34. Command Voice

The room, capable of filling many more people was only filled with 15 people. These people, diverse and different had come from all over the country to learn and experience, but also to meet others.

It was time to begin but everyone was still talking.

The person who was supposed to be leading the group, did not know what to do. Every time an attempt was made to get 1 or 2 people to quiet down, they would rope the speaker into talking with them. But yet, the group was missing out on the instruction that they had arrived to receive.

Without further notice, something happened.

At this very moment, something arose from inside the leader that was least expected and yet difficult to explain.

“Everyone over here!” – Yelled the speaker

Some heads started to turn, but they ever so slightly started facing back where they came.

“No hey! Everyone circle round here! Come on over! It’s time for us to begin!” – The speaker spoke in a very loud, non-angry voice.

A few people started walking over, ceased talking and focused on the speaker. But it wasn’t everyone, a few in the back could tell that someone was speaking louder than them, but it wasn’t clear to them that anything was going on.

The leader could now see this, and yet somehow, without thinking about it, knew what to do next.

“Excuse me one moment, I am going to go grab these people.” the leader boomed out, and immediately power walked to the back.

“Hey we are starting over here. You guys will want to come join in.” the leader said, booming at a near uncomfortable volume for someone who is only 6 feet away.

The leader power walked back over to everyone, who, no surprise was staring at them. It worked, everyone was now huddled together in a single area, quiet and focused.

The leader began the event, loud, relatively fast, and with extremely high energy.

“Welcome to this weekend my name is John, I will be helping you throughout the whole process.”

As the leader continued to speak about where the attendees were and what was going to happen, there was internal dialogue within the leader.

The leader, whom had never spoken this loud this consistently, was shocked and surprised by what was going on. Not only was everyone paying attention, it was clear from their faces that they were satisfied that someone was finally taking their attendance seriously. They could see that a few people were really, truly paying attention and wanted more, and yet the leader couldn’t quite realize how this was happening.

As the leader paced about while speaking to the audience, out of the corner of their eye they noticed that someone was distracted and was beginning to distract others.

“Hey! You there. What is your name?” – The leader boomed, slightly even louder.

“Uhh me?” – They replied.

“Yes you.” – The leader retorted without missing a beat.

“My name is Matt.” – Matt said.

“Hey Matt, come up front here for a few moments.” – The leader invited them.

Matt clearly had the “deer in the head lights look” and was a bit shocked that he was being called out, and brought out in front of everyone.

“Matt, why are you here this weekend?” – The leader boomed, in somewhat friendly but neutral way, focusing their eyes on everyone else.

“I am here to learn, a lot.” – Matt said.

“That’s great Matt. is there anything in particular that you are hoping to pull away with?” – The leader asked back?

Matt replied with an idea that he had been interested in. All the while, this had turned into quite a show for those in the audience who were watching.

“Thanks for sharing that Matt, please take a step back over there.” – The leader with an open, up facing palm pointed with their hand to the back of the crowd.

At times the leader, got invigorated and spoke louder, and now and again went back down to a regular conversation volume. Now that everyone’s attention was squarely on them, it was no longer necessary to boom so loudly, but occasionally, without consideration of why, it would come back on.

Following through with the instincts, the leader allowed themself to show people what they were interested in seeing and tell them what they were interested in hearing about.

What happened to this leader?

They discovered command presence.

This spirit, called command presence, is real. It has the power to grab attention, hold attention, convey information, and ultimately create the environment that people need in order to learn what they desire to learn.

If you find yourself in a situation where the group you are working with is meandering and moving in different directions, it is because there is a lack of focus and alignment in the group. To change this, and set the team in a direction that will get them to succeed, it requires increasing command presence.

Command presence is vital to the employment of leadership.

The command “voice” is the particular mechanism that makes command presence possible. It arises from inside of you, and takes you over. Yes it can be intentional, but you can also be subordinated by this power.

Consider for a moment why. If this power has the ability to direct the attention of others, do you not think that it has the power to direct yourself as well?

The power of the command voice, has the power to instill deep confidence in other people. It has the power to fill their physiology with energy. When people have that much energy, it needs to be directed.

You have this power.


22. Not Taking it Personal

Here is one story that explains yesterday’s post on not taking the frustrations of others personally.

One day while working at Lockheed Martin Space, our project manager asked me to attend a customer update meeting. I never shy away from speaking with the “big wigs” so I accepted.

On this occasion, I knew that I would be required to represent a project that we were working on which had not made much progress and anticipated it being a fiery discussion.

