Don’t Let Your Conscience Disappear, Especially If You Are A Leader…

On Friday, April 16, 2021, I wrote on the conscience in my blog titled: The Conscience… It’s For Others As Much As It Is For You. Since then, it has been on my mind somewhat and even more lately that I wanted to say more. The other day I made the statement, “I find it very disheartening that we even have to put the words ‘weak’ or ‘bad’ in front of leadership. Leadership should always be measured as positive. That is why it is so crucial that we have leadership with a clear conscience. If we do not, then we will continue to fail society.”

So, here are some new thoughts… 

The conscience. Your conscience. That “thing” that each one of us is supposed to have. Labeled as good, bad, or not having one at all. Our conscience, an essence of warning that triggers and monitors our lives. The “inner voice” that speaks to us when our minds need confirmation that something is wrong, out of place, weird. An intuition per se.

While I would say most people will equate their consciences with their hearts… then our hearts know our motives, our true selves. Lying to others becomes more manageable when we get comfortable lying to ourselves. And when that happens… like a magic trick… poof, our conscience disappears, and the audience sits with amazement, wondering where did it go?

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When it comes to leaders in our society, their consciences are not any more or less important than others, but I am beginning to see leaders’ consciences leaving them as quick as they can run away from it. It just disappears, or they hide it where it can only be found when they want it. Why? What has happened to a person where we wonder, “When did they start to think a certain way?”

I see the issue not so much growing more popular but more evident. Blame-shifting is so easy to do now. Especially with the anonymity of social media and hiding behind a keyboard. Imagine everyone being made a scapegoat because leadership will not hold themselves to the same standards as everyone else.

We live in a culture where the conscience of leaders is elevated to be valued as medal-worthy due to pride. Leadership has also reached a level where others need to be blamed for a leader’s failure instead of responsibility taken for personal faults. Leadership deflection is so prominent that it is now seen as the norm, and leaders are escaping wrongdoing by claiming that they are now victims of other’s misunderstandings, even accusatory. When leaders shun responsibility, they set rules that only acknowledge self-entitlements.

Our conscience is a part of who we are. We cannot escape it. It does not and will not disappear, regardless of how many times we put it aside. However, the more times we do, the more numb our consciences become; stifled, muted, callous, eventually dead at the end.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2021 J Clay Norton

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Twitter @thebookchamber

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Leadership from Dogs? Yep…

As far as I can remember back… Patch, Buffy, Magnum, Putter, Bogey, Bailey, Roxi, and now Charlee and Hershey. These were and are the dogs of my life. So… why write a leadership blog on our dogs or dogs in general?

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I saw this quote the other day… “Dogs are the only animals that love you more than they love themselves.” I immediately thought about our dogs and analogies of leadership. Loving those you lead more than you love yourself. Why not?

So… Here are a few thoughts on dogs and leadership…

They remember the past but live in the “now” and wag their tail
First, I will say that dogs do remember the past based on how they are trained. I also believe they remember the past on how they are treated. I guess the only time a dog thinks future is when it will be fed or when their ears will be rubbed. Charlee, our Bassett, is my example here. Charlee is a lot like me, stubborn in some areas. We have trained her, all but beat her, loved her, given her treats, etc., and she will still pee by the back door every once in a while. Regardless, all she wants is to be fed, loved, and ears rubbed… now. Apparently, she could care less about the past and has no worries about the future. Charlee just wags her tail. She is one happy dog.

Leadership can work in the same way. Should it? I think so. Too many leaders live in the past, or even live in the future, per se, but seem to be oblivious to the present. While it is good to remember the past and look toward future planning, leadership that stays in the “now” leads now. Leadership that leads in the past gets old. Leadership that leads in the future tends to forget current events. We must have now to get to the future.

Loyal to the fullest extent
Hershey, our Lab, will follow us anywhere, in or out of the house. And when I say she will sit right beside us, it is right beside us. If there is a word beyond loyal, then it applies to Hershey. Even when we were training her and on occasion correct her now, she remains loyal.

In leadership, the people we work with will have up and downs, mishaps, and such. Training and correction will and needs to happen. By nature, I genuinely believe that most people do not mess up on purpose. Quality leadership is and stays loyal. Too many times, I have seen leaders who want loyalty but do not give loyalty in return. Please do not be this type of leader.

They will fight and protect you
Back in the day growing up, I must have done something wrong in the front yard, and my mom decided she would give me a whopping… Well, when my mom “pulled me up,” Patch, my dog then, got right between us and growled. The story goes that Patch got mom’s arm in her jaws but did not bite down. I don’t remember that episode, but needless to say, my mom never decided to whoop me where Patch was around after that.

That is what leadership should do, fight for you. Leadership should protect you. If you don’t fight and protect those you work with, well, they might not fight and protect you when you need it. While our dogs are not “guard dogs,” they do guard our surroundings. Leaders should do the same. Be a leader who is on guard for the people.

