Dedication and Leadership by Douglas Hyde is one of my favorite books. Hyde, who had been a member of the Communist Party for over twenty years, renounced his membership and joined the Catholic Church in 1948. However, instead of abandoning the things he had learned as a member of the party, he instead adapted his lessons and training for his new life. This book is an instruction manual of sorts for other organizations (original audience is members of the Catholic Church) to apply the techniques to building dedication to the cause and leadership abilities in their membership.
Idealistic young people will want to change the world and will pursue their own idealistic course in any case. If their idealism is not appealed to and canalized within the circles in which they have grown up they will seek elsewhere for an outlet… They say if you make mean little demands upon people, you will get a mean little response which is all you deserve, but, if you make big demands on them, you will get an heroic response (pp 17-18) .
Hyde, Douglas. Dedication and Leadership. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966.
This is a review “If Aristotle Ran General Motors” by Tom Morris that I originally wrote for my Administrative Ethics course with Dr. Hank Edmondson in Fall 2009. Although it was written in 1998, this book remains, in my mind, one of the best resources for explaining ethical theory in relatable and understandable terms.
The newest problems we face can’t be solved without the most ancient wisdom we have. It’s time for a wake-up call to summon us all to the enterprise of a little collective philosophy. We’ve come to a juncture in a history when we need to understand the human condition more deeply than ever before and apply that understanding to the way we live and do business every day; the people we live with and do business with will not be satisfied with anything less.
Without all the facts relevant to their jobs, people feel lost and sense a lack of control over their lives and destinies. Nature does abhor this kind of vacuum. Human beings can’t stand to feel helpless, so to compensate, they latch on to the first notion around that looks like relevant fact. And then the speculation or gossip spreads like fire, consuming the hearts and minds of the people it touches.
Human beings can’t do without truth. If they don’t have the genuine article, they’ll fall for anything that passes for it. And this can create serious problems for any company. 
Like truth and beauty, goodness is the soil within which the soul can grow and flourish. Without it, human beings wither and harden and spiritually die. Goodness is a necessary condition for healthy relationships and for thriving community. Morality is not about deprivation, denial, and artificial constraint; quite to the contrary, it is about ultimately living as well as human beings are capable of living.
Organizational success and inner-personal satisfaction require significant doses of truth, beauty, goodness, and unity. These four timeless values are the four foundations of sustainable excellence and human flourishing. Nothing less will do…
We need to thrust our roots down as far as possible into the innermost springs of human thought and behavior. We need to find the most universal and reliable touchstones of sustainable excellence and the most fundamental keys to ultimate motivation. In the end, it is only the rock-bottom truth about human happiness and fulfillment that will give us enduring foundations for our work together.
Morris weaves the observations of numerous philosophers, literary and political figures, and social historians into his text to pique the reader’s interest in applying ancient wisdom and contemporary thought to everyday business problems.
Company executives in search of wisdom are turning from psychotherapy and religion to the cleverest thinkers of all: ancient philosophers. For corporations, philosophy has become the latest management fad. Tom Morris, author of “If Aristotle Ran General Motors: The New Soul of Business”, earns $30,000 an hour-one of the highest fees for a non-celebrity speaker in America–for teaching Socrates and Hegel to the likes of IBM, Campbell Soup, General Electric and Ford.
Morris applies his 15 years’ experience as a philosophy teacher and the writings of history’s wisest thinkers to today’s changing business milieu. Much of the wisdom sprinkled throughout the book is that of-you guessed it-Aristotle. But Morris also includes quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Saint Augustine, Francis Bacon, and many others.
“The philosophers of the centuries, from Plato and Aristotle to the present day, have left us the equivalent of a huge bank account of wisdom that we can draw on for a wealth of insight applicable to both business and the rest of life.
Find out why the four timeless virtues-Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity-are relevant to the modern workplace, and learn how to make those qualities the foundation of your everyday business and personal life.
 Morris, Tom. If Aristotle Ran General Motors: The New Soul of Business. 1st ed. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997.
To conclude this little series, I wanted to talk a bit about the man who I have known the longest, how has made the most extensive impact on my life – My father. I know I inherited his love of travel. Mom jokes about both of our middle names being “Let’s go.” I can have a duffle bag packed and be headed for the door a bit quicker than he can now, but he would be right behind me. The only thing that would get him out the door quicker was if someone needs him.
