Is Obedience To Authority A Virtue Or A Crime?

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Advertisement for Milgram Experiment subjects. The original uploader was Poolisfun at Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

World War II marks a turning point in almost every facet of mankind. From science to engineering, from business to politics, to the very core of our culture, the world changed as America rebuilt Europe and reframed Japan. You see a shift from a feudal/monarchical-centric philosophy towards a populace/organizational-centric viewpoint.

Within the academic arena, research on authority moved from the Sociology Department to the Psychology Department. In fact, one of the most famous and useful psychology experiments of the mid-twentieth century represents this shift. It answered the most compelling question regarding the nature of authority to come out of the Second World War.

The Psychological Origins of Authority

You might not recognize the name Stanley Milgram, but you’ll instantly recognize his Continue Reading “Is Obedience To Authority A Virtue Or A Crime?”

The Three Classic Forms Of Authority

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What is “authority” and how does it differ from “power” and “influence”?

Ironically, we can see elements of authority in the original research on power bases as well as an explicit reference to it in research on influence and persuasion. Yet, an authority doesn’t necessarily have influence. And if you don’t have influence, can it really be said that you have power?

Said another way, power is the ability to impose your will upon others, authority is the honest recognition of power by others, and influence is your ability to sway others regardless of your power or authority.

To better understand this, it’s important to explore how scholars have traditionally defined authority. Through this, we’ll see why some “authority” is powerless, why some authority evaporates quickly, and what kind of authority has real staying power.Continue Reading “The Three Classic Forms Of Authority”

The Seven Types of Power And The One Type You Should Avoid

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Power is the “Id” of the leadership triumvirate. It is raw. It is blunt. We often view it as the easiest way to get from Point A to Point B.

That’s the problem with power. It’s too easy. It’s so easy, it becomes a crutch. And you know what it means to use a crutch? It means you can’t stand on your own two feet. It means you have to rely on some artificial device to accomplish your goals.

Does that sound bad? Maybe yes. Maybe no.

That’s the mystery of power. When used correctly, it can help propel you and your team to great heights. When abused, it can lead to distrust, dissension, and mutiny.

The search for power goes back to man’s very beginnings. Military leaders saw it as the path to victory, riches, and glory. Philosophers saw it for what it truly was.

Power isn’t about pushing others off the battlefield. In fact, power isn’t about our Continue Reading “The Seven Types of Power And The One Type You Should Avoid”

What Is A Good Leader?

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We all want to be one. We want our children to be one. And when we’re not one, we want the person in charge to be one.

What is it?

It’s not just a “leader,” it’s a “GOOD leader.”

This represents a significant qualifier. You’ll need to brace yourself for this one. The word doesn’t reflect a moral imperative (yet), it merely alludes to effectiveness.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “but if a leader isn’t moral, why would I ever follow him?”

Let me counter that with a different question: If you find yourself placed in a life or death Continue Reading “What Is A Good Leader?”

How To Steal An Election (And Get Away With It)

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Photo by Obi - @pixel6propix on UnsplashAllow me to disclaim the following up front: I do not condone the stealing of elections. I believe every voter should be given a fair opportunity to vote and that every vote should count. I also don’t condone shoplifting.

Now, back to reality.

First you must recognize that national politics is no longer about doing good. It’s simply a business.

There’s no other way to describe it. When that much money is involved, and people have figured out a way to profit from all that money, well, that’s the very definition of a business.

There’s a word for those who seek to do good through running for public office. We call Continue Reading “How To Steal An Election (And Get Away With It)”

The Seven Paths To Lifetime Bliss

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You remember the story. Mother drags Son to a family wedding. Son doesn’t want to go. Mother nags the Son to get off His seat and have some fun at the party. Son wants none of it. “It’s not my time,” He tells her.

What? Was He waiting for the DJ to play “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”? Clearly, the Son wasn’t hungry for Meatloaf. Nor was He particularly thirsty for wine.

But be honest here, what son can deny his mother? This Son was no different. And when mom told the waiters to “do whatever He says,” they did.

Thus was the back story of Jesus’ first miracle during the Wedding at Cana.

This isn’t the story we’re telling here. We’re talking about what happens before the Continue Reading “The Seven Paths To Lifetime Bliss”

Strategic Planning For The Soul

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I’ve always enjoyed the adventure of strategic planning. I call it an “adventure” because it requires one to truly explore the meaning and philosophy of a corporate soul.

A corporate soul differs from a human soul in that the former comprises an entity of many individual souls. With so many human souls making up its psyche, it’s often entertaining to watch as these individuals confuse their personal souls with the corporation’s soul.

OK, I admit this is a form of voyeuristic cynicism, but look, people are egocentric. And the Continue Reading “Strategic Planning For The Soul”

Do Self-Assessments Really Work?

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What’s the difference between the Lifetime Dream Process and any of the many other forms of self-assessment? While some of the more astute readers might have already deduced the answer by reading the preceding Commentaries, at some point it helps everyone to forgo subtlety and bluntly reveal why the Lifetime Dream Process is not like any other process you might have heard of or even tried. In the next two weeks, I’ll begin to conclude this series by comparing and contrasting the Lifetime Dream Process to several of these systems.

This week I’d like to focus on self-assessments. These often come in the form of a test but might also take on the nature of a conversation. In either case, compared to the Lifetime Dream Process, each fails to get deeply into the heart of the matter.

To understand why getting to the heart of the matter is important, you might want to read Continue Reading “Do Self-Assessments Really Work?”

How To Declare Independence And Start Pursuing Your Happiness

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Many folks think Thomas Jefferson “borrowed” the phrase “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” from John Locke. The 17th Century British philosopher and physician famously wrote, in the unsigned Second Treatise Concerning Civil Government, that government exists to protect one’s life, liberty, and property. Sounds awfully similar to the words used by our Founding Father nearly ninety years later.

Significantly, Locke’s focus on personal “property” breaks from the sense of Thomas Hobbes. In his 1651 treatise Leviathan, Hobbes paints a sovereign-centric ideal. In this “social contract,” citizens cede personal freedoms to the ruler in exchange for protection. Without such protection, the contract is invalidated.

Bear in mind, Hobbes wrote this while in exile during the English Civil War between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists. He rejected Aristotle’s premise that man is driven by Continue Reading “How To Declare Independence And Start Pursuing Your Happiness”

Why America’s Founding Secretly Influences You

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You don’t have to be an American to say you’re an American. That was the whole idea of the American Experiment – it was meant for all nations, not just those uppity Tea Partiers who frolicked in Boston Harbor a few centuries back. But this experiment didn’t start with the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence or even the United States Constitution. It began with a collection of oppressed runaways and an accidental metaphor that endures to this day.

After reading a perhaps too rosy account of the Plymouth Colony by the Pilgrims Edward Winslow and William Bradford, excitement grew in England to establish more companies to Continue Reading “Why America’s Founding Secretly Influences You”

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