Episode-1409- The Failure of Individual Leadership in America — 54 Comments

  1. Thanks Jack, these type of episodes are my favorites. Also… MOO! LOL

    What you said about happiness being knowing where you’re going. Sounded like faith to me 🙂

    • Faith = believing you are going somewhere.

      I said KNOWING there is a difference.

    • It is easy enough to find imperfections in imperfect human beings. Our arguments, pro and con, will have imperfections because we are imperfect ourselves. Religious people have learned to overlook the imperfections, to seek out and nourish the better parts of man. ( “To go where no man has gone before…. )

      That’s how the religious system works.

      There are other systems that work. They don’t have to be religious and they also don’t have to be perfect. They just have to work.

      That is a general comment without having heard the podcast yet.


    • BTW… the Bible is the probably the first book that documents the mistakes of the people who are copying the book so that they can pass those lessons down to their children. (I assume the Bible is the first since it is very old.)

      If you’ll notice in the history segment the Star Fleet Admiral is putting up stele (monuments) wherever he lands in order to document his accomplishments. The Egyptians did this as well. It is subtle but you must realize that the Admiral is NOT putting up monuments to his failures. Later the documents that show his failures will be burned. We won’t know what they were, but a modern opportunist will suggest that he did this to hide the fact that the Star Fleet had discovered the New World… America. Ridiculous.

      I used to be a baker in a doughnut shop making whatever I could collect in the register from 10PM to 5 AM which averaged about $5 a night and all the donuts I could eat. I did that because that was what I was supposed to do until I could learn the lesson that I need to THINK before I ACT. I used to be homeless man, living in an abandoned truck behind a dumpster, so sleeping on the floor of my brother’s apartment and making $5 a day was a big improvement. (I’m distorting this story somewhat because I’m trying to make a point but I did live behind a dumpster for several months.)

      Then I borrowed my brother’s car and answered an ad for an employment agency. They placed me as a soils technician for a civil engineer on the strength of my ability not to collapse when a man criticized me unfairly, and I didn’t lose my temper either, and that I knew how to use a slide rule, and I could drive a truck with a clutch and column shift. For over a year I took a bus for two hours and walked two miles to work and back again, every workday.

      Then, my boss noticed I was walking and couldn’t believe it. That night he let me take the company truck home and I was grateful. I hadn’t complained. I had only done my best. Someone noticed. I have no problem with self-promotion but for me it can be a problem, so I try to let things happen instead. I won’t just let things happen but I try to let them happen. It is enough.

      I was in that truck, going to my next job site when a beautiful dog ran across the highway. It was no mutt. The woman in front of me slammed on the brakes and so did I. I almost hit her. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a huge step van going too fast to stop in time. I held on as everything in the bed of my truck joined me in the cab of my truck along with the rear window my head had hit only moments before. Good thing I had my seat belt on… and I lived.

      The insurance company finally settled with me. I couldn’t go back to my old job with my injuries but they were willing to retrain me to solder electronic circuits. I laughed. I told them to pay me to finish up my college education. It would actually cost them LESS money. They agreed and “helped” me find a job programming computers. I laughed again. They had suggested that I learn Cobol programming because the most ads in the newspaper were for Cobol programmers. Did they even THINK or WONDER why there were so many job openings for that language? Like… maybe it was a crappy job? I already knew Cobol. I taught it to myself. I told them I would find my own job and I did.

      I found a job programming video games in assembly language that paid more money than I could believe I could ever make but I didn’t find that job on my own. (FYI, I worked on Sidearms and I was the first to figure out full-screen scrolling on an IBM PC running at a screaming 4.77 MHz! You can thank me later. :-))

      I had a lot of self-esteem but not a good self-image. I didn’t know what was a good decision. I often knew what was a BAD decision, having made so many bad decisions in the past, but I couldn’t always recognize a GOOD decision. In some special situations I had to give up my decision-making to someone who had my best interests in mind, my wife in this case. It galled me to realize this but on the subject of job-seeking, my wife was a genius and I was OK but not a genius. When I listened to her, I didn’t just get a good job. I got a great job.

