Saturday, June 21, 2008

Changing the World... and Other Small Things: Part 2


The Leader


"He is greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own."
- Henry Ward Beecher

You’ve all seen them. Walking around, usually with a group of followers. It doesn’t matter if the group is large or small. Or if the members are young, old, or about the same age as whomever it is they are following. Leaders usually stick out. But what is that magic spark that they have which allows them to lead?

That spark which is within us all, just waiting to be fanned into flame.

I like to call that spark influence. The ability to affect what people think, how they act, what they say and do not say… influenced by what you do, what you say and how you say it. Or what leverage you have on them, as the case may be. Everyone has some sort of influence, whether great or small, over something else. Ever changed a friend’s mind about something? That is influence.

“The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others.”
- Beecher

Influence is what makes a leader. Have you ever seen one without it? And the degree of influence is directly tied to your capacity as a leader. The more influence you have, the more you can lead. The more challenging it is to lead as well. Leadership also depends on the kind of influence you hold. If you can only influence people because you are holding an axe over their head, that is not true leadership. If you get your influence through bullying, that is not true leadership either. It may be a form of leadership, but it is a negative one and only fakery.

So then, what is real leadership?

A couple thousand years ago, there was a philosopher who had a pretty good idea of what makes a true leader. And true influence. He suggested that a true leader was one who served the people. That influence was not given to someone because of what or who they knew, but earned through good service. Leading not by what you say, but by what you do. Servant leadership. Leadership based on stepping back from your own ambitions and leading in a way which benefits others. A pretty decent philosophy. And seeing that Jesus is who He is… well, I think He would know a thing or two about the world.

“Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words”
-attributed to St. Francis Assisi

Influence is subtle at its best. Leadership is subtle in its truest form. And what is the best way to be subtle? To say nothing at all. Words can say a lot, but, as many a mother has pointed out, actions speak louder than words. We gain more influence through how others observe us - our interactions with other people, how we live our day to day lives - than through the things we tell them. It doesn’t matter what we say to people if our actions, our lifestyle, doesn’t endorse it. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t pan out for a leader. To truly lead, your words must match your actions. And your actions should be such that others want what you have, and they will follow you to get it.

It may sound as if I am saying that only Christians can be leaders. That is not true. At all. Gandhi certainly led by his actions, and though he was not a Christian, he held up peace in through his lifestyle and people followed him for it. People still follow him for it. And I am sure that you can think of people surrounding you who are not Christian and have the same effect. What I am saying though for Christians is that it is necessary to fan that leadership spark into flame. Otherwise you are not fulfilling your purpose here. Evangelism depends heavily on leadership.

Now, I think, would be a good time to make a distinction. There is a difference between leading and being called into a leadership role. Not everyone is called to a leadership role. To be that public figure from the get-to-know-you game. Everyone who has influence, which means… everyone, is a leader capable of leading. End of story.

So what is a leader? Someone who allows their actions to speak for themselves and who others follow because of that example. A Servant Leader.

Someone who has taken the first step to changing the world.


Part 1/ Part 2/ Part 3



Michael
___________________________________________

=Annwas Adeniawc=

The Open Door - FortMac'08

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Changing the World... and Other Small Things: Part 1

The “Get-to-Know-You” Game

Who are the people we look up to in this world? When asked – as is almost inevitable in ice-breaker/get-to-know-you games – who you would have lunch with if you could lunch with anyone in the world, what kinds of people are chosen? One answer suffices for both questions: leaders. Influencers. People who have an impact on the world around us.

What do Martin Luther, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Lester B. Pearson and Barrack Obama have in common? They all, in their own way, changed and challenged the world as they know it. Luther challenged religious practices, and so the Christian faith was revolutionized. Einstein gave us a new way to look at the world. Obama has already, and is continuing to, alter centuries of American politics. And the list of people who do the same continues ad infinatum. These are the people who are commonly chosen in that get-to-know-you game; these are all examples of great leaders and world changers.

Aren’t they amazing?

The short answer: no.
The long answer: still no, because they aren’t supermen. Because for every public figure chosen in this game, someone else will bring up a parent. Or a grandparent. Some other relative. A friend. Someone (usually) out of the public mind. Definitely not a great leader or someone who can change the world.

Or are they?

This, then, leads to two possible conclusions about my “sufficient” answer. Either a) I’m wrong and it is completely chance, the person picking the first person to come to their heads, or b) I’m right and there is something about this whole changing-the-world thing that we are missing.

Guess what: I’m not wrong.

Think about it for a moment. From the time you were young, who changed your world? Who lead you through your trials? Whose actions influenced the decisions which molded your life into what it is today? Who had the greatest impact - for good or bad – on your microcosm of a world?

Parents. Peers. Friends and family.

I am suggesting – and am personally convicted – that everyone, no matter their personality type,is a leader. I really, truly believe that. And, by extension, I also believe that everyone has the potential to change the world.

A rather challenging thought to live up to.


Part 1/ Part 2/ Part 3


Michael
___________________________________________

=Annwas Adeniawc=

The Open Door - FortMac'08


Friday, June 13, 2008

Winning the Internet

Ah! The Internet! That Oh, so beautiful place! That oh, so dangerous tool! Oh double-edged sword!

I’ve spent a lot of time online lately, working on my comp.sci. culminating task. It has been a good run, and I’ve learned a tonne of html/css programming. Hence the coolness of my blog now. Yay customization!

