Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category

Financial bondage is a form of slavery.

Welfare Plus Warfare Equals Unfair

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 16, 2012

America’s leadership deficit may be the only thing bigger than Washington’s budget deficit. Since FDR took over the presidential helm back in 1932, every president has supported either the Welfare State or the Warfare State. In truth, most have supported both! Consequently, the GNP to national debt ratio has surged embarrassingly close to banana republic levels. It seems America is determined to follow the course of the Roman Empire; eschewing the need for external enemies, America is collapsing as Rome did from within, riding the waves of poorly planned and executed internal policies.

On one hand, the Welfare State feeds, clothes, and houses people, which seems like a noble gesture until one understands learned helplessness. Why should men and women marry when the government will provide for mother and child without the father’s involvement. Fathers are freed from the responsibilities of raising a family that are essential in transforming males into men. This isn’t hypothetical as the percentage of children being born to unwed mothers has skyrocketed since the government began providing “help.” Communities across America ought to plead with government to stop helping them into learned helplessness and allow them to help the real charity cases locally.

On the other hand, the Warfare State recruits, trains, and supplies a military, which seems like a proper role of government until one understands the empire building methods of our current governments. Governments should protect their citizens from foreign invasion, but our current military adventures – military bases in nearly 150 countries – no longer seem like protection, but rather empire building. I am thankful for America’s military, and my dad served as a Green Beret; however, we cannot afford to allow our government to volunteer America’s military as the world’s police force for free, especially when we are beyond broke!

Each country must provide for its own military protection, ending our “allies” learned helplessness served up by America’s government at the taxpayers’ expense. Is there any country that is threatening to invade America currently? In contrast, how many countries is America threatening to invade? Like the old saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then everyone looks like a nail. The Soviet Union – the bogeyman needed for a cold war – is no more, but America’s defense spending is alive and well. Despite trillions in deficits, our leaders feel the need to play empire at our country’s expense. Is there any sanity left in Washington, DC? Perhaps our current “leaders” ought to read George Washington’s thoughts on the principle of “entangling alliances.”

When one group provides for another that it is fully capable of providing for itself, both groups end up ruined – the first through increased spending and decreased productivity and the second through increased passivity and decreased productivity. This is the perfect lose/lose scenario, one in which our government specializes. 🙂 How long must we ignore common sense and the lessons of history? Simply put, the government’s welfare and warfare strategies are unfair and unsustainable. Wake up, America, before it’s too late!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development | 12 Comments »

Chris Brady: LIFE Videos

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 10, 2012

In this excellent video, Chris Brady, my good friend and co-founder of LIFE, speaks on the importance of a person’s view of money. How a person views money determines the actions he takes toward it. Brady has mastered the principles of money management and financial success. Everyone learns from experience; however, it is much quicker to learn from others’ experience. Each reader has a choice; he can learn from his own financial mistakes, or he can learn from leaders who have experience in that area. Chris Brady has wisdom and experience when it comes to making and keeping money. Enjoy the video and develop the proper money view.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Finances | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

LIFE Island: Family & Friends

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 6, 2012

In 1998, I got this crazy dream. I had had many dreams that others thought were crazy at the time, but I had always believed they were fairly reasonable. Yet even I knew this particular dream was crazy! However, an important point about life is that if you’re not willing to dream crazy dreams, then crazy dreams will never come true for you.

Anyway, as an engineer at Delphi, a division of General Motors, I placed pictures on my cubicle wall of an in-house movie theater, houses on the lakes, properties with forests, and yachts, to name just a few. Each of the pictures was courageously pinned on the wall. I say courageously because when new engineers joined the Delphi division, they were given a tour of the facility. Without fail, one of the last stops was my cubicle to show them the crazy pictures I had on the wall. Sure they laughed at me while the tour guide explained again why engineers don’t live like this. I didn’t like it, but it only steeled my resolve. I figured that it was better for them to laugh at me while I kept my dreams than for them to stop laughing because I had surrendered my dreams.

As I reflect back, every single picture pinned on that wall came true. In fact, many of the PC members have accomplished the pictures today. Ok, there is one picture that still hasn’t been accomplished. It’s not that it hasn’t come true; it’s still just a work-in-progress. 🙂 Some of you may have already guessed what that dream is: LIFE Island. I remember hesitating when I placed the island picture on the wall; I didn’t take placing a picture lightly because I knew it was a commitment made to myself to follow through, and this island picture was a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG (as Jim Collins calls it). Many times, I stared at that island dreaming of the day when a fleet of yachts would travel from Florida (yes, I had a Florida property on the wall) to the island.