Do dogs really love you more than they love themselves? I have no idea. But it sure sounds good, doesn’t it? There is a lot we can learn from dogs. I have some more ideas, but the above three ideas are the ones that I thought stood out the best with leadership. I’m sure you can offer some analogies as well. I will also add this… leadership aside, dogs can show us how to love. Show a dog some love, and they will steal your heart and wag their tail.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2021 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on…

Twitter @thebookchamber

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A text from my mom and the thought of influence…

This past Saturday, Heather and I were on the patio drinking coffee, and I get a text from my mom asking me to read something on Facebook. For some reason, I could not open the link (technical difficulties), so I call mom and tell her. Well, one thing led to another, and she ends up reading me the below post. For those who know my mom, she is not one who always shares her feelings. But, she was excited about this. Mom stated it was one of the best things she has read of late and thought about us since we are teachers and the value of influence we have. 

As she was reading it to me, I looked it up online and actually found the post. What was interesting, it was posted on my 7th grade English teacher’s page. The story, as far as I can tell, has an unknown source. By nature, I try to be conscientious about my blogs and wanting them to be “original thoughts,” but I believe this post is worth reading…

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The Teacher and the Stolen Watch

AN OLD MAN MEETS A YOUNG MAN who asks;
“Do you remember me?” 

And the old man says no.  Then the young man tells him he was his student. And the teacher asks:
“What do you do, what do you do in life?”

The young man answers:
“Well, I became a teacher.”
“Ah, how good, like me?” Asks the old man.
“Well, yes.  In fact, I became a teacher because you inspired me to be like you.”

The old man, curious, asks the young man at what time he decided to become a teacher.  And the young man tells him the following story:
“One day, a friend of mine, also a student, came in with a nice new watch, and I decided I wanted it and I stole it, I took it out of his pocket.

Shortly after, my friend noticed his missing watch and immediately complained to our teacher, who was you. Then you went to the class:
“This student's watch was stolen during classes today.  Whoever stole it, please return it.”

I didn't give it back because I didn't want to.  Then you closed the door and told us all to get up and you were going to search our pockets one by one until the watch was found.  But you told us to close our eyes, because you would only look for his watch if we all had our eyes closed.

So we did, and you went from pocket to pocket, and when you went through my pocket, you found the watch and took it.  You kept searching everyone's pockets, and when you were done you said:
“Open your eyes. We have the watch.”

You didn't tell me and you never mentioned the episode. You never said who stole the watch either.  That day you saved my dignity forever.  It was the most shameful day of my life.

But this is also the day my dignity was saved and I decided not to become a thief, a bad person, etc. You never said anything, nor even scold me or took me aside to give me a moral lesson, I received your message clearly.

And thanks to you, I understood what a real educator needs to do.  Do you remember this episode, professor?

And the professor answers:
“I remember the situation, the stolen watch, which I was looking for in everyone’s pocket, but I didn't remember you, because I also closed my eyes while looking.”

This is the essence of teaching:
“If to correct you must humiliate; you don't know how to teach "

Credit - Unknown

As I read this again, I agree; it is pretty good. As educators, we really never know the power of our influence. Just like in the story, there will be plenty of students we cannot remember – if you teach long enough, it will happen. However, little things matter. One little thing here or there. The things we do or say that inspire. How we communicate and make others feel. Showing students that there is a better way. You never know, we might just save their dignity. You might not remember them, but they will remember you. Yes, to teach is to educate. But I will add this to the last line of the story – To influence and inspire… An essence of teaching that can only be measured with time

Who will you influence and inspire today? 

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2021 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on…

Twitter @thebookchamber

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Stop all the noise, I’m distracted and can’t hear myself think…

Two ideas got my attention this week… One, I was listening to a radio segment this past Saturday morning. The topic was about freedom and being held captive; we can be captive to others, and we can be held captive to ourselves. The other idea is from a statement our pastor said this past Sunday about how we allow noise of the outside world in our lives. If we are not able to set it aside, it will hinder our focus.  When I combined these two ideas in my head…

Well, as you know… it got me thinking…

We now live in a world of instant information. What one time took days and months to reach our ears are now at the touch of a button. I will confess, I am fascinated with news of what all is going on “out there.” If I let it, it will distract me, and it does to an extent. Our willingness to put that aside, in some ways, speaks to our mindset. And it does not have to be technology distractions. There are so many things that distract us; other people, family, your job, financials, sports… that putt I missed last Saturday morning, etc…

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That said, it now leads to what holds us captive. Are we held captive to our distractions? Individual freedom can only exist when we are no longer captive to the distractions of our own minds. At some point, they can very well become weapons of “mass distractions.” 

Don’t get distracted 🙂 stay with me here…

As educational leaders (by the way, that is what all people in education should want to be), are we distracted from doing our jobs? What interferes with us so much that our minds are held captive? If they keep us from doing what we are supposed to be doing, it is not good. For me, one distraction is idle curiosity. I will Google almost anything. I will chase rabbits with or without meat on it. Does it benefit my life? In my world, yes, but big picture, not really.

Nonetheless…

As we educate, as we lead, our minds really need to be clear of distractions. I know, easier said than done. Can we hone in on our objectives? There is a clip in the movie “For the Love of the Game” where Kevin Costner’s role is a baseball picther. When pitching, he mentally says, “Clear the mechanism.” It is often very hard to do this, but I believe we are at our best when we do.

Bottom line… distractions disengage us. I would suspect that most people would want us to be engaged and the flipside of that as well. I guess, in the end, it boils down to what we are willing and not willing to control in our minds. What do we want freedom from? Don’t be held captive to the noise.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2021 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on…

Twitter @thebookchamber

Want to share this leadership thought with others? Click on one of the social media sharing buttons below and help spread the good…