Category Archives: Leadership

Lessons from History

It is said that those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it.

I recently came across this Quora post that answers the question, “Who was the most successful military leader in history? I found it to be immensely interesting and persuasive. Read it here.

Go jump off a cliff…

It’s truly awesome what humans can do.

Searching for Sugar Man: a must-see film.

I just last evening went to the theater to see Searching for Sugar Man, a most remarkable film with a most remarkable story. I give it my HIGHEST rating and encourage everyone to see it. Find reviews and trailers at

This is what we’re made of.

The world is facing a multi-dimensional mega-crisis. How will we respond?

Will we fight among ourselves in a Hobbsian war of all against all, or will we pull together, sharing what we have and cooperating to create a better world. This moving story about the boat evacuation of lower Manhattan on 9/11 gives me hope.

What if? Ron Paul’s brilliant speech on U.S. foreign policy and war.

Congressman Ron Paul has once again spoken truth to power, and to the American people.  What if we DID wake up and  actually supported him and put our energy and resources behind his agenda? What if we refused to participate in America’s illegal imperial adventures? What if we started to wean ourselves off of our dependency upon fossil fuels and mega-corporations and put our resources into securing our own food, energy, and other necessities of life in our own local communities? What if we stopped using banks and took control of our own credit to allocate it to one another according to our own needs and priorities? What if we took responsibility for ourselves and our communities–our health, our education, and all the things that make life worth living? –t.h.g.

Effective Education for a New Society

Many years ago I read Ivan Illich’s book, Deschooling Society. It is a remarkable work that points out the general phenomenon of institutional failure, not just the failure of the educational system. Here below is an excellent TED talk about effective education in slums and the Third World. There are lessons there for every context.

Here are some major points that I gleaned from the talk:

Effective Education:

  • Based on Pull, not push
  • Provides Quick payoff
  • Is inherently interesting
  • Starts with questions, problems, games and projects
  • Provides practical skills
  • Embeds learning in productive activities
  • Utilizes peer to peer interaction and learning –t.h.g.

The Most Dangerous Man in America

I had the privilege last night of meeting Daniel Ellsberg and to be among the crowd of several dozen people who gathered at his home to watch the film, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, winner of numerous festival awards and nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Feature Documentary. The film distills into 90 minutes, the story of government deception and malfeasance and one man’s courageous decision to tell the people.

I’m old enough to remember those events as they unfolded and were reported in the news media, but being highly controversial and scattered as they were over a long time period, they did not penetrate very deeply beyond the veil of my own  indoctrination. Now, with the pertinent facts gathered together and the inclusion of actual audio records of then President Richard Nixon’s maniacal ravings about nuking the Vietnamese into oblivion, we have a compelling picture of the abuse of power and a failed policy that extended over five presidencies from Truman to Nixon.

Since 9/11, Americans have seen an ever greater concentration of power at the top levels of government along with increasing government secrecy and transgression of civil liberties. The USA Patriot Act effectively shreds the Bill of Rights.

This film is the kind of powerful medicine needed to rouse the body politic to face the political realities of our times and, hopefully, reinvigorate our the struggle to “escape the matrix.” It is a film that every American should see, especially those who are too young to remember the United States’ war against Viet Nam.

Here is a trailer:

War is a Racket!

U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler was a true patriot. According to, Wikipedia, he was at the time of his death (1940), the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.

He refused to be corrupted by money and power, or to use his position to overthrow elected government, and he was courageous in waging the battle to expose the true reasons for war. This dramatization of one of his speeches brought me to tears. I urge everyone, especially people in military service, to watch this video.

Here is the introduction to it:

The real speech re-created by an actor

If you know your history, you know that in 1934 there was an attempted coup in the United States that was thwarted largely due to the efforts of U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler (ret.) Look it up.

Among other things, Butler was only one of 19 people ever awarded the Medal of Honor twice and the only person to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor for two different actions.

After it dawned on him how his heroism and the heroism of the troops under his command had been misused, he wrote a book called “War is a Racket” which I can virtually guarantee you never heard about in school.

Butler concluded there are only two reasons to ever take up arms:

1. To defend the country against real – not manufactured – attacks

2. To defend the Bill of Rights

Sounds good to me.

Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics

Robert Greenleaf is said to have coined the term servant leadership. Since then, others have taken up the ideas and promoted them. The following 10 characteristics, based on Greenleaf’s work, seem to me to be the the kind that need to be cultivated by anyone who would aspire to lead in any realm. They seem especially important in the development of a new paradigm of social justice, global harmony, and sustainability.

Ten Characteristics of Servant Leadership

Based on the ideas of Robert K. Greenleaf

1. Servant leaders are servants first, and consciously choose to lead as a way to serve the development of others.

2. Servant leaders respond to any problem by listening first. Their attitude emulates St Francis: “Lord, grant that I may not seek so much to be understood as to understand.”

3. Servant leaders maintain empathy for the essential humanity of other people, even when they cannot accept the other person’s acts.

4. Servant leaders utilize both analysis and intuition to develop foresight (Greenleaf considered foresight to be the Central ethic of leadership.)

5. Servant leaders cultivate awareness and hone their powers of perception.

6. Servant leaders create change by inspiration and persuasion, not coercion.

7. Servant leaders are highly creative, drawing from their unique strengths to create fresh responses to new situations.

8. Servant leaders remember that healing means “to make whole.” They know. that to be wholly human, one must joyfully accept both the goodness and the bitterness of life” while contributing to the good.

9. Servant leaders recognize that healing actions take place in the context of community.

10. Servant leaders change the world by first changing themselves.