The Saga of the Least of These

This third installment of the Trilogy of Mercy is The Saga of the Least of These. It was inspired by an encounter with a former classmate. It teaches us to be mindful of the personality of Jesus and His intent for His followers to model love and compassion for everyone.

The Saga of the Least of These

 

He came in contact with the least of these;

Strategically positioned beneath his gaze.

They walked the streets and loitered under trees;

Fought for survival on difficult days.

Rather than seeking to understand,

He figuratively gave the back of his hand.

Invisible to some, but to his glance;

The poor decisions they made in their lives,

Were not deserving of a second chance.

But they were not angry for life deprives

On one hand and gives with the other;

At times a way forward is discovered.

 

He came in contact with the least of these;

He did not know their stories or their plight;

To those down trodden and knocked to their knees,

He gave an uppercut, a left and right

And offered platitudes instead of food

And chastised a non-existent attitude.

His words were a punch to their mid section;

His accusations were born of neglect;

His demeanor inflamed their rejection

Their current state was not their fate and yet

He blamed them for their present condition

And gave them negative recognition.

One day he came upon the least of these,

Not the image on the evening news,

But a panhandler who wanted to please

By offering to shine his shoes.

After a few pleasantries were exchanged

He noted that the man was not deranged.

He was spell bound by the look in his eyes.

There standing before him was a classmate;

A football team member to his surprise;

A high school friend he had not seen of late.

They had a reunion for old time’s sake,

But pondered the difference time could make.

He was outrageous, loud and authentic,

While they reminisced within the concourse.

He found out his friend was schizophrenic

And lost his job while on the police force.

He was homeless and as a last resort,

Tried to survive working at the airport.

The image of suffering changed for him;

Became personal and it changed his heart.

He no longer felt the need to condemn,

But to contribute and play a part;

For if not by the grace of God he sees

He could have been among the least of these.

Copyright © 2012 Orlando Ceaser

Reprinted from the book Daily Resurrections

By Orlando Ceaser

The Trilogy of Mercy

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The trilogy of mercy are three works inspired by Scripture that wrestles with the mandate of love your neighbor. They are,

  1. What would Jesus say, if he was just like us?

  2. Jesus did not say (which speaks to no qualifications or disclaimers on his love)

  3. The saga of the least of these

These poems are present in the book Daily Resurrections. The book is not a devotional, but it can be used that way. The title refers to the signature poem covering points during the day and during our lives when we are submerged and immersed in situations from which will rise.

Intellectually, we submit to the basic tenets of love and forgiveness. We accept that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. However, we must be reminded about mercy and how it goes hand in hand with love and forgiveness.

The first installment of the trilogy is a poem entitled What would Jesus say, if he was just like us? The poem is good for personal reflection and a group discussion. There is an irony in us expecting good things from God when we are reluctant to have His goodness trickle down from us to our neighbors.

 

If Jesus was just like us,

What would he do?

There is a matter I would like to discuss

What would Jesus do if he was like us?

Would he forgive unconditionally,

Or from a list he formed on Calvary?

He said, “Come to me all who are heavy laden

And I will give you rest.”

But would he make us fill out forms

And pass a series of tests?

And based on our affiliations,

Affinities, addresses and how we live,

Would he base reconciliation

On if he thought us worthy, to forgive?

If Jesus was just like us I wonder

About self serving parties to mark his reign,

Commanding the lightning and thunder

As miracles for personal gain.

Would he choose disciples by their net worth,

Socialize with an exclusive crowd,

Suggest we store treasures here on earth

As pompous, privileged ones and the proud?

To those who took the more traveled road,

For beating the system would he reward

Those who took short cuts to lighten their load

By throwing their good neighbors overboard?

What would Jesus do if he was like us?

Would grace be earned and favor granted?

Do you think he would be inclined,

To answer prayers with the favors slanted

To those with nice bodies, pure souls and minds?

Touch the hem of his garment for a price

Or sell tickets to let the spirit in;

Would he pose as the perfect sacrifice?

Would he do anything to save his skin?

 

There would be no need for confession

He’d love us only if and only when

We blame others for indiscretions

And go cold turkey to curb our sin.

Free will eliminated or curtailed;

Abandons when there is an accuser;

A constant companion until we fail;

To not associate with a loser.

Would he charge for frequency and length of prayers;

Score the difficulty of each request.

Pledge to stay out of earthly affairs

Because after all, The Father knows best?

What would Jesus do if he was like us?

