Our July letter is prompted by a series of events taking place right now as we are bombarded by all manner of opinions, attitudes and perceptions driven by three dominating events: BREXIT, our US President’s perception of “What Constitutes Winning,” and the impacts beginning to build triggered by Trump’s approach to the global issue of Tariffs and Trade. At the core of these events lies the challenges and impacts to one’s Values, and in turn, each individual’s own perceptions of the world within which they live, operate and strive in order to be most successful from their point of view. Being a Leader is our core theme of Eagle Talk, what this embodies in the fullest sense of moral courage, value based behaviors, communication abilities and outcomes.
My concern is the rapid erosion of individual accountability and responsibility. In turn, this carries within its behaviors mounting appeal for the “strong leader” with overtones of what I would term as the seeds to dictatorship. The goal for my two short articles is to aid your experience and wisdom, to help you draw upon your experiences in the best ways to make sure individual freedom survives and the Siren’s Appeal of expanded protectionism and growing regulatory and legal burdens is not allowed to become our “Brave New World Order.” I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please share them with me.
Entrepreneurship in American History
Nothing encourages entrepreneurial activity more than the freedom to “take risks.” You only have to read the histories and biographies of a throng of individuals to appreciate the truth and wisdom in the role freedom has played in our development as a nation. Names jump out at us from the achievement book. To name only a few: Jaun Trippe, founder, creator and builder of Pan American Airways and the moving force behind Boeing Company’s willingness to develop the 707 as a commercial airliner. This relationship changed the commercial aviation business around the world. Henry Luce, who with Briton Hadden, both age 23, came up with the idea of a news magazine for readers interested in knowing more about what was going on and happening in the world in a wide variety of topics. Both quit their jobs in 1922 and that same year formed Time, Inc. Their creative risk-taking changed the entire way news and information was brought home to a wide range of readers each week. Jeff Bezos is an icon for the opportunities existing for an individual who has the freedom to take risks. Amazon is changing the world every day. The same can be said about Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, to name a few creative individuals embracing the freedom to take risks.
For every individual who has successfully changed the existing way of doing things, the key rests in their self-confidence to try, and not be afraid of failing. They know they can try again showing they possess that gift of leadership courage. Is this a matter of a person’s DNA, or does it somewhere and somehow evolve in their character as they develop, gain experience, learn from mistakes and grow their personal Wisdom? My own experience as a teacher, mentor and coach supports the belief these special gifts and qualities come from one’s experience and not being afraid to take on new challenges. It is knowing as an individual that you have choices, and you must take ownership for your choices. It is this quality of character that allows us to have the freedom to “Reach for The Stars” and not be afraid of doing so.
Crisis in the European Union
With President Trump’s trip last week to NATO, the press and all the news broadcasters are speculating on what damage he may have done to this Alliance. What is missing from most of these discussions is a deeper and more realistic examination of the bigger issue, The Crisis of the European Union. I am going to highlight briefly a set of long-simmering dislocations I believe are picking up momentum and will break into headlines within the next year or less. At the heart of these challenges lie forces that have never truly been resolved by the leadership of the European Union. In this respect, I believe we are watching the dangers and destructive powers that are released upon societies when there is a lack of Leadership Courage.
In the 1950’s, the leading idea behind European Integration was to liberalize, open up, and remove all kinds of barriers which existed at the borders of individual countries. The goal was enabling the free movement of people, ideas, goods and services across the European continent. This was a tremendous step forward and was a powerful force for European Recovery from the devastation of The Second World War.
During the 1980’s European integration began taking a different pathway. With the Maastricht Treaty in December 1991, political interests that initially had been seeking to unify and create a super power out of Europe started to dominate thinking, discussions and behaviors. In essence, integration, unification, and liberalization had turned into centralization of decision making, with the goal of harmonizing rules and legislation and the strengthening of European institutions at the expense of institutions in member states. Consequently, the individual European States have been systematically and consistently undermined. The “Leaders in Brussels” have failed to realize and understand the great truth that states are the only institutions where real democracy is possible.
This failure of leadership has resulted in increased regulation from Brussels, an ever expanding welfare system, more and new sophisticated forms of protectionism and consistently growing regulatory and legal burdens on business. These weaken and restrain freedom, democracy and democratic accountability, not to mention economic efficiency, entrepreneurship and competitiveness.
Closing this Eagle Talk Letter, let me share with you two of my favorite leadership “Truths” as I quote one of my heros, Winston Churchill:
The price of greatness is responsibility.
Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is that quality that guarantees all others.
With My Best Wishes for a Fun, Wonderful and Successful Summer,