Archive for the College Category

Characteristics of a good leader…or something…

Posted in College, Ideas, People, Places, Posted by g mcclure, Society, Things on 24 September 2009 - Thursday by g mcclure

So I’m taking an SLA class this semester (Student Leadership Academy). The big overarching question that comes up inevitably in every class and in each discussion therein is this:

“What exactly is/makes a leader?”

And here are the answers that are inevitably thrown out in each class and in each discussion therein:

Honesty

Integrity

Open-mindedness

Organization

Strong-willed

A good listener

A good communicator

Down-to-earth

Reliable

Trustworthy

You get the overused, overstated, oversimplified, overgeneralized idea. What’s worse, everyone is carrying around articles, scholarly and otherwise, in their brand new, college-provided, leather, SLA portfolios that say those things and list those same traits. The evidence is incontrovertible, right?

Yeah, I don’t see it.

I’ve known a lot of people who fit that bill who couldn’t head up an expedition to the laundromat. Similarly, I’ve known a hell of a lot of people who couldn’t come within a javelin rocket’s range of being “honest, down-to-earth, trustworthy,” who could organize four disabled hamsters into a congressional joint subcommittee capable of solving the healthcare crisis.

So I got to thinking. You know, those noble characteristics are all pretty vague in the wash, so let’s investigate a little. So here are some top google results for a few searches (if you’d like the conclusion without the research, skip past the links and I’ll summarize):

Characteristics of a good leader

Characteristics of a good teacher

Characteristics of a good soldier

Characteristics of a good manager

Characteristics of a good employee

Characteristics of a good friend

Characteristics of a good parent

Characteristics of a good person

So if you looked through those just now, you saw that remarkably every single one of those is the same person. A friendly retired military man or woman now working as a mid-level managerial trainer who enjoys authoritative responsibilities at work and has kids at home. Really, with only minor semantic differences, every one of those descriptions was the same.

So really, we have no clue what makes a leader a leader. If Joe Shmoe submitted that there is a genetic leader gene in the good ole AGCT double helix, we wouldn’t have a suicidal lemming’s better idea to suggest.

Or maybe, the simple truth is that there really is no difference between a good leader and a good person, and that the only prerequisite for leadership is that said aspiring leader be an independent, self-aware, generally capable and developed human being.

You know what, let’s follow that line of reasoning for a while. Let’s assume that the truth is that you only need to be a well-developed human to be a leader. That, coupled with the reality that there are very few genuine leaders out there compared to how many there are not, has an interesting implication. It implies that there are very few independent, self-aware, generally capable, developed human beings.

Oh, Greg, be careful. You’ve stopped thinking and started meddling now.

So I have. Which all leads me to my point – a short one, which I’ll make quickly.

I think the true measure of a leader has nothing to do with characteristics and everything to do with behavior. Furthermore, I would submit that the most noble and profitable behavior for a leader and for everyone s/he leads is to make him/herself obsolete. By that, I mean that a leader (remember that our working definition of that term is an independent, self-aware, generally capable, developed human being) should work to produce more leaders (more independent, self-aware, generally capable, developed human beings). That simple. Everyone profits. The leader’s responsibilities are permanently fulfilled, the followers are bettered and never need be lead again, no one ends up dependent on anyone else, and everyone moves toward being equals.

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forgeting the lizard

Posted in College, Ideas, Past experiences, Personal, Places, Poetry, Posted by g mcclure, Society on 18 September 2008 - Thursday by g mcclure

i saw a lizard
in the water
in a fountain
in an atrium
in a building
in a city
in a state
in a country
in a world
in a solar system
in a galaxy
in the universe
and as i thought
about the universe
i forgot
about the lizard

among friends

Posted in Art, College, History, Literature, Places, Poetry, Posted by g mcclure, Things on 9 April 2008 - Wednesday by g mcclure

anne rice is in the corner
penning deity childhood
ignoring her old friends
stephen king and clive barker
who frankly scare me
and mary shelley
into hiding with nietzsche
who confounds us
not unlike aristotle
and his mentor’s mentor
whose method of discourse
presages advil intake
for which I consult the R’s
which are so very large
that I fear they will crush me
because they can’t stay standing
without constant supervision
from william shakespeare
perched in the reference collection
across the group study table

how good to pass the hours
with my friends in the library

I’m going, going, … … … gone?

