Archives For March 2014

Cincinnatus

stephencarter  —  March 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

THE STORY OF CINCINNATUS

THERE was a man named Cincinnatus who lived on a little farm not far from the city of Rome. He had once been rich, and had held the highest office in the land; but in one way or another he had lost all his wealth. He was now so poor that he had to do all the work on his farm with his own hands. But in those days it was thought to be a noble thing to till the soil.
Cincinnatus was so wise and just that everybody trusted him, and asked his advice; and when any one was in trouble, and did not know what to do, his neighbors would say,—
“Go and tell Cincinnatus. He will help you.”
Now there lived among the mountains, not far away, a tribe of fierce, half-wild men, who were at war with the Roman people. They persuaded another tribe of bold warriors to help them, and then marched toward the city, plundering and robbing as they came. They boasted that they would tear down the walls of Rome, and burn the houses, and kill all the men, and make slaves of the women and children.
At first the Romans, who were very proud and brave, did not think there was much danger. Every man in Rome was a soldier, and the army which went out to fight the robbers was the finest in the world. No one staid at home with the women and children and boys but the white-haired “Fathers,” as they were called, who made the laws for the city, and a small company of men who guarded the walls. Everybody thought that it would be an easy thing to drive the men of the mountains back to the place where they belonged.
But one morning five horsemen came riding down the road from the mountains. They rode with great speed; and both men and horses were covered with dust and blood. The watchman at the gate knew them, and shouted to them as they galloped in. Why did they ride thus? and what had happened to the Roman army?
They did not answer him, but rode into the city and along the quiet streets; and everybody ran after them, eager to find out what was the matter. Rome was not a large city at that time; and soon they reached the market place where the white-haired Fathers were sitting. Then they leaped from their horses, and told their story.
“Only yesterday,” they said, “our army was marching through a narrow valley between two steep mountains. All at once a thousand savage men sprang out from among the rocks before us and above us. They had blocked up the way; and the pass was so narrow that we could not fight. We tried to come back; but they had blocked up the way on this side of us too. The fierce men of the mountains were before us and behind us, and they were throwing rocks down upon us from above. We had been caught in a trap. Then ten of us set spurs to our horses; and five of us forced our way through, but the other five fell before the spears of the mountain men. And now, O Roman Fathers! send help to our army at once, or every man will be slain, and our city will be taken.”
“What shall we do?” said the white-haired Fathers. “Whom can we send but the guards and the boys? and who is wise enough to lead them, and thus save Rome?”
All shook their heads and were very grave; for it seemed as if there was no hope. Then one said “Send for Cincinnatus. He will help us.”
Cincinnatus was in the field plowing when the men who had been sent to him came in great haste. He stopped and greeted them kindly, and waited for them to speak.
“Put on your cloak, Cincinnatus,” they said, “and hear the words of the Roman people.”
Then Cincinnatus wondered what they could mean. “Is all well with Rome?” he asked; and he called to his wife to bring him his cloak.
She brought the cloak; and Cincinnatus wiped the dust from his hands and arms, and threw it over his shoulders. Then the men told their errand.
They told him how the army with all the noblest men of Rome had been entrapped in the mountain pass. They told him about the great danger the city was in. Then they said, “The people of Rome make you their ruler and the ruler of their city, to do with everything as you choose; and the Fathers bid you come at once and go out against our enemies, the fierce men of the mountains.”
So Cincinnatus left his plow standing where it was, and hurried to the city. When he passed through the streets, and gave orders as to what should be done, some of the people were afraid, for they knew that he had all power in Rome to do what he pleased. But he armed the guards and the boys, and went out at their head to fight the fierce mountain men, and free the Roman army from the trap into which it had fallen.
A few days afterward there was great joy in Rome. There was good news from Cincinnatus. The men of the mountains had been beaten with great loss. They had been driven back into their own place.
And now the Roman army, with the boys and the guards, was coming home with banners flying and shouts of victory; and at their head rode Cincinnatus. He had saved Rome.
Cincinnatus might then have made himself king; for his word was law, and no man dared lift a finger against him. But, before the people could thank him enough for what he had done, he gave back the power to the white-haired Roman Fathers, and went again to his little farm and his plow.
He had been the ruler of Rome for sixteen days.

This old story, for me, is about Leadership, Managment and The Belief in Community/Trust/Faithfulness. Do you believe in your team? Do you trust your team? You as a Manager, Owner or CEO, do you empower the community of “Cincinnatuses” that work around you to save, prosper and innovate for the common good. Who gets the credit? If someone brings good ideas, does this affect you negatively? Is there room for improvement both as a team and individually? You and your team might be ready for Coaching. 

Stephen Carter is an Executive Coach based in the Pacific Northwest. Member of the Oregon Chapter of the ICF, International Coach Federation. He works with both individuals and diverse companies anywhere there is a phone or internet connection. Stephen does coaching for on/off site summits  building efficient cohesive teams and solving complex problems. 
STEPHENCARTERCOACHING.com

Crew-Rowing, A Picture of How a Team Should Function. 

I love sport, and how it asks of us more than sometimes we know we can give. Sport gives us the opportunity to collaborate with our unique talents, our heart and even our soul. Sport is a quick picture of what it means to work toward a goal, both individually and as team. To win the prize…to be the champion can be quickly determined through the struggle of sport. 

It is March and this month has been historically my favorite month for sport…”March Madness”.
When I was a kid it was pro basketball that I loved. When I was in high school/college, it was college basketball. And now, I am leaning toward high school sports because it is more of the artistry of the coach that makes a difference rather than just plugging talented people into a system. A case could be made for great coaching at any level, for it is harnessing great talent and working it together for the greatest good, for the highest achievement. 

My love for this sport and all sports is about overcoming the challenges we face. I have become more aware, and as we move further away from pro sports, the turning point which determines the outcome of the game is the ability of the coach to use the skills of each individual to build a winning team. This is the catalyst seen on the sidelines or is present during training, causing the individual or team to rise to the challenges faced and excel to the end. 

This holds true for all teams across the board.

Crew/rowing on a team, in my opinion, is the best picture of how a team is performing. Visually an untrained person can see if a crew member is out of line, sequence, timing, or placement. In those instances, the whole boat becomes unstable and out of rhythm and thus inefficient. The coxswain steering and giving the commands is the point guard of the boat and, thereby, influences the rhythms of the members. It is the trust between the coxswain and the rowers which allows them to harmoniously work together to finish and win. The coach is not in the boat, rather they are observing from shore or another boat. This offers them an impartial perspective and allows them to give feedback on how the team is functioning. If a coach has the luxury of an assistant(s) they too will come up with observations or questions of each other and the team members, thereby strengthening the team as a whole. 

Coaching is like that. We can always use an outside eye. It is important to have someone to ask us those pertinent questions and to challenge us to use our talents to arrive at new answers to the questions and barriers we face. The elegance, artistry, and process of coaching is more than telling people or a group what to do. Coaching is asking essential questions in order to utilize the talents that are present in the room in the most efficient manner.  As a Manager, CEO, Owner, or Individual you have talent in the room. A coach can assist you use these members more effectively to come up with new and different solutions that we face. A coach gives perspective that you don’t always see.

Stephen Carter is an Executive Coach based in the Pacific Northwest. Member of the Oregon Chapter of the ICF, International Coach Federation. He works with both individuals and diverse companies anywhere there is a phone or internet connection. Stephen does coaching for on/off site summits  building efficient cohesive teams and solving complex problems. 
STEPHENCARTERCOACHING.com