Monday, April 27, 2015

Jordan and Melissa's Wedding, August 2013

So there are 7 of us kids in the Moore family.  Jordan, Derek, John (me), Jack, David, Reagan, and Gator.

The last two years have seen two new marriages.  First, between my oldest brother Jordan, currently serving in the U.S. Navy, and a lovely girl named Melissa Platt whom he met while stationed in the U.K.  They decided to get married at my parent's house in Kaufman. 

At the ceremony, last minute, I shot some video on a DSLR (Canon 7D) and tried to record audio (Zoom H4).  The audio recording failed, and the video looked like a junkie needing a fix was the camera op.  However, it found it's way into the hands of a very talented editor (Katelan Hessel, whom I was dating at the time) and she cut it into a beautiful piece.  I recorded some material from Melissa's Dad reading a quick letter, and sent it along with the raw footage.

A couple years later, as a birthday gift to Melissa, Katelan sent this video.  I think it's rather lovely, and realized that the blogosphere has been out of the loop on weddings and proposals and the like.

So here it is, in it's finished form, along with a few photos of the day.  :-)  It was quite lovely, and we're all thankful for the addition of Melissa to our family.  I'm even told that the Platts are ok with Jordan being a part of their family...  Shocking, I know!


Enjoy!  (if you want to watch it in HD, you can watch it at this link: Melissa and Jordan)



Thanks again to Katelan for putting this together!  Y'all might not see it here, but she had almost nothing to work with in terms of material, but she figured out how to make the meager footage tell a story rather brilliantly.  I'm impressed.

Next time, my baby sister's wedding!!




Thursday, March 19, 2015

The 7 Shades of Christian Film

Christian film is a very small subgenre of a very large industry, in spite of over seventy years of fighting for an equal seat at the table.  Perhaps the biggest reason, is that there are so many people arguing over what a Christian film is and is not.  Many times, an artist will pour hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their life into a film, only to have other believers attack them publicly, and insist that they're not serving God with their particular flavor of film.  Other times, filmmakers just complain about each other's low quality of production.

The good news is, if you're a fan of Christian movies, there are more of them being made with higher budgets, better talent, and stronger writing.  In spite of those developments, however, they seem to fall within the same old stale genre guidelines and never depart.  Each of these genres can almost correspond to a denomination from which the style originated, interestingly enough.  Take a look at this list of Christian movie types, and feel free to chime in with your own.


The 'Say This Prayer' Movie


It has one goal.  It's obvious.  This film has done it's job if it presents the salvation message and a character goes through the sinners prayer.  Fans of this movie tend to disown all the other types of Christian movie (much like the denomination from whence is stems, disowning all other theological persuasions of Christianity) and it's considered by some to be the most concentrated or 'true' form of Christian film.  In this film, the protagonist's world gets worse and worse until he eventually breaks and prays a prayer of repentance to God.  Rich Christiano has notably done these sorts of films with the most dignity.  But most End Times movies like A Thief in the Night and Left Behind sit in this category, but they also have a category of their own.... 


The Biblical Prophecy Movie!


The end is nigh.  Repent.  That's the entire message and goal of this film.  To incite fear and panic through teaching atrociously superstitious interpretations of the final book of the New Testament.  In these films, either the Rapture has just happened, or the Tribulation is underway.  There is some form of oppressive government with one goal; exterminate Christians.  Of course, this is a radically simplistic storyline that believes that half a billion people can vanish from the planet, all of them conspicuously Christian, and somehow the priorities of the world will be to hunt down and kill any new converts to Christianity....  Alas.  The films do have a good track record for scaring youth groups into praying the right prayer, and that's all that counts.  I've met directors of these films who openly admit to not believing an ounce of the theology they preach.  In this film, the protagonist must escape the one world government as long as possible. 