      Now I am disabled. Chance does that. No one’s fault.

      For a time I was deeply depressed, but I learned how get through it. The secret was to think about other people’s problems and try to solve them. I don’t have to actually solve their problems because that really wouldn’t help them but I thought about how to help them help themselves…. and thinking about how to help them help themselves, took me out of MY problems…. for an hour. It was enough.

      Being disabled and home-bound gives a man plenty of time to reflect. Mostly I was reflecting on my problems and it was like a putting a microphone next to a speaker. It amplified my problems. By focusing on teaching others how to help themselves, for just a short time each day, I break that feedback loop.

      I’m doing that right now.

      Thank you for giving me this opportunity to help myself. Doing the history segment breaks that feedback cycle as I try to find the message in history that will help us learn about ourselves today.

      It’s not the only thing I do to break that cycle but that’s another story.


    • Jack – I did not mean the faith comment as a religious or negative comment, only that what you described is how I personally define faith. To me, it is KNOWING rather than believing.

  2. After days at the farm you might be expected to coast a bit. No, not that for you. This was deserving of 5stars. You give us so much, I hope the gratitude is felt.

  3. There is a book I’ve been wanting to read, just because of the title:

    ‘Mistakes were made (but not by me)’

    Not sure if its good.. but the title is a winner!

  4. I hope you don’t consider this nit picking, and this may be admitting my own failure to lead but I’m not with you 100% on the happiness is a choice for all. In one podcast you mentioned something like “if not for Permaculture, I would be depressed”. The reason being that Permaculture gave you hope in the future as there was a path to success. I think for some people there isn’t a path and for a lot of people the path is complicated by relationships and honor. I had an Ex whose mother contracted cancer and she ended up caring for her for ten years. She chose to honor the relationship and turned herself into a virtual slave for almost a decade. I have personally also chosen to stand by people even though it caused me sadness. I struggle with choices of how much of other people’s burdens that I should bear because it seems I can and they cannot.
    Again, I don’t think anything here seriously contradicts anything you have said, but I think all people at some time in their lives battle with choices between what Rand called “rational self-interest” and what I call matters of honor. Some certainly can take to the extremes to the verge of martyrdom and push for socialism. I think this is especially pertinent as some part of what I call honor is really just societal programming to make me a better cow.
    Love the show, keep up the great work.

    • There is always a path for success, if you stop seeking it, well you will be miserable.

    • @Richard –
      IMO a ‘matter of honor’ must be voluntarily entered into.

      But there’s a real trap of saying/believing ‘now that I have agreed to x, I have no CHOICE in the matter’.

      In reality, every time you perform an action, you are making a new choice.. and you have the freedom to make a different choice.

      You have a job.. you are agreeing to show up at work, and they are agreeing to pay you.

      Every day, you are making a CHOICE whether to show up for work or not.

      Even if you’ve shown up 1000 times in a row, today you can make a DIFFERENT choice, and not show up.

      I’m only saying this because a ‘matter of honor’ can be an excuse. The excuse ‘I am powerless to do anything different.. I am a VICTIM.’

      No one can victimize you without your consent. Victimization is a choice. (I know there’s going to be a lot of howling over this one.. read ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’ and then we’ll debate it).

      So.. what are you CHOOSING to do today? Your choices today are NEW CHOICES, completely unconstrained by past choices, statements, or promises you’ve made.

      Every choice is remade in every moment.


      You don’t say ‘I do’ and that’s it.. its a choice, every day.. to be married, or not. To be a husband/wife or to be a ‘single person’ in a relationship. To be engaged, or to be checked out.


      Will you be a father to your children today, or not? In this moment?

      And if you don’t like that choice? You can choose again. This is the nature of free will.

      I am completely ignoring ‘consequence’.. as this is obvious.. all choice/actions have consequence. And I’m not saying that you do not choose ‘honor’.. I am simply saying that honor is not equal to victimhood (lack of choice). If it were, it would have no value (value = cost).