Ten commandments and sermons on the mount

Would be delivered if the speaker’s fee

Was high enough to take into account

The distance he traveled through the galaxy?

Copyright © 2008 Orlando Ceaser

Reprinted from Daily Resurrections

By Orlando Ceaser

Available at OrlandoCeaser.com and amazon.com

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com and poetry at watchwellinc.com

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser

 

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 31 – Shared Greatness – The Epic Leader

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Epic means larger-than-life, on a grander scale, and above and beyond the ordinary. Epic is the magnitude found in a Cecil B. DeMille blockbuster movie with enormous sets, panoramic views and large crowds of people. They are like movies envisioned by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, JJ Abrams and James Cameron.

When I apply epic to leadership, I want you to think of leadership that is scalable, based on the situation, circumstances, and demands of the organization and needs of the people. The Epic Leader has the skills, abilities, talent and capacities discussed over the 31 Day Leadership Gauntlet. They produce gargantuan goals and vision, with the courage to be empathetic, resilient and able to adapt style, structure and emotions to be empathetic and emotionally intelligent.

The Epic Leader is in the mind of the beholder; the followers are made bolder because of their ability to shoulder the burdens together. They are effective in working as a team. Size matters to the follower because the Epic Leader is big enough to coach, mentor and lead where leadership is required. The followers feel they can trust them because of their reputation and trustworthy interactions. The Epic Leader also, has a grander vision, a sense of purpose with their egos intact as they develop their people to have the curiosity, strength through interdependence in turbulent times, with the spirituality and curiosity to be creative and able to overcome fear.

The Epic Leader is humble and their humility will not allow them to say, “I’ve got this or I am enough,” but you know it is true from the leadership versatility they exhibit and the leadership power that is granted to them by their followers. The Epic Leader makes others into epic followers. The followers feel like somebody. They feel they are going somewhere and to ready to do something great.

The Epic Leader creates impact players, who are students of the game, in the right role, powered by a dream and who are always created with high standards. They are continuous learners. They are familiar with the work and leadership practices of Gen. Colin Powell. Their people have grit. It is the grit that is talked about by Angela Duckworth and defined as passion and perseverance. The Epic Leader wants to take their people and organizations from good to great as Jim Collins discussed in his book. They have the vulnerability that Brené Brown writes, speaks and researches. They are equipped with the emotional intelligence referred to by Daniel Goleman and Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. They understand the Givers and Takers as outlined by Adam Grant and Start with Why according to Simon Sinek, and the strengths of their people as championed by Marcus Buckingham.

The Epic Leader ensures their followers will have the appropriate mindset, therefore a  they put forth the right effort and preparation.  They work to be culturally competent from reading Malcolm Gladwell in his books Blink, the Outsider and Talking to strangers. The epic leader understands unconscious bias through the work of Sondra Thiederman, Making Diversity Work, and the research of Mahzarin R. Babaji and Anthony G. Greenwald summarize in their book about hidden biases, Blindspot. He took the Intrinsic Association Test (IAT) at  https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/.

You do not start out saying you want to be an Epic Leader. They would not be the mindset of a person focused on humility. It is a distinction bestowed upon you by those who look up to you and learn from you. You have been a breath of fresh air on their development and they realized how you have improved their environment and enriched their lives.

May you unlock your leadership greatness and become an Epic Leader. May you continue to magnify and multiply; magnify your impact and spread your reach to positively influence more people. I am hopeful that your 31 Day Leadership Gauntlet journey was a mind stimulating, heart inspiring and faith affirming adventure into becoming an Epic leader. May your Epic followers be instrumental in helping you to change the world

The Epic Leader

The Epic Leader surveys the terrain

And ponders the strategy, yet remains

True to the mission; put their people first,

As they seek the best and plan for the worst.

The Epic Leader ascends and descends;

Adjusts and gains trust as they comprehend

The magnitude of the crisis at hand,

To manage chaos, while taking a stand.

Their mission is clear, their vision intact

They may have charisma that will attract,

Or humility and a strength of will

To lead the people with dreams to fulfill.

The Epic Leader has the confidence

Of someone emboldened by competence

And guided by a mission and vision;

A philosophy that shapes decisions.

The Epic Leader walks across the stage;

There is alignment, as people engage

In the moment, confidence exuded,

As people feel affirmed and included.

The rivals don’t always attack at dawn

And competitors charge with weapons drawn.

They have monumental ability

To focus on mental agility.

The Epic Leader manages to rise

To the encounter, but look in their eyes,

For there lies the energy on which they feed;

As power flows from what the people need.

