How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character. Crisis doesn't necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it. Adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequences.
1. Character Is More Than Talk - Anyone can say that he has integrity, but action is the real indicator of character. Our character determines who you are. Who you are determines what you see. What you see determines what you do. That's why you can never separate a leader's character from his actions. If a leader's actions and intentions are continually working against each other, then look to his character to find out why.
2. Talent Is A Gift, But Character Is A Choice - We have no control over a lot of things in life. We do not get to choose our parents. We do not select the location of circumstances of our birth and upbringing. We do not get to pick our talents or IQ. But we do choose our character. In fact, we create it every time we make choices - to cop out or dig out of a hard situation, to bend the truth or stand under the wieght of it, to take the easy money or pay the price. As you live your life and make choices today, you are continuing to create your character.
3. Character Brings Lasting Success With People - True leadership always involves other people. Followers do not trust leaders whose character they know to be flawed, and they will not continue following them.
4. Leaders Cannot Rise Above The Limitations Of Their Character - Have you ever seen highly talented people suddenly fall apart when they achieved a certain level of success? The key to that phenomenon is character. Steven Berglas, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of The Success Syndrome, says that people who achieve great heights but lack the bedrock character to sustain them through the stress are headed for disaster.
As you lead others at home, at work, and in the community, recognize that your character is your most important asset. Ask yourself whether your words and actions match--all the time. When you say you'll finish an assignment, do you always follow through? If you tell your children that you'll make it to their recital or ball game, are you there for it? Can people trust your handshake as they would a legal contract?
To improve your character:
1. Search For The Cracks - Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.), and identify anwhere you might have cut corners, compromised, or let people down. Write down every instance you can recall from the past two months.
2. Look For Patterns - Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing? Detectable patterns will help you diagnose character issues.
3. Face The Music - The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions. Create a list of people to whom you need to apologize for your actions, then follow through with sincere apologies.
4. Rebuild - It's one thing to face up to your past actions. It's another to build a new future. Now that you've identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.
A man took his young daughter to a carnival, and she immediately ran over to a booth and asked for cotton candy. As the attendant handed her a huge ball of it, the father asked, "Sweetheart, are you sure you can eat all that?" "Don't worry, Dad," she answered, "I'm a lot bigger on the inside than on the outside."
That's what real character is--being bigger on the inside.
(From The 21 Indispensible Qualities of a Leader by John Maxwell)
This amazing story from Yahoo ran on August 20, 2007. ...Who said anything about a handicap?
LEHIGHTON, Pa. (AP) -- Sheila Drummond didn't need to see her hole-in-one. She heard it.
Drummond, blinded by diabetes 26 years ago, experienced the highlight of her golfing career Sunday, recording an ace on the 144-yard, par-3 fourth hole at Mahoning Valley Country Club.
Playing with her husband and coach, Keith, and two friends in a steady rain, the 53-year-old Drummond hit a driver on the hole. The shot cleared a water hazard, flew between traps and landed on the green, where it hit the flagstick before dropping into the hole.
"They were saying, 'It's a great shot,' and then I heard it hit the pin," Drummond said.
"For a hole-in-one, you have to hit it onto the green, so it's a little bit of skill and a lot of luck."
In 1999, Golf Digest said the odds of an amateur getting a hole-in-one are 1 in 12,750. That number, no doubt rises, for a blind golfer.
Drummond is a member of the board of directors of the United States Blind Golfers Association, and the organization believes she is the first totally blind female to record a hole-in-one.
"We've looked everywhere, and haven't been able to find anyone else," she said.
Drummond took up golf about 15 years ago, and three years later qualified as the first female member of the USGBA.
"I just try to do the best I can," said Drummond, who carries a 48 handicap with the USGBA. "I get nervous.
"But I wasn't nervous (Sunday), I just don't like playing in the rain."
Drummond's hole-in-one was first reported on the Web site of The Morning Call of Allentown.