  5. Jack you are once again brilliantly on target! Thanks so much for putting out ideas that everyone needs to hear. Problem is that so many people do not want to receive these ideas … but worse … most people will not even “get it.” My frustration (and even a sense of victim hood) comes when my family basically laughs at me when I try to explain these concepts (guess they put me in the “crazy” camp) and my so-called friends don’t want to hear about it. Even if they would listen, I don’t think they would understand – and I think they represent the vast majority of people. I am trying to move past needing others’ understanding and acceptance, but it is so frustrating and lonely being the lone run-away cow among the vast domesticated herd. (I do wonder if I am doing the right thing – I have been “feral” for at least six years now, trying to live far from the pasture – and I am still frustrated and lonely in the sense that I know no one in real life with whom I can commune – I’ve tried! – and to add insult to injury, I am ridiculed by most of my family.)

    • Lonely? You do realize there are a hundred thousand plus TSP Feral Hogs out there right?

      Sounds to me like you are in the tree lines calling out to the cows, perhaps go truly feral and find some other hogs to abate your loneliness.

  6. There is a book I read years ago on increasing your self-efficacy, and its advice was:

    Any time something you’re involved in goes ‘wrong’.. figure out why YOU are responsible.

    The reason:
    If you are response-able, then you have the possibility of CONTROL (can effect the outcome). If you are NOT response-able, you’re a powerless victim.

    So you’re training your mind, in every situation, to find/determine what you CAN influence. As well as orienting yourself towards taking action to change things that you want to be different.

    Additionally, I also make sure that anytime I’m involved in anything that goes wrong.. I’m the person that immediately says ‘It’s MY fault..’

    This may sound odd, but its the same principle. By doing so, I’m establishing myself as the person that is IN CONTROL of the situation.

    The rest of that sentence is ‘.. and here’s what I’m going to do to fix it: ‘

    I credit that single phrase (and the thought/idea behind it) with moving me from an ‘entry level’ consulting position to the TOP consulting position in a very large company, in less than six months.

    • There is another technique related to this.. which is when you’re in an argument, figure out why/how you are WRONG.

  7. I’m pretty sure we did not give weapons to ISIS. We did give weapons to the Syrians rebels, who are fighting the Assad regime. Since ISIS has beheaded 700 of those rebels, Im sure they acquired some of those weapons. They also got some US weapons that were in a base on Mosul. I had believed that we gave weapons to ISIS as well, though I spoke to an acquaintance who is involved in the movement for freedom in Syria and he that we didn’t.

    • History sure seems to lead us to believe that even if we have no proof of the event, we probably gave them weapons. The main problem here is that the American government jumps into bed with any group that says they are fighting against our enemy. There seems to be no fore thought, no taking time to see what is really going on. It seems to me the American government is acting upon emotion instead of logic.

    • Do you have anything to prove otherwise? I have searched for reputable news sources claiming that we gave them weapons since yesterday. I can’t find any. We absolutely gave weapons to the Syrian rebels(these are the moderates who are fighting Assad) to FIGHT al-Qaeda and ISIS but gave none to ISIS themselves. Anything of ours they have, they have stolen either from Syrian rebels or from raided caches of American weapons in Iraq.

        • Um

 cause yea we know the moderate from the extreme rebels, um, mujahideen ring a bell much?

          Not to mention we spy on ICELAND but were not aware of this, while we pumped in billions to the nations doing it in “foreign aid”

          Here you will see the “moderates” met with US and Saudi Officials and well,

          “The subsequent battle against ISIS, which began a fortnight ago and has already claimed more than 1000 lives, is being touted by local commanders as a spontaneous reaction to the spate of assassinations of comrades.

          However, the Telegraph can reveal that in late December, a delegation including US and Saudi officials met in Turkey with senior rebel leaders.

          According to two sources – one whose brother was at the meeting: “They talked about the fighting with ISIS, and the Americans encouraged the commanders to attack.”

