LEADERSHIP – Rich Paschall

What makes a good Leader?
by Rich Paschall

With the election cycle starting up AGAIN, and the seemingly endless Presidential debates we will now endure, it is fair to ask what makes a good Leader.  What traits do we expect a Leader to have?  What do we admire in our leaders?  What qualities do we want to avoid in our leaders?  What generates our respect and our willingness to follow?

Your Vote Counts

It is not enough to say that our leaders should “lead.”  What does that mean exactly?  In a certain sense they all want to lead, but where are they trying to take us?  What message is their leadership style sending?  Are they willing to lead us in a good way?

It is also not enough to say that they should “inspire.”  What does that mean as well?  If they inspire you, I guess you would, of course, want to follow.  Not all inspiration is filled with positive messages or moves in the right direction.  Will we know a good leader when one comes along?

Perhaps at the top of my list would be “trustworthy.”  Can we trust someone to do a good job?  Will they always look out for the best interests of the nation, the community, the local parish or whatever group they are asked to lead?  This trait speaks to the virtue of honesty.  If we trust someone, then we must believe deep down that they are honest.  They will not steal or take advantage of their position.  They will not use their position of authority to enrich themselves at the expense of others.  Do you trust your leaders?

A good leader must also be a “problem solver.”  Every organization will have its challenges along the way and the solutions are not necessarily apparent. This is where a good problem solver is important.

problem solving dogsIt is not that the leader needs to solve the problem himself or herself, it is that they must know the best way to get to the answers that are being sought.  In this regard, leadership might be stepping aside to let someone else handle an issue.

To lead a person must also be self-confident.  In this manner some may come across as cocky or arrogant, which could indeed be the case.  However, one who lacks confidence in what he does can never be a good leader. Indecision will creep in as the dominant trait. Then the leader will find himself following others, falling prey to advice that may not be in the best interests of all.

Which way is your Leader going?
Which way is your Leader going?

Passion is important for those at the top of an organization. I have often seen it at the local level where leaders either do not feel passionate about what they do, or have lost that passion as the years wore on.

Just because you are a good leader in one decade, doesn’t mean that you will be a good leader in the next. Our diocese has a habit of moving successful pastors from one location to another, but success in one place doesn’t mean success at another.  Sometimes a problem arises when the so-called leader does not share the same passion for the next assignment as he did for the previous one.

Leaders must be resilient. They must have the ability to “roll with the punches,” as the saying goes. Some do not take real or perceived criticism well. Their downside begins to show when their side of things indeed seems to be down.

One thing for sure — a leader will face criticism. Not all will agree with everything that is said or done. It’s inevitable. A new leader may enjoy a “honeymoon” period of no criticism, but it won’t last. If you’re President of the United States, for example, you need to know how to deal with criticism.

politicususa.com

A leader needs vision. He or she must have a clear idea of what it is they should do and how they’ll get there. Again, this doesn’t mean the leader has to do it all.  A leader with vision will inspire others to work hard to help a vision become reality. If your vision doesn’t inspire others, you may need to rethink it.

A leader must effectively manage others, especially subordinates in the work place.  This means training, coaching, guiding and building up the resources of the organization, town, state, or country through hard work and careful planning.  “My way or the Highway” is not an effective leadership style, although I have seen some try to use it on the local level.  It is not what any organization needs, and in fact tends to drive away good people.

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Problems should be seen as fixable, not something to avoid at all costs. Some so-called leaders would choose the path of least resistance. If they avoid something where there might be even the slight chance of failure or disappointment, they are not leading at all. This is like the “prevent defense” in football.  Sometimes that prevents you from winning.

A good leader also is a good listener. I’m sure you’ve heard “no one learns anything new when he’s talking.”  A leader knows when and how to listen.  A leader knows which questions to ask to get the information to understand the issues and seek the right course of action.

One time I sat down with a local pastor to discuss an event that he felt did not go well in every aspect.  At least I thought it was going to be a discussion. Instead it was an unpleasant hour listening to his negative point of view of certain aspects of the event. I’m not sure he listened to anything I said. He could just as well have had the conversation over coffee with himself.  I’m not sure why I bothered to talk at all.

