"Lead, Learn & Live Abundanlty"

LA Harris, INC.

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What does Title & Position mean to a TRUE leader?

Title = access and Position = opportunity. Both only have value if they are extended to others. To receive the gift of a job, new career, upgrade in title, expanded work responsibilities, more exposure, etc…. is a gift and a responsibility. We do not receive these gifts to hold them tight in our hands, to hoard them, to gloat or look down upon others. We receive them so we can find ways to reach out, reach over, bend down, pick up, extend our arms, open our hearts, open our eyes, step beyond what looks-feels-speaks and acts like us, to breath out and to embrace the truth of our gift…our leadership! True leaders know these gifts to others build legacy. These steps are like the ripples in the water. It is what makes the “dash” between birth and death meaningful. Extend your “access” to others so they can create “opportunities”  for people you may never know but will forever change their lives!

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Power of Change & Acceptance

Several weeks ago I delivered a seminar in Change Management. I recently received the feedback and was impacted by a few written comments. Participants wrote “trust and believe in myself”, “no fear” and “be the leader of change”. I am moved and motivated by these outstanding women and what they learned. I decided to look for a quote ….hoping to continue that inspiration. Marianne Williamson sums it up!

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; its in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

American Author

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Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders

Great article by Vineet Nayar for HBR. 

A young manager accosted me the other day. “I’ve been reading all about leadership, have implemented several ideas, and think I’m doing a good job at leading my team. How will I know when I’ve crossed over from being a manager to a leader?” he wanted to know.

I didn’t have a ready answer and it’s a complicated issue, so we decided to talk the next day. I thought long and hard, and came up with three tests that will help you decide if you’ve made the shift from managing people to leading them.

Counting value vs Creating value. You’re probably counting value, not adding it, if you’re managing people. Only managers count value; some even reduce value by disabling those who add value. If a diamond cutter is asked to report every 15 minutes how many stones he has cut, by distracting him, his boss is subtracting value.

By contrast, leaders focuses on creating value, saying: “I’d like you to handle A while I deal with B.” He or she generates value over and above that which the team creates, and is as much a value-creator as his or her followers are. Leading by example and leading by enabling people are the hallmarks of action-based leadership.

Circles of influence vs Circles of power. Just as managers have subordinates and leaders have followers, managers create circles of power while leaders create circles of influence.

The quickest way to figure out which of the two you’re doing is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.

Leading people vs Managing work. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.

In India, M.K. Gandhi inspired millions of people to fight for their rights, and he walked shoulder to shoulder with them so India could achieve independence in 1947. His vision became everyone’s dream and ensured that the country’s push for independence was unstoppable. The world needs leaders like him who can think beyond problems, have a vision, and inspire people to convert challenges into opportunities, a step at a time.

I encouraged my colleague to put this theory to the test by inviting his team-mates for chats. When they stop discussing the tasks at hand — and talk about vision, purpose, and aspirations instead, that’s when you will know you have become a leader.


Vineet Nayar is vice chairman of HCL Technologies, an India-based global information technology services company. He is the author of Employees First, Customers Second. Follow Vineet at twitter.com/vineetnayar.

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Two of the most creative and unique buildings in Shanghai, China.  What an awesome opportunity to travel around the world and to experience new people, new cultures, new music, new food and lots of history!

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Beautiful architecture and design in Beijing, China. Tea House, Center Square, Old Waterway by the Great Wall, to the extremely clean yet wet streets (street photo is Shanghai).

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Devil Made Me Do It

I went to bed at 3 am the other night with this question burning in my spirit, does the Devil Make Him Do It and if so, what does our response to his evil really say about us?

Many of you, those over 40, may remember the great comedian and television pioneer, Flip Wilson. Wilson portrayed a female character named Geraldine.  Geraldine would say ‘“the devil made me do it” meaning an evil entity/spirit had the power to make her do things she otherwise, given different circumstances, would not do.  

What’s evil and who is a devil? Evil is defined as morally bad or wrong; wicked, causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful, misfortune or destruction, anger and spite, malicious and the cause of suffering; devilish. In religion or theology, the devil is the chief spirit of evil and enemy of God. The devil is energetic, mischievous, daring or clever, a tormentor and harasser. The word is also used in printing, engineering and in law (junior barrister). 

My curiosity was peeked when the words “evil and devil” were used to describe President Obama. People who use words freely but lack the proper definition or meaning of the word(s) and who fail to apply the definition equally fascinate me. This occurs with simple words like affect and effect as well as deeply divisive words like the “N” word. On a larger scale, history books are written where evil and devil are not equally distributed. For example, evil was properly applied to Hitler and Germany for atrocities committed against the Jews however it was not applied to European immigrants who came to America. These immigrants gave blankets laced with small pox to the indigenous people, Native Indians, to steal their land. The response to this atrocity took a hundred years and legal battles.  Both acts of annihilation by people (devil) were morally wrong and malicious (evil) and should be categorized equally. 

I searched the web for articles describing President Obama as the devil and evil. They were not hard to find. Below are two excerpts which feature Ted Nuygen and Michael Savage.    

“Nuygen is now accusing the second-term president of being a communist sympathizer, among other things. “He is an evil, dangerous man who hates America and hates freedom, and we need to fix this as soon as possible,” Nuygen said while at a gun trade show in Las Vegas. 