There are two types of people reading this article. The first group will think I am crazy to dream a BHAG of this magnitude, believing there’s no way the LIFE community can achieve that. The ones in the second group, in contrast, will study the picture and feed their elephant minds. This group understands Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s proclamation, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” This article won’t teach a person how to build a LIFE business; instead, it is an expression of fourteen years of longing for an island to enjoy with my family and friends.

Can anyone else imagine the evening picnics at the beach park, cookouts, volleyball, horseshoes, and late-night conversation around the firepit all while enjoying the beautiful views and listening to the ocean surf behind us? Community and fellowship are essential for the picture I have envisioned. I can see the fleet of PC yachts making its way into the LIFE Island harbor. Laurie and I greet people as they disembark from their private yachts and ready themselves for several months of R&R on the island. As you step off your yacht, you realize that every plan, every challenge, every year was worth the effort required to achieve this victory.

The aroma of freshly grilled steaks, chicken, and fish permeates the air as you mingle among friends. Freshly squeezed fruit juices tease your taste buds as you recalibrate yourself to the island tempo. Imagine Chris Brady, Tim Marks, Claude Hamilton, George Guzzardo, Bill Lewis, Dan Hawkins, and their lovely brides looking you in the eyes and welcoming you to the dream-come-true LIFE Island. Later, many will walk the island trails for the first time—speechless as they realize that the dream they have yearned for, the dream they have worked for, the dream they have struggled for has finally come true.

I know; I know—I must be crazy. I have been hearing the same thing for years now. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about BHAGs, it’s that if it doesn’t take your breath away, then it’s not a BHAG at all. This dream has always (and still does) taken my breath away! Today, by posting this picture, I am officially launching the quest for LIFE Island. Consider this blog as my new office wall. Go ahead and look at the picture. Now that you have seen it, here is my question: Which group do you belong to? One group will laugh now but live with the pain of sacrificed dreams later; the other group will sacrifice now but live with friends on an island of dreams later.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Community/Friends, Faith, Family, Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , | 59 Comments »

Lindsay Lohan – Vanity of Fame, Fortune, & Power

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 5, 2012

It was another typical morning; I wrapped up my Bible studies and sat down to briefly (all the news in five minutes or less) review today’s current events. However, today’s news really got me thinking. Yahoo had posted a video of child-star to troubled-teen to drugged-up-diva Lindsay Lohan. Watch the video and then let’s talk.


I don’t know her background. I don’t know her movies. But I couldn’t help but feel her pain. How many people must go through the same storyline before the world wakes up? All that glitters is not gold! Solomon said it most succinctly when he proclaimed, “All is vanity.” Do not be fooled by the world’s definitions of success; fame, fortune, and power do not satisfy. Examine the lives of Marilyn Monroe (fame), J. Paul Getty (fortune), and L.B. Johnson (power); they each had what others crave, yet they died alone, unhappy, and practically friendless. I could go on; anyone ever hear of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, or Whitney Houston?

History is full of the vanity of fame, fortune, and power, and yet each year millions more chase the illusion. In my personal life, I have experienced my share of each of these “false gods” and I can speak from first-hand experience that all is vanity. Does this mean we shouldn’t strive for excellence, or that we should settle for mediocrity? Of course, it doesn’t. However, it does mean we should begin with the end in mind, and fame, fortune, and power are terrible ends with which to start.

Each of these “false gods” turns a person inward, making him focus more on himself, his needs, and his desires – a sure recipe for unhappiness. The saddest day in a star’s life is when he has accomplished everything he aimed for only to discover it is all vanity. The endless displays, divorces, and drugs are all attempts to mask the emptiness of the accomplishments. For most superstars, the results were not worth the investment; for in order to achieve the prize, the stars had to sacrifice themselves.

Fortunately, there is a path out of the dilemma. Jesus Christ stated the two greatest commandments were to:

1. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
2. Love others as yourself.

In truth, a person finds his life when he loses it in a worthy cause. What, in other words, are you willing to sacrifice your life for? Every single day, you pay for the twenty-four hours provided to you by sacrificing another day of your life. In your life, has the investment been truly worth the sacrifice? If not, why do you continue in that direction?

