Want to get Richer? Then Give More Away

What? Giving money away makes you richer? That can’t be right, it seems a little counter-intuitive doesn’t it? That’s what Syracuse University economics professor Arthur C. Brooks used to think. Then he did some digging. After years of research he found that those who donate their time and money (and blood, believe it or not) earn more money as a direct result of their charitable giving. He found this to be true across every income level and country.  But don’t take my word for it, read his own compelling (if not life-changing) words by clicking here.

The above link is talk that Brooks gave in 2009 at BYU. This talk resonated deeply with me when I read it. It articulates exactly what I want to do and become – both personally and professionally. He says that “acts of charity-giving money, serving others, even donating blood-create a remarkable return, lifting us spiritually and financially.” If that’s not the creed of “enlightened leadership” and stamping out corruption then I don’t know what is!

Scriptural Support:
This sounds like a direct fulfillment of Malachi 3:10 that says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

In other words, the more you give the more you get. Thank you Dr. Brooks for helping us to prove the usefulness of biblical principles in business and leadership!

Comments: Has this ever happened to you? Why does giving make you richer?

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How to Become Corrupt: The Corruption Cycle

Leadership Principle

How many children, when thinking about the future say, “When I grow up I want to be a crooked politician?” How many of us wake up each morning and think, “I’m going to do something dishonest and corrupt today?” The truth is that none of us think this way, we all start out with big dreams and good intentions. Even Bernie Madoff, Richard Nixon, the Lehman Brothers executives and Bill Clinton didn’t think these thoughts …… initially. So how, then, do so many people get tangled up in extramarital affairs, dishonesty, theft, embezzlement and so on? The answer is simple: one small step at a time.

Scriptural Support

The bible has a popular story that illustrates this stepwise process very well; the story of David. 2 Samuel chapter 11 shows each of David’s bad decisions that led to his great fall from grace.

Step 1 (verse 1): He was not where he was supposed to be, as king he should have been at war with his army.

Step 2 (verse 2): When he saw something inappropriate (Bath-sheba) he didn’t turn away from it, he lusted after it.

Step 3 (verses 3-4): Instead of forgetting the incident and moving on, he further compounded the problem by sending for Bath-sheba and committing adultery with her.

Step 4 (verses 6-17): As if things weren’t bad enough already, David sent Bath-sheba’s husband to the front lines of the war with the intention that he should be killed in action (which he was).

This is a very sad story because David had such great potential. He went from being a great spiritual leader and even a prophet to a corrupt and greedy king. He could have stopped the corruption cycle at any one of these steps, but he didn’t.

So What?

Any leader in any organization is vulnerable to the corruption cycle. It’s very easy to take the first one or two steps in the wrong direction. However, it’s vital to understand that no matter where you are on the corruption cycle YOU CAN STOP IT. There is no need to compound the problem by taking the next step. Bernie, Richard, and Bill all could have stopped the process at any one of the steps, but they continued on and ruined their careers/marriages/lives. This is kindof a downer of a topic but one that needs to be addressed if we are going to continue to fight corporate corruption and greed. It’s important that we all recognize the corruption cycle and stay far, far away from it in our careers, families and lives.

Comments: What do you think of the corruption cycle? Have you ever seen it before? What are some good ways to fight against it?

Swallow Your Pride

Business Principle

the famous poet Will Smith once said (that was a joke) in his infamous song entitled Wild Wild West, “Swallow your pride, don’t let your lip react, you don’t wanna see my hand where my hip be at.” William captures an important leadership principle in this poorly worded and inappropriate (yet catchy) lyric. Great leaders know that pride and selfishness need to be avoided like a plague. Pride is like an infection or a cancer (whichever medical analogy you prefer to use) because it is incredibly contagious and difficult to get rid of. Fueled by gossip and criticism it DESTROYS productivity and effectiveness. This is a tremendous area of opportunity for an enlightened leader. People take their behavioral cues from leadership when it comes to pride vs. humility. If a leader is arrogant and full of himself, so too will the employees be.