The Epic Leader prepares and repairs.

To show us that leadership shares and cares.

They can get by on a wing and a prayer.

Resourceful, vulnerable, self-aware,

Emotionally wise and capable,

When change is truly inescapable;

Uncertainty is a root of the norm,

They will translate, transcend, as they transform.

The Epic Leader advises their crew

And wisely considers their points of view;

With seafaring credentials to perform;

Courageously at the height of the storm.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

Personal Reflections

  1. What can you do to become a bigger leader?

  2. How can you enrich the lives of those I influence?

  3. What you do today to make person I encounter feel important?

  4. What are my strengths and weaknesses in interacting, influencing and leading people?

  5. What are my blind spots, as it relates to understanding people were not like me?

  6. How do I gather feedback on how others see me?

  7. Who are the people I should select?

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 30 – Mediocrity      

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Step out in excellence. Individuals and organizations mired in mediocrity failed to reach their potential, fall short of meeting customer expectations and do not achieve the best. Excellence demands dedication, creativity, innovation, cooperation and coordination between teams and departments. The analogy of the impact player works to explain the high bar necessary in today’s environment.

Impact players are peak performers, game changers and difference makers. They are recognized as the superstars in our organizations, schools, communities and families. They are the stars on the team, the leaders that people respect and emulate. The greater the number of impact player available, the more it accelerates and creates a critical mass necessary to reach your goals.

Organizations cannot afford wholesale mediocrity within their ranks. They must select the best talent, develop the best talent and retain the best talent. Just imagine how productive we would be if we increased the number of impact players within our group. They would realize that they are in need group of performers. Their presence would have a synergistic effect on the group. Employees would be more engaged and productive; students would achieve higher grades and test results. Businesses would consistently reach their productivity and financial targets.

There are 10 principles observed in impact players from academia, athletics, entertainment and business. This is not an exhaustive list and all of them may not be present in everyone.

 

Impact Player

  1. A Natural Fit for the Role

  • Excels in areas where their talents, skills and abilities are fully utilized

  1. Powered by a Dream

  • Driven by ambitious and stretch goals to fulfill potential and purpose

  1. A Student of the Game

  • Continuously learning information about their field and related areas

  1. Fundamentally Sound

  • Masters the basics through practice and mental rehearsal

  1. Sets High Standards

  • Fully engaged to beat their personal best, which exceed job requirements

  1. Creative Expression

  • Develops new ways to improve work and play, with a style of their own

  1. Passionate Execution

  • Aggressively implements plans and checklists to stay on tasks

  1. Lead by Example

  • Personal actions match their words

  1. Make Others Better

  • Elevates team performance by teaching and challenging the effort and results of peers

  1. Serve Others

  • Willingness to share talent and resources – give back – pay forward

Copyright © 2007 Orlando Ceaser

Please review the Impact Player poem. How do you align with the principles?

 

The Impact Player

 

He was not always an Impact Player;

A natural fit at his position.

He had to struggle through many layers

Of resistance from the competition.

He worked to get in the best condition;

While mastering all the fundamentals;

Setting high standards, filled with ambition;

Knowing success is not accidental.

She was not always an Impact Player;

A change agent, when she first reached the field.

She started thinking as a bricklayer,

Then felt she had a cathedral to build.

The game slows down the better we produce

Always passionate in execution;

Powered by a dream that’s put to good use,

To spark a leadership revolution.

We are striving to be Impact Players;

Always being creative in the role;

Tie breakers, the movers and shakers;

Willing to work hard and pay the toll.

 

For we do the hard work and we achieve

Superstar status that we can savor.

We are students of the game and believe

That serving others has brought us favor.

We are striving to be Impact Players;

No one questions our talent or drive.

As armored knights, we are dragon slayers,

From medieval times to this moment,

We thrive.

Difference makers willing to trample

The forces of mediocrity;

Who are always leading by example,

And making others better constantly.

We’re decisive without hesitation

From these principles we will not waiver;

Our research and investigations,

Fill us with courage and make us braver.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

Personal Reflections

  1. Review the 10 principles

  2. What are your strengths and where do you need to fortify your efforts?

  3. Pick a strength and an area needing improvement and focus on them today.

  4. Review the book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness by Orlando Ceaser.

  5. Books are available at amazon.com and orlandoceaser.com

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 28 – Courage

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Courage is not the absence of fear but proceeding in its presence. Courage is not necessarily acts of bravery against a life-threatening adversary. Courage can be defined as a situation where you are prompted to rise, step forward and risk something, to benefit yourself or others. You must be willing to go to the front of the line to demonstrate bravery. Therefore, Courage is not always about us. It is performed as a practice, a template, a role model to benefit others.