The greatest return on investment is when a person fulfills God’s plan for his life. Serving God and others is the only path to true fulfillment. In RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, I share the principles that helped me stop chasing an illusion and start living my destiny.

In this Easter season, Lindsay Lohan’s video reminded me how thankful I am that God saved a ruined sinner like me through the finished work of Jesus Christ. I pray that someone close to Lindsay Lohan can share the same message of grace, hope, and mercy with her.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, Family, Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development | 21 Comments »

Chris Brady, Tim Marks, and LIFE: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 4, 2012

As I sat at my desk this Easter season morning, my eyes spanned across the beautiful St. Lucie Bay while I reflected on the life I have been blessed to live. Here are just a few of my thankful thoughts:

1. I am married to an amazing Christian wife Laurie Woodward who has consistently loved me through years of growth and change. Add on the fact that she has mothered four super teenagers, and I cannot imagine a better family life scenario.

2. I am in business with my best friends – Chris Brady, Tim Marks, George Guzzardo, Claude Hamilton, Bill Lewis, Dan Hawkins, and Rob Hallstrand – who are not only great encouragers, but also wise and highly skilled businessmen. For instance, Tim Marks’s wisdom is packed full in his new book Voyage of a Viking being released this month, and it will be a blessing to so many who are in the process of changing their scripts.

3. The LIFE community is prospering at a faster rate than at any time in my 18 years of community building. Our community numbers at seminars across North America have increased over 5,000 people since the November 1, 2011 launch, just missing 20,000 people in attendance at the March seminars. That’s nearly double the numbers from one year ago! The community has grown over a 1,000 people at events each month since the launch of LIFE.

4. I have watched many business partners experience some tough financial challenges because they stood on principles. Thankfully, they endured, got back up, dusted themselves off, and ran again to freedom. Many, in fact, are making more money today than at any previous time in business. Everybody gets knocked down in life, but like I have said for years, “Those who stay will be champions.”

5. The LIFE Business Compensation Plan is rewarding people at unprecedented levels. With 95 percent of the people receiving a check monthly, LIFE is fair, equitable, and affordable to even the most strained of pocketbooks. LIFE is about receiving an opportunity, not a handout. One must work to win at anything, but the goal of the LIFE founders was to ensure that real work receives real rewards quickly.

6. LIFE is rapidly closing in on 4,000 customers! That’s 4,000 people choosing to purchase LIFE materials with no thought of further compensation. The LIFE founders studied the industry and refused to move forward unless they had a product that was in-demand at the retail price in the marketplace. With almost a 1,000 new customers a month, I think the task was accomplished.

7. LIFE, because the value proposition for customers is correct, has grown its member base accordingly. For example, if a customer loves the product and loves the community he is associating with, it’s only natural that, at a future date, he may choose to become a member of the compensated community. The added benefits of being a member (world-class compensation and business training) make this move a no-brainer for any person looking for financial rewards.

8. At the Major coming up in Columbus, LIFE is going to unveil Phase II, including the personalized websites for online customer and member signups, details to challenge your mental fitness, and improved community bonding with our leadership materials. Leadership is the application of proper knowledge. LIFE provides the knowledge, and the community provides the environment for application.

Ok, enough of my ruminations. What are you thinking about this morning? I cannot wait to share more details at the Columbus Major. I will see you there as we celebrate the achievers and implement Phase II of our vision to reach one million people.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Family, Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

Liberty and Power

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 23, 2012

That Government is best which governs least – Henry David Thoreau

I woke up this morning with a thought. What is the best way to delineate the coercive powers of State interventions from the free influences of communities within Society? I believe this article does the job the best. After reading this article, one can quickly see why the founders bound the federal governments hands all through the Constitution. Sadly, for freedom at least, the federal government has broken its bounds and reigns as the supreme sovereign across the land.

Were the Anti-Federalist Were Right?

If historians were honest, they would have to admit the Anti-Federalists, men like Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, more accurately predicted America’s future than the writers of the Federalist Papers (Madison, Hamilton, and Jay) did. The growth of consolidation and power by the federal government at the expense of the sovereign states is inarguable. As so often happens in history, however, the losing side is forgotten despite the truthfulness of its cause. Power politics simply coerces people through “might is right” maneuvers. Influence, on the other hand, requires truth and reason to persuade others of the causes rightness and justice. Anyone can use power, but it takes leaders to influence.

State versus Society?