I was raised with a strong example. A few weeks ago, on a rather lazy Saturday morning, we received a phone call. It was a bit early, but not a big deal. I was heading outside in my farm clothes (old jeans and holey t-shirt) to feed the horse. I heard “What hospital?” and I knew to turn around, head back to my bedroom, shave and get dressed. We were going somewhere. I have been shocked to discover that such a reaction is not typical for people in my age group. It has always been an automatic assumption in my household, even to the point where it is second nature even when dad was off at a football game at the other side of the state.
I posted a few weeks ago about giving a speech at GMC. The man who introduced me (Edward Shelor, also mentioned on Tuesday) pulled me aside before the start of the event. He told me that he had my introduction, but wouldn’t be mentioning my “greatest accomplishment.” A few years earlier, he had been taken to the hospital with abnormal heart rhythm. His niece, who is one of my best friends, and who I was working with on the campaign at the time, called and told me. She was worried because she was stuck at a campaign event for another hour. What she didn’t know is that dad had heard me talking on the phone, had gotten dressed, and we were on our way before she had even finished telling me what was happening. We beat her to the hospital. What Shelor calls my “greatest accomplishment” is nothing more than the influence of my father being automatically applied in a real life situation.
Some of my other “great achievements” have been planning events. As a graduate assistant, I had to plan two program dinners, and oversee a statewide academic conference. My first time meeting with the caterer, she made the comment, “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” No, I had not. I had just been sitting in dad’s meetings setting up conferences for most of my life. By my being able to see him organizing conferences twice a year for most of my life, I was ready and knew what had to be done. While I did get nervous, I was able to pull it off without panicking.
Dad has a network of spies. By network, I mean a HUGE network. I can be anywhere in the state and run into someone who refers to me as “Little Quincy.” It’s not uncommon for Dad to know where I am, and who I’m with, before I’m even done with my dinner. Some of his spies (I’m thinking of Harold Mason here, among others) even like getting me in trouble. (I promise, I had shrimp gumbo in that glass, not a margarita… My Diet Coke was right beside me on the table.)
I remember how proud I was the first time Dad and I had gone somewhere and we were introduced as “Mr. Simpson and his father.” But, I know I’ll always be Little Quincy, and that’s okay with me. Love you, Dad.
Forgive me if this is a bit rambling, but I’m writing a bit later than I would have liked. There are some men who come into your life seeming by happenstance. Eight years ago, there was a family that had been visiting our church for a while, but I really didn’t know them. They sat on the other side, and none of the kids were my age (at least from the perspective of a 16 year old). I knew the father was a teacher or something, but they soon announced they were moving, so my lack of knowing more really didn’t matter. Then, it happened.
This was when I was working with a construction company. We had a killer of a remodel job that summer. It was an old house and hadn’t been updated any since, I would guess, the late 50s or early 60s. Needless to say, it was rather labor intensive undertaking. As I said, the family was relocating. Mr. Marc had finished the previous academic year, and was transferring to a new school system in northeast Georgia. In the meantime, my boss asked him if he wanted to join the crew (He had worked construction while he was in college) for a few weeks in between the professional gigs.
Mr. Marc and I were tasked to work together, adding a light in the attic. It was the middle of summer, in the south. Attics in the south in the summer are best described as hell. Needless to say, it was HOT. If you know me, you know that I don’t take heat well. I thought I was not so slowly melting. The only thing that made those few days bearable was getting to know Mr. Marc.
I don’t know if he remembers it or not. I was still in high school, but planning on going to the tech school to pursue a certificate in residential wiring. (Yes, this now professor’s dirty little secret… my first post secondary program was a tech school.) Anyway… since I was going off to the big bad tech school, he gave me a verse to remember.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. ~ Colossians 2:8
That verse stuck with me the following seven years as I finished my four programs. Then a few years ago, they moved back. As time continued to go on, I noticed something. He was one of the first ones to treat me as a man, instead of a child. I know that sounds weird, but when there are people with an age gap, that you’ve know for your entire life, it takes longer. It was like with Mr. Marc, the gap was just small enough, and given that we really started to get to know each other when I was in my 20s, and he accepted me into adulthood.
Mr. Marc is a man whose passion for God is obvious in his life, and that passion reflects in his family. His children range from teenagers to infants, and their love and respect for him is obvious. He is not afraid to stand up for what he believes is right, even when his opinion is not popular. He has laid the foundations of many generations of Godly offspring. “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed” (Psalm 72:17). Even beyond that, he has proven an example to me of the rewards which occur when scriptural principles are maintained.
Thank you, Mr. Marc, for being an example to me. Thank you for accepting me as, albeit admittedly somewhat younger, peer. Thank you for your friendship, and the friendship of your family.