Are your leaders listening?  Do they care what you think?  Will they serve your interests? When local and national elections come, what traits should your elected officials have?  As you join community organizations, what traits do you want to see in their leadership?

MORE G-L-O-R-I-A – Rich Paschall

Who Sang It Best? by Rich Paschall

Last weekend we told you about A Popular Girl who has many songs written about her. This is not the Gloria you are singing in church. This is a someone that many songwriters have encountered over the years. Today we are picking just one of the songs and asking you to chose the best version.

In 1964 singer-songwriter Van Morrison’s group, Them, recorded a song about Gloria as the B side of the blues standard, “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” Failure of some rock radio stations to play the Van Morrison version of Gloria due to objection of one line (“She comes to my room”), meant the song did not climb very high on the Billboard Hot 100: 93 in 1965, 71 in 1966.

In December 1965 The Shadows of Knight, a Chicago area band, released their cover of Gloria and the song made it to number 10 in 1966. It was helped by rock radio giant Chicago’s WLS 890 AM. The band changed the offending lyric to “She calls out my name” and some stations found it a better alternative to the original. It is the version I remember best.

The Doors covered the song a number of times in concert and versions can be found on live albums. In the following lead singer Jim Morrison just seems to be making up a lot of it as they went along, which he probably was.

Scottish rock band Simple Minds put there own spin on the song, released in 2001.

There are a long list of artists who have performed and/or recorded this song, but I will just give you my vote for Chicago’s own, The Shadows of Knight.

Just because it is floating around the internet, we will also give you Bill Murray.  No, he will not win any competition with this version. It is just for fun.

See also, “A Popular Girl”

A POPULAR GIRL – Rich Paschall

G-L-O-R-I-A, Rich Paschall

She sure is a popular girl. When you consider the number of songs titled “Gloria” and the many cover versions of those same songs, it seems like someone is always singing out her name. Lately, it seems everyone in St. Louis is singing about her, but that is another story that is best not told in Boston.

Leon Rene wrote a tune about this crowd-pleasing name in the 1940’s. Several groups had recorded the song and The Mills Brothers reached number 17 on the charts with a soft jazz version recorded in 1948. It was the doo wop version recorded in 1954 by the Cadillacs that became a big hit. So many groups covered the Cadillacs version that it is said to be one of the most covered songs of the doo wop era.

Van Morrison penned a memorable tune about Gloria and recorded it with his group Them in 1964. It was released as the B-side of another song and did not gain much traction. Rock radio giant WLS in Chicago would not play the tune because of one particular line which was changed by a Chicago band to be more acceptable.

Van Morrison

A group from the Chicago suburbs, The Shadows of Knight, made it to number 10 on the Billboard 100 with the Van Morrison composition.  Sounding more like a “garage band” of the time period, the hard driving version certainly made G-L-O-R-I-A smile.

Iconic Irish rockers U2 treated Gloria to a tune as well in 1981. While it achieved some success in other English speaking nations, it did not do so well in America. Nevertheless, it was often played in concert by the band.  Lead singer Bono said of the song in 1994, “It’s so wonderfully mad and epic and operatic. And of course Gloria is about a woman in the Van Morrison sense.”

In 1982 Laura Branigan gave Gloria a disco beat. The song was a rework of an Italian hit by Umberto Tozzi. The lyric was a true reworking, rather than an English translation which Tozzi also recorded. The hit by Branigan was her biggest and always on her performance list. For reasons you may have read the song, which has nothing to do with hockey, became a theme for the 2019 St. Louis Blues.

Appropriately enough, the official music video for Branigan’s Gloria starts out with a disco mirror ball.

Swedish rockers Mando Diao, a garage rock band for millenials, had a song for our girl in 2009. Recorded the previous year, it was a single from the album “Give Me Fire.”

“And, Gloria, did you finally see that enough is enough?”

In 2019 indie rockers The Lumineers had some words of caution for Gloria. The single is off the album III to be released in September and has topped the alternative radio charts.

See also: The Lumineers’ “Gloria” Enjoys 4th Week As Alternative Radio’s #1 Song, headlineplanet.com June 30, 2019.

