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The Real Cost of Dependency

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Self-Reliance – The Heart of a Strong Society and Every Successful Organization

In war, when outnumbered, aggressors seek to injure more than to kill. That is because every injured fighter requires an able bodied soldier to help them. Hit one and you take two or more out of the fight. The same principle applies day to day.

When first-timer Javier couldn’t keep up with the 18 other fitness hikers we encouraged him to return to the trailhead. He said, “No, I’ll be along in a while. I just need to slow down.” Twenty minutes later nobody had seen him on the trail and all of us abandoned our hike to become a search party for Javi. A half hour later we found him happily sitting by a stream drinking a Red Bull.

Jocelyn hates Social Media. Not sure why, she just refuses to examine it occasionally or at all. She says proudly, “I don’t DO Social Media.” Two of our top clients and most of our prospects regularly reveal their interests and needs through their Social Media posts. At least five times a week, Jocelyn asks other workers what they know about our clients or prospects. She realizes that they’re more up to date than she is. Five times a week x fifty weeks = a great deal of lost productivity while our team compensates for Jocelyn’s prejudice against Social Media.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Tucker: Because of Joe Biden, it’s that simple

Dependency is Cancerous to Productivity 

Jean wouldn’t learn the new software, so we had to print out her reports instead of just posting them as usual. Rick doesn’t take care of his car or try to learn how, so he drops by on weekends to get me to show him what to do. There goes my weekend.

When my Army Sergeant caught me slacking off one day during infantry combat training exercises, he called me aside. He said, “You’re going to get other people killed! When you don’t develop the skills and confidence to do your job, others have to compensate for your weakness, and worse yet, you won’t have the strength to be there for them when they need you!” I grew up a bit that day and have remembered that lesson over all these years.

If the receptionist or operator doesn’t really know the company, then they have to take someone else away from their duties in order to guide a caller or guest. If you don’t mow your lawn and keep your home looking nice, then the whole neighborhood is less appealing, not just your place. When a child doesn’t learn to become a productive wage earner, they remain dependent on others even into adulthood.

Dependency is robbery.

You take someone else away from what they would otherwise do in order to take care of you. This is why Self-Reliance is the Holy Grail for an organization’s success. If you don’t take care of YOU, then you can’t take care of me if I need you, and I have to stop what I’m doing to take care of you! Needy people take away two or more producers from other endeavors.

In society, the more people who are on government assistance programs, the higher taxes must be on the self-reliant producers. They are getting less of a reward for their hard work and willingness to do their part and deal with risks and difficulties. Meanwhile, the dependents are getting by without difficulty or hard work. They avoid pain by forcing someone else to fill their void. This can only persist for a limited time. As they say, “Sooner or later you will run out of other people’s money.”

On the job you need to bring strength 

For sales people what this means is: you must learn to generate your own prospects, find your own leads, learn from others so you can devise your own creative ways of appealing to people who are otherwise, “not interested.” It also means that you must learn to become your own sales manager and not wait for someone to train you, motivate you or remind you to keep accurate and current records. Your sales reports aren’t just yours. They are also the vital pieces of information that others could use for planning, budgeting, resource allocation and policymaking.

When someone asks what a salesperson’s job is, tell them, “First it is to follow directions eagerly, then it is to develop work habits and knowledge that will allow them to be good decision makers and effective workers. All of this is for the purpose of serving people well while earning a profit for our company.” They aren’t just paid to “make sales”. They’re paid to help build the business by creating and nurturing profitable new business friendships. Business is built upon relationships that are productive and a primary operating assumption is that each person will bring value to the operation.

In my own business, our mission statement is this: “We exist to make life better for people, profitably.” No profit means the business can’t endure. Profit is honorable and vital for the survival of the organization. We must become self-reliant financially in order to stay in business and to serve our customers and coworkers.

When you come to a meeting, bring value.

Be an eager participant, make efforts to learn, bring ideas or information, and prepare so others don’t have to compensate for your lack. Arrive on time, greet others and distribute materials. Turn off your cell phone.

When you participate in a training class don’t just attend, Learn! Guide with questions, help create examples that make sense of the ideas, be a contributor. Become a self-reliant producer who can help others when needed.