The Christian Pigskin Movie


Blessing your food is probably a habit, unless you're an A-list star.  Then you only do it in movies revolving around pigskins and high school dreams of championships.  If country music had a film equivalent, it's this.  This movie is a down home story of American small towns, Christian mamas, and corn on the cob.  Films like The Blind Side sit square in the middle of this genre, with films as conservative as Facing the Giants on one side and movies as gritty and foul mouthed as American Sniper or Machine Gun Preacher on the far other side of the genre space.  Are they made by Christians?  Not necessarily.  The audience is part of the mainstream, but has a bit more drawl, gumption, and likes their food fried.  In this movie the protagonist must win the big game or die trying.  My movie The Widow's Might plays to this story model.


The Self-help Movie


"With great power comes great responsibility" is a message.  "Follow this 40 day game plan until your wife loves you again" is a set of instructions.  Fireproof, The Ultimate Gift, and other modern films in the Christian genre aren't as interested in winning the lost, but guiding the found.  I expect this genre to increasingly be based on popular self-help books, and it will appeal to the massive Christian middle class entrepreneur community.  In this movie, the protagonist must learn all the lessons in the right order.  Eventually, like George Bailey, he learns how good he really had it to begin with.  


The Bible Epic


The Ten Commandments, The Prince of Egypt, the many retellings of the life of Christ.  The Passion of the Christ.  The Bible on HBO.  Each new version of these films attempts to layer the filmmakers personal interpretation of the personalities of biblical heroes.  Was Noah a madman?  Was Moses angsty?  Was Jesus witty?  One filmmaker is rumored to be working on a film depicting the Apostle Paul as an opportunistic cult leader who undermines the work of the other disciples.  The Bible epics seem to be increasingly fantastical reinterpretations, testing how far American audiences will be stretched.  Interestingly, while Christians do typically watch these movies, many Christian movie-goers describe these movies as unbiblical or even as an attempt from the devil to lead believers astray.  In the end, they're actually attempts by Hollywood to make money, regardless of your beliefs.  Oddly enough, these movies don't really have protagonists.   Just characters controlled by the fate of the story universe. 


The Biblical Worldview Movie


This is almost the opposite of the 'faith-based' film, not in intentions, but in execution.  In this world, every word, piece of clothing, character action, relationship, and plot arc is carefully weighed under a huge variety of theological tenets.  The object is to paint a world where the entire perspective is heavily biased to a conservative Christian outlook.  This can be seen in the way the characters romance one another, the particular word choices used by characters to refer to family members (mother and father will be more common than mom and dad, for instance), and the types of career choices characters take.  The most defining factor of these movies is that there tends to be an 'issue' that is getting tackled from a biblical worldview.  In this movie, the protagonist must discover or realize the biblical way to understand an issue.  I really think October Baby  did this well, but most films in this category tend to be very low budget and poorly executed so I don't have many other examples.  This was what I wanted Ace Wonder to be, but it instead seemed to follow a crossover of the 'faith based' and the 'say this prayer' movie.

Last, but not least, there's a itsy bitsy growing movement trying something new.  


The Life-Giving Movie


A man stood in front of a gathering of Christian media leaders and said essentially this - if the Church was tasked with providing oxygen and water to the world, we would deliver these mountainous boxes, ornately decorated with scripture verses proclaiming the hope of the gospel and the majesty of God.  Or with directives like 'Repent!'  We would place them in every field and on top of every mountain, and the world would come to these boxes for their life giving water and air to survive, as along the way, we used the opportunity to force them into hearing our message.

Meanwhile, God chose a different tactic.  Beauty.  Lovely things.  Trees. Rivers.  Gorgeous flowers in every color, size, scent, and style.  Trees that reach to the heavens and bushes that barely reach to your waist.  All completely different, and all providing us the air we need to live. They don't congratulate themselves, and for thousands of years nobody even knew these plants were providing what we needed.  They just simply grew and surrounded us.  We selfishly wanted their beauty and they selflessly gave us life.  This seems silly in a way, but the New Testament points out that even Nature leaves us without excuse as to the knowledge of God.  Why is it that subtlety and nuance are so powerful in leaving us without excuse?  Because they reveal the nature of goodness, and perfection, and majesty.  Because they show us who God is, instead of telling us what God demands.