The State (monopoly of force) advances through power, while Society (free communities) advances through influence. Which social structure do you think ensures a person’s property and liberty better? It’s vital to follow the thought wars of each generation. For example, in the 16th and 17th centuries, a person who wasn’t educated on religious issues of the day was lost. Regretfully, because thoughts lead to actions, much blood was spilt before freedom of religion and conscience was adopted in the West.

Ideas have Consequences

Similarly, in the 18th and 19th centuries, political structures dominated the thought currents. With the Glorious, American, and French Revolutions leading the way, governmental structures aimed at providing freedom for the people were the prevalent philosophical currents of the day. Monarchies, republics, and democracies, jockeyed against one another in the battle of ideas. Liberty and power pivoted on the outcomes of these interminable wars.

Today, however, the war of ideas has changed fields. Regardless of what governmental structure a country has, the key question concerns the country’s economic perspective. Economic structures can produce liberty or despotism in a monarchy, republic, or a democracy. Governmental organization, in other words, is less vital to liberty than a proper comprehension of economics. In fact, I believe, without exaggeration, that the separation between liberty and power is tied directly to the economic understandings of the next generation of State leaders. Spiritual liberty with civil rights is still despotism if the people are not economically free.

Austrian School of Economics

The Austrian School of economics, in my opinion, is the best systematized culmination of economic truths gained over the last several millennia. When it comes to economics, the American founders can legitimately proclaim they “didn’t know what they didn’t know.” We, on the other hand, do not have the same excuse thanks to Mises, Rothbard, et al. Indeed, any politician who remains ignorant of the Austrian School of Economics has allied himself against liberty in its perpetual war against power.

Cain & Abel

The conflict between liberty and power is as old as Cain and Abel. Which side do you align with? Choose wisely for society’s sake. A limited State with a free economic system is the soil where the liberty tree blossoms. We cannot afford to remain ignorant of these historical truths. Read the article and start your education process for life and liberty.

Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

One of the most important thinkers on the nature of the state was Franz Oppenheimer, who distinguished between the economic means and the political means, and defined the state as the organization of the political means. As Hans-Hermann Hoppe explains:

Franz Oppenheimer is a left-anarchist German sociologist. In The State he distinguishes between the economic (peaceful and productive) and the political (coercive and parasitic) means of wealth acquisition, and explains the state as instrument of domination and exploitation.

As Oppenheimer wrote in his classic work The State:

I mean by [the “State”] that summation of privileges and dominating positions which are brought into being by extra economic power. And in contrast to this, I mean by Society, the totality of concepts of all purely natural relations and institutions between man and man …. [from the Introduction]
There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others. … I propose … to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others “the economic means” for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the “political means.” … The state is an organization of the political means. [Ch. 1]

Rothbard was also heavily influenced by Oppenheimer, writing in The Ethics of Liberty:

If the state, then, is a vast engine of institutionalized crime and aggression, the “organization of the political means” to wealth, then this means that the State is a criminal organization.
He goes on:

But, above all, the crucial monopoly is the State’s control of the use of violence: of the police and armed services, and of the courts—the locus of ultimate decision-making power in disputes over crimes and contracts. Control of the police and the army is particularly important in enforcing and assuring all of the State’s other powers, including the all-important power to extract its revenue by coercion.

For there is one crucially important power inherent in the nature of the State apparatus. All other persons and groups in society (except for acknowledged and sporadic criminals such as thieves and bank robbers) obtain their income voluntarily: either by selling goods and services to the consuming public, or by voluntary gift (e.g., membership in a club or association, bequest, or inheritance). Only the State obtains its revenue by coercion, by threatening dire penalties should the income not be forthcoming. That coercion is known as “taxation,” although in less regularized epochs it was often known as “tribute.” Taxation is theft, purely and simply even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknowledged criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the property of the State’s inhabitants, or subjects.

If, then, taxation is compulsory, and is therefore indistinguishable from theft, it follows that the State, which subsists on taxation, is a vast criminal organization far more formidable and successful than any “private” Mafia in history. Furthermore, it should be considered criminal not only according to the theory of crime and property rights as set forth in this book, but even according to the common apprehension of mankind, which always considers theft to be a crime. As we have seen above, the nineteenth-century German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer put the matter succinctly when he pointed out that there are two and only two ways of attaining wealth in society:

(a) by production and voluntary exchange with others—the method of the free market; and

(b)by violent expropriation of the wealth produced by others. The latter is the method of violence and theft. The former benefits all parties involved; the latter parasitically benefits the looting group or class at the expense of the looted.

