Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Finally Made the Switch

Dear Readers,

I have finally been able to get my own website address with an all-new blog hosted there. This means that you will no longer be able to see my new posts here on my Blogger site. If you follow my blog, I would appreciate you taking some time to visit my new site and updating your method for following me.

  • If you subscribed via email, you can do so again by entering you email address on the sidebar of the new page.
  • If you are an RSS subscriber, please be sure to point your reader to the new site's RSS page.

If you like my writing and think that someone you know might be interested in reading my random thoughts, I would appreciate a referral.

Thanks everyone! See you on the other side!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Consensus Kills Leadership

Consensus is a popular word in today's culture. Somehow, the idea of getting everyone at the table to agree on everything under discussion has become the ideal achievement of teamwork and the truest evidence of great leadership. The only problem with this notion is that true consensus is an ever-elusive destination, and the journey toward it often results in frustration and wasted time.

While sitting in a meeting today, I experienced this wild goose chase first-hand. This last-minute gathering should have lasted one quarter of the time it did, but the inane quest for consensus made it a painfully drawn-out ordeal.

A small minority of people at the table raised relatively minor concerns about an event that had already been planned, approved, and communicated to the public. Those concerns were valid and had every right to be voiced, but despite the fact that the majority of those in attendance saw no reason to alter the already-scheduled event, we as a team were still expected to come to an eleventh-hour compromise. Because consensus demands that everyone leaves the meeting in agreement, each side spent a great deal of time trying to convince the other side of the worthiness of their cause.

After more than an hour of seeking consensus, our only achievement was a roomful of unnecessarily bruised egos and a cut-and-paste compromise that left neither side feeling content. The only real reason we reached any semblance of a "consensus" was that we were all tired of talking about the issue and we just wanted out of the room.

As I drove home, I thought about the fact that no one person in the meeting had leadership over the decisions surrounding that particular event. We were all equal members of a team, and each held equal sway over the others -- a recipe for disaster.

Leadership requires one person who will ultimately set a pace and direction that others can follow. Leaders should be eager to listen to concerns, advice, and ideas from the team, but eventually the final decision falls on them to make. Leaders don't often have the option make everyone feel equally validated, but they do tend make choices based on what's best. Consensus, on the other hand, typically results in frustration for everyone and produces a mediocre result in the process.

I've come to learn that the only people who can hold a position of leadership and also manage to achieve overwhelming consensus are brutal dictators. If true, effective leadership is desired in an organization, consensus should never be a definition for success.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

See for Yourself

If you have followed the Miss California vs. Perez Hilton saga, you probably won't be surprised to know how frustrated I am with all of it. I could go on and on about the things I think need said, but Dennis Prager hits the nail on the head many times over in this debate on Larry King Live:

Whose argument to you find most compelling?

The Travesty of Earth Day

Today, public school children all over the nation will take time to celebrate Earth Day. They will plant seeds in potting soil in the hopes that their budding tree will grow big and strong and, one day, replace the ones cut down by money-hungry corporations. They will create "artwork" using items that would normally be discarded and sitting in a landfill somewhere. They will sit in school-wide assemblies and have adults warn them of all the things that we should be doing to in order to prevent an impending environmental crisis. They will hear of hybrid cars, carbon footprints, and climate change. They will learn that it is our moral imperative to reduce, reuse, recycle.

And on this day when teachers work to instill in them a deep respect for Mother Earth, many students will continue to show disregard for their fellow human beings.

They will take the styrofoam lunch tray from the cafeteria workers and think about how best to discard it for the good of nature, but -- just like every other day -- they will neglect to utter even a word of gratitude to the person who got up early this morning to begin preparing the lunch they are about to eat. They will brainstorm creative ways to reuse their plastic grocery bags, but they will still be deeply reluctant to be kind and give one of their pencils to a kid who forgot to bring his. They will wonder with disappointment why their family doesn't drive a hybrid car, but they won't give a second thought to the fact that Dad just worked a 10-hour shift and still made time to drive them to soccer practice in that evil, gas-guzzling Chevy Cavalier.