I hope that one day Christian artists might choose to create as the creator did.  With a focus on the beauty of the craft, a focus on mastery, diversity, splendor, and majesty....  And the oxygen it produces, the life it gives.... well, viewers won't even be able to say no.  You cannot smell a flower without breathing in life.

That man's name is Andy Librizzi, and his film Beyond the Farthest Star is one of the best examples of a life giving film I've seen.  It has no directive. No rapture.  No stars and stripes or country song to lead the charge.  No five step plan to improve a marriage or lead a friend to salvation.  It does not attack lifestyles or insult people.  It doesn't try to bait and switch the audience.  It pulls no punches, it does not apologize.  It simply tells a story with authenticity and love.  Is it a cinematic masterpiece?   Come on.  It's an independent film.  But I've watched it a few times now and I always get more from it every time.  And that's something I can't say about any of the other genres.


Reading; The War of Art
Watching; Empire
Thinking; What subgenres did I forget? 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Product Insurance Story with a Happy Ending!

Do you ever choose to insure large electronics purchases?  You know, when you're checking out of NewEgg or Best Buy and certain products have the option to 'insure' or 'extend this warranty to 3 years ultraprotection' or some nonsense like that?

I normally don't, but the salesman at AT&T asked me if I wanted it on my recent iPhone 6 purchase.  As some of you know, I tried to show my Dad that my phone was waterproof once... and it didn't end well.  What you didn't know is that shortly before that, I knocked my phone off a balcony and shattered it.  So when the salesman asked if I wanted insurance on my purchase, I only had to do about 48 hours of reflecting to make a decision.  I purchased the insurance.

And I'm glad I did.  This is not a joke. I dropped my iPhone 6 for the hundredth time, and the screen shattered. AT&T overnight shipped me a new unit immediately.  It's weird, because this is the only time I've 'casually' broken an iPhone.

This is my third iPhone 6. I'm pretty sure they're going to send me a letter pretty soon asking me to please treat technology with the respect it deserves.

Because as I was restoring my apps and music and talking to Nathan Webster on Skype about Chasing American Legends, I managed to drop my phone, face down, again.Thankfully, it was the old phone. But still.

Reading; Manage Your Day-to-Day
Watching; Indie Game: The Movie

Thinking; How much longer til another rapture prediction?

International Childhood Frenemies?

Interesting fact, Texas is narrowly staying ahead of Mexico in terms of world economic power, but is vastly ahead of Mexico in terms of how much of it's potential is being utilized per person. Mexico's economy and upper middle lass have risen in multiple percentage points per year, with quality of living, justice in law enforcement, and other 'standards' rising radically every year as well. When Mexico's Goldman Sachs says by 2050, Mexico will be the 5th largest economic power in the world. Already they're a larger power than many countries in some very important ways.  They build more cars than any North American country including the US.  They export more electronics to the U.S. than any country except China.  

Texas has 27 million residents and about a 1.4 Trillion dollar GDP. Mexico has 117 million citizens. With the massive, massive advances in technology and economic opportunity in Mexico, those 120 million people currently producing a 1.8 Trillion dollar GDP will start developing natural resources at a vastly higher rate, and are already building manufacturing facilities that make most in the US look like we're from the dark ages.

The advantage is Mexico is often not held back by unionization. Imagine if the industrial revolution of the late 19th century and the 'middle class revolution' of the 1940s both happened again, but today. And instead of 50 million participants, it's 120 million. And instead of switching to railroads and the assembly line they're switching 3D printed medical technology and communications infrastructure?

2050 may be a conservative view, Goldman Sachs. I expect Mexico to be our most serious threat or our most important friend in the next 15 years easily, if they aren't already. If one China under communism on another continent makes a military economy nervous, what about a China within walking distance operating under a more capitalist economy that speaks Spanish and doesn't much like how immigration has been treated?