But I digress. There are a lot of really cool websites and web tools that out there and I thought I would share some of my most favourite recent finds with you! In Top Ten format, of course!

10. Firefox: Ok, not really a new find. But it feels as if I am constantly rediscovering it and all of its awesome, I’m-better-than-IE-ness. Hooray for open-source freeware!

9. Picnicface: I haven’t had time to check the whole thing out yet, and I don’t think I will, however it is a must go to just because of Powerthirst, Powerthirst2 and Superbingo. Absolutely hilarious, and Canadian. I will warn, however, that there is some language and it is not for everyone.

8. N: An absolutely amusing game that requires ninja skills and some patience to overcome. Collect gold! Avoid rockets, lasers and falling death-trap thumpers! Beat the clock! Follow the way of the ninja!

7: Flickriver: I StumbledUpon this site earlier… the pics are sooooo cool!!! I <3>

6. E. F. P.: Ok, time to plug my cousin’s site. E. Foster Photography is a photo blog with some ama-za-zing content on it. She has an awesome gift with a camera. Some of her stuff looks better than pro. work! Stunning is one of the only words I can use to describe it.

5. BlueLaguna: This is where we found all our music for our culminating task. There are tonnes of trax here from all the greatest videogames with Official Soundtracks. I was drooling for about five minutes before I could even start downloading. GAH! Bookmarked!!!!

4. Gimp: Free image editing software. I used it to create all the images here, as well as some of the images for my GSU. Dead easy to use, and pretty powerful too. I love using it.

3. PMOG: Passive Multiplayer Online Game. Turns the entire Internet into a game. Sign up for an account and you can lay mines for other players to trip, create links from one cool page to another, link common websites together and accumulate points for every site you visit! AND using items automatically allies you with forces of both Order and Chaos! While not particularly action-packed, it is still inventive. For FIREFOX!

2. Ctrl+Alt+Del: Gaming sweetness. CAD is essentially focused around the comic, which follows the lives of a group of friends/gamers. Sounds lame, but is actually really sweet, and the author has dealt with some pretty crazy (read: non-gamer-comic-ish) themes. It is both light, and deep. Poignant and silly. With a pretty good cult following to boot. YAY GAMERS!

1. StumbleUpon:Be still my beating heart. Ok, not actually. That is reserved elsewhere. But it is still really, really cool. StumbleUpon is a toolbar for IE and Firefox (FIREFOX!!! YEAH!!!) which allows you to view random websites based on you interests. Just pick the categories (and there are many to choose from, and fairly specific too) you are interested in and hit STUMBLE to reach realms of the internet previously unknown! Many of the things on this list were found this way! Boredom be gone! StumbleUpon is here!


Michael
___________________________________________

=Annwas Adeniawc=

The Open Door - FortMac'08

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Operation Splashy-splash

... and others

An Update
What has happened in the last while...

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere...
Cutting the clear water in constant, clean strokes. Fighting the wind, fighting mosquitoes, fighting... POWERTHIRST!!! Not actually, though. Soaking each other with canoe paddles, and when I say soaking, I mean 3rd degree soaking. Your eyeballs are soggy. Campfires, 90's songs and a bonding between the vets. and the n00bs. A passing of the torch.

These are just a few highlights of this years Ramblers canoe trip. And yes, Holy Cross' outdoors group is called the Ramblers. And no, it is not lame... it keeps those who could not truly be dedicated to the group out. We are the elite adventurers. And we can rock out.

It all started on the 29th... thirteen students, three leaders. Loads of fun. The group was more or less equally split: Peter, Brock, Ethan, Emily, Lisa and I representing the grade 12 class and the remaining seven (Hillary, Heather, Kari, Jon, Aiden, Taylor and Nick) representing the grade 9's. Perhaps in any other group the age difference may have been detrimental, but for us, it was a plus. A morale booster with all the hilarity we could cook up in this strangely close-knit group.

And boy, would we need it.

The weather was supposed to suck, rain on Friday, thunderstorms on Saturday. Not optimal weather for a portage. But with a little fire, imagination, a huge sing-along of TV show themes and old-school music - not to mention POWERTHIRST!!! and a sun dance - we not only managed to keep spirits up, but freakily banished the rain with our sun dance.

It was wet, but it was fun.

On the Holy Cross Lawn...
... Operation Splashy-splash is in full swing.

It is Fun in the Sun. Probably the best I have been to in my four years at HC. Not to mention the last. FitS usually degenerates into a huge water fight, but this time around... we are going to start it with one. 100+ water balloons. Two dozen water guns. Hundreds of water bottles.

CHAOS!

Overall, it was amazing. Amazingly wet, amazingly sweaty, amazingly fon. GAH!

At school...
... culminating tasks are being worked on. I've completed two of three: Music and English. Music was a recital; I had to preform three songs, come up with my own programme and all the other things that make up a recital. I did one baroque piece (Sicilian & Minuet by Bach), one contemporary classical piece (Abstraccion by some Argentinean composer), and composed a medley of Nintendo themes for my last piece. It want pretty well overall. As for my English... well, one thousand words on the timelessness of archetypes using the Odyssey, Beowulf and the Silmarillion was never written in less time or better. Not that I've found anyway, lol.

At home...
... everything is about status quo. Missing Seana out in Fort McMurray, but I'll be out there in 