Oppenheimer trenchantly termed the former method of obtaining wealth, “the economic means,” and the latter “the political means.” Oppenheimer then went on brilliantly to define the State as “the organization of the political means.”

As Hoppe noted, Albert Jay Nock was also “influenced by Franz Oppenheimer. In Our Enemy, The State he explains the anti-social, predatory nature of the state, and draws a sharp distinction between government as voluntarily acknowledged authority and the State. Nock in turn influenced Frank Chodorov, who would influence young Murray Rothbard.” Nock, thus, likewise drawing on Oppenheimer, wrote:

The State, then, whether primitive, feudal or merchant, is the organization of the political means.
and:

The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner. On the negative side, it has been proved beyond peradventure that no primitive State could possibly have had any other origin. Moreover, the sole invariable characteristic of the State is the economic exploitation of one class by another. In this sense, every State known to history is a class-State. Oppenheimer defines the State, in respect of its origin, as an institution “forced on a defeated group by a conquering group, with a view only to systematizing the domination of the conquered by the conquerors, and safeguarding itself against insurrection from within and attack from without. This domination had no other final purpose than the economic exploitation of the conquered group by the victorious group.”

Mises also focuses on the state’s use of violence as a defining feature:

The total complex of the rules according to which those at the helm employ compulsion and coercion is called law. Yet the characteristic feature of the state is not these rules, as such, but the application or threat of violence. [Omnipotent Government]

Posted in Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Leadership, Life, & Liberty

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 20, 2012

When I was 26 years old, I joined community building for one of the strangest of reasons – to get my baseball cards back. Although inexplicable to me, since I typically didn’t join anything, I realize now that God was opening up the door to my destiny. Through community building, my leadership inabilities were quickly revealed, forcing me to undergo nearly 12 years of intensive hands-on experience before finally mastering the fundamentals of leadership. The culmination of this leadership journey occurred on a private-island retreat when Chris Brady and I began a long conversation on the principles of leadership that led to our #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller Launching a Leadership Revolution.

With this initial success, my perspective changed from leadership success to life success. I started studying the principles of holistic success in a purpose-filled life, rather than just effective professional leadership. Eventually, this led me to write RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, which shares my personal philosophies on living a life that matters. In truth, without the leadership principles learned and applied that led to my personal freedom from a 9-to-5 job, I would never have found the time to invest in the reading of thousands of books needed to write RESOLVED. Professional leadership success, in other words, allowed me the free time to learn, apply, and share the 13 resolutions.  God’s blessings in one area ought to be used as blessings to others when possible. In this case, my leadership blessing led to the free time needed to capture and share the resolutions for enhancing people’s lives.

While writing RESOLVED, however, I realized that without liberty, a resolved leadership life is nearly impossible. For what good is a road map to success if a person isn’t free to drive? This led me to my third great quest for knowledge and understanding, seeking the principles underlying spiritual, economic, and political liberty. Many questions have been asked and answered during this quest. Who were the greatest “apostles of liberty” in the history of mankind? What did they teach and why? What can we learn from these men and women today? Why is liberty so important? If any of these questions are of concern to you, then stay tuned to this blog as we discuss the story of liberty and its importance in today’s society.

Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, Finances, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Coming Apart or Community Together?

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 15, 2012

In the course of answering emails, I noticed that my friend Greg Johnson had sent me a link to a blog discussing Charles Murray’s new book Coming Apart. After reading the blog article several times, I realized I had to go buy the book immediately. I’m thankful I did!

Although many believe that the complex challenges facing us today cannot be solved through the lens of the American founder’s virtues, Murray writes:

I take another view: The founders were right. The success of America depended on virtue in the people when the country began and it still does in the twenty-first century. America will remain exceptional only to the extent that its people embody the same qualities that made it work for the first two centuries of its existence. The founding virtues are central to that that kind of citizenry.

I wrote RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE to bring back character-based ethics into society and the marketplace. In truth, Murray’s and my philosophies align closely, not a shocker since Murray gathered his views from studying numerous sociological studies, while I gathered mine from over 15 years in the living rooms of America. Both methods resulted in the same conclusions: that people with satisfying work, a happy marriage, a high social trust community, and a strong religious foundation are more likely to be happy than people without these four attributes. Of the four, in fact, a happy marriage is the factor that generates the biggest improvement in someone’s happiness score. I can speak on marriage and happiness both personally, experiencing first-hand the increase in happiness when Laurie and I improved our own marriage, and professionally, witnessing many couples improve their marriages and, subsequently, their happiness levels.