I am a public school teacher, and my class will be taking part in some of today's Earth Day activities. And even though I want my students to appreciate the environment, I want them to appreciate their parents even more. While I want them to look for ways to reuse resources, I much prefer that they look for ways to show kindness. I want them to step over that piece of garbage on the floor to go help out a classmate pick up the books she just dropped all over the hallway. Instead of using their words to express outrage over environmental pollution, I wish I saw more students express outrage over the polluted language used in the hallways between classes.

For me, celebrating nature and preserving the environment is nowhere near as important as teaching kids to live lives of goodness. We celebrate Earth Day, but we don't have a day set aside to celebrate kindness, generosity, or gratitude.

And I think that's a travesty.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Don't Judge the Objectum Sexuals

When exactly did the mainstream television news outlets lose their minds?

As I think back on my childhood, I very vividly remember school days that began with a generous bowl of Lucky Charms and the calming sounds of Joan Lunden and Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America echoing through the house. Breakfast would vary on occasion -- some days we'd eat bacon and eggs and on other days my mom made waffles -- but the television was always tuned to Good Morning America. It was the American way.

Now I get the sickening feeling that the very show I watched every day as a kid has become nothing more than an pseudo-intellectualized version of the Jerry Springer Show. Take a moment to see what passes as relevant news on GMA now:

I'm just counting down the days until some college professor or coked-up movie star calls me a bigot when I say that I don't believe that an adult woman has the right to marry an inanimate French landmark.

What do you think:

Did Good Morning America legitimize this "new sexual orientation" by airing this piece? If not, then what was the point?

What are your thoughts on the sexologist saying that an objectum sexual's love is "no more and no less of value than other romantic relationships"? Who are we to judge, right?

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I have been out of the church graphic design business for quite a while now, but I recently had the chance to get back to my roots and create some graphics for my current church (pastored by Heidi's dad). Thanks to the opportunity I had to work with two of the top designers in the industry, I've picked up a few tricks along the way. Here are some of the highlights:

Key graphic for one of the messages of the current series, "I AM":

Standard-issue promotion slides that rotate on-screen before service:

I fully admit that this next slide is a complete plagiarism of CCV's Class 100 graphic. In the epic battle of innovation vs. duplication, duplication inevitably gets a win from time to time. I figured the gods of design would forgive me as long as I copied the best.

I am especially proud of this last graphic because its an original piece by my beautiful wife. She's come a long way in her ability to visualize and create things in Photoshop, and I felt that this design deserved some public recognition.

Monday, March 30, 2009


After a long journey of disconnected solitude, I have decided to jump on the Twitter bandwagon and go for a little ride. Those who have gone before me frequently and fervently sing Twitter's praises -- almost as if the little bird in the logo was the very dove that brought the olive branch back to Noah's ark. By all accounts, I must prepare for the miraculous.

To be quite honest, I'm doing this for one purpose alone -- to experiment and see if this technology truly does make me more connected with others. I am very much a face-to-face kind of guy and I have a hard time seeing how Twitter will give me anything even resembling the sort of connectedness that I get in a personal friendship.

Since its unfair for me to say I don't like Twitter when I have never actually used it, I figure its worth a test drive. If you want to follow my 140-character-or-less musings, my Twitter name is MichaelSGray.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

There's More Than One Way to Castrate a Lamb

You've got to admit, the title intrigues you; it mysteriously draws you in and makes you want to keep reading, right? Well, that's because you have a sick mind and a twisted sense of entertainment. But don't feel too guilty, I fell for it too when I originally watched the video below on Jon's blog.

I love it when blog posts, books, magazines, and/or speeches challenge public perceptions of reality -- when they cause people to think a second time about a long-held assumption, or look at an issue in a completely different light than ever before. This speech by Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe does just that. It's a lesson on finding out just how wrong we can be, even when we feel most confident that we are right.

On a completely different note, what do you think of my new, wider layout? I realize the header image needs to change and I'll get to it when I can. I just got tired of having to resize all my linked videos to make them fit my post.