When the conference call began, I was asked to provide status on where we were with migrating and executing software code written by another vendor.

“We have made changes to the code, necessary for running in our environment, and we should be executing today…”

After about 60 seconds of speaking, the colonel cut me off and sounded quite bothered.

“What you are saying really has me concerned. Let me explain why.” – She said.

“Sure” I said with no concerns for what was coming next.

When someone is frustrated, it is a great idea to be receptive to hearing them out.

“It seems like we missed our opportunity to run the code” she started.

“I have already told my superiors that we were going to make progress.”

It turns out that she had been eager to tell them that not only were we going to make progress, but that during this tiny window of opportunity of 2 days, that we’d be able to show something for it.

“I see” I said, thinking about what I had heard, but not taking what she said personally.

And then the fears and assumptions started coming out…

“What I’m really concerned about, is somehow the vendor making it impossible for us to run.” (A ludicrous idea)

“I have this feeling that they are talking behind closed doors right now, about how we can’t get this to run.”

On she went, with one concern after another. Even though I was the primary person involved with migrating over and doing this work. Because I had kept my cool, and focused on really listening to this person’s frustrations, the frustrations were never aimed at me, even though I was the primary person involved in the work in question.

People want to vent frustrations, not start a fight.

Just because a person is venting frustrations, even to the person that they might be frustrated with, they are not attempting to pick a fight. They want to be heard.

The more I listened to the colonel’s concerns, the more I realized her concerns came from things that had nothing to do with the work we were doing.

“I understand what you are saying Mike, but what am I supposed to show them? How can I show them that we’ve made progress?” – She said.

It was clear, that we had not helped our customer be able to articulate that not only the expected progress was happening, but great things were around the corner.

Had I become defensive, I never would have made it passed “the work hasn’t been completed.” Instead, I received considerable amount of insight into how our customer thinks and how to empower them. In turn this would give us breathing room, to do the actual work needed to accomplish the mission.


5. Leadership Academy: A Fresh Idea

The U.S. is missing land steward leaders and I want to fix it.

Throughout my travels visiting farms and working with “permaculture entrepreneurs” it has become clear to me just how inwardly focused the mass culture has become. Not only is narcissism rampant, its often rewarded.

As a result, instead of “those-who-grow” growing communities and the earth, they sow destruction.

In order for these eco-doers to obtain their ideals, they need to look outward

Have you ever seen a person work their passion so intensely that they shut out others? Have you seen people lose relationships, miss growth opportunities, and fail to reach their potential because of their “passion?”

Steve the farmer started from the dirt up. At the ripe age of 30, he was living in a tent outside an old lady’s home. Yet he was productive. Within 4 years, having left the tent behind he began renting a house on 5 acres and built a successful farmers market and local sprout business.

If you visited his home, he will give you grand tours of his farm and sprout room he produces and delivers sprouts locally.

During this time, people became attracted to Steve because of his work ethic, quality crops, and extreme passion for growing and healthy food. Steve, always friendly at the markets, is quite the person to visit with.

If you visited Steve at the market you might see a new friendly face working with him.

“This is my girlfriend” – Steve would say.

Over the years Steve became very fond of a few girls, yet for each relationship, at least one that he married, they never worked out.

There has been many workers that worked with Steve. Things always start out great and motivational, but there was always something, in the end.

With everyone one of these relationship failures there was at least 1 reason. But there was something that Steve couldn’t piece between them all. He failed to see the common denominator. Steve.

Steve is responsible for his relationships. All of them.

Steve’s problems were not the outside party that was setting his wife off in a legal dispute, or that his fiancee was “abusive”, it was the fact Steve could not rise to the occasion to make himself available for his partners.

He distances himself from people who start to become unproductive. Why they’re unproductive, Steve, like many, have no consideration for, even though the efforts of others are crucial for his stability and survival.

Steve’s a doer, not a leader.

A Leadership Academy for the next generation

The many experiences and stories I have interacted with over the years, compels me to create a Leadership Academy.

This leadership academy (currently named the Sanctuary Leadership Academy) will take the next generation of people, teach them how to tend land, produce their own basic resources, and turn them into leaders who use influence for action.

Upon completion of the academy the students will be connected with mentor leaders who will put them into opportunities for them to lead.

Through the mentor’s guidance and their own faculties these newly minted leaders will take on responsibility far beyond what their peers, elders or parents might think possible.

This Leadership Academy will not only be transformational for the student, but for the communities they are deployed to.