          I trust Rand Paul not implicitly but far more than most politicians, far more than Obama and certainly more than CNN main stream media,

          But yea, we only funded the moderates, what the hell is a “moderate Muslim rebel” in Syria. From Rand, “we have no idea who we are giving these weapons to”.

        • Look, Im not trying to be a dick here or try to point out every error you make. I really appreciate all you have done. Even so, none of the article you linked actually back up the claim that we give money or arms to ISIS. The “Liberty Voice” article that claims this, links to a Reuters article that claims we have funded the “Free Syrian Army”, NOT ISIS.

          The Global research article seems an opinion. None of the referenced articles there say we gave money to ISIS.

          The Business Insider article claims that people living in American allied countries(Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar) have been funding them, not America.

          The Telegraph article as well, claims we have funded Syrian opposition groups in attempts to fight ISIS. “As Western leaders publicly push the Syrian regime and the opposition to the Geneva II peace conference that begins Wednesday Washington has also been quietly supporting moves by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to give weapons and cash to rebel groups to fight al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) in Syria.”
          Rand Paul’s comments were interesting but nothing about it stated we gave anything to ISIS.

          And when I say “moderates”, I mean the people of Syria who are tired of living under the tyranny of the Assad regime. While probably not perfect people, they wish to have some sense of freedom in the country they live. They won’t get this with Assad. All the receive from Assad is political repression, loss of human rights and the occasional chemical attack that kills innocent folks.

          My apologies if it seems like I’m nit picking this issue. It isn’t my intention to piss you off.

  8. I think that is somewhat true Jack (at the tree line calling out to the cows) but believe me, I have tried to “hook up” with the Feral Hogs. Even here in Austin, where I can occasionally meet with other ferals (the monthly Agorist networking “party” for example), that doesn’t really open up many opportunities for friendship. Yes, it’s a choice: I can find many friends among the pasture but struggle to locate the escapees among the trees (they are truly few and far between). If even all of your 100,000+ listeners were feral (seriously doubt it), the Feral Hogs are elusive. Going this alone without a partner or friend who shares my perspective is just going to be a lonely road because I cannot go back to the pasture.

    • @Lisa –
      You’re starting with several beliefs that aren’t serving you, and focusing on the opposite of what you want.

      Are you a ‘good friend’? (someone people would want to be friends with)
      Are you a (potential) ‘good partner’?

      If the answer to those questions is yes, then the only ‘task’ is finding people like you. That may seem difficult, but you’re not looking for 100 facebook friends.. just one or two real people.

      In my experience, one of the best ways to do this is simply be helping others. In other words, to get.. give. Stop focusing on your needs (friendship, companionship) and start focusing on other peoples.

      ‘Need’ drives people away. When someone is looking to ‘get’ people naturally move away from them. ‘Abundance’ draws people. When someone is giving things away (time, energy, money, etc.) they are signalling abundance, not want/need.

      It draws them people like a magnet.

      • Thanks Insidious but you made some incorrect assumptions. I spend quite a bit of time volunteering and really never ask for anything nor “need” anything. (and btw, I am not on Facebook although I know that wasn’t your point.)

        • I have to dito insidious statements. When I read your post, the first thing I thought was… “Go in it with a positive attitude! Find great positive things where you can, and it will beam off onto other people who will want to get involved with what you’re doing.”

          Loneliness sucks. I felt as though the majority of my life I “suffered” such a state. But in hindsight (of which we all know is 20/20) being ourselves, being honest, and being awesome and living, people want to be around you.

          Just one of those things in life that seems the more you focus on it, the less you get. When you think positive you get positive, when you think negative, you get negative.

      • =) – I am often wrong.

        A corollary to the above is:

        unhappy = in need
        happy = in abundance

        If you meet someone who is unhappy, there is some need of theirs that is not being met. This makes the reptilian brain nervous, as it means this person will potentially steal some of your resources. So its an automatic ‘danger.. move away!’ response.

