Archive for the ‘Unity’ Category

Me vs. Them

September 25, 2009
“… considilovemepnger others better than yourselves…” – Philippians 2:3

I am always refreshingly reassured by how practical this ancient book is for today’s circumstances.  When I look at the verse above, I am positive this is never more apparent than when you consider the development of state, corporate and church leaders
Leaders are facing unprecedented challenges today, yet there are a few time-tested principles that will allow them to be “Tougher than the Times” no matter what circumstances they face.  Developing a “THEM” mentality instead of a “ME” mentality is one such principle.
You see, leadership isn’t about the leader at all…. only about the people he or she lead. When a leader keeps their eyes on their TEAM, instead of on THEMSELVES, we avoid many “traps” of leadership, including:
  • Taking circumstances and conversations too personally;
  • Clouded judgment that often comes when a leader is more interested in protecting his or her own “standing” rather than dealing with a situation more directly and objectively;
  • Timid leadership;
  • Stress associated with carrying every outcome squarely on your shoulders rather than sharing burdens and rewards with the team; and
  • Unnecessary “power struggles” – that often completely disappear when a leader is willing to fully embrace his or her primary role: serving their team.
Leading my very first Tougher than the Times Leadership Roundtable has been incredibly exciting and rewarding already!  I would like to thank EACH leader and company represented for all you bring to the group!  Until October… we remain… Tougher than the Times!!

Is UNITY a Profitable Corporate Initiative?

August 17, 2009




A perfect example of America’s love / hate relationship with success played out on the national stage not long ago. While many financial institutions are still struggling, even after spending large tax-payer funded bail out checks, Goldman Sachs turned a $5.2 Billion profit during the first half of 2009. That was 5.2 Billion – with a “B”.



Instead of applauding their ability to rebound spectacularly from financial crisis, this organization was called “an assemblage of swine”, and “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” by various media personalities. While none of us can deny the creativity of these insults, and Goldman Sachs REMAINS a controversial company, I was curious. WHY would Goldman Sachs be doing so much better than any other bank? At the risk of sounding like an anchorman heading to commercial break, I have to ask: WHAT is in the water at Goldman Sachs?

The answer was not surprising. A little bit of digging led me to this conclusion: UNITY. UNITY is the ingredient that led this financial institution to outperform ALL of its peers. Let me explain.

Charles Ellis published a “history” of the firm last year called The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs. In it, he detailed the firm’s slow recovery after the stock market crash of 1929. Facing extinction, Ellis concluded, the people over at Goldman Sachs had no choice but to stick together and work towards the future.

This successful management approach of “extreme UNITY” led Ellis to explain cause of the firm’s success in this way: Goldman “recruits the most extraordinarily talented people” and thing “brings these talented leaders together in by far the most team-oriented environment” on Wall Street.

What Do You Want To Do?… Do The Opposite

January 26, 2009


Is it any wonder a keynote topic like "Tougher than the Times" has surged to "most requested" status lately?  Of course not.  It doesn't seem to matter whether you are a corporate executive, factory worker, healthcare provider, small business owner, or government official.  Across the board, Americans are facing some "tough times" and looking for solutions.  

The best news about all of this is that we seem to be of one mind as Americans as we view our current global and economic challenges as temporal.  We know that “this too, shall pass”.  Still, the questions of how we “get to the other side” and “how long will it take” linger heavily in the air.  Bottom line, in order to get through “tough times,” we need to be “tougher.”  So, what does it take to be tougher than the times exactly?

First, we need to understand that often times, what is required of us in challenging circumstances is exactly OPPOSITE of what we want to do.  Too often, we want to “hunker down” and “wait it out.”  Perhaps we keep operating at the status quo and simply “hope for the best.”  Unfortunately, this passive mentality will have us run over, defeated, and beaten down in no time flat.  There are two important facts to remember when becoming “Tougher than the times.”   One, any challenge or obstacle worth our time and attention will require strategic action on our part.   Two, in times like these, our best defense is offense.  

To illustrate this, I want to share with you an ancient HERO who became (much) tougher than the times.  

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed King over all of Israel, they (the Philistines) went up in full force to search for him… – 1 Chronicles 14:8

Many of us may have heard the famous “bible story” battle between David and Goliath.  Well, Goliath was a Philistine, a nation of people who were literally classified as modern-day giants.  Clearly, they already had SIZE as an advantage.  But, history also tells us that size was not this nation’s only “weapon.”  You see, archeological digs in Israel reveal that only those sites occupied by the Philistines contained iron tools and weapons.  So, in addition to being giants, the Philistines had developed advanced technology enabling them to create iron weaponry that the Israelites did not have at that time.   A formidable opponent, wouldn’t you say?

Perhaps as formidable as being a leader in an organization experiencing layoffs and massive transition? As formidable as being a small business owner entering a new year dominated by media – driven DOOMSDAY forecasts???  As formidable as entering a new economy in which people more carefully consider each purchase?  As formidable as pursuing a goal that seems “impossible” to achieve?  Let’s see what we can learn from David’s “tougher than the times” response.  