Yahoo asked Griest to share some of her travel recommendations. Here are eight of her favorite picks for women wanderers:
1. For inspiration and enlightenment: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Goddesses reign supreme in Hawaii, and the most venerated is Pele, who presides over the volcanoes. Legend has it she secretly envies Poliahu, goddess of the snow, and the two quarrel often — especially over menfolk. Poliahu usually wins, causing Pele to erupt in fury, and Poliahu gets stuck cleaning the mess with her ice afterward. (Indeed, traces of lava have been found seeping through glacial ice caps at various epochs in Hawaiian geological history.) Even when Pele triumphs, she soon tires of her lovers and sends them racing down the mountain, trailed by her hot, molten lava. To see her in action, head to the Big Island. Lounge upon the white-sand beaches at Kona Coast and the black-sand beaches at Puna district, then soak in thermal pools set in lava rock at Ahalanui Beach Park. Pele dwells in the Halema'uma'u Crater Overlook of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Devotees leave her offerings of flowers, gin, and ohelo berries. Then pay homage to Poliahu atop Mauna Kea, the world's tallest mountain (when measured base to peak). Linger til sunset to see why Hawaiians consider their homeland to be Earth's connecting point to the universe.
2. For indulgence: Lingerie shopping in Paris
Every woman should have at least one fabulous piece of lingerie tucked inside her drawers — even if there's no one around to show it to. Slipping on a chiffon babydoll and dimming the lights is, after all, the best way to turn a lonely TV dinner into a romantic dinner-for-one. To spice up your collection, fly to Paris, where they claim to have invented it. Herminie Cadolle went down in fashion history for "freeing" women by slicing the stifling corset in two in 1889, thus creating the world's first bra. Even today, her Parisian boutiques — currently run by her great-great-granddaughter — remain among the finest places to buy one. Cadolle specialties include Victorian corsets, bodices, and a broad collection of hand-sewn brassieres, but to truly indulge, make an appointment for a satiny, made-to-measure something at 255 rue Saint-Honoré (Metro: Concorde or Tuilleries). For her ready-to-wear collection, visit 4 rue Cambon.
3. For purification and beautification: The banyas of Moscow and St. Petersburg
The Russian banya is a Slavic Eden: a steamy, womb-like place that will tack years onto your life. According to folklore, these baths are haunted by mischievous spirits that bewitch clothing worn inside, so strip down all the way. (Most of the baths are gender-segregated.) Rinse off in the shower and enter the steam room, where scores of women will be massaging salt into each other's pores, swapping beauty secrets, and gossiping. Grab a branch of birch leaves and slap it against your body. Roast. When the heat becomes unbearable, proceed to the pool room and jump in immediately. (Some are kept as frigid as 42 degrees; stick a toe in first and you'll lose your nerve.) Get out before hypothermia kicks in and return to the steam room. Repeat as many times as possible: your skin will glow afterward! In Moscow, visit Krasnopresnensky on Stolyarny Pereulok 7, near the Ulitsa 1905 Goda Metro. In St. Petersburg, try Mitninskaya Banya at Ulitsa Mitninskaya 17/19 near the Metro Ploshad' Vosstaniya.
4. To celebrate powerful women and their places in history: Frida Kahlo's Mexico
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is one of history's grand divas. A tequila-slamming, dirty joke-telling smoker, she hobbled about her bohemian barrio in lavish indigenous dress and threw dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda, Nelson Rockefeller, and her on-again, off-again husband, muralist Diego Rivera. Half a century after her death, her work fetches more money than any other female artist's (Madonna is said to be an avid collector), and she was the first Latina ever featured on a U. S. postage stamp. Visiting her cobalt blue home in Coyoacan is like stepping inside one of her fantastical paintings. The walls are awash with color and mosaics; a Day of the Dead altar yields pastries, flowers, candles, and papier mâché skeletons; the courtyard blooms with tropical flowers and cactus. Her personal effects are displayed throughout the house, including her pre-Hispanic jewelry, sketchbook diaries, love letters, artwork, and corset-like body cast. (Stricken with polio as a child, she shattered her spine in a bus accident at age eighteen.) Frida t-shirts, computer mousepads, and coffee cups are sold in the gift shop, and you can sip a café con leche in the tranquil café. La Casa Azul is located on Londres 247 and accessible by the Coyoacan Viveros Metro Station in Mexico City.