        In a year or so, I should be relocated to somewhere around Austin, so that will be at least one more feral hog in the area. =)

        Your ‘chosen family’ is often much more supportive than the one you’re stuck with. 😉

  9. In my opinion, from what I’ve started experiencing in life, I think the pervasiveness of the “to me” attitude (things happen to me, from something else) is waaaaaaay worse than what is admitted. Taking a serious look internally has shown me how much that is the case (with me) and how I now see others. I catch myself (sometimes afterwards) when I make any kind of statement where I’m placing blame on somebody else, or thing.

    The first thing I feel needs to be pointed out is the lack of humility of it. I use the word humility because what we’ve implicitly stated is that we know the exact cause of something (and generally know its solution). In everything I’ve seen in life, it generally isn’t that simple, there are often numerous things that happen, and often times one is COMPLETELY wrong about something. Their perception and distant view on some situation, generally precludes them from know even remotely enough information to say what is, and isn’t.

    Of which, I think the end result is over time everything happens TO you (negatively), of which its never the result of your own actions. Even if something does “happen to you by something else”, the victim mentality precludes you from needing to mitigate it or be involved in the prevention, or changing of the situation.

    I’m not even talking about politics and all that which is so far away from our personal realities, but the most basic… BASIC things that happen in our lives. When I talk to my wife, when I interact with my goats and fencing, when I’m handling tools, or when something gets lost and I turn to my wife who “obviously stole it from me, or misplaced it”. On purpose I should add.


  10. In the same way you wouldn’t hold a witness to a theft responsible, is the same reason you can’t hold non-thieves (non-politicians, non-enforcers of taxation) responsible for the crimes they don’t commit.

  11. I caused almost all, if not all of my own problems. I’ve also spent a lot more time trying to fix, or fixing those problems than I did creating them.

    Debt, did that one. Worked for years to get my credit to a “very low risk” rating. Flunked out of college. Yep, did that. Paid more attention to my girlfriend than my grades (my mom still blames her, but I always tell her, she showed me the door, I ultimately made the decision to walk through it). Got lazy and fat. Yep. Now, I am working out and eating better. The list could go on, but we don’t have that kind of room here. I’ll be a work in progress until the day I am planted in a wooden box six feet under.

    That being said, there are some things that aren’t really in our control, and you can ask “why” when it comes to those. Things like getting rear-ended at a red light when you are already stopped. A meteor falling from the sky and destroying your house. A bird pooping on your freshly washed car. Random stuff like that.

    Then there are the good decisions. Like not buying a house during the boom. I wanted one so badly, my own place. Then I added up the numbers and I would be back to struggling, and if something broke, back under water. So, I decided not to buy. Deciding to get new IT certifications when a boss called me to tell me he didn’t like me, landed me where I am at today. Moving out of the concrete coffin I lived in when I moved back to Pittsburgh, I now have a small container garden on my balcony, and realize I have so much more to learn about growing my own food.

    The point is, we all make them, good decisions and bad. We all get ourselves in trouble. The good and bad decisions I’ve made, got me to where I am today. A good job, with a good company. I found the TSP (Thanks Mike for introducing me to it!), I have made changes in my views and my life that quite frankly make it less stressful, and easier.

    The real test of character is what we do when we realize we’ve made a mistake. Do we take responsibility for those actions, or do we throw up our hands and walk away saying it was predatory credit card companies, a girlfriend, good marketing by Mc Donald’s? Or do you say, “Wow, I fouled up! How do I fix this?”

    This I believe starts with how and what children are taught. I was taught nothing is given to you, you get exactly what you earn/deserve through the decisions and efforts you put into things. I didn’t like my parents at the time for that. I thought they were cruel. Only now 20 some years later do I realize, they taught me a valuable lesson.

  12. This is one of my favorite shows of all time. I like the shows that leave me saying “yes – I agree” but I love the shows that help me focus on and/or identify actionable items to bring about improvement. Nice work Jack.

  13. I feel like I say this at least once a week, but seriously, this is the my most favorite episode ever. I already knew everything you talked about in this podcast and I try to take responsibility for every single thing I do, but you explained these concepts in a way that really hit home for me. I LOVED the script of the book you started to write. It broke this individual leadership concept down into understandable terms….well, it did for me – maybe others disagree. I feel so positive and empowered after listening to this show.

