Monthly Archives: August 2010

My letter to the editor

A letter to the editor of the Erie Times-News that I wrote ran today (8/12/2010), you can read the published version here.

The only difference between what I sent which is printed below, and the published version was that the editor entered the full names of the officials I referenced and he/she left out the last line, which I thought was the most powerful. It was probably a space issue, but…whatever.

I want to explain the context in which I sent the letter. I’m not one for much criticism, especially of law enforcement. My father reached the highest levels of the Erie police force, and put his life on the line every day for over 35 years to promote peace and prosperity in the city of Erie.

My note is in response to what I see as a general “tin-ear” to concepts such as public opinion and communications at City Hall. When the news hit that the little two-year-old girl, “Bitty” was found murdered, it was shocking and a shot in the gut to everyone who calls Erie home. After a spring and summer of shootings and violence in this town, this senseless act was the final straw that wrecked us.

Fully understanding that the police and the DA were in the middle of an active and intense investigation, from the news reports I saw there was little consideration on the part of the officials on how to communicate this awful news to the public.  Instead of an official news conference in the Mayor’s office or the steps of City Hall, the cameras seemingly caught the police chief at the door to his office. Instead of strong words of resolve and comfort to the community, it was the quote of “this sometimes happens across the country.”

It was in the context of bewilderment and hurt in which I wrote this note last Monday night:

To the editor:

With all due respect to the difficulty and tragedy that accompanies the jobs of our highest-level civil servants, I have to say that law-enforcement’s public response to the murder of the two-year-old girl is totally inadequate.

We don’t need Chief Franklin saying that this kind of senseless act happens across the country, while warning parents to lock their windows and doors as if there was some deficiency on the parents’ part.

Right now we need strong words and action. Where was the press conference with Mayor Sinnott, District Attorney Daneri, County Executive Grossman, and the Chief pledging their commitment to use the full capacity of their offices to protect our community from such unspeakable events?

Where was the passionate and stern warning to potential evil doers to put them on notice that if they are contemplating even a petty burglary let alone a heinous murder they will be hit with the overwhelming force of our judicial and correctional systems?

After words are spoken, the leaders need to take action, using all of the tools at their disposal to fight crime while protecting civil rights. They need to smash this dangerous and cavalier attitude that repeat offenders approach criminal activity.

Finally, we need to see that our mayor and chief, county executive and DA are grieving with the rest of us who claim Erie to be ours over the loss of this innocent little girl. We are shaking our heads and asking our leaders, “When is it going to stop?”

Joel Natalie

This story has transformed over the ten days it took the paper to print my letter. My prayer is that the police will get the complete picture of what happened and justice will be served for little “Bitty.”

Leadership Summit: Session Three: Adam Hamilton

When Leaders Fall

A week doesn’t go by when a leader doesn’t have a moral failure.

Schaffer Institute study: 30% of pastors surveyed admitted sexual impropriety during their ministry

How do we handle this as a church, and why do church leaders fail

We need to reach out to people who are broken as Jesus would.

Not one of us are in the place to cast stones…we want to be a redemptive church.

Five R’s of resisting temptation:

  • Remember who you are – child of God, someone’s husband or wife, daddy or mommy
  • Recognize the consequences of your actions – will I feel better, more or less human after I do this, who will be hurt by my actions/fantasize the worst possible actions
  • Rededicate yourself to God – stop and pray
  • Reveal your struggle to a trusted friend – when it’s secret it has power, when you find someone you trst is has no power
  • Remove yourself from the situation – erect more clear boundaries, change reporting structures, change churches.

Big ideas:

  • We are called to Sanctification – control your body to be holy and honorable
  • All of us struggle with this part of our lives, there are consequence when we fall

Remember we serve a Lord that is the friend of sinners.

Leadership Summit: Session Three: Tony Dungy

The Mentor Leader

Job: to Help the players get better. Doing it back building relationships, with loyalty and respect. If they players believe in the coach that he can lead them to win

Stubbornness is a virtue if you’re right.

Life balance – the building is always open. If we are going to spend a lot of time at work, feel free to bring the family in. Let’s be efficient in our time, don’t waste it, and don’t feel guilty if you want to go home at a decent hour.

If you’re looking for a mentor, how do you find someone? First be available to mentor people. When you are looking, find people that you admire. You can get mentor from a distance. Craig: Everyone should have a Paul/everyone should have a Timothy

What does the mentoring relationship look like? The mentor has to find out where we are and building trust. We can have formal times where we meet, but the informal part is more important.

