The Weekend: Robbins, Biden and Mansfield on leadership; and pork pie.



It’s a cold Saturday morning in Montana after a very late (actually 3:30 a.m.) flight arrival, but the fire is warm and the outside temp of -17 degrees has made for a clear and beautiful day.

I’ve been toying around with the idea of routine weekend post – just a couple of thoughts and ideas to reflect on and use – and this is my modest, first edition. In my weekend bag for today:

Seeing the whole person as the key to leadership.

In my travels this week, I picked up the latest issue of Success which, as always, has some excellent content, including an interview with Tony Robbins. I’ve been a fan of Robbins’ work for a long time, and a quote from the article struck me this morning. According to Robbins, “You can’t influence someone if you’re judging them. You have to know that there’s something inside that’s positive, even if the behavior is wrong.”

You can read the entire Michael Mooney piece here, (however, this quote on leadership appears to be included only in the print edition of the magazine.)

Robbins’ admonition reminded me of a story that Vice President Joe Biden has relayed about the late Senator Jesse Helms and Montana’s own Mike Mansfield, including at the 2015 Yale University Class Day. Biden recounts being a young, freshman senator and being angry with Helms after seeing him railing against Senators Bob Dole and Ted Kennedy for supporting a precursor to the Americans With Disabilities Act. Biden was on his way to a meeting with Mansfield when he witnessed the altercation. When he arrived agitated, Mansfield asked what was eating at him and he told him the story. As the Vice President recalled it to the Yale students:

Majority Leader Mansfield then proceeded to tell me that three years earlier, Jesse and Dot Helms, sitting in their living room in early December before Christmas, reading an ad in the Raleigh Observer, the picture of a young man, 14-years-old with braces on his legs up to both hips, saying, all I want is someone to love me and adopt me. He looked at me and he said, and they adopted him, Joe.

I felt like a fool. He then went on to say, Joe, it’s always appropriate to question another man’s judgment, but never appropriate to question his motives because you simply don’t know his motives.

It’s a powerful story. Biden went on to say that Mansfield’s reminder prompted him to always look to see the whole person, the same approach Robbins suggests as a key to leadership and influence.

I think that is certainly a fair suggestion to remember in these times of transition in our country. It is very easy to judge others, without first seeking to understand their motivations. Worse, it is far too easy to impute ill will and, quite possibly, untrue motives to those with whom we disagree.

For those readers who are lawyers, I would also suggest that remembering this is important as you negotiate matters. Understanding the other’s point of view is not a sign of weakness, but strength. “What is really happening with this person and this case?” “What does the other side need from this transaction?”

And, as we prepare for the holidays and undoubtedly some family conversations about the political issues of the day, in my view, it’s solid holiday advice worth considering.



The best use of pork at the holidays.

The segue here is too obvious – from politics to pork – but cold weather and the holidays makes me think about our family tradition of making what is, in essence, a French-Canadian tourtière. We simply call this recipe “fore,” although I am not sure there is a correct spelling for it. That likely comes from “force meat pie,” which is appropriate because you need to force yourself to stop eating it.

At any rate, my family tends to use this as a stuffing without the pie, but the good folks over at Kitchen Vignettes at PBS Food have a recipe for the traditional tourtière.

The key to this is the correct mix of warm spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (we substitute allspice for nutmeg) and our family claims white wine for checking to see if those are ‘just right.’ If you are interested in a hearty winter dish to warm you up on days like this, you might give it a try. You won’t regret it.

Hoping that you have a great and warm weekend, wherever you may be. – JM





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