STONEWALL UPRISING – Rich Paschall

Fifty Years On, by Rich Paschall

It was much different then. 1969. There was a “counter culture” that opposed many of society’s norms. There were “love-ins” and music festivals.  Hippies made the scene wearing different clothes. Many wore flowers in their hair. Tie-dyed shirts and bell bottoms jeans were the fashion.

It was the summer of Woodstock. It was also the year the Beatles played their last live concert from a rooftop in London.

Woodstock

In the United States, Richard Nixon became president. NASA sent a man to the moon. PBS was established and Sesame Street made its debut. The US Air Force stopped investigating UFOs, having found none since Project Blue Book started in 1952.

It was a time of social unrest. Civil Rights protests. Protests for women’s equality. Students and others protested many political issues. The largest and most frequent were about the “police action” otherwise known as the War in Viet Nam. The Southeast Asian war, the first to be extensively televised, was very unpopular.

Protests at Columbia University in NYC

Homosexuality was illegal in 49 of 50 states. To be arrested meant your life was ruined. You could lose your home, your job, your freedom. To be a known homosexual could put your life at risk. A few gay groups, like the Mattachine Society, tried to depict gay men as just like everyone else in order to be more acceptable to society. Small protests were held each year in Philadelphia and Washington seeking equality. Men wore suits, women wore dresses. No one held hands.

New York had a few gay bars and clubs. Most were owned by the Mafia, who paid off the police. When the bars were to be raided, arresting a few gays, the clubs were tipped off in advance. The police generally came early in the evening so the clubs could reopen later and continue doing business. When the police arrived, the lights went up to tip off the patrons to stop holding hands, touching, and dancing. Men in drag were certainly going to be taken away. Policewomen checked them out to see if they were actually men. No further explanation is needed.

In June of 1969, there were frequent raids on local bars and clubs. Some were closed down. The Stonewall Inn had been raided on a Tuesday but reopened for business. Saturday of that week would be the day the tables were turned.

Stonewall 1969 (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Stonewall had tried to present itself as a private club. It had no liquor license and was raided periodically by police. It operated very much like a speakeasy in the Prohibition era.

The windows were covered with plywood so no one could see inside. The door had an opening where a bouncer could look out to see who wanted entrance. If he did not know you or thought you were underage, you would probably be turned away.

In the early hours of a warm night, around 1:20 AM on June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn.  It was to be closed permanently. There were perhaps two hundred people inside but only four plainclothes officers, two others in uniform and two detectives arrived. Gays usually put up no resistance, so the police thought they could control the situation.

On this night, they thought wrong.

The usual tactic was to arrest drag queens and anyone under 18, which was then the legal drinking age. The men were lined up and IDs were checked. Events, however, took a different turn from the usual protocol.

The drag queens refused to go and many men were refusing to show IDs. The police decided to arrest anyone who did not cooperate. Things quickly got out of hand.

The ones who had been released did not disperse. Instead, they waited outside. The crowd soon began to grow. The patrol wagons did not arrive and many were forced to wait in line. When a woman was taken outside to be put in a wagon, she fought back.

There’s one well-known picture of the event and virtually no video of what happened. It was before the era of pocket cameras and cell phones. Accounts vary but there are many personal accounts on which to rely.

One thing seems clear. In an era of social unrest, gays were fighting back. They were not going to have the Stonewall taken away, despite the fact that baseball bats were later used like in a Prohibition raid. Activism had come to the gay community in one spontaneous moment.

Only known image of the uprising (Fair use. Photographer: Joseph Ambrosini of the New York Daily News)

Battles with police raged into the night. The ones who had conducted the raid had to barricade themselves in the Stonewall against the growing crowd outside. When police arrived to free Stonewall, the crowd stayed and sang, formed a kickline, threw pennies, did other mischiefs. The people were pushed down the street, only to return behind the police.  Garbage was set on fire, some windows were broken.

The next night an even larger crowd returned to Christopher Street. The police tried to disperse them with nightsticks and tear gas. Again garbage was lit on fire and the crowd fought back.

Why are there gay pride parades?