Dad and Mom first mentors, but Jesus Christ is the best mentor…the relationship will never fade or change.

Leadership Summit: Session Two: Jim Collins

Never, Ever Give Up

Good is the enemy of great.

Greatness is a matter of conscious choice and discipline.

If we only have great business, we will only have a prosperous nation. But we must have great social organizations, schools and churches.

How great enterprises stumble: How the Mighty Fall If it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone. No one is immune, anyone can fall.

You can be sick on the inside and look fine on the outside.

Five stages of decline:

Five Stages of Decline

Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success: outrageous arrogance, and neglect. Bad decisions taken with good intentions are still bad.

Three Level 5 leaders: it is not about them, never, ever give up. Humility separates the Level 5 from the Level 4 leader

A passionate ambition to do “whatever it takes” – humility and passion

Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More: overreaching, too much growth, beyond their ability to execute with excellence

Regulate growth and reach: do we have our key seats filled on the bus with Fantastic People

Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril: warning signs appear. A culture of denial appears. On the outside, you really look great.

The Stockdale Paradox: Vietnam vet, POW. I never waivered in my faith that I would not get out, but this is the defining event of my life and I would not trade it. The optimists did not do well. This is what you must learn: don’t confuse faith and facts…never give up.

Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation: The companies that fell were looking for the silver bullet, the outside savior. Greatness is never a single event but an accumulative process. The flywheel, disciplined people engaged in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action, turn upon turn.

Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death: its over, you give up. You squandered your capital, avenues foreclose, game over. Why in the face of all adversity did the 18 Built to Last companies endure the struggle? Because they had a reason. If you measure your success by money, you always lose. We must continue the struggle, we have to endure! Driven by a purpose beyond money and fame. Rooted in core values.

The paradox: core values are not open for negoitiation or change…if we lose our soul we lose it all. The signature of mediocrity: inconsistent effort.

The genius of the “And”: Preserve the Core and Stimulate Progress

To Do List:

  1. Do your diagnostics “Good to Great” Diagnostic tool
  2. Count your blessings: literally in a spreadsheet! Account for all of the good things that happened that we did not cause, it’s humbling.
  3. What is your “questions to statements” ratio and can you double it in the next year. Great leaders ask the right questions. Invest more in being interested than interesting.
  4. How many key seats do you have on your bus?
  5. Do your How the mighty fall teams up/down diagnostic
  6. What are the “brutal facts”?
  7. Have a “Stop Doing” list
  8. Define results and show clicks on the flywheel/milestones. How do you demonstrate clicks on the flywheel.
  9. Double your reach to young people by changing practices without changing values.
  10. Might be time for a new BHAG in these times. Drucker: “Be Useful!” Never give up.

To truly set out to be useful, you can never capitulate, never, never, never give in.

Leadership Summit: Session One: Bill Hybels

I am at the Erie, PA satellite site of the Global Leadership Summit produced by the Willow Creek Assocation. I’ll blog my notes as appropriate.

What is the Summit=Leadership development event that is unabashedly Christian.

Goal=we get 5-10% better as leaders each year, so that in time, you have been revoutionalized as leader

Leadership slump – unsolvable challenges that can’t get head around, stumped

Four points

1. Leaders move people from…here à there //a preferred future that produces passion

What do you do when people want to stay…”here”

  1. First play is to make “here” sound awful!
  2. Build the case of we cannot stay her
  3. Describe where there is and vision the opportunities

Our job is to figure out what God wants done in this world, what our role is, and why we can’t stay where we are.

2. Fantastic People-one of the greatest joys of leadership is knitting together teams

  • Character
  • Competence
  • Chemestry
  • Culture (what kind of person flourishes on our team?)

High challenge, servant

The Holy Challenge – assemble a team of fantastic people  – sensitive conversations to have

3. Mile markers and Celebrations

In a journey from here to there, the middle third of the journey between here to there gets really hard


  • Refill their vision bucket (everyone’s leaks)
  • You have to put mile markers in and celebrate each one of them
  • What keeps people on the journey is a sense of hope that they will get there someday

40% differential between an inspired teammate/church member and one without – inspiration matters

4. Whispers from God

Vital to be voracious reader of God’s Word to open yourself to God’s leading

Do you believe that God still speaks today? I think He trys to speak to you every single day!

How concerned are you on the quality of our antenna to God? Listen to the Spirit…do everything in your power to hear the voice of God and heed it.

The smartest moves Bill made didn’t come from his wisdom but from promptings.

What are the whispers you are hearing?