Reaching out for help is a very good thing as you are growing in your role. Reaching out after you could have become self reliant is selfish and destructive. Bring strength and value, be the source of happiness and productive behavior wherever you go. Make life better for people.

Take good care of YOU because I may need you someday and you may need me. And I pledge to do the same for you.

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Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is an Executive MBA Professor, Author of 21 books, Hall of Fame Professional Speaker, Top 1% TEDx video (2.4 million views), US Army veteran, Singer/Songwriter, and Lifelong Motorcyclist. He is known as "Your Virtual VP" for his Advisory/Mentor work with organizations worldwide. Based in Texas...and proud of it!



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Flourishing in an Era of Over-Communication

The future of business belongs to those who understand the importance of information and communication management

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We are confronted by staggering amounts of new information and communication every day. Career professionals in particular can be easily overwhelmed by the wealth of information which can lead to information anxiety.

We have access to a variety of information and communication tools, yet how do we narrow down tens of thousands of journals, magazines, newsletters, and blog posts at our disposal and manage information coming in?

How do we flourish amidst thousands of printed pages, not to mention millions of pages on the web, and hundreds of emails, phone calls and text messages?

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Tucker: Because of Joe Biden, it’s that simple

More Confusion

While we enjoy a growing capability to extract relevant information that supports our careers and our lives, most of what we encounter is of marginal value, at best, and often stands in the way of our goals and objectives.  We don’t have hours on end to contend with everything that competes for our attention; most days, it feels as if we don’t have sufficient time at all.

Fortunately, we can employ 10 strategies in a manner that will be productive and even enjoyable and fight that information overload:

  • Contemplate in advance the kind of information you seek.
  • Identify the vital information carriers.
  • Streamline your intake capability.
  • Beware of information crutches.
  • Establish a distribution system.
  • Be thoughtful when sending information.
  • Design responses.
  • Do away with paper.
  • Constantly review and update.
  • Acknowledge the benefits of remaining organized.

Contemplate in Advance the Kind of Information You Seek 

Have a reasonable idea of the type of information you want and need to gather. Such information encompasses news about your industry or profession; notable product and service developments; significant regulations and new legislation; client, customer, or consumer-related information; special applications; intelligence on competitors; and emerging trends and prospects.

Identify the Vital Information Carriers 

Identify the small number of key information sources, including publications, websites, blogs, and hard news sources, that cover what’s occurring in the field. You’ll really only need three to four sources; you’d be surprised at the amount of coverage overlap you’ll see.

Streamline Your Intake Capacity 

Once you recognize the kind of information you require and a handful of the best sources, you need to establish a methodical way of receiving, synthesizing, and applying such information that will benefit you, your team, and your organization.

Staying attuned to your goals and objectives and focusing on the kind of information that supports your efforts gives you the best chance to accomplish what you want. You might consider avoiding social networking, depending on your job functions. Your quest is to maintain a constant inflow of relevant information in as simple a manner as possible. Yes, on occasion you can give attention to peripheral issues. In general, however, focus on the information that will make a difference in your effectiveness.

Beware of Information Crutches 

Many people have a predisposition to collect and retain information that confirms what they already believe or know to be true. They don’t need to save such information; the practice is more like a reflex action. With the vast amounts of information on the Internet today and the power of search engines, it’s not necessary to hang on to much.

More vital is the ability to find what you need in a hurry, which often requires only a few keystrokes. Retaining piles and files of hard copy information is of diminishing value and can impede your effectiveness. Moreover, files and information that you retain for more than 18 months often can be deleted with no detrimental effects.

Establish a Distribution System 

As you rise in your career, don’t spend inordinate amounts of time gathering information. Much of what you seek can be identified, collected, and disseminated to you by junior staff. You can use them as information scouts and as a clipping service of sorts to pre-read for you.

Once freed from the constant task of identifying and assembling information, you’re better able to think conceptually in ways that will help to propel your team, division, or department forward. This is especially true when introducing a new product, service, or delivery system.

Be Thoughtful When Sending Information

Sometimes the staggering amounts of information is due to our lack of organizing guidelines. Such guidelines could otherwise spare us from unnecessary, excessive exposure to information that does not support our current challenges.