Posted in Affairs of the Heart, College, Everyday Life, Faith, Friends, I'm a hippie, Ideas, People, Personal, Places, Posted by g mcclure, Society, Travel on 19 October 2007 - Friday by g mcclure

I need a vacation. Bob Dylan called it Time out of Mind; that sounds good. My love for life is waning at best, dying at worst. Classes are redundant when they’re not repetitive, boring. They hold my attention no better than the eraser cast-off left on my desk from the previous class. Work is one wing over from class, but no more exciting. My house is quiet and dull, its inhabitants growing stagnant, not unlike myself. Praise God for Christen, whose voice and hands soothe me at every sound and touch. She keeps me sane when I am incapable of doing so myself, which is more frequent than my preference dictates. Praise God also for Himself, His continuity, his changeless nature. Something of which I have no fear is my life with Him; He is stable in my instability and present in my absence. My great Sustainer and source of hope even when my strength is no more active than my church’s youth group, which might as well not exist. Oh wait, it doesn’t.

What it comes down to is a dime-sized patch of hairless skin on the back of my head. It’s been called a bald spot, but bald seems an awful word to use in reference to one so young. I prefer think of it as the exit hatch for my stress and exhaustion. Though, in earnest, it is a bald spot, a damned bald spot. It speaks to me from the right backside of my cranium, almost audibly, saying, “you need to pull a Southwest Airlines and ‘get away.’ Trust me on this one, you need some of Mr. Dylan’s time out of mind, and I do too. Grab your car keys and a good novel, but leave the phone and textbooks where they are.”

For being so unsightly, that hairless blight on my head has got a point. A good point. It’s been a while since I genuinely took off, stole away, disappeared. A disappearing act would do me good. First off, I slap-happily threw up, literally regurgitated, the crap I had in drafts on this site. It’s worth less in the public eye than the current Presidential administration, but to me it represents a temporary closing on this portion of my load. Now I just have to make it ’til I can cast off my other responsibilities. After that, who knows. Not me. I don’t want to. I want a little time to not know, to not care. A chance to step back from myself and check if I still like who’s on the other side of the mirror.

I need to recheck the mirror. Wow. James would surely have nasty words for a person like me…

A few things worth noting.

Posted in College, Everyday Life, I'm a hippie, Ideas, Posted by g mcclure, Society on 19 October 2007 - Friday by g mcclure

No one falls in love, we fall in holes. Love is not a pit.

MySpace is the room with my bed in it.

“Like” is a verb, not an exclamation or interjection.

Jesus Christ is a person, not a cuss word. Imagine how silly you’d feel if you screamed “David Hasslehoff!” every time something bad happened.

No one is “really a good person deep down.”

“My faults are not your problem, and your problems are not my fault.”

Pull your pants up; you look stupid.

Homosexuals are no worse than the rest of us; just treated worse.

Using only one gender when speaking of an unspecified individual does not a sexist make.

“Speaking diplomatically” is a euphemism for “lying.”

Doing gymnastics with your voice does not make you a good singer, just a pop star.

You are entitled to your own opinion, unless it’s wrong; then you are only entitled to your own ignorance.

Stoves are “hot;” women are beautiful. Get it right.

All those times you said your parents were wrong, they were probably right.

I know that doing drugs doesn’t impair you; you’ve told me seven times within the last minute.

There is a God. You are not Him.