I'd love to invest in land in Mexico, but unlike the United States of America, they only sell to citizens of their own country. You can buy America from whatever country you please.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

Willpower Management, Creative Energy, and Productivity Morale


Ooph.  Productivity.  And I'm writing this post why? 

Productivity scares me as a topic.  It's this ethereal, unmeasurable thing that we all aspire to do more of without fully comprehending what it is.  When we're doing it, we feel it.  We have a sense of satisfaction at the end of each day. When we're not doing it, we sense the fatigue.  Sometimes we are doing it, and have resigned ourselves to the fact that being highly fatigued is a part of being highly productive.

Then again, haven't we all seen those people who go to sleep satisfied and feeling accomplished, but in our eyes they've accomplished nothing at all?  Then we second-guess our own habits, wondering if we really are getting things done or if we're just psyching ourselves out.  I'm going to show some of my personal implementations of these thoughts next week, but I wanted to write this post while these topics were VERY fresh on my mind.

I've found that two things tend to be most true when it comes to my high intuitive/creative friends and their projects and goals.

1.)  They feel productive in the wrong way.


They're productive, and know they're highly productive, but feel like their 'real goals' or objectives get further and further away from becoming a reality.

This could be an entertainment project like a film, a book project, or video game, or it could be personal aspirations for emotional success like finding a spouse, mastering a a skill, or achieving new health goals.

2.)  They don't feel productive at all.

This might be true, it might not.  They feel like they're busy, they fill their days and don't have enough time to actually move things forward, personally or professionally.  Maybe they don't even want to move forward, they just want to catch up. It's a weird cosmic void that they live in of self-loathing and then helplessness against the prevailing currents of life.

The snowball effect goes both ways. Winding up productivity and winding down productivity not only change the temperature of your professional and personal ambitions, they adjust the thermostat.  

What I have learned. 


I don't have productivity solutions.  My productive life is much like a slinky.   Moment by moment, I am starting new projects, reopening old projects, and abandoning projects. I may have a ton of momentum, but I have to transfer that momentum into the next project or the slinky stops.

I don't have an employer.  I have clients for my small production company, and I do the occasional freelance gig outside the scope of what my business offers, and I try to stay always outside my comfort zone with new projects that stretch my boundaries.

As a result, I don't have a boss to be accountable to.  I don't work certain hours.  I am responsible for 100% of my productivity, and more importantly, 100% of my 'productivity morale'.  This means that my day is completely at my mercy, and simultaneously, my morale is completely at the mercy of my day.

Here are a few things I've learned as a result.



#1.  Momentum is Rare and Sacred


Once you have productive momentum, guard it with your life.  It will run out, don't expect it to be eternal.  But it is something you should expect to come and go at a predictable rhythm.  Don't try to keep it going forever, or beat yourself up if it dies, but definitely understand that each 'momentum' cycle can be stoked and maintained, so that it lives longer each time you catch it.  Keeping momentum isn't about making sure every single day is filled with wall-to-wall exhaustive productivity.  It's about making sure that once you catch a feeling of productivity, you don't go celebrate;  instead, plug in just as much effort as the day before.  Don't burn yourself out, but go do it again.  Repeat the productive process.  You can celebrate once the 'harvest season' is over.   Which brings me to my next point.


#2.  Know your Seasons.  


Maybe this isn't as true for a nine to five situation.  But for freelancers and creatives, it's really important that though you need to do work every day, the TYPE of work you need to do is going to change a lot.  And for some of us, the season is very different and takes a very different type of energy.  For me, certain 'seasons' naturally draw and feed me energy in a perpetual loop.  I could do creative meetings 'blowing up' potential projects all day long.  Spinning up new ideas with new characters, challenges, markets, etc, are fantastic.  And live events.  Working through the emotional arcs of a live event is a blast.  I could do it day after day.  Production budgets?  Accounting?  Invoicing clients?  Navigating terms of a deal?  I find myself drained for days after just one day focused on budgets.  This radically reduces my 'productivity morale'.  I feel like I accomplished little in comparison to the amount of energy it took, and I have no energy leftover to do the things that I normally love doing.  My productivity morale is at an all time low, if I'm not careful.