    I know I’ll be sending this episode to quite a few people who need this message. Keep up the awesome shows! Oh, and I like the new format of less interviews even though the interviews are awesome too!

  14. Loved the first chapter (or pages) of your book Jack. Spot on as always. I encourage you to try to add to it slowly and then self publish as I believe your message (and that one in particular) could effect a positive change in many peoples lives. And if you think you don’t have time, why not “speak” the rest of it and shoot to a transcriber? (H/T FMwJ Ep 109 ;).

  15. The “reply” button was not active (at least for me) so I’ll reply way below they last comments directed towards my first post. #1: I am NOT unhappy in the least. In fact, my life is amazing. #2: I relocated from California to Austin last year. I had tons of friends in California but it was still quite lonely as none shared my perspective. #3: My only friggin’ point was that there aren’t a whole lot of “Feral Hogs” out there and if you don’t already have the network – it’s hard enough to make long and lasting friendships, much less to find those you really connect with and can make those friendships with and that can be lonely. #4: It’s unpleasant having a family that thinks you have crazy ideas and makes fun of you for it (yeah, I just keep my mouth shut; I don’t really want to defoo).

    • I’m glad to hear that I’m completely wrong, and that your life is amazing in every way (seriously). =)

      Have you tried the regional forum board for finding/meeting up with TSP types in your area?

      Good friends are hard to find.. which is a good reason to cherish them when you do find some.

  16. Hey Alex Shrugged,
    The system here does not let me reply to your reply but I hope you see this. I’ve had great admiration for all the information that you’ve put out for the TSP community. Learning about history is the only way we have a chance of escaping this vicious cycle. Thank you.

  17. Alex Shrugged,

    I also want to thank you for your contributions to the history segment! I enjoy them so much and feel like I have learned much more than I ever did in public school regarding history. You are making a valuable contribution to this community and I appreciate you sharing your story and example with us. Love your handle by the way.

  18. hey jack this question is not about this last podcast but i am new and i was wondering what i can do to help my family o and i am 14 teen years old

    • Jonathan, I am obviously not Jack, however I wanted to let you know that as a father, seeing a 14 year old on here asking what he can do to help his family is awesome and very encouraging! It is amazing to see young people that are concerned with more than Instagram and video games! Your family is lucky to have you!

  19. Jack thank you for pointing out the complete misdirection tactics that are being used in the media today!

  20. I live for the “Tick Tock” Jack

    Can you do one on the October 1st show?

    Cause I gotta get my wood in

  21. Ok. This is the exception to the rule sort of. I was telling my wife about the lack of feral cows and she said her parents currently have two. They got out and they can’t find them but know they are still out there since they have been eating the corn in the field. Will have to see if they survive dear season. I would love to see the look on a hunters face who thinks the shot a deer and come up to a feral cow. I did explain the actual metaphor once I was done laughing.

  22. Anybody, anybody?

    “Dead Man’s Hand.” Aces and eights. It was purported to have been drawn by Wild Bill Hickok just before being shot and killed at the poker table.

    Distant relation.

  23. Way to go, Jack! You SMACKED it outta the park with “individual leadership”.
    I love the part from your book, thanks for that quality addition to this all-time-favorite (of mine, anyway) episode. Thanks for the powerful philosophy and insights you shared with us. I especially appreciate you pointing out that this nation was founded for us to have the opportunity to lead ourselves. Nothin’ works right in these united states if we don’t do that. Right now, lots of citizens are gummin’ up the works, so to speak. So……….LET”S JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lead thyself to freedom and celebrate success and anticipate more golden moments and look ahead with happiness to results created by YOU!

  24. Jack, I hope you write that book. People need to hear what you have to say. If you do I will buy multiple copies and give them away. There is such a desperate need for leadership in this country. The concept of a leader is so bastardized. There just aren’t many real examples. Leadership by example…set the example by leading one’s-self.