There are instances during a day or a season when you are being watched by your family, group, team, peers and community. How will you respond in difficult situations? When a fear generating dilemma appears, there is a courage stimulating response that is required. How will you respond? Will you be brave?

When an intimidating moment appears in the leadership gauntlet, it is a perfect opportunity to stand up, show courage and be on the front line and take the lead with your people. What does courage look like? It varies with the demand and the scale of the crisis. Courage could mean standing up for them when they are bullied by peers, strangers or management. It could be when unfair assaults on their skills, reputation and performance occurs during a meeting or performance review. Courage could occur during periods of uncertainty when patience and guidance are needed to help someone make it through a frightening predicament.

Courage could also manifest itself in the ability to show weakness, vulnerability, empathy and compassion. Courage provides the opportunity to let down your guard and connect with people. Look for opportunities to show people that you are on their side, that you can identify with them and fight with them. You can roll up your sleeves, join the fight and work with them.

Front-line Leadership

https://youtu.be/bhB6r02clVk

 

When in the clenches or against the ropes

Or in the trenches where it’s hard to cope;

When in the battle to succeed,

On the front line is where you lead.

To make decisions cowards fear to broach,

You’re on the field as player and coach;

To give followers what they need,

On the front line is where you lead.

You are the traction on a slippery slope.

Your plans and action are symbols of hope.

Momentum grows by word and deed,

On the front line is where you lead.

So, by example you show them the way.

You’ve rolled up your sleeves and joined in the fray.

For in the battle to succeed,

On the front line is where you lead.

Reprinted with permission from Teach the Children to Dance

Copyright © 2001 Orlando Ceaser

Personal Reflections

  1. How have you taken the lead to show someone that you are on their side?

  2. How can you demonstrate to someone that you have them back?

  3. Describe a situation when you weren’t there when someone needed you?

  4. Where do you need to show courage more consistently?

  5. Describe a time when you went to bat for someone.

  6. What situations are more difficult for you to show courage?

  7. What is the worst thing that can happen in most situations?

  8. Does the worst thing that can happen, consistently happen?

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser    

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 26 – Arrogance

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Pharmaceutical sales representatives are familiar with the customer referred to as the “Know-it-all doctor.” The connotation was not just a physician who knew everything, but an individual who was arrogant and spoke to people in a condescending manner. There was a feeling of superiority which made it difficult to deal with others. The air of arrogance made it hard to be effective as a leader. The person who knows everything and feels no one can teach them anything, is difficult to talk to and may not be open to receiving important information.

Many times, we use arrogance to cover-up for an insecurity. We don’t want people to recognize a deficiency in some aspect of our behavior and we do not wish to be challenged. On other occasions we do not wish to be questioned because we feel we are better than everyone. Humility is not a skill that makes them comfortable.

When you make the commitment to move beyond arrogance, it must be done with authenticity. Here is an example of what not to do. A manager received feedback that addressed his arrogance of feeling he was always right. It revealed that he did not listen to his direct reports, did not solicit their comments, but when they were given, he would not value or use them. It was described as follows.

He would adopt the stance of a good listener, someone concerned about his staff’s point of view. He would lean forward, establish direct eye contact and use transitional phrases such as, go on, is that so, I did not know that and tell me more. At the conclusion, he would thank them for their courage and valuable input. He would close by saying, he was glad to have the opportunity to know how they felt, but he would continue with his idea and the original plan. His subordinates were confused and wondered why ask for their opinions and bother going through such a pointless exercise. His actions curtailed their ideas and reduced trust. Why give comments if they did not matter?

Personalize your actions to prevent arrogant behavior by focusing on these areas.

  1. Beware of arrogant tendencies.

  2. Listen to others.

  3. Involve others in your decision making

  4. Include their ideas to show you value their suggestions

  5. Do not respond in a threatening manner when you don’t like what you hear

People do not wish to support the arrogant person. They may withhold information. They may watch someone go down the wrong path and remain silent. They will surely not give them their best effort. They will do just enough to keep their jobs. They will engage in OMDB (Over My Dead Body) behavior and thinking. Review the poem below and reflect on it and discuss with others.