Learn to be more discriminating when exchanging information. Try to eliminate acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon that can lead to misunderstandings, and limit the length of your correspondence with others by including only what is necessary to know. Overwhelming our recipients with information is no more welcome to them than when they overwhelm us. We also must encourage one another to stop CCing and BCCing when it is not necessary, and avoid submitting “FYI” kinds of messages altogether.

Design Responses

Throughout the course of your workweek, you’ll receive many different types of requests. Many are routine, so you can automate your responses by using your email’s signature function. Most email software programs today support at least 20 different signatures. You can create and save signatures by category that enable you to respond promptly and effectively to customers and clients. The signatures that you’ve developed can also be personalized to address the particulars of a specific inquiry.

What kinds of signatures might you create in advance? Rosters, standard letters, product descriptions, service descriptions, price lists, background of your team or organization, credentials, organizational history—the more signatures you establish, the quicker and more productively you can answer questions from inquirers.

Do Away With Paper (When Practical) 

A variety of hard copy files and documents will need to be retained. Nevertheless, you can undertake a campaign to reduce the volume of paper you’re retaining, whether it’s in filing cabinets, desk drawers, or storage bins.

Evaluating each document you receive and consider whether it merits saving. Will a scanned version of said document suffice? If so, scan it and recycle the hard copy. Yes, scanning requires extra time and effort, but in the long run the payoff is more than worth it. When you effectively label each of the documents you’ve scanned, you enhance your ability to quickly locate them on your hard drive or online. Finding such e-documents is generally easier than finding the hard copy.

Constantly Review and Update 

Periodically review your documents. Is the information still relevant? Does it need to be combined with something else? Should it be reclassified? Your goal is to keep your holdings to a minimum.

Tackle only a handful of file folders at a time, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Ask yourself, “What can be deleted? What should be merged? What can be extracted so that the few gems of wisdom crucial to my success can be applied as needed?” Think of this task with a project management hat on and take it step-by-step.

Acknowledge the Benefits of Remaining Organized 

Staying organized might make you anxious. Organizing is certainly not a glamorous task. Yet, in a world that overwhelms us with the volume of information and communication, becoming the master of your files, and maintaining them so they serve you, is more important than ever before. Information overload occurs when we let things pile up. The people who become adept at recognizing, gathering, retrieving, and applying the right information at the right time are valuable to their organizations and their teams.

The Future

The future of business will be dominated by ultra-productive executives who understand the importance of information and communication management.

Regardless of the obstacles they face, these adept information managers are capable of pointing their team or organization in the appropriate direction. Why? They have a well-developed ability to identify, assemble, and impart knowledge that they extract from information. Ultimately they can draw upon their knowledge to lead with wisdom.

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A License to Have Children

Bringing a child into the world is a serious matter. If you’re shocked by the title of this article, do not pre-judge: read it the whole way through.

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If you’re shocked by the title of this article or have some preconceived notion about what it contains, do not pre-judge me or the article: read it the whole way through.

A growing number of individuals are beginning to think it’s time to require that people get a license before having children. If the idea sounds absurd or highly impractical to you, I can empathize, as I once felt the same way.

If there were but one or two sound reasons why a license for bringing a child into the world is a good idea, perhaps we could let the issue rest for another decade or so. Actually, there are dozens of compelling reasons, the top half-dozen outlined here, for our society to organize itself in a way it never has before and in a manner that was perhaps unthinkable a generation ago.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Tucker: Because of Joe Biden, it’s that simple

Not Everyone Will

Before turning to the six big reasons for requiring a license to have children, let’s skip ahead to a time in which it is the law of the land.

As with licensing in other aspects of society, such as driving, not everyone who is supposed to get a license does so. Some people simply drive without one. Presumably, they proceed until they are caught for a traffic violation. ome people drive after their license has been suspended. Similarly, people will have children without the slightest regard for getting a license. As we’ll discuss, there are still compelling reasons for proceeding with the process.

Regardless of whether prospective child-rearing adults were to file for licenses, some people would always argue that requiring a license smacks of Big Brotherism.

