I hope everyone is enjoying the first few days of spring! Judging by the weather I am not sure everyone feels like it’s spring yet. 2013 is shaping up to be a huge year for the LIFE business. I am excited to watch my friends moving on and building a strong and profitable business’s. Soon the LIFE leadership will be gathering for a meeting we call Chart toppers, these are all the people who have hit the 50% level in the LIFE business. Wayne Macnamara and I are heading down a few days early, it will be a lot of fun.
Here is an article by a friend of mine, Chris VanDevere. He is a Notre Dame educated Lawyer and a great guy. Very friendly, loyal and passionate about his beliefs. We had a conversation and I asked him to do a guest blog post!
*A book of elementary principles
I recently came across a front page article in the New York Times written by Jason DeParle titled “For Poor, Leap to College Ends in a Hard Fall.” The article chronicles the efforts of three young women from disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances as they transitioned into college in expectations of embarking on fulfilling careers. DeParle sets his theme before developing descriptions of the difficulties faced by each of the girls.
In placing their hopes in education, the Galveston teenagers followed a tradition as old as the country itself. But if only the prosperous become educated — and only the educated prosper — the schoolhouse risks becoming just another place where the fortunate preserve their edge.
“It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that a low-income student, no matter how intrinsically bright, moves up the socioeconomic ladder,” said Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford. “What we’re talking about is a threat to the American dream.”
Reread the conclusion. Realize that DeParle’s conclusion assumes that the fortunate lucky few prosper because they are protected by institutions such as a schoolhouse. Apparently, education has become an unjust sword of the prosperous to cut down the dreams of the socio-economically disadvantaged. Perhaps a proper education on assumptions and rhetoric is required.
All human thought begins with premises. A premise is an assumption that something is true. A logical argument requires at least two declarations, “premises” if you will, followed by a conclusion drawn from the two statements assumed to be true. This is the basis of a logical argument. (I’m certain there is an astute reader who has recognized the proceeding THREE sentences for what they are – an argument). More complicated ideas may require a whole series of assumptions to describe certain situations.
As an undergraduate student I was immersed in ideas; the thought processes leading to the ideas and most importantly, the often subtle rhetorical assumptions supporting the ideas. The stark realization of how ubiquitous assumptions can be occurred in the study of math: Euclid’s geometry. Euclid, the father of what most would understand as high school geometry, starts with five “postulates.” The postulates are the assumptions or definitions from which he draws conclusions through his logical arguments:, his “theorems.” Euclid proved the first four postulates through his theorems. The fifth postulate, known as the “parallel postulate” because it assumes that two lines can be infinitely parallel, cannot be proven. I remember rashly thinking at the time “So tell all the carpenters to stop working because they can’t plumb a house or frame a door! Next topic!”
Unfortunately, the class material moved from Euclid to the study of Einstein’s theory of relativity – more math explaining the structure of the universe. I was quickly and rudely advised that the theory of relativity cannot be solved with Euclidean geometry. Einstein, in his immense intelligence, jettisoned the assumption of parallel lines to create his theory of relativity. Euclid’s fifth assumption could not be proven and appeared to limit the further understanding of the universe. To this day I still wonder what Einstein’s house looked like – was it all circular?
Thinking outside the box
In business today, we would call building an argument that jettisons long held assumptions like Einstein’s treatment of parallel lines, as “thinking outside the box.” Those readers familiar with the work of Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady in the development of the LIFE opportunity, along with the concepts developed as part of TEAM, notably TEAM approach to business development, are aware of the benefits of thinking outside the box. By eliminating widely held assumptions of business processes, Woodward and Brady, with a group of high achieving individuals known as the Policy Council, created a systematic commercial model which jettisoned widely held business assumptions that only supported privilege for the sake of privilege. Woodward and Brady, with the members of the Policy Council, developed an “outside the box” approach to develop commercial activity to enrich the lives of those participant who choose, of their own volition, to participate.
Fortunately for the public in general, the thought process which developed LIFE and TEAM within a business setting has wide application to society, government and individual conduct. To this end, Orrin Woodward has announced the release of a new book, co-authored by himself and Oliver DeMille, titled LeaderShift. The book hits the shelves on Tax Day 2013 (April 16, 2013- technically it is April 15, but the District of Columbia and its Federal employees declared that day a holiday- go figure). Woodward and DeMille develop the Five Laws of Decline- the five “postulates”- which if not followed result in the decline of a free society. I look forward to reading LeaderShift as I am certain that it will reveal the limitations of certain widely held assumptions about the meaning of freedom, social stability and prosperity. LeaderShift should provide a glimpse of “thinking outside the box” applied to society, government and the individuals who choose leave behind the failed constructs of the past.
Wonderful information, but what does it all mean?