John G. Miller addresses this pride vs. humility debate in his new book entitled Outstanding!: 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional. He says that one way for leaders to avoid the cantankerous effects of pride is to regularly ask people for their sincere input. This is relatively easy to do and often done by companies. But the hard part (and the most important part) is following through. If an employee gives you a suggestion – LISTEN! Sometimes we forget that our employees have brains too.

Scriptural Support

One of my favorite stories of the Old Testament is the story about Naaman, a prestigious captain of the Syrian army. 2 Kings chapter 5 talks about how he contracted leprosy and went to the prophet Elisha to be healed. Instead of meeting him face to face Elisha sent out a servant to meet him and deliver the message for him to wash seven times in the River Jordan. Naaman didn’t like that. He threw a fit because the prophet treated him so simply and didn’t perform an ostentatious miracle. It was at this point where Naaman’s servants approached him and said in verse 13:

13 …. if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

Luckily Naaman was humble enough to listen to his trusted servants and wash in the River Jordan and be healed. When we listen to our employees and follow through with their suggestions we show them that we trust them. Trust is essential for an organization’s success. Plus, more than likely they will give some great suggestions. So let’s follow the wise words of Mr. William Smith and “swallow your pride,” and our organizations will be much better off.

Comments: Have you ever seen an organization full of pride and arrogance? How about an organization that showed humility and really listened to people? Is there a difference?

Closed on Sundays

So I was driving from Dallas to Lubbock the other day and it just so happened to be on a Sunday. I’m a huge fan of Chick-Fil-A (a recent conversion) so I really wanted to find one and have some lunch. I found the nearest one in Abilene, TX and drove about 30 minutes out of the way (partly because I got lost) just to get a chicken sandwich. I was pretty surprised to find the parking lot completely empty until I saw a big sign that said “Closed on Sunday.” I’m ashamed to say that my first reaction to this was not positive, but after some reflection I decided that Chick-Fil-A is even COOLER than I initially thought. That’s pretty a gutsy move for a national restaurant to close its doors on Sunday. It flies in the face of logic, but I believe that Chick-Fil-A is better off because of that decision.

The Bible says in Exodus 20:8-11:

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Individuals who choose to follow this commandment have a great advantage. They have more opportunities for family togetherness and weekend worship that their counterparts don’t have. These are essential ingredients for a successful career and a happy life.

Business owners that choose to close their doors on the Sabbath also yield great rewards. They have an opportunity to publicly display that following commandments are more important than extra profit. This attracts customers and employees who share your values and are very passionate about them. You will gain loyal customers and employees and create a lifelong referral base. Look at Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby. These companies have rabid followers and are growing year after year after year. They’re doing great in spite of being closed on Sundays (or is it BECAUSE they are closed on Sundays?)

Comments: What do you think? Agree/Disagree? Can you think of any other examples of businesses that benefit from being closed on Sundays?

Rise to the Top

In his book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question John G. Miller talks about doing your best no matter what your current situation is, even if you don’t have the right tools, systems, or just don’t like your job. He argues that working your hardest regardless of these excuses is an important characteristic of an integral person and a great leader. These are the kinds of people who rise to the top of an organization.

The Old Testament has a story like this. It’s the story of Joseph and Egypt in Genesis 37–45. Joseph started in a very high position as a favored son in a large and important family. He got a special coat from his father Jacob and things were looking good for him. However, after an envy-induced attack by his brothers he ended up as a slave in Egypt. He worked hard though, and his master Potifer quickly promoted him as the head servant of his household. But that didn’t last long. Potifer’s wife was very promiscuous and dishonest. She had Joseph thrown into jail because of his high moral values. Did that stop Joseph? Of course not! He continued to work as hard as he could and eventually he rose to a high position – EVEN IN PRISON! Joseph had a knack for rising to the top due to his great wisdom, compassion, and hard work ethic. Eventually he became the Pharaoh’s right hand man, saved his family, and changed the world.

If Joseph can rise to the top from within prison, then who am I to complain about my situation? Anyone from anywhere can become a great leader if they become skilled, work hard, and serve people. Joseph is a great example of someone who made the most of a bad situation. Good thing he never gave up and said, “I’d work harder if I had a better position.” This is why he so consistently rose to the top.

Comments: Do you have any experiences similar to this? Have you ever seen someone who worked hard no matter what and eventually rose to the top?