June 1, 2005
The Master's Program
the masters program

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

I've been a little busy, and haven't really had much free space (intellectually) to dream up a clever Point of View subject to start your week. Instead, I thought I might involve you in a couple of my advisory relationships.

Much of my time is spent coaching/mentoring leaders. I thought I'd offer my insights to a couple of leaders who are - technically - over me in the org chart ... but might be open to some input. Here are a couple of my recent postings:

Dear President Bush:

We haven't met, but we have some friends in common. I don't want to drop any names, but I'm pretty well connected. Wanted you to know that I think this Iraq elections issue may come back to haunt you. I know that you've made this "establish democracy in the Mid East" thing a real centerpiece of your second term, but ... have you considered the possibilities? In Iraq, their society is more fractured than today's America! If you think the Republicans and Democrats have a hard time getting along, the Shiites and Sunnis are even worse. Here's the deal: the Shiites out- number the Sunnis, and the Sunnis have held the power for generations ... and used it to abuse the Shiites. The election will allow the majority - Shiites - to gain an upper hand. Problem? Their thought-brothers are in Iran, and haven't been the best of friends to us in the last few decades. Free elections may result in them being our enemies! What then? Letting people decide for themselves sounds good on the surface ... but it may not be the best thing for us, in the long run. This "freedom" business could result in people taking their freedom ... and using it against us. Have you given this much thought? By the way, most of my friends voted for you (so did I), so I'm not throwin' rocks from the sour grapes neighborhood ...

Just thought you might want to think some more about it ...

Your friend Bob

Haven't heard a peep. With all the election, certification, inauguration business, he's been pretty busy with stuff around Washington. Hope the big turnout (looks like the voting Iraqis outnumbered the voting Americans, by percentage) will be a good thing ... and won't come back to bite him.

My other memo was dealing with a pretty similar situation ...

Dear God,

I know we're family - you're sure gracious in calling me one of your sons! - and you've been doing this a long time, but I wanted to mention something that's beginning to really concern me. You're in charge; you can set the system up any way you want to, I know. It's this "free will" thing: you're letting people run all over you. Giving people who don't have your best interests in mind the opportunity to do anything they want to do has some major downsides. This is your universe, for heaven's sake: why do you let people opt-out of playing by your rules? You ought to put your foot down: your way, or the highway. Accept Jesus as the Top Guy, or banish them immediately to outer darkness. Things would sure improve around here, real quick. Your decision to give people decades to do the right thing sure allows them to mess things up down here. Your patience is giving them a lot of time to bad mouth you. I know you're doing it because you love them, but they're taking advantage of you. Just thought you'd want to know ...

Your friend - and son - Bob


Bob Shank

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