Many of us may be blind to our arrogant ways. In order to change we must be open to critical remarks without taking them personally. Act as if people may feel you are arrogant, and request insight. A manager read the poem below and was offended, for it struck a nerve. He was offended by the content because he thought I was speaking to him. However, members of his staff contacted me and confirmed that it was an accurate depiction of his arrogant leadership style. Let’s act as if this might be the case. Remove personal anxiety and allow people the opportunity to give you comments that are good for everyone.

You Might Not Be A Leader

You may have been a superstar in sales;

An individual who never fails,

But, if you can’t ensure the group prevails,

You might not be a leader.

If vision is absent and no one cares,

If knowledge is power, you will not share;

If you look behind you and no one’s there;

You might not be a leader.

If you did not earn stripes or pay your dues;

If faced with decisions, you fail to choose;

If people ask for help and you refuse,

You might not be a leader.

A passive aggressive management style,

If your deficiencies are in denial;

Too selfish to journey the extra mile,

You might not be a leader.

When seen as a puppet of management,

To throw teammates under the bus is meant,

As a symbol of brewing discontent,

You might not be a leader.

If you lack trust and thought to be lying

And giving feedback is terrifying,

Here is a fact that’s not worth denying,

You might not be a leader.

You feel emotional intelligence

Are soft skills without any relevance,

And being vulnerable makes no sense,

You might not be a leader.

If given a job that’s over your head;

If you cannot reach them, the word will spread,

If you cannot teach them, it will be said,

You might not be a leader.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

Personal Reflections

  1. Do you solicit input from others?

  2. Do you use ideas presented by your staff?

  3. Do you speak down to others when they state their opinions?

  4. Do you involve others in your decision making?

  5. Review stanzas and lines that relate to arrogance in self and others.

  6. Do people come to you for advice on a frequent basis?

  7. How do you receive feedback on your impact?

  8. Does your impact match your intent?

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser    

 

 

31 Day Leadership Gauntlet – Day 24 – Curiosity

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As children we were told that curiosity killed the cat, but our response was always, but satisfaction brought them back. On one hand we accused curious people of being nosy. However, curiosity was a good thing when you were called precocious. Curiosity is a critical characteristic to possess. Cultivating the habit of being curious is a precursor to creativity and innovation. Employees who constantly approach products and practices with a curiosity lens, are an asset to you, for they will develop ideas to improve your organization.

A corporate culture saturated with curiosity is vibrant and expanding. These individuals examine the status quo to understand its origins, as they look for ways to improve design and execution to increase overall quality. One of the tools of the curious is an enhanced ability to ask questions. They know that the right question will provide them with the information they need to understand and improve overall performance. Why have we always done process, this way? Many professions depend on the ability to ask questions; lawyers, salespeople, counselors, coaches, teachers, parents, years, psychiatrists and lawyers.

Curiosity paired with questioning skills will uncover information needed in an environment of continuous improvement. Think of ways that you could be more curious and set up a process to establish a curiosity infused workplace. Have fun with it because it will be exhilarating.

 

A.S.K.

(Acquire Selling Knowledge)

 

We ask for trouble;

To be there on the double;

For affection, for directions,

For a dime.

We ask for the weather;

The shoes are they leather?

Was I blatant?

What’s your statement?

What’s the time?

Yet this three-letter word

Is forgotten, deferred,

By the greatest inquisitors of all.

We speak from our chair

With articulate flair,

But with rarely a question in the call.

In eloquent fashion

We probe with a passion,

For a date,

For a dollar,

For our due.

We ask for a dance,

A third second chance,

For advice,

For a price,

For a clue.

But we won’t inquire

To learn what inspires,

A customer to buy;

Their need, reason,

The why.

They are willing to share,

Who, what, when, how and where,

If we ask and listen to their reply.

Copyright © 2001 Orlando Ceaser

Reprinted from Teach the Children to Dance

Personal Reflections

  1. Are you creative?

  2. How do you cultivate a climate of curiosity?

  3. Since curiosity and creativity are often linked, what are you doing to grow either skill, personally or professionally?

  4. Are there certain people in your organization who are naturally curious?

  5. Have you developed the art of asking questions to seek information?

  6. Can you identify with the sentiment stated in the Ask poem above?

  7. What can you do to ensure that more questions are asked in presentations and conversations?

  8. Have you informed your people about the importance of asking the right questions?

  9. What kind of training or resources do you provide in the area of curiosity and asking questions?

More leadership information at OrlandoCeaser.com.

The ‘O’ Zone Blog: myozonelayer.com

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=orlando+ceaser