5. To celebrate struggle and renewal: Arts and voodoo festivals in Benin
Traveling in West Africa is empowering for women — precisely because it is challenging. You must utilize every available resource to make it through the day, and when you finally find that market or village you are seeking, it is like unearthing rubies. The warmth and hospitality of its people make Benin especially welcoming. Upon arrival to any town, visit the mayor's office and ask for the local women's group. A guide will likely take you to the local crafts cooperative, where you can buy directly from the artisans. Also explore the world of voodoo, a belief that natural forces like rain and wind have spiritual forces behind them. Practitioners build shrines out of small mounds of earth and offer their gods alcohol, flowers, food, and the blood of animals sacrificed in their honor. On National Voodoo Day — January 10 — partake in dancing fueled by copious amounts of sodabe (a local palm liquor) at the vibrant festivals in Ouidah. Look out for the Mami Wata worshippers, who dress in all white. Mostly women, they are considered very powerful and are often feared.
6. For womanly affirmation: Belly dancing in San Francisco, New York, or Austin
Belly dancing dates back to pre-Biblical times, when it was performed as a fertility-cult ritual. In ancient Arab tribes, midwives assisted women in labor by dancing around them, rolling their stomachs to imitate the contraction of the uterus. It was also performed as entertainment throughout the Orient by and for women who stayed home while their husbands were out. Not only a great physical workout, modern belly dancing will get you in touch with your earthy self. Communities can be found in every corner of the United States. San Francisco is home to Fat Chance Belly Dance, a renowned tribal dance troupe. Take a class at their studio at 670 South Van Ness Avenue. In New York City, look up legendary teacher Morocco of the Casbah Dance Experience, or Sarah Johansson Locke of Alchemy Performance. Austin, Texas is the place to be on full moons, when Lucila Dance Productions hosts Haflas, gatherings of dancers and drummers who snack on grape leaves as they dance barefoot beneath the stars. Down some wine if you feel inhibited: it's the best hip lubricant around!
7. For all-around wonder: Mongolia
Mongolia. The word might conjure desolation, but this "last frontier" is actually steeped in ritual and tradition and surrounded by stark, natural beauty. Come to race a pony (or yak or camel) across a grassland speckled with wildflowers, to meditate in hidden Tibetan Lamaist temples, to bask in the legacy of Mandhai-Setsen, the Wise Queen who re-unified her turbulent nation by leading her troops into battle in the fifteenth century.
In the countryside, hospitable families will welcome you to their ger (wood-framed tent) with a small bowl of vodka (if you're lucky) or a potent brew of fermented mare's milk called airag (if you're not). Drink every drop and hold the bowl upside down over your head to prove it. Then explore the surrounding area on horseback, which could mean Sherwood-like forests, Ghobi desert, or tundra. The best month to visit Mongolia is July — not just for the sunny weather, but for Naadam, a three-day, Olympic-style festival celebrated throughout the nation. The wrestling division features 300-pound wrestlers clad only in boots, briefs, and sleeves who clutch each other for hours (and hours) until their strength wears out and they knock each other over. Like sumo, but sexier.
8. Just for the fun of it: The Bahamian island of Eleuthera
Nearly every sea culture has tales of lovely maidens who propel through the ocean with fish-like tails. A few believe mermaids help steer ships from harm's way, but most claim they are seductresses who, like the Sirens of myth, lure sailors into the water with their songs and then sink their ships. One place where mermaids are thought to be alive and well is the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Locals say that if you rise early enough, you can sometimes catch them washing their golden locks on the rocks of Whale Point, an old swimming hole. Bahamian children believe that their parents have seen this, and they will too someday. If your own sunrise outing is in vain, become one yourself: there is little to do here but splash in the water. Eleuthera's beaches (in particular, Harbour Island) have crystalline waters filled with colorful reefs, eagle rays, octopus, and dolphins. Whales migrate through annually. Then pass the night at Elbina's in Gregory Town, where locals gather to sing along to live Southern Caribbean music. Ask the old-timers about their own mermaid encounters; you'll hear some great stories.
Stephanie Elizondo Griest's 100 Places Every Woman Should Go (Travelers' Tales, $16.95) debuts in bookstores this month.
Here is a superb article from Judy Miller in the City Journal that discusses the NYPD's recent report on the homegrown terrorist threat. As Judy mentioned in a recent email, "the report has some important implications for intelligence surveillance and counter-terrorism...."
The Ill Turn of the Native How homegrown terrorists are born
21 August 2007
Who becomes an Islamic terrorist and why? How does the transformation occur? Is the terrorist threat to Americans diminishing or growing? And how can law enforcement prevent terrorist strikes within the United States?
