Ron's Material Leadership Blog

It is my sincerest hope that the stories I share are helpful to others. I have experienced first hand that many people toil in obscurity, searching for answers, ashamed to reach out and ask for help. This blog will contain experiences and wisdom that I have gained over the years that I hope will offer guidance in dealing with some of life's challenges.

Why the name material leadership? If you are curious the answer is on my website.
The link on the side bar.

Lead well


Wednesday, August 15, 2007


What are you afraid of?

Everyone is afraid of something aren’t they?

I once listened to a motivational speaker who addressed the issue of fear. He said that most of what we are afraid of will never happen, so why be afraid? Great logical argument, I even agreed with him. Only thing is how many of our fears stem from a rational logical understanding of our environment? They are fears for the simple reason that they are not always rational and originate in our emotions.

I HATE snakes!

In 1998 I was doing some yard work at my home in Michigan. I was going to get the hose and water the garden when I looked down and saw a snake curled into a coil staring back at me. I must have jumped three feet in the air and backward at the same time. I hate snakes! Yes I am afraid of them. This one was about 5 feet long and looked pretty menacing. It could have been a rattlesnake, a boa constrictor... okay, okay it was probably a gartner snake! Who knew though, it scared me all the same.

So what did I do? I knew the only person in my family to handle this was me. My wife, if she knew about the snake, would have pierced my eardrum with her scream and my 8 year old son might have wanted to make the ugly thing into a pet so I was on my own.

So what did I do?

I had the upper hand on this reptile. I knew he was cold blooded. He might have known I was afraid but there was little he could do with that knowledge, especially when I came back armed with my garden hose and my top secret weapon. I had my hockey stick. Remind me to tell you about the many uses of the hockey stick. There are easily over a hundred. Use number 101 flinging sleepy soggy scary garner snakes back into the swamp from whence they came. First of course cool down the snake with cold water so he can’t move fast anymore. Problem solved.

What are you afraid of?

Are you afraid of failing? Boy do I have the book for you!

Are you afraid of projects?

Are you afraid of letting someone down?

Are you afraid of losing a family member a friend?

There are many reasons a person could find themselves afraid. I have found that in a leadership capacity it is helpful first to understand your fears. Lean into them and understand why you have them.

I HATE dealing with money!

Four months ago I took a class in finance. For those of you who do not know me I really don’t like money. I can’t seem to make enough of it each month to keep it from draining out of the bank account before the back account runs out of month. Taking finance was like confronting a dreaded enemy.

At the start of the term, I had the most amusing self talk going on in my head. I can’t do this. I am going to fail. What will people think? Won’t you look silly, stupid even? This was followed shortly thereafter by this doesn’t look so bad I bet I can do this. I just have to dig in and learn hard! This was followed by: Crap! Look at all the work I have to do! How will I keep up? I’m gonna fail for sure. There’s no way I can learn all this new stuff and still get all this work done. I’m a gonner!

Well, at about this point I started to listen in on my self talk and chuckle. Listen to all this fear and doubt. Where did that come from? Maybe I can do this may be I cannot, but I will not allow the single grade of this course to define whether I am a success or a failure. Let’s get to work.

Want to know how I did? "A", enough said.

What Defines You?

The lesson here for me was having the presence of mind to recognize what was going on inside my head. I had to see the old negative script playing and turn off the projector. I long ago decided who I was and what I was about. I am not my grades, I am my character. I am the gifts and talents that have been bestowed upon me. I am an encouraging father, a loving husband, a dependable friend, a trustworthy coach, an honorable son, a successful manager and a growing Christian. I am not my fears.

I had to identify where my hope was, where my strengths lied, commit to a life of learning, growing and forgiveness. I also had to recognize that most of my fears would never come to pass; they were irrational extensions of a nervous reality that I chose to momentarily indulge.

Who are you?

Lead well


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The Dip by Seth Godin

This was the first of Mr. Godin’s books I have read and I must say it will not be the last. I enjoyed this book and found its message wise and on point for our age. The premise of the book is that there is a time to quit a role, project, effort and a time to stay. When we have the opportunity to be the very best and are willing to pay the price, it is time to stay. When it is clear that staying will result in mediocrity or worse yet (Mr. Godin’s term for a dead end) a cul-de-sac, it is time to move on to something where we can be our best. The dip is the place in between. The place where we face opposition, adversity and discouragement. It is here that many wrongly chose to give up when greatness is not that far away for the brave souls who persevere.

Complexity: Low

Length: Short

Compelling: Very much

Worthwhile: Definitely