What does this mean?  It means I need to anticipate the way I'm going to spend my emotional energy on certain projects.  Ironically, it means I need to 'budget' my creative energy, and make sure that I don't do budget work at the beginning of the week before needing to do a lot of other high energy projects.  Instead, projects that drain my 'productivity morale' should be planned near intense play time.

Tip:  Make a list of the types of work you do, then 'rank them' based on how much 'productivity morale' they leave you with after you're done, and how much 'creative energy' they take to complete.  Projects that take a great deal of creative energy but leave you with low productivity morale, are big scary demons trying to kill your productive life.

#3.  Write Everything Down.


Not some fancy schmancy organized list.  And I mean it, write everything down.  Things you're thinking, things you want to do.  Things you HAVE to do.  The next immediate action step towards every goal, project, or idea you might have.  Your questions.  Your answers.  Things you never want to do.

Just start writing things everywhere.  Because the brain is linear in it's thinking model, 'mind mapping' or just putting things to paper allows your mind to form reality out of abstracts by connecting dots between 'two thoughts at one time'.  Paper extends the power of your brain by adding 'RAM' to your computer.  By adding newly available, randomly accessible memories to your thinking power.  But not only does it make abstracts a reality before your eyes, it allows you to derive abstracts from reality.  By writing down ten real problems, your mind can suddenly seek patterns in your problems, and derive an abstract conclusion.

I've explained a thousand times that it's not what  you write, it's the simple fact that you are writing everything that makes list making a powerful tool.  If you have to process everything into tidy little details first, you probably won't start.  Especially if it takes a lot of creative energy to do this.  (note:  if you gain tons of productive morale from detailed listmaking, you'll enjoy this process more than others;  but don't forget the importance of making messy lists too.  Those will unlock secrets you don't know you have lurking around in your task lists.  Being too tidy can keep your problems from manifesting on paper, which is one of the best areas to tackle them.)



#4.  Willpower is Finite


I'm going to do a full list of books to recommend on the topic of productivity.  It's a lot shorter than you'd think.  There are a handful (five or so) books that are radically transforming in terms of understanding productivity and fully utilizing your energy.  Books filled with tools to transform every aspect of your being into productivity perfection.  Unfortunately, with these, you're fighting an uphill battle.  Because most of them involve complex systems that require energy and willpower to integrate, on top of requiring will power and energy to complete tasks within those systems.

But a book that forever transformed my understanding of what Willpower is, where it comes from, and how to manage it, is called (wait for it!) Willpower by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney. The book is far more than you'd expect from a science writer and psychologist, and I promise you won't regret reading it.



#5.  Life is a Highway


Thinking of your life as a highway with multiple lanes is important.  You can be on any lane at almost any time... but you can't be on two lanes at the same time.  If you're working on one project, you're not working on another.

Yes, you can manage multiple projects.  But you can't do multiple projects.  In fact, you really can't even do one project.  You can only do tasks-  drive a mile- on any given project at any given time.  And it's important to make sure you finish the mile on one task before switching lanes.  I have tried to constantly switch lanes on my projects, but much like traffic, it's the illusion that other lanes are going faster.   Sure enough, traffic can stop in any lane, and you may need to switch to another to get out of a traffic jam.  But when all lanes are stalled, just stay with it until you break through.  Or pull off and get lunch.  Traffic will be flowing again when you get back on the highway.

Just know how far you're going today, and don't take the exit until you've driven far enough to meet your goals.  If you don't, you'll go to bed with the 'unfinished lane' in your head, which will slowly whittle away from your productive morale, and you'll start the next day depleted of the creative energy you need to get back on the highway.  Leave yourself in a place where your productive morale grows while you recover, instead of being drained.


Next Week!