Michael Savage said, “So there’s communism. That’s Karl Marx Obama. That’s Hugo Chavez Obama. That’s Joseph Stalin Obama. This is a very dangerous man.” Savage, noting he has studied dictatorships, recalled that tyrannical regimes “begin with innocent remarks like this.” He continues with “This man is the most dangerous, most divisive, most evil – I’ll use the word evil – president in the history of America.”Savage acknowledged he was “stepping up” his own rhetoric, because the situation requires it, and no one else will. 

My next step was to see if evil and devil were used to describe George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. There are massive amounts of articles on both but my research did not reveal those words used to describe either of them.  In fact, “evil” was used by Bush to describe the 911 attacks as an “axis of evil”. 

On Bush, people said (actual comment), “Bush might have been bad but at least he talked from the hip and did not read the teleprompter” or “George Bush - I wish he were back…..he was a gentleman, he was refined, compassionate, and good - and he made mistakes. But none so inflammatory as Obama who is not a gentleman  is vulgar & crass and not good……his forte is making Blunders - huge blunders which has the world wondering why he’s still in office (with the exception of any Muslims who deify him - in his own mind).  

The privilege and grace of living in this country are the freedoms we enjoy –including expressing an opinion.  Opinions by definition are views and judgments formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Maybe we can accept opinion based television programs but not opinion based public policy and laws. When we state opinions as facts and the outcome hurts or damage others, what is our responsibility to ensuring truth and fairness is applied? When we do not, do we get to claim the devil made us do it?

Bullying is a great illustration of opinion vs. facts. How are our children learning to disrespect and treat each other so horribly? Where does the bully’s language, tactics, ability to inflict pain, create fear and yield power over other children and some school officials to maintain the silence emanate from?  These “devils” operate without consideration for neither short nor long-term consequences. Bullies, adults or children, blame the target for their behavior and decisions. If the target ends up hurt, killed or commits suicide, the bully rarely owns any responsibility “their freedom” awarded them – it is the targets fault. Our children are role modeling our language, tactics, our ability to create fear, our self-righteousness, judgment of others, and our collective SILENCE when those outside our homes, neighborhoods, communities, and social circles are hurting. Maybe it is easier to ignore our collective responsibility because it happened to “them” or “that group”.  When our truths are selective is it because the devil made us do it?   

Can I prove that President Obama is the devil exacting evil across this country? Equally important, can I demonstrate our government official’s response to this devil in a blue suit, proves good wins over evil? In movies where evil exist the  “savior” wins by bringing “light into darkness (truth)”, “solutions to inaction”,  “spirit of cooperation and change” and “voice to silence”.  Our country was founded on Christian and democracy.  In this country, good should conquer evil through policies and legislation which eliminate malfeasance thus changing the landscape of the human condition. Let’s investigate.  

The accused “devil” lists his achievements as: killing Osama Bin Laden: number 1 on terrorist list; Fairness Paycheck bill – easier to address male-female income disparity, stop retaliation against employees and close the loophole used to avoid paying women equal wages.  Affordable Healthcare Act: affordable/available healthcare for everyone; Pell Grants for College:  assist with the high cost of education; USA Auto Industry: $700B provided to prevent the collapse of the industry and economy; and the Repeal of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell”: allow gays to serve openly in the military. 

If you agree with Savage and others that POTUS is the “…..most evil…”then let’s investigate his oppositions response. The responses are/have been: 

Fairness Paycheck Bill:  blocked and killed by Republicans by a vote of 226 to 192 

Affordable Healthcare Act: 11 bills put forward for full repeal between 2009 and 2010 but none considered on the House floor or in committee. Alternative plans do not provide the type/levels of coverage as affordable healthcare. Using legislation time to still repeal the Act

Pell Grants: House Budget Committee would chop away at eligibility, reduce grants by $170B over next decade; allow interest rates for federally subsidized Stafford loans to double, and more.

 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Passed with bipartisan support since 1994 until House let it expire in 2012. Issues: LGBT and Native American women. House proposed different legislation which National Task Force to End Abuse said lacks protection and rolls back previous laws. The final vote was 286-138, winning over 199 Democrats and 87 Republicans. It lost 138 GOP members. 

What I expected from the “devils” opposition is actions-legislation which go further and/or DELIVER solutions.  As examples, VAWA should have passed in 2012 because abuse of any woman or child is in conflict with the Christian principals of this country. I expect that investing in all aspects of education (Headstart to Pell Grants) is critical when the US ranks 27th behind Finland and South Korea. I expect “light in darkness” to face down real evil, like the devastating results of unemployment,  until a collective jobs bill is passed placing country and people over finger pointing and sound bites.  

I read articles from all sides and I am still left asking, if the president is a devil and his actions are evil than how do “the good guys” explain their inability or unwillingness to be the she/heros the American people so desperately need. We need policies and Acts focused on rebuilding the country.  We need the parties to achieve something on behalf of people who make a million dollars and $800. From the ordinary to the extraordinary, it appears to be easy to blame the accused “devil” and to then say “the devil made me do it”! The problem is to us Americans, your “do it” is silent.  At least, you appear silent where the masses can benefit but not silent where you achieve sound bite recognition.

We must redefine who/what the “devil”/enemy truly is because the country (good) is losing while real evil spreads. I just returned from China and for all of their challenges, they seem clear on who and what are their enemies.  Our democratic process should drive our success not place us in a trailing position. If you want to call someone/thing a “devil” or evil, make it  ignorance, poor education, poverty, selfishness, homelessness, lack of a jobs bill, woman’s right to choose, right to bear arms and protect citizens simultaneously,  etc. Speak TRUTH and enact change, then evil and devils will no longer exist.