Coming Apart reveals that only 10% of respondents who are unmarried, unhappy in jobs, profess no religion, and have low social trust describe themselves as genuinely happy. When a good job is added, the number of respondents stating they were happy increased to 20%. A happy marriage, however, raised the total to 60% declaring they were happy. The final two attributes – high social trust communities and strong religious faith – increased the respondents’ scores an additional 10% each. Thus, from a baseline of 10% of respondents being happy, over 80% of the people who had all four attributes stated they were sincerely happy. In other words, when someone adds these four attributes, his possibilities for a happy life increase by eight times! This is a significant increase and enough to make even the most skeptical of people pause and ponder.

Is there a reciprocal community (high social trust), where people can thrive in compensated communities (high rewards and recognition), learning proper principles for faithful marriages (marriage pack) and the development of a Biblical faith (All Grace Outreach)? There has been since November 1, 2011. Indeed, the reason the LIFE business has grown over 50% in four months is simple: it meets the needs of its community members. No matter how many fearful competitors attack our game-changing strategy, we grow because we satisfy our customers’ innate desire to be happy. People join and stay in LIFE because we focus on the big four (and other) attributes described in countless books on community, like Charles Murray’s Coming Apart. Simply put, we help people grow personally and professionally which leads to increased joy and happiness. I am not just a founder, but I am also a satisfied customer of the growth process materials.

One of the greatest secrets to be learned about life is that happiness cannot be approached directly; rather, it is captured when it’s not being sought. Happiness, in other words, is a by-product of a series of internal victories, which are eventually revealed in the external world. Perhaps you are looking for a community of learners, encouragers, and leaders? Maybe you are resolved to change? As people gather together within the LIFE communities, the world can and will be changed. One million people, here we come!

Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, Family, Finances, Leadership/Personal Development | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Idle Rich, Idle Poor, & the Burdened Middle Class

Posted by Orrin Woodward on February 4, 2012

In 2011, reporter Stephen Marche pinpointed the painful paradigm of today’s static classes:

There are some truths so hard to face, so ugly and so at odds with how we imagine the world should be, that nobody can accept them. Here’s one: It is obvious that a class system has arrived in America — a recent study of the thirty-four countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only Italy and Great Britain have less social mobility. But nobody wants to admit: If your daddy was rich, you’re gonna stay rich, and if your daddy was poor, you’re gonna stay poor. Every instinct in the American gut, every institution, every national symbol, runs on the idea that anybody can make it; the only limits are your own limits. Which is an amazing idea, a gift to the world — just no longer true. Culturally, and in their daily lives, Americans continue to glide through a ghostly land of opportunity they can’t bear to tell themselves isn’t real. It’s the most dangerous lie the country tells itself.

Everywhere I looked, I was exposed to this bitter reality. The middle-class is in the big squeeze. This isn’t my opinion the data is available to all and is irrefutable. On one side of the squeeze is the aristocrats. They have their special deal monopolies (which raise the prices on all consumers), courtesy of our government. The “idle rich” enjoy non-competitive life of leisure because they are “too big to fail.” (How much money do you put in your gas tank weekly?) Since there aren’t any free rides in life, the perks are provided by the government at the expense of the middle class.

However, in order to maintain the special deal for the “idle rich” the government must find another segment of the population that benefits from the current state of affairs. This they achieved through creating a new class – the “idle poor”. Our government created and funds the “idle poor” as an insurance policy to protect the “idle rich”. Do you really think the elites care about the poor when we can see how they treat the middle? Could an alternative explanation be that this group is necessary to maintain their special deals in the rigged game? The poor are treated like they are “too small to win,” but it’s a lie. The poor, in a free enterprise, nonstatic-class environment, can win in the game of life. Sadly, it’s easy to get people to volunteer for a “something for nothing” program, even though these people end up losing the most – their own self-respect.

The politicians (of the left and right persuasion) promise handouts to enough groups until they have their precious majorities for re-election and can continue the squeeze on the middle class. On one side, the wealthy elites squeeze the middle class with monopoly positions promised by government politicians elected with elites excess cash. On the other side, the poor squeeze the middle, receiving hand outs courtesy of our government taken from the middle class. Only the idle on both sides win in this scam. The rich through monopolies and the poor through handouts, both with little to no effort. All the while, the middle class runs faster on the gerbil wheel wondering why they never seem to get ahead.