I’ve been elected President of the Student Government Association at my College…

Posted in College, Everyday Life, Posted by g mcclure on 14 October 2007 - Sunday by g mcclure

…yeah…

April is indeed the month for foolishness…

Posted in College, Everyday Life, Ideas, Past experiences, Posted by g mcclure, Society on 7 April 2007 - Saturday by g mcclure

So there is this long-running tradition of playing practical jokes on people on the first day of April. Throughout modern history, there have been some fun tricks of relatively large scales wrought on the unsuspecting public. Here are ten that were voted especially noteworthy by my college here in Texas.

In 1992, National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” announced Richard Milhouse Nixon’s run for the White House, again. His new slogan: “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” NPR played clips of Nixon delivering a candidacy speech. During the second half of the show, the cat was let out of the bag. Comedian Rich Little impersonated Nixon’s voice.

In 1998, fast-food titan Burger King published a full-page ad in USA Today announcing the “Left-Handed Whopper.” Designed for America’s southpaws, the “Left-Handed Whopper” included the same ingredients as the original but they were all rotated 180 degrees. A press release was released the next day outing the hoax, but adding that thousands had asked for a “Left-Handed Whopper”; still others had requested their regular right-handed varieties.

The Madison Capital-Times, in 1933, announced that the Wisconsin state capitol building lay in ruins due to some mysterious explosions. According to the article, the explosions were due to “large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the Senate and Assembly chambers.” With the story ran a photo of the building collapsing.

It was in 1995 when the Irish Times reported that the Disney Corporation was on the brink of buying the embalmed corpse of deceased Russian communist leader Vlad Lenin. On display in Red Square since his death, Lenin’s body would be moved to the new Euro Disney. T-shirts would be sold and Lenin’s flaccid remains would be given the “full Disney treatment.”

The Wall of Sound music website, in 1999, reported that famed pop pixie Britney Spears was actually 28 years old, not 17. According to the site, the diva was born Belinda Sue Spearson in West Baton Rouge, La., on Aug. 7, 1970.

In 1996, Taco Bell announced that it had purchased the revered landmark of American independence, the Liberty Bell, and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of angry, freedom-lovin’ Americans called and complained to the National Historic Park in Philadelphia. When asked about it, White House press secretary Mike McCurry said the Lincoln Memorial had been sold and was now known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

According to an April 1998 edition of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter, the Alabama state legislature had approved to change the value of pi from 3.14159 to the “Biblical value” of 3.0. Through the efficiency of the Internet, the story took off. The article was written by physicist Mark Boslough as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution.

Often regarded as the coup de grace of April’s Fools, the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest took place in 1957 when a BBC news show, Panorama, announced that Swiss farmers were enjoying a hearty spaghetti crop. A mild winter had eliminated the spaghetti weevil so thousands of viewers saw footage of Swiss farmers reaping a large pasta harvest. The naive viewers began calling asking how to start their own spaghetti crop and BBC replied that they should “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

Not to be outdone by the British, the Swedes, in 1962, duped its viewers that color TV had arrived, virtually in an instant. At the time, there was only one TV channel in Sweden and it was black and white. So, technical expert Kjell Stensson made an on-air announcement stating that viewers could easily convert their set to display color by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen and they would then begin to see color. Allegedly, hundreds of thousands were taken in. Color TV eventually did arrive in Sweden on April 1, 1970. For real this time.

It’s something when you are referred to as an “infamous prankster,” but the Queen’s Horace de Vere Cole was just that. Rumored to be behind the Piltdown Man hoax and undoubtedly behind the Dreadnought hoax, Cole pulled a fast one April 1, 1919. It was on that morning that the citizens of Venice greeted the new day along with a ripe stench of horse manure deposited throughout the Piazza San Marco. The scene looked like a mess of yoked horses had clomped through town. Of course, Venice is known for its horse unfriendly canals which surround the Piazza. On honeymoon in Venice, Cole had transported the manure from the Italian mainland with the assistance of a gondolier.