Monthly Archives: March 2019

Comparison and Competition: Enemies of Leadership

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“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

We all do it. We compare ourselves with others. Some of us are more skillful at hiding our attempts. Sometimes we  seem to grow out of it a little bit as we go through life, but often it lurks just below the surface. Given the right circumstances, it reappears with lightning speed. It never really diminished. It merely hid for a season.

Comparison appears early in life. One of the first things a parent tells of their newborn is their weight and length. It builds from there. School and sports arrive quickly along with the accompanying comparisons. We are indoctrinated. It is ingrained. Who can possibly escape this vortex or the gravitational pull of the incessant questioning of: Who is better? Who is bigger? Who more beautiful?

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Financial Death by a Thousand Cuts

Only the Foundation
of My Aunt’s House Survived the Tornado (1974)

The first time I heard the phrase “Death by a Thousand Cuts” my imagination ran off with a graphic image of someone literally bleeding to death drop by drop. I had a great aunt who almost died from such a fate.

In April 1974, a tornado hit her house in Indiana. She lived in a two story farm house about 30 miles east of Indianapolis. The tornado made a direct hit and her house vanished. Only the foundation remained. Moments after the tornado passed, a neighbor drove down the road and wondered aloud, “Where is Mary Hawkins’ house?”

He parked his truck and surveyed the damage. Across the road from the former house, he heard groans and found her in a barren cornfield. The tornado had thrown her about 200 yards away. Someone found her bathtub a mile away. My brother found a letter bearing her name and address 15 miles away while hunting for mushrooms a few weeks later.

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