More on this later.  More specifically, a book list that has 'made it all possible' for me in terms of creative productivity, and a 'where are they now?' post about what has happened with HeuMoore Productions, my personal projects, and my family in the course of the last five years.  That's right.  I'm gonna be blogging like it's 2004, people.  The days when I still had to explain what a blog was to my friends.  Yeah.  That 2004.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Witchcraft, Lunatics, and Radicals

I am a fan of the work of Alan Turing, a British Mathematician and Cryptologist.  Creation of non-linear thought power and intelligent machines began under his genius (and the collected genius of many other mathematicians and inventors) during WW2, and eventually became what we know as 'computers'.  There's an exceptional film about this on the market right now, called 'The Imitation Game,' which tells his life story.

I liked the film enough to make a facebook cover image paying homage to him.  The image is of the 'Turing Machine,' the quote however, is original.




It reads, "You are surrounded at this very moment by countless inanimate luxuries, most of which were ridiculed, condemned, even feared such as the device you're reading this on right now.  Airplanes, radio, cell phones, computers, the internet, credit cards - all Witchcraft to the masses of yesteryear.  Imagine Harder. Imagine Bigger.  Imagine the Unimaginable, and remember:  Your entire life was once the imagination of a few insane radicals.  Be like the radicals, not like their critics."


Also on my facebook, a discussion about tools, multipliers, and how things will continue to accelerate in terms of technological and social advancement.

"It's a simple miracle of multiplied human effort that multiple gallons of gas requires an hours worth of labor, in dollars. Same as it did 25 years ago. (Thanks capitalism! If I had to go get that gasoline myself with manual labor, instead of currency, it would take far more than an hour) But now you can fit a calculator, camcorder, a supercomputer, dictation machine, walkman, GPS navigation system, atlas (those two were separate products in 1990), an entire library of every book published before 1900, every arcade on the planet, a radio, a walk talky, a television, calendars, photo albums, all on a credit card sized piece of glass that fits in your pocket. It's so cheap that if it breaks, you don't hire a technician, you throw it away and buy a new one.  Technology begets technology as well, and implementation is rapid.  Technology offering more features at a lower price, means more people using technology.  And more technology in the hands of more people, means more dollars flowing through technology, and more information as well, making that technology EVEN MORE valuable.


Most Americans for 15 bucks can have a breakfast that a king could not have had 100 years ago. And their kids own technology that presidents, princes, and billionaires could not have purchased 25 years ago. A month's worth of labor now purchases access to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of actual wealth, and billions of dollars worth of 1990s technological wealth. In my lifetime, gas went from 1.20 to 4 dollars. Technology went from millions to a few hundred bucks.



And this wealth was created and developed by corporations. Somebody complains because this year a CEO makes 350 million dollars as head of some technology group. But a CEO making 350 million dollars 25 years ago would have given every cent of it to have your used iPhone 4. A king in Europe 100 years ago would have given his kingdom to own what every American can acquire on a minimum wage job.

Wealth is compounding at unimaginable rates."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reflections on 2014

Many things strike you in the course of a year.  Either in their significance eternally, or of their significance temporally.

A few of my reflections on 2014 are important to me.  I started this blog in 2004.  Over ten years ago.  It's amazing how much the world has been rocked in that period of time, and how much I have been rocked in that period of time.  I look back at posts over the years and squirm at my brash, naive confidence.  Looking back at who I was and what I endorsed, is almost painful.  But more on that later.  For now, some things I found just in the course of 2014.

#1.  No two loves are equal.

Either qualitatively or quantitatively, love comes in a highly specific way.  Not superior.  Not inferior.  But different.  Unique.   And with that love, come responsibilities, blessings, and burdens, each as unique in it's qualitative and quantitative requirements as the love it accompanies.

Love does not drain you by emptying you into another person;  it fits you like a key, which unlocks the fullest potential of your soul to care for another person selflessly.  Love is a superpower made possible by the way another person fits us.  And when we both unlock that superhuman capacity to pour selflessly into one-another, it's a match made in heaven.

#2.  Love can be one-sided.