Please don’t misread my point. I love free enterprise and competition, but that isn’t what is occurring in the USA or Canada. Sadly, our government has created a class system more diabolical than Thomas Jefferson’s worst imaginations. I want our countries to be free and to have all people everywhere have the ability to win through their willingness to work and grow. But this demands an end to the hypocrisy of class system built on top of the American Dream ethos. In order to fix this mess, it must be called what it is – an aristocracy in our midst. Stephen Marche elaborates:

In the United States, the emerging aristocracy remains staunchly convinced that it is not an aristocracy, that it’s the result of hard work and talent. The permanent working poor refuse to accept that their poverty is permanent. The class system is clandestine.

Perhaps if enough of the working class unite together, we can end the middle class squeeze. Call me a dreamer, and idealist, or even a nut case. I don’t care. A man with experience (success over time) is never at the mercy of a man with an opinion (and no results.) I know the middle class squeeze to be true in several ways. First, I have witnessed the workings of the “idle rich” class, watching second generation wealth attempt to secure it through special deals. Second, I have thousands of people joining LIFE who have been squeezed by these very forces at work. I will not sit by idly and watch my country fall without doing something. The West needs a resurgence of freedom and an end to the class system protecting the “idle” on both ends of the spectrum.

I (and my fellow founders) formed the LIFE business as a dream for meritocracy, developing merit based leadership communities around the world. LIFE is a level playing field where a person is rewarded based upon his contributions within the community. Do a little, receive a little; do a lot, receive a lot –  just like my experience in competitive sports. May the best man or woman or team win based upon performance. No class system, no special deals, just an opportunity to win based upon one’s results.

When discussing meritocracy there are two main reactions. On one hand is the group who gets excited and thankful, realizing that they finally have an opportunity to win based upon their own efforts and results. On the other hand is the group who gets upset and bitter, realizing they will no longer be able to hide from the scoreboard of life, since they have been exposed by their lack of effort and results. I was involved in community building for 5 1/2 years with little to show for it, but I never blamed anyone else. In fact, you only become a loser when you blame someone else. Don’t fall into pity parties or you will never experience the victory parties.

Regardless of the rhetoric of either side, meritocracy is simply just. For meritocracy ensures that everyone is given an equal opportunity and playing field. Imagine playing a game of King of the Mountain where everyone has a right to enter the game and battle their way to the mountaintop. New participants join the game with the goal of running to the top and knocking off the current King of the Mountain. This is an analogy of a true free enterprise system. Anyone can enter and compete, but if you don’t perform, don’t come crying to mommy. People can enter as individuals or teams, but no group gets a special deal. The King today may be knocked off tomorrow by better ideas, strategy, and people. The referee (government) is supposed to be neutral (justice), ensuring everyone plays the games by the rules.

Imagine the travesty if the current King of the Mountain buys off the referees, forcing all new participants to carry a 50 pound bag on their back (extra regulations.) Even if the King has to carry the bag also, it’s much easier to be on top with the 50 pounds than run up a mountain side with it. The more government rigs the game, the less free enterprise it becomes and the more a class society results. Western Civilization is at a crossroads because Big Banks and Big Business do not like to lose and believe they are “too big to fail.” They have rigged the game, ensuring “idle rich” stay on top, while the rest of us run around wondering why no one seems to knock off the Kings of the Mountain anymore. Government must stop playing the paid off referee and go back to the neutral umpire it’s supposed to be. Either this changes or the West, as we know it, will die.

One might be wondering how Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc made it to the top of the mountain. In truth, nearly all of the new big league entrepreneurs made it to the top of a new mountain with no established hierarchy of entrepreneurs at the mountaintop. In other words, since the old mountains are closed by the unethical partnership of Big Business and Big Government, the only opportunities for hungry entrepreneurs is to innovate into the new fields where the mountaintop is still vacant. Innovation and competition is fantastic on the new mountains, but imagine how much more innovation would occur if Western Society opened up all its mountaintops, like a true free enterprise system should and competitive sports does?

For example, can one see how perturbed the established energy companies would be if some crazy innovator developed a way to convert water into workable energy? Does a person think the established order would support the new innovator or attempt to quash his (or her) ideas because trillions of dollars are on the line? Regretfully, squashing the new entrepreneur is the modus operandi in Western economics. Everyone, except the few with the special deals, are hurt here. For without innovation an economy stagnates and declines.