“Haven’t people always conceived babies without a license?”
“Why do we need to impose this now?”
“Isn’t this one more bit of burdensome government regulation?”
“Isn’t this unconstitutional?”
“What agency will administer and oversee the process?”
“Will we be creating greater bureaucracy?”
“Why should the government get so involved in my private life?”

These points are worth considering; cause for alarm, however, is premature. There need not be one iota of Big Brotherism in the process. Licensing procedures don’t have to be designed so as to exclude anyone. Racism, favoritism, or any other “ism” need not gain any foothold here. No one plays God and decides who has children and who doesn’t. Rather, licensing, as argued here, would be available to anyone who applies. It could be as simple as registering to vote and the costs would be minimal if piggybacked on to an agency that already administers licenses.

Considering that many people will not seek to obtain the license, and that licensing itself will not be denied to anyone, why bother to have it at all? I’m glad you raised the question.

Six Reasons

1. Greater Lead Time
We are a nation where too many babies are born out of wedlock. Among African Americans, the figure is nearly 70%; among Native Americans, above 55%; among Hispanics, 52%; and among whites, 28%. In recent decades, we’ve witnessed dramatic increases in the numbers of teenage pregnancies, single mothers, abandoned or abused children, and even children murdered by their own parents.

Will licensing childbirth save even one child? Easily.

With the nine month average term of pregnancy, and nearly every mother able to determine if she’s pregnant at least seven months before term, the licensing process has a seven month lead time. Thus, each state or local jurisdiction’s social support and family services, as well as other community services, would have a greater capacity for population planning and dispensing of care, counseling, and other services. Pediatrics divisions of hospitals could plan more soundly to meet the needs of the surrounding community. So, too, could those who dispense critical services, such as birthing classes, educational videos, and counseling.

In short, licensing would increase the probability that more newborns have happy, successful early childhoods.

2. Restoring Sanctity to Birth
Licensing holds notable potential for restoring some semblance of sanctity to the birth process. Some parents seem to not realize that having a child is not something you do on a lark to get out of school, to cure boredom, or to better secure the affections of a partner. When the sanctity of childbirth across the broad swath of humanity is someday restored, the number of out-of-wedlock births will decline. Licensing is a means towards this end.

Ideally, a child comes into the world because a husband and wife are in love and wish to have a family. They give the matter careful consideration. They are cognizant of the need for years of endless sacrifices and financial outlays. Gary Becker, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, was awarded the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that higher-income, educated married couples intentionally have fewer children than average so as to optimize the nurturing, education, and upbringing of each child.

The most successful and wisest parents among us actively choose to limit the size of their families.

Why should a society deign to offer indicators to anyone that bringing more children into the world, even one child, for whom you cannot adequately provide care, is socially acceptable or even tolerable? I wouldn’t even vaguely suggest that anyone be denied the opportunity to have children, even many children, independent of their educational, financial, or marital status. I am strongly against any notion of one person or group of people deciding who shall have children, how many, and who shall not. Rather, I argue for the maintenance of social standards which licensing would aid.

Having a license to bring a child into the world might help to sanctify both human birth experience and the ensuing human life experience. Currently, both pro-choice and pro-life advocacy groups need to re-examine and perhaps re-formulate their views regarding the sanctity of human life. While it can be argued at length that abortion is sometimes necessary, and that bringing an unwanted child into the world is itself morally reprehensible, abortion has never been an ideal answer to family planning.

While pro-life advocates appear to acknowledge the sanctity of birth, they have indicated less concern about the life a child brought into this world experiences. They need to focus additional concern on the next year to 80 years after a child is brought into the world.

3. More Accurate Census Count

Seemingly not as lofty as the issues discussed thus far, requiring people to have a license to bear children will be of enormous aid to the U. S. Bureau of the Census, all government agencies, and all institutions concerned with population and planning. This is no small benefit. Congress would be better able to allocate funds with population estimates that are closer to reality than are currently derived. Our institutions would be better able to meet the needs of citizens.

At all levels of government, better planning could be undertaken in the areas of education, health care, transportation, and housing.

