Indicators

Do movies reflect culture or mold it? Perhaps they do both. Movies may indicate where the culture is or where those creating movies are trying to take it.

Does the spoken word indicate what is in a heart or the reality the speaker wants to live in? Jesus said a good person brings good things out of the good stored up in their heart and an evil person evil things from the evil stored up in theirs. A Proverb says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”. Words sometimes point to a destination.

It is easy to allow a victim mentality to trap oneself in despair and inaction. Such an attitude is a tragically unnecessary choice. No one has to be passive in what comes to them or from them. We have the ability to influence, if not choose outright, our preferred reality.

Words, appearances, and actions are not only indicators of who we are, but can be used as tools to determine who we will become. Indicators can be used to reveal what is beneath the surface and to change it.

An expert in handwriting analysis gave a brief overview describing how a person’s handwriting revealed their attitude, how they thought, and likely choices when faced with specific decisions. For example, the difference between jabbing the paper to dot the letter “i” or taking the time to scribe a small circle indicated a patient or impatient person. Beyond fascination was the encouragement that conscious changes in actions can change a person. An impatient person becomes more patient when they consciously change their writing habit from a simple dot to a small circle when composing the letter “i”, he said. Other behavioral experts teach that habits such as getting in the longest line at Walmart have been reported to train patience.

Another example comes from the life of freshman attending a small Christian college. I suspect it was one of many that told incoming freshman how the rules they were about to hear were for their benefit. Do you think every freshman thought “Right”? Do you think each student thought they were more for the schools your public image and fund raising appeal that the well-being of students?

In the example given these young men were told they had to wear a tie to class, chapel, and the cafeteria. Women were required to wear a dress to the same three places. School officials said that students who dressed smartly did better academically, had better attitudes, and in turn enjoyed a higher quality of social interaction. Do you think those students once again thought, “right”?

However, after three years of enduring the dress code, exploring ways to hedge the rules, and generally not really caring, they had a basis for empirical reflection. Personal experience did indeed, at least in the life of one student, support the theory first received years before. Compared to friends at a couple of state schools, as a group, it appeared his student body had better manners, better social interactions, a higher sense of self-esteem, and better grades. Small habits (indicators) can lead to big results.140901075204-pants-challenge-light-story-tablet

This is the logic of Malik S. King in his YouTube video “The Pants Challenge”. He encourages young men to “pull your #*! pants up!”. He asks, “Why would anyone want to hire you the way you look, act and talk?” He says it is time to start thinking about how we represent ourselves. “We need to stop talkin’, actin’, and livin’ like thugs and start talkin’, actin’, and livin’ like men”.

The recent uproar over President Obama’s “latte salute” may be the concern it is an indicator of the president’s lack of respect for those in uniform. More than “unpresidential” or “just a slip” it is seen revealing an inner attitude of apathy towards the military even if not an implicit act of disrespect.

To successfully lead every leader must understand how their words and actions will be understood by those receiving them. Showing respect with a “Yes Sir” and “No Ma’am” is received by some as stuffy or telling them they are old. The Italian jokes in my boyhood town were received as friendly jibes to my Italian friends and returned in like manner. However, east coast Italians in college received them as a personal affront. If I desired the words to reflect and lead to friendship, a change in the indicators used was required.

What do small things such as speech, movie preferences, and actions say about who you are…and who you are becoming?

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