Much in the way Christ loved the Church or that a Woman loves her Child, the ability to give 100% of yourself in a way that never returns you anything worthy of that sacrifice, love is gift that trains the heart to know, "I am not my own."

#3.  Love requires pain, because love requires growth.

Growth is painful, growth can't always be measured, and sometimes growth is forced upon us.  But growth amplifies our capacity for love, and love requires growth to exist.  Love cannot be stagnant.

#4.  Love sometimes creates hate.

Love is a constantly escalating force.  When that force continues to escalate, it creates hatred for it's inverse.  For instance, love of healthy eating means staying away from junk food.  Eventually, if that love of health escalates, hatred for junk food will escalate.  It becomes something you despise.

While hatred does not create love, love will with time eventually create hatred for the opposite.

This is significant, because when we find out somebody is not who we believed they were, but we love them, it can create a confused pain.  Hating the one we love, because of what we loved about them.

#5.  Honesty is the child of Love

Dishonesty is distrust, ironically.  It's putting distance between yourself and whomever you're deceiving.  It's holding something back.  When you share the truth with somebody, you're conjoining your realities.  When there is a chasm of realities, there will be a chasm of desires, intentions, and ultimately, futures.

Honesty means forcing the realities together, even if it means hurting someone.  The only reason for this conjoined reality is true love.

#6.  Love is truly a spirit

Love will not be confined to age, color, gender, tribe, politics, or numbers.  Love, like the AI in Spike Jonze' Her, multiplies and grows in it's capacity with every new connection.  Don't hide from that which will make you grow.  Don't hide from that which will make you honest.  Don't hide from that which will make you sacrifice, or become unique, or even to have new passions.  Embrace it, and swiftly.

That's all for now.  I hope to revisit this old habit again soon.  I'd like to post soon about what I've been up to since the start of Ace Wonder, and answer some questions people might have had about my career and life in the last two years.  :-)

~ John.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Gaps - Team Leadership for 2013

(There's only one God ma'am - and he doesn't dress like that!)

Patriot Academy 2012 taught all of the fundamentals of leadership that it always does, and better than ever. It also taught the foundational principles of law and government that built this nation, as it always has. But in 2012 I learned something new about leadership. A lesson that is so simple, so obvious, and yet often overlooked; A lesson that was ultimately proven in the elections of 2008 and 2012, both nationally and locally.

The lesson was this -

Leadership is a Team Sport. To effectively lead communities, counties, states, nations, and the world, we have to become effective leaders, in effective leadership teams.

Frances Hesselbein had this to say; "Organizations exist to make people's strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.  And this is the work of effective leaders."  Organizations- teams, really—have the power to eliminate holes.  It's like in Rocky, when he's talking about Adrian.  "I got gaps.  She's got gaps.  Together, we got no gaps!"  

I wish Christians were saying this for each other more often.

Americans, and most notably American leadership, have started focusing on individualism instead of organizational or team leadership. As a result, we have started following a pageant model for vetting our leaders. This attracts a certain type of narcissist to the leadership spotlight and encourages a 'king of the hill' mentality of leadership—kicking others down in an effort to reach the top of the human pyramid.  We need to think of leadership as a pillar that fully assumes the weight and responsibility of those in our coalitions.

In 2008 and 2012, (and in every election, really), we've seen two models of leadership represented. One was individualistic and had a clear anthem through the primaries. 'Unless I win, nobody wins.' This detracted from the credibility of everybody in that team, even those who were willing team players. The winners were those who, on the other team, chose to edify each other, praise the strengths and cover for weaknesses, and ultimately serve each other in a team capacity.

Capable leaders are those who lead in packs, who lead toward a cause instead of toward a spotlight. When you're one of the Knights who defend Camelot, you learn to cover the blind side of your brothers in arms. John Maxwell says, “Teams share the credit for victories, and the blame for losses. This fosters genuine humility and authentic community. Individuals take credit and blame alone. This fosters pride and often times, a sense of failure.”

In 2013 commit to being a team player. Commit to loving your teammates and loving your cause, instead of loving the stage or the spotlight. Commit to playing for keeps, commit to playing for each other, and commit to playing for the other leaders you work with.

Here are some principles of Team Leadership to carry into 2013:

1.) Team work divides the effort and multiplies the effect.

This means as a team player, you will look for ways to divide the effort with the leaders around you. Look for ways to lift the load from them. This won't just divide the effort, it will invariably multiply their effect, and yours as well.

2.) Individuals play the game; Teams win championships.

Play the game, and play hard, but stop to think once in a while, 'How does this contribute to or hinder the team around me?' If you see a pattern of individualism in your projects, you may want to start asking leaders how your efforts can cross-promote or contribute to their efforts. This is the only way you and your team can win the championship. You don't have to be carrying the ball to help move it down the field.

3.) Friendly fire kills you just as dead as enemy fire. 

As tempting as it may be to shoot down somebody for having a slightly dissenting opinion, that energy is just as damaging to those in your coalition as an attack from the outside. In fact, it's more damaging. Because when the world looks for leadership, they won't trust a team if the players don't trust each other. Ask yourself if you have a habit of friendly fire, and make note of how damaging it is when you're fired upon.

4.) “Ask not what your teammates can do for you, ask what you can do for your teammates!”

This was how an NBA star paraphrased the famous quote by JFK. His comment applies right back to healing communities and building nations. A team wins games locally first, then regionally, before going to state and ultimately national championship playoffs. How is this different when it comes to solving the crises that face our country? Remember that by serving the team locally, you're serving the whole team; that includes you. When you move your community forward, you gain the necessary credibility for all of the leaders in your team to move the nation forward.

5.) Teams win daily – Not in a day.

John Maxwell's 'Law of Process' from his bestseller, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership says it all—“Leadership Develops Daily, Not in a Day.” My Dad often quotes, 'Success would be easy, if it wasn't so daily.' The simple fact is this: winning as part of a team is a daily project that doesn't happen in a day.

Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was built daily. Nations can't be mended in a single day, but there is no nation that can't be mended through daily action of coalitions and individuals, applying themselves to the principles and laws of national prosperity.

As you may have guessed, national prosperity can't happen without local victories from teams committed to national success. A team is greater than the sum of all its talents, and you will be able to accomplish more by playing for the team than you will by fighting for your individual spotlight.

The New Commandment

Christ said it best, of course, when he paused his disciples and delivered this charge: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

You got gaps. I got gaps. Together we got no gaps. Let's storm the beaches of 2013 and beyond, and take the hill together.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Patriot Academy 2012: A New Generation

Patriot Academy 2012: A New Generation



Patriot Academy is a one week training program in Austin, Texas.  It isn't a camp for would be politicians or debate enthusiasts.  It's a youth leadership bootcamp and elocution school rolled into one.

Patriot Academy takes students aged 16-25 on an intensive journey to learn skills of communication, rapport, and team building, as well as the mechanics of campaigning, lobbying, and a complete legislative session.

Adults can now participate through the 'Patriot Academy: Today's Generation' program, which teaches adults (and family members too young to attend PA as Reps) how to lobby, how to analyze legislation, how to think critically about our founding documents and the principles that undergird them, and how to truly get involved on the local, state, and federal levels of government.  It's an all-in-one kickstart meets kick-in-the-pants for people who know we need to take responsibility for our failing leadership and constant regression to socialism, but don't know the first steps.  It's also a tremendous opportunity to meet active elected officials serving in the Capitol, and to meet fellow patriots.

The dates are July 30th through August 4th for the Adult and Student tracks, but if you can't make it as a student, you certainly don't want to miss the opportunity to attend our Patriot Academy 10th Anniversary Banquet, where veterans will pass the torch of freedom and responsibility, on to the graduates of the 2012 Patriot Academy.  It's a wonderful evening, and something you certainly won't want to miss!


Saturday, July 23, 2011