Demographers, sociologists, and economists would have more robust primary data for the population projections and studies they undertake. In turn, leaders, administrators, boards of education, professors, students, and anyone else to whom population data is critical would be better informed and better served. (Note: not to say that licensees’ names would be available to commercial vendors. We all receive too many unsolicited offers now as it is.)

With vastly improved Census data, the long-term result would be improved prospects for childbirth and child-rearing among the masses, a desirable result for all aspects of society.

4. Better Child Support

Since the mid-1970s, an increasing number of children have been raised by a single parent – in most cases, the mother. Often, even when the mother and father are married when the child is conceived, the parents could be separated, temporarily or permanently, by the time the child arrives. When prospective parents understand that they’re required to get a license, there is an increased likelihood that, in the event of the demise of the relationship, the infant will still be afforded adequate resources during its childhood. Licensing would tend to decrease the incidence of cut-and-run fathers.

Some fathers who plan to be on hand when the child is born find that seven or eight months later, they don’t feel the same way. Having been part of a licensing procedure improves the odds, even if only slightly, that fathers will be on hand at the child’s birth and thereafter. If licensing resulted in a 1% decrease in the number of cut-and-run fathers, it would well be worth it.

5. With Greater Forethought

Lawyers must pass the state bar before practicing law. Some people get their driver’s licenses long before buying a car, or even driving regularly. Some potential parents – and it’s hoped that this is a large percentage – might seek to apply for a license before they attempt to conceive a child.

Having to get a license to get married is for the social good. Some people who are better off not married discover this after getting a marriage license but before heading down the aisle.

Any increase in the likelihood that prospective parents will give an added measure of forethought – or any forethought – to conceiving a child is for the social good.

In most states, when marriages are in trouble the partners can’t divorce at once; they have to endure a proscribed period of separation. In North Carolina, for example, 12 months of separate residency are required before the parents may file for divorce.

Similarly, a socially pervasive notion and legal requirement to get a license to bring a child into the world will, for some parents, serves as an incubation period. It would enable some parents to better determine whether having a baby is, in fact, what they wish to do at this time. Again, if even a tiny fraction of those who might have otherwise had a child end up not doing so, all parties benefit:

* our society that certainly doesn’t need another unwanted child,
* the parents who perhaps were not prepared to have child now, and
* yes, even the child who would have been.

If you doubt the last point, can you think of one person, if given the choice before birth, who would prefer to come into the world under any other circumstances other than being totally wanted, sufficiently loved, and adequately cared for?

6. Part of our Social Evolution

The tobacco growers in North Carolina are still scratching their heads and wondering why so many people are against what they grow. After all, their forefathers grew tobacco, and it’s always brought in healthy revenues for the state. Why upset the apple cart?

What was good for people 100 years or a generation ago isn’t what’s necessarily good for them today, or what’s good for society in general. If we were to keep things as they were, some people would be slaves. Some people wouldn’t have the vote. Fortunately, we overcame decades- and centuries-old dispositions and realized that we had to move forward. As our society becomes smoke-free, we all have the opportunity to witness social progress on a grand scale that some thought could not happen.

So, too, we each could witness social progress on a grand scale by requiring a license to have children.

Precious Lives

Each child who comes into this world is precious. Each one deserves the opportunity for an abundant life. It is not a civil liberty to have children any more than it’s a civil liberty to buy an automobile, practice medicine, or open a restaurant. Having a license to drive indicates to everyone that driving a motor vehicle is a serious affair. There are rules of the road to which we must all adhere.

Requiring a license of medical practitioners tells both physicians and their patients that the practice of medicine is a vital and serious profession, one not to be left in the hands of those who are untrained and unskilled. Even requiring restauranteurs to have a license before serving people signals that not merely anyone can serve anything to anybody. Standards exist when it comes to food preparation, sanitation, and cleanliness. All of these examples are regulated because of the connection with others – patients, diners, other cars. Having a child who will become a citizen, go to school, an interact with other for decades is the ultimate connection to others.

Raising children is perhaps the most important undertaking on earth. When having a license to have children is the law of the land, all parents – everyone – will receive a continual message that bringing a child into the world is an important and serious matter, a message which is not fully grasped by enough adults in our society.

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