Stonewall is the answer. On a warm summer night in New York in 1969, the gay patrons of Stonewall Inn decided to stop being pushed around. They wanted to be free to be who they were. They would no longer hide in the dark closets or recesses of dives like the Stonewall. They wanted to be proud and to live their own lives.

The following year on June 28, The Christopher Street Liberation Day was held with a march (parade) from Christopher Street to Central Park, an astounding 51 blocks. Organizers desperately hoped for more than a handful of participants to support the event. Thousands came, not just to watch but to march and celebrate. At one point the parade filled the street for 15 blocks. Events were also held in Chicago and Los Angeles to remember Stonewall.

It is likely many young participants in Gay Pride Celebrations do not know why there are such events or how they started. Nevertheless, it has become a worldwide phenomenon. On June 30, 2019 (today if you are reading this when it is first posted) organizations will come together in New York. There will be a 50th-anniversary celebration of the day the lesbian and gay communities battled for Christopher Street and won the right to seek equality in the open.

Stonewall today

Sources: This synopsis is a very condensed version, and you can read events in great detail on Wikipedia. PBS also recently reran the American Experience documentary Stonewall Uprising which you can find at PBS online. Below is just a small excerpt:

TURNING SUCCESS INTO FAILURE – Rich Paschall

Thinking Small, Rich Paschall

Some organizations think big and do big.  You may know such organizations.  You may wonder how they accomplish so much.  How can a social service agency, school, church, or park district pull off grand events with a small budget and a small staff?  Yet, there are quite a number that do it.  What is the difference between the successes and those that think big and fail?  What is the difference between thinking bag, and those who just think small?

Image: Mashable.com
Image: Mashable.com

Many think big but fail because they aren’t willing to do the work.  They want to be triumphant, but they are just hoping it will somehow happen. They rely on others stepping up to do what they should be doing.

The truth is that those running an event must step forward. They need to recruit volunteers to do what needs doing to guarantee success.  Some leaders are willing to do this, but many others rely on dumb luck. Dumb being the operative word. It’s the dedication to the task that’s important, not luck.

You have to work harder to find potential leaders and willing workers than in years past. So many things compete for our attention. Life is busier than it used to be … and then, there are the apps on our phones, tablets and laptops. We may not be willing to devote the large chunk of time required to make a successful event. If it took five calls to get two people to help out 20 years ago, maybe it takes 10 calls now. Or 20. Is the organization willing to do it?

In many cases, the answer is no.

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Being reliant on Facebook calls to action and church bulletin messages will likely get you nowhere.  It’s the personal touch that matters.

Text messages and email blasts don’t have the personal touch you need to win volunteers. We are in the digital age and can contact a lot of people quickly by email, social media, and text messaging, but it’s not a reliable road to success. Such messages get lost in the myriad messages that are posted every day.

So, we actually have to talk to people if we want to get their attention.  We have to pick up the phone.  We have to meet them at events.  We have to stand outside of Church, school, wherever and shake their hands.  Even in the digital age, or maybe exactly because of it, we must reach out to people personally, if we want to help a project meet its goal.

UU Church 47

Then there are those who think small from the start.  They see the modern-day task of making a success so daunting that they prefer not to tackle it at all.  These types of “leaders” obviously are not the ones who brought the organization along over the years, but they are certainly the ones to stall it in its tracks.  Saying it is too hard, or it can’t be done, or people will not step forward anymore is admitting defeat from the outset.  It is also proof that they are in the wrong business.  There is a choice to meet the challenge or run from it.  Some choose to run.  Let them go.

Recently, I was involved in an alumni event that found the organization itself dragging its feet on a number of issues.  When the night of the event came, after months of planning meetings, things did not go smoothly.  Nevertheless, it was the largest alumni event they had in decades. Yes, decades.  Were they happy with this?

Because of its shortcomings, the pastor promptly declared it would have been better to run an event for 50 or 60 people than this event for 250 — which was much more work and went poorly. The pastor was upset.

Was it personal embarrassment?  No, because he didn’t work on it. Unfortunately, he was looking for ways to place blame rather than looking for how to make events better in the future.