To these critical questions, the New York Police Department has proposed some controversial answers whose profound implications for police surveillance in New York have angered some Muslim activists and civil libertarians. A 90-page assessment, released last Wednesday, argues that the primary terrorist threat to New Yorkers—indeed, to all Americans—comes not from al-Qaida in Iraq or from the mountainous tribal region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as the intelligence community in Washington asserted last month in its latest national intelligence estimate. Rather, the NYPD concludes, the main terrorist threat is increasingly homegrown.
While al-Qaida remains a vital source of “inspiration and an ideological reference point,” the study says, the more insidious terrorist threat comes primarily from younger Muslim men between the ages of 15 and 35 who have no direct al-Qaida connection, but who become radicalized by exposure to an “extreme and minority interpretation” of Islam. These ossified “Salafi” interpretations of the Koran and other sacred texts promote violence and intolerance, and they’re spread by local “Muslim student associations,” “extremist literature from Saudi Arabia”—a reference bound to annoy Riyadh—and militant websites, the report states.
The threat emanates largely from “unremarkable” men, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly observes in the report’s preface—those who prior to becoming holy warriors held “ ‘unremarkable’ jobs, lived ‘unremarkable’ lives, and had little, if any criminal history.” What worries the NYPD is that since 9/11, the “radicalization” of Muslim minorities in the United States and other democracies has been “accelerating,” the study warns, “and the individuals swept up in it are continuing to get younger.”
Further, while Muslims in America have seemed “more resistant” than those in Europe to the radical messages on the Internet—a key “incubator” and “echo chamber” for radical interpretation, training, inspiration, and support—they are “not immune” to the militant ideology spreading in the West at “an exponential rate.” In fact, many members of New York’s diverse Muslim population of between 600,000 and 750,000 people—about 40 percent of them foreign-born—may be vulnerable to radicalization, the study asserts. “Unfortunately,” it concludes, “the City’s Muslim communities have been permeated by extremists who have and continue to sow the seeds of radicalization.”
The study identifies patterns of radicalization in ten successful or thwarted plots at home and abroad since 9/11, as well as in the 9/11 plot itself, which seen in retrospect involved a threat that was “homegrown”—in Hamburg, Germany—rather than fostered in Muslim countries. It finds four “distinct phases of radicalization” common to participants in these plots. The first, “pre-radicalization,” is the “point of origin” prior to a person’s militant awakening. The second, “self-identification,” occurs when a person, sometimes prompted by a personal or family crisis, begins exploring radical ideas and associating with “like-minded” people. Following this phase is “indoctrination,” when a person’s commitment to violence and a radical outlook intensifies, often with reinforcement from a “spiritual sanctioner.” Finally, “jihadization” occurs when members of a cell or “cluster” agree to participate in jihad and prepare to act.
In most of the plots, the people “self-identifying” with radicalism gave up cigarettes, drinking, or gambling and began wearing traditional Islamic clothing and growing beards—easy enough for police to spot. But in the subsequent “indoctrination” stage, plotters withdrew from the mosques to discuss their increasingly radical agendas in more secure settings: private apartments, the back rooms of bookstores, and isolated corners of prayer rooms. As radicalization increased, “Outward-Bound-like” jihadi-reinforcing activities—camping, white-water rafting, paintball games, target shooting, and outdoor simulations of military-like maneuvers—reinforced the bonds of loyalty and trust. Often one or more members of a militant cluster traveled abroad, usually to a militant training camp in a country or region seen as a “field of jihad”—Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Somalia, and now Iraq.
By the time radicalization has progressed to this stage, strangers are no longer welcome, and the police’s ability to infiltrate the group has all but evaporated. And while most stages of radicalization occur gradually, over two to three years, “jihadization,” the phase that defines the actual attack, “can occur quickly, and with very little warning—in some cases, in as little as a couple of weeks.”
While Commissioner Kelly said that the report was a “template meant to help law enforcement in its investigations,” he declined to say how the NYPD would alter its surveillance activities in response to the report’s findings. The views of the report’s authors, NYPD senior intelligence analysts Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt, are clear, however: to prevent the formation of radical clusters and the “planning of future plots,” the police need to identify suspects who are being radicalized “at the earliest possible stage.” This implies that police surveillance should include not just radical mosques that incite violence and intolerance, but also sometimes the more informal hangouts—cafés, flophouses, hookah bars, butcher shops, bookstores, and Muslim student associations—that the report identifies as the “nodes” of the radical new subculture where mainstream Muslim immigrants, along with second- and third-generation college-age Americans of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent, are getting radicalized.