…but David heard about it and WENT OUT TO MEET THEM.” 1 Chronicles 14: 9

The bottom line is that we will all face obstacles in 2009 – just as we faced obstacles in 2008.   But we don’t have to face them the SAME WAY we always have.  We don’t have to hunker down and wait it out.  We certainly don’t have to run away or put our heads in the sand.  I love what David does… He hears about these giants who are coming out in FULL FORCE to destroy him.  Our own first response may have been to HIDE and hope this army of well-armed giants got lost on their way to Israel.  J BUT, history records that David did just the OPPOSITE.  He ran TO the roar.  He met his opponent … his obstacle.. head on! Click Here to read about how  Scott Rigell of Freedom Ford “Ran To The Roar”.

Today, I am asking each of you to do the same.  And, when you are meeting each new challenge with confidence, with faith, with your BEST effort… why not leave a comment below about what you are up to?  I would love to include your story in one of my upcoming books or newsletters.

Author, Rolfe Carawan

Run To The Roar America…

January 21, 2009
President Obama renewed his call for a massive plan to stimulate economic growth.

President Obama renewed his call for a massive plan to stimulate economic growth.

Today, a new President will take office, and while this may be a lifelong dream for him, I can’t say I envy him at all.  He is coming on the scene when our country is facing unprecedented and daunting economic challenges, as well as continued global terrorism and a challenging war effort.  Like a “roaring lion” these obstacles continue to intimidate us, evoking fear and anxiety in the hearts of many Americans. 

While we may be tempted to hear the roar of the lion and “run for the hills”, a more thorough investigation of our “enemy” may make us think again.  You see, the male lion isn’t even really a hunter.  In fact, his typical contribution to a hunt is simply his roar.  It is the lionesses who are actually known for their hunting prowess.  As these females lie in wait at one end of the grassland, the male lion will be at the other end, as their prey graze in the middle.  To signal the hunt, the male lion lets out an intimidating roar.  Out of fear, the grazing animals run AWAY from the roar, and into the dangerous group of lionesses, who lie in wait. 

But, what if they RAN TO THE ROAR instead?  Well, with their size (in number) and speed,  they could easily run past the ONE male lion on that end of the savannah and survive. 

It is this very analogy that I shared with Congressman Randy Forbes not long ago.  You see, our immediate reaction to something fear – or anxiety –– evoking is to run away from the roar, often into more dangerous or daunting circumstances.  I, like Congressman Forbes, believe that we stand as a nation in the middle of the grasslands and RUNNING TO THE ROAR is exactly what is required for us to move beyond our current (personal and global) obstacles and challenges. 

To hear more about RUNNING TO THE ROAR from Randy Forbes, visit his blog  and be on the lookout for the book he and I are co-authoring entitled, “RUN TO THE ROAR”.  


Run To The Roar Award

December 31, 2008

A Sinking Ship

Many organizations experience highs and lows and transitions that cause considerable uncertainty among members and test the very fiber of what a true leader is made of.  Such transitions are occurring in the business world on a daily basis and whether internal or external they tend to expose the core of an organization and test the true unity of its members. 

In the late 1980s Freedom Automotive of Norfolk, VA, was facing this very sort of transition with little hope of recovery.  With economic woes, poor market location, very little strategic edge, and a leader who was swiftly growing weary of the business itself, Freedom Ford was headed toward what looked like commercial ruin.

The Arrival of a Leader

In 1991 Scott Rigell became the president and owner of Freedom Automotive.  Rigell knew that the only way to turn this company around and make it succeed was to unite his employees behind a common vision rooted in common values.  He would have to focus on exceptional customer service by investing in those who administered it, his own employees. Coming from a state of seemingly unfixable brokenness and failure the company grew into a modern success story of fortitude, vision, values, and unification.  

The Run to the Roar

In the face of the recent economic downturn Scott Rigell is once again demonstrating his courageous leadership by running toward the challenge. I was present last week at an all-company meeting where he re-affirmed his original vision for being a “Different Kind of Dealership.”  

He assured his employees that he would not waver in his commitment to investing in his company by providing innovative marketing.  Their customers would continue to experience the exceptional customer service they have come to expect. Employees would continue to receive world class training.  

He went further to say that he was increasing the company’s amount of contribution in the employees’ 401K plans.  But he didn’t stop there, he informed them that he would be reducing his salary by 66% and if necessary he would take no salary at all to ensure they continued to receive their benefits. Leadership like that takes courage and integrity, and that inspires all of us.

Way to go, Scott. Way to Run to the Roar!!

If you are in the market for a new car or truck be sure to check out Freedom Ford’s inventory.  You won’t be disappointed by their unyielding commitment to their customers.  

Tell us your stories by leaving a comment about how your organization and family are running to the roar during these tough times.

Author: Rolfe Carawan

Times are Changing at Work. Why Baby Boomers Must be Able to Accept Working With GenX and GenY Employees.

October 7, 2008

Why is it important to be able to accept working with younger people?

I believe the issue goes beyond being able to “accept” working with younger people – that has always been a reality for every maturing generation – to embracing working with them. The issue here is actually working with younger people instead of just alongside. If Boomers can embrace their role as, “old birds teaching young birds how to fly,” as C.S. Lewis put it, we can transition into leaving a legacy when we leave our job. Boomers must be willing to influence, educate, and mentor younger people.  Otherwise there will be a huge gap of contention between the two generations with counterproductive views of each other leading to bias and bitterness.  Not a healthy work environment.  Younger workers have much to learn from Boomers and Boomers have much to learn from them.  

Author: Rolfe Carawan

Our Economic Times are Tough… Is Unifying Leadership Too Much To Ask For?

October 3, 2008