People who step into leadership roles but who have little leadership experience, are likely to torpedo your efforts. Those who have their hands full already and see an event as too much additional work, will likely trip you up. Those who are afraid of embarrassment and will only accept success — never failure — will only minimally succeed. They’ve already set limits on their potential success. Worse, they have unknowingly limited the likely success of the organizations they are supposed to lead.

RICH PASCHALL, GARRY AND MARILYN BY THE BLACKSTONE CANAL – Marilyn Armstrong

It didn’t happen if you don’t take any pictures. Well, that’s not exactly true, but as a photographer, that’s how I feel about many events. Which doesn’t mean I always take pictures. Much of the time, I don’t feel like taking pictures. I just want to enjoy the event and not be the photographer.

Smiling, Rich and Garry by the Canal at River Bend
Rich and Garry by the canal at River Bend

This wasn’t one of those days. We had hoped to go out yesterday, but it rained all day. This morning, we woke up to a bright blue sky and we said “Okay, this is it. Let’s do it. So while I packed up my camera, made sure Garry had a live battery, figured out which lenses I was taking and off we went to the canal.

And halfway there, it started to rain. Plop. Plop. Plop.

“Maybe it’ll stop,” I said. There were still patches of blue in the sky so it could clear.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Marilyn and Rich along the Canal

By the time we got to the canal, it was pouring. It briefly slowed down, so we started to get out of the car. The pause changed instantly into a downpour. The rain gods were still with us. We turned around and started to head to dinner, but made a brief stop at the Crown & Eagle, which is a restored cotton mill which has been repurposed into a senior living facility. It’s a particularly beautiful location with the river behind the building and its own canal full of water lilies in front.

The sun came out.

The stone bridge in the rain

We turned around and went back to the canal. By then, it had started to drizzle, but it wasn’t pouring. Rich and I decided to take a chance and get out. I was wearing open-toed sandals — not the best footwear for a muddy rainy day by the river. And while my camera is water-resistant, none of the lenses I had brought were water resistant. I picked the 50mm prime because at least it didn’t have any electronics in it.

The footbridge
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Blackstone River

We took some pictures … and finally, Garry decided to come and shoot some too. He was worried about getting his hearing gear wet … a not unreasonable concern. That’s really expensive equipment that we absolutely can’t afford to replace. But he couldn’t resist the opportunity.

We had about 10 minutes before it started to rain again and if you look, you can see the rain falling in the river. We headed back to the car as quickly as we could with all the gear on the muddy, gritty path which apparently had been really messed up by the constant heavy rains we’ve been having for months.

Then, we really did go to dinner, which was great and I had tempura. Yum!

Rich on his own
The Blackstone Canal

Of course, as we finished dinner, the sun was shining, the sky was bright blue. These are the longest days of the year and I wished we could go back and take just a few more pictures.

But it was getting late. The dogs needed feeding. Moreover, if I was going to post these pictures, I had to download and process at least a few of them. So here they are. All that rain has made everything bloom like mad. It really does look like a rain forest!

THE LONG DELAY ENDS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Delay

For the last six years … maybe a bit longer … Rich Paschall has been working with us on Serendipity. We never met but we lived in hope. This weekend, he is here.

It only took six years … and his flight out of Chicago was 131 minutes delayed. I know because that’s what it said on the Spirit Airlines arrivals information. A long delay and made even longer by airport delays. I have to assume it was weather-related. There are storms everywhere across North America and it was raining here, too.

Aren’t we glad that climate change is a Chinese piece of fake news? Who knows what it would be like were it true!

I don’t have any pictures because he is still sleeping … wearing off Chicago time. Garry has a luncheon and is doing his long prep time in the shower and I’m trying to drink this coffee and I think I’m going to go make a new pot. This stuff is not great. I think it got stale.

I can’t believe it’s another gray, damp day. Will the rain gods ever leave town? Maybe it will brighten up later? We can surely hope!

Rich has filled in for me when I was sick … which has been far too often. He has always been here, even though he has been there. A welcome guest and a good friend. Who says online friends aren’t the “real deal”?

So Rich is finally here and remarkably, he is exactly like the person I expected. Sometimes, things are indeed what you expect. In a good way.