Here is a quick video describing the economic malaise damaging the West.

What if leadership communities, groups who educated themselves and others on historic leadership and liberty principles, joined together and formed free communities for real change? In my book, RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, I talk about Arnold Toynbee and his thesis of “Challenge and Response.” We are going through one of these critical periods where the West has serious challenges to respond to and it takes leaders to respond. Throughout the West history, citizen leaders have stood up to tyranny whenever the need arose to right the wrongs. Today’s issues demand courageous leaders who will respond similarly, standing up and fixing them, doing what is right because it is right. Do you see the challenge? Are you ready to respond? I am and that’s why I committed to LIFE for life. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

Posted in Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , , | 23 Comments »

Ben Franklin – Resolved to Develop Wisdom

Posted by Orrin Woodward on December 11, 2011

Here is a segment from my new book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE on Ben Franklin and his application of resolves into his life. The process described is simple, but certainly not easy, since it requires discipline. However, anyone can do it, and everyone should do it. What resolves are you applying into your life? If you aren’t applying any resolutions currently, perhaps as the new year approaches, you should sit down and write out your resolutions for life. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

Ben Franklin, as a young man, didn’t always behave in a sensible manner.  In fact, he offended many of the leading citizens of Philadelphia with his self-assumed air of importance.  In Launching a Leadership Revolution, Chris Brady and I share a story on young Franklin, “A confidant took him aside one day and was both bold and kind enough to share the truth with Franklin that people didn’t like him. Although amazingly brilliant, nobody cared. They couldn’t stand to be around him. He was too argumentative and opinionated. His informer even told him that people would see Franklin approaching on the street and cross the road so as to avoid any contact with him. Franklin was devastated. But his reaction to the cold, hard truth was perhaps one of the most important components of his meteoric success.”  At twenty years of age, Franklin chose to move in a new direction, launching a self-improvement project he called “moral perfection.”  Initially, he started with four resolutions: “1. He resolved to become more frugal so that he could save enough money to repay what he owed to others. 2. He decided that he would be very honest and sincere ‘in every word and action.’ 3. He promised himself to be industrious ‘to whatever business I take in hand.’ 4. He vowed ‘to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a manner of truth’ and to ‘speak all the good I know of everybody.’”  From these four, Franklin created his world renown list of 13 virtues (see appendix for complete list), developing a plan to study one per week for the 52 weeks in a year. Here are two of his virtues:

2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling   conversation.
8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Franklin’s methodical approach to character and wisdom development allowed each virtue to be studied four weeks per year, evaluating his performance weekly against the standard of moral perfection.  In Franklin’s autobiography, he discusses his plan to check his performance compared to the aspired virtues, writing, “I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues. . . I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.” With time, Franklin’s personal improvement plan helped him become one of the most respected citizens in Philadelphia, routinely requested to serve various volunteer organizations. Walter Isaacson, in Time magazine, describes Franklin’s belief that increased personal virtue leads to increased public responsibilities, noting:

That led him to make the link between private virtue and civic virtue and to suspect, based on the meager evidence he could muster about God’s will, that these earthly virtues were linked to heavenly ones as well. As he put it in the motto for the library he founded: “To pour forth benefits for the common good is divine.” It is useful for us to engage anew with Franklin, for in doing so we are grappling with a fundamental issue: How does one live a life that is useful, virtuous, worthy, moral and spiritually meaningful?

By studying a different virtue weekly, over Franklin’s long life, he made great gains. Although he didn’t achieve perfection, Franklin’s growth in wisdom led to him becoming one of the most influential diplomats in history. Indeed, many historians believe Franklin (even more than Washington) was the indispensable man of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, tempering the rhetoric of both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist men. Historian William MacDonald writes, “Franklin’s voice was always in favor of the more generous provision, the ampler liberty; was always earnestly opposed to whatever might tend to make governmental oppression at some future time possible. . . Some of his finest utterances were in maintenance of that plea; and it is a symptom of the noble feeling with which Franklin was regarded by the noblest men, that Hamilton would give his support to Franklin’s recommendations, though they were essentially moral criticisms of the policy which he himself thought best for the country.”  Franklin’s principle centered diplomacy led to influence, not just of like-minded people, but even with his political opponents, a true testament to his character and honor.

Posted in Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

 
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