submitting to a great mentor brings us face to face with greatness in every aspect of our lives. We rub shoulders with someone who is great, and they help pull out the greatness in what we read, what we listen to, the ups and downs of our daily life experiences, and the people we come in contact with.

Then, we become great ourselves. And, in time, we can master the rare skill of succeeding. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Our Book List of Lists

A good friend of mine recently asked a very thought provoking question. She wondered, “What five books, outside of your religious book, would you take if you had to pack up and leave home?”
My wife and I got excited about the challenge and got into a discussion that lasted three days.
Through this dialogue we realized what was happening: we were defining what a “classic” meant for our family. We have a long list of classic books that we love, have learned from, and would like to take with us, but being limited to five pushed us to refine our answer of what a classic really is for us.
Simply put, a classic is something you can read over and over again and learn from it every time. There at least two different types of classics: personal classics and cultural classics.

Old BooksPersonal classics are subject to personal opinion—anything could be a classic to anyone, really. A cultural classic generally rises when many people consider it a classic. Thus the Harvard Classics, the Great Books set, the Thomas Jefferson Education classics list, and many other collections of some of the greatest works from history. Cultural classics are works that pass the taste of time, when generation after generation read and re-read these works and still pass them on to their children.

What are the great classics in your family culture? Your nation’s culture? Your religious culture? These are powerful questions to think about, discuss, and answer. I’d love to share in your thoughts and discuss what the core cultural classics are for your country in the comments below.

Consider the impact and widespread influence of the writings of Aristotle, Shakespeare, Homer, the Bible, and other such works. How many lives have they impacted over centuries and millennia? This is incredible to me! That is serious influence.
To fulfill this little project, Emma and I had to separate those classics that are good from the truly great.
We wanted the best classics for our family and the coming generations.
We realized as we discussed some of the most influential classics, that we need the greatest and best classics for us. That meant that we need to share what is ours. It doesn’t need to be the most “classically acclaimed,” but it does need to be something that we care about deeply. It needs to be something we get excited and passionate about, something that we deeply connect with.
A classic like this will naturally instill a passion for the love of learning in all those we come in contact with. We realized we must take the classics that are a part of us because we would be able to inspire those around us to use these classics and make them a part of who they are as well.
When you’re excited and passionate about something, those around you can’t help but gain some interest or curiosity (if not fall head over heels in love) with the subject. This is a powerful thing, the power of love. This is key to a great education, a great society, and great success: share your love for what is yours.
Think of a book that is considered a classic that you’ve tried to read but just had a hard time engaging. Such a book would be hard to get excited about and share with others. I wouldn’t pick Galileo’s Two New Sciences over Euclid’s Elements, because I get excited over studying Euclid but didn’t have the same experience with Galileo.
Maybe I could end up falling in love with Galileo’s works as much as Euclid’s if that’s the book I had, but if I had the choice I wouldn’t want to risk it on something I didn’t already deeply care about. Being able to instill a love of learning and thinking in others is much more valuable to me than taking something that is considered a “better classic” by others.
What are your top five books that you couldn’t help but share?

I’ll share what Emma and I came up with. We ended up making two book lists. The first is if we are pioneering somewhere and so our book options are limited for a time, but not forever. The second list is if there is a great disaster and the likelihood of ever getting more books is slim. We discussed these two scenarios and decided we would have different needs and a different focus depending on the availability of more classics. We chose the scriptures for both lists, these five books are in addition the scriptures.
Our first book list:
        The United States Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom by Oliver DeMille
We picked this one for its invaluable list of principles needed for founding a great, free, and successful society. Also how it teaches and directs the reader to think, analyze, discuss, and read is a powerful teaching tool.
2.       Jane Austen’s Complete Works
Austen shows the principles of freedom, merit, and character in action. It doesn’t talk about the importance but shows the importance in action. They are brilliant stories that depict manners, morals, and grace.
3.       The Complete Works of Shakespeare
The entertainment value of Shakespeare provides for some spice and great community productions. Memorizing the stories and lines strengthens the mind, the depth of characters teach powerful life lessons, and the breadth of ideas covered supply ample opportunity for study and discussion.
4.       The Hunger Games Trilogy
This series gives a variety of styles and types of books for a different flavor. We decided on this set to stand as a reminder, a warning, and a call for greatness, mission, and paying the price for freedom. We must found a new society that will guard against such tyrannical rule. This supports many similar themes from Shakespeare, Austen, and 196 by DeMille.
5.       Herbalist Book of Home Remedies
Founding a new society we must work as a community, and it requires a lot of self-sustainability. Having a great reference book of different helpful plants could be the tipping point of our success or demise. Let’s stack as many odds in our favor as we can!

Our second book list is as follows (the first three are the same as before):
1.       The United States Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom by Oliver DeMille
2.       Jane Austen’s Complete Works
3.       The Complete Works of Shakespeare

4.       The Complete Works of C.S. Lewis

We have been greatly moved by Lewis’ works. His insights, questions, principles, and styles of teaching are powerful. We have a very close relationship with Lewis and would be able to pass on a great passion for learning through his works.

5.       Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

This book shows what the American Founding society looked like. And the type of people that produced one of the greatest nations in the world is analyzed and described in this great work. This is another book that Emma and I feel passionate about, a book with which we could spread the love of learning and freedom.