This has infuriated many Muslim-Americans, or groups that claim to speak for them. The report’s “sweeping generalizations and mixing of unrelated elements may serve to cast a pall of suspicion over the entire American Muslim community,” warned a statement issued by Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal case against a Texas-based charity accused of providing millions of charitable dollars to the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
More cautious concern came from Shamsi Ali, deputy imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, who is quoted in the report. Ali said last Thursday that while the report had created “a sense of uneasiness within our community, we know that there are cases, that the report contains facts.” Concern about radicalization, he said, had prompted his center to “reach out to Muslim youth” through summer camps, seminars, and other activities to warn against extremist interpretations of the faith. Mainstream Muslims were now in the ascendancy, he asserted. If he had a critique of the report, it was that it was “outdated.” The radicals, he said, “are becoming more marginalized.”
The report has troubled civil libertarians too. Christopher Dunn, of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that by painting all Muslims as “potential terrorists,” it risked not only discouraging law-abiding Muslims from cooperating with the police, but also eroding the line that separates the police from lawful religious activity.
Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert with the Rand Corporation whose comments introduce the report, concedes that while “intelligence operations”—such as the use of covert surveillance, confidential informants, and undercover agents—are often the best way to disrupt militant clusters, such early intervention is bound to be legally and politically problematic, since it risks violating the First and Fourth Amendments, which guarantee freedom of expression and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. He hopes that the designation of specific stages of radicalization will help prosecutors and courts decide “when the boundary between a bunch of guys sharing violent fantasies and a terrorist cell determined to go operational has been crossed.”
But the often contentious relations between civil libertarians and the NYPD mean that a tussle over the location of that boundary is likely to begin long before actual cases emerge. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne insisted last Wednesday that the NYPD surveillance has been “legal and constitutional” and would continue to be so. He denied that the report meant that all Muslims would be monitored. “If a lead in a terrorist case takes us to a bookstore, as it did in the Herald Square bomb plot, we investigate the suspect in the bookstore—not all bookstores, Islamic or not, in Brooklyn,” he said. While the study provided “insight” into the radicalization process, “it is not a blueprint for deployment.”
Nevertheless, civil libertarian groups will surely protest any expansion of the department’s surveillance program to monitor what Lawrence Sanchez, the NYPD’s assistant commissioner of intelligence and the study’s director, called “seemingly unremarkable people engaged in innocuous behavior” who may be quietly undergoing radicalization.
Yet this is precisely what the NYPD is already doing, and must continue to do, to disrupt terrorist plots. The militant plot to blow up the Herald Square subway station, after all, was foiled by an NYPD confidential informant and an undercover officer. So, too, were some of the other plots that the study reviews. More aggressive surveillance may well be necessary if the trends identified in the new report accelerate. But public acceptance of such tactics will depend on the existence of tough-minded, independent oversight. The NYPD will need to assure concerned New Yorkers that their civil liberties are protected while the city is kept safe.
In his recent book, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, actor Alan Alda wrote about a dog he had when he was eight years old. He describes how he was so upset about burying his dog that his Dad suggested that they have it stuffed.
In a Newsweek interview, he said, "It turned out to be a really terrible idea because the dog came back from the taxidermist with a hideous expression on its face that frightened everybody. After a while I started to think of that as an image of something that went a lot deeper than the dead dog, which is you can’t bring back anything to life. It’s really clear to me that you can’t hang onto something longer than its time. Ideas lose certain freshness, ideas have a shelf life, and sometimes they have to be replaced by other ideas. Hanging onto things the way you wish they were, I’ve come to see isn’t a good idea." He continued that there are a lot of ways we stuff the dog, trying to avoid change or hanging on to a moment that's passed.
We all of course, like to hang on to the familiar. What things are you hanging on to that once abandoned would allow you to move to the next level? Drucker used the phrase “creative abandonment” to describe the process by which people and organizations determine what they should stop doing. Have you stuffed the dog lately?