My original interest in DeParle’s article arose because of my work with a program which GUARANTEED four years of PAID tuition to inner city students at public schools (read socio-economically disadvantaged students). These students were selected by school personnel as the most promising in their fourth grade class. The children, with their parents, entered a contract that:
…they would qualify for four years of tuition at a state university. In their senior year it became apparent through standardized testing, including the ability to master a strategy to complete the test, that the “good grades” the students strove for were illusions of success. My best estimate is that one in five of the children selected as “most promising” completed the mentoring process and finished college in a timely fashion. Dedication to a training program does not guarantee success. A flawed training program leads to flawed results, just as flawed assumptions lead to flawed conclusions.
DeParle recounts the emotional story of the plight of three young women, seemingly the brightest in their Galveston, Texas high school, who met with a calamitous fate. DeParle describes their fight to “get off the island” (Galveston being the “island”) and the poverty it represented. DeParle initially focuses on the financial aspect of college education, drawing an emotional conclusion that these hardworking, dedicated girls were failed by a system which buried them in debt and did not provide a way off the island or away from insignificant career paths. Only in passing does the author mention that the school was in the bottom two percent of schools in Texas. No doubt the school provided the information required of it, but the transference of information is not education.
DeParle’s tone implies a resolution some would describe as “something for nothing” (a free education to “qualified” students of no financial means) and equality of results (the “have-nots” with a college degree should get the same jobs as the “haves”- just as the students at the high schools in the top two percent received the same education as these three girls). The last two thirds of the article provides more details on the broken family settings of the girls and the questionable decisions they made in their personal lives. An argument could be made that a bad decision is an uneducated decision. If you learn from your experiences then you become educated in wrong answers. To persist in wrong answers because they are commonly accepted is to demonstrated a lack of education.
Following Deparle’s theme, three persons whose life story has been generally recounted to me come to mind. I would have to believe that the “haves” in society somehow short-changed Tim Marks, Bill Lewis and Claude Hamilton. Each of these men made up for being short-changed and joined Orrin Woodward on the LIFE Policy Council. I suppose this is a cosmic aberration of DeParle’s theme. Sorry gentlemen, please turn in your success cards to the appropriate authorities and report to the soup line! (Some jurisdictions may permit invocation of your Second Amendment Right at this point. Check with the local EPA regulations regarding the use of lead based products in your community. Claude, we leave you to your own devices!)
As a criminal defense attorney once pointed out to a mutual client “Facts are stubborn things.” Orrin Woodward started with nothing and continued in such fashion all through college. He developed a systematic approach to a business model, and through his association with Tim Marks, Bill Lewis and Claude Hamilton (three individuals who profess having significant, if not debilitating, limitations prior to associating with Orrin Woodward) has created individuals who have become the “haves” of the world. But each of these men “have” the ability to change the thinking of individuals by eliminating useless assumptions. They “have” the ability help individuals make better decisions leading to better results – the results shared by all of these individuals is a more fruitful life. I do not see a correlation between their access to a college education and their individual success. Orrin Woodward, in his devious system, eliminated the need to take on crushing debt to achieve this educational transformation – too far outside of the box for most college administrators!
The challenge we face for the New Year and the generation to come
The challenge of traditional thought is understanding that what always was does not have to be what always will be. Be careful of the assumptions you make and keep. Certainly a person building a house would want to incorporate an assumption of parallel lines; but one describing the universe may not have need of such an assumption.
Public opinion, even from a carefully researched article in a widely read newspaper, may not lead to the revelation of the means of a better existence. As Henry Ford said “if I had asked people what they wanted they would have said a faster horse” (Start With Why, p 60). We got automobiles instead.
As we go forward into the uncertainty of the near future, we must remember that we do not compete against failed economic plans (“I don’t have the money”) or failed schedules (“I don’t have the time”). I would encourage you to turn your thoughts from the immediate crises reported in the news. Rather, reflect on a societal assumption which may be the unstated cause of the problem – the false assumption that everyone is entitled to equal results in any given endeavor. The acceptance of this assumption has a double effect of creating discontent among those who feel unjustly passed over and “cheated” (DeParle’s students, perhaps?) and anger in those who feel the results of their efforts are “stolen” by underachievers ( a category ignored by DeParle). Have you run into anyone possessed with feelings of being cheated and ripped off?
The LIFE products allow us a special opportunity to compete against an ideology that differentiates results (a college degree, for example) guarantees a set of benefits (a ticket to escape mundane mediocrity, for example). LIFE teaches that if you are willing to change your thinking by eliminating those assumptions that trap you in mediocrity, you can achieve greatness in your lifetime. The result follows the goal. I implore you to press forward and escape mediocrity in everything you do: you will find yourself void of mediocrity.
We can change the conversation with TEAM and LIFE. The greatest advice applies here “if you take the easy way out your life will get harder. But if you take the hard way out, your life will get easier.” A focus on the daily stream of negative news, “the easy way” will lead to disillusion, depression and hopelessness. A focus on not being a victim to false assumptions and flawed strategies, “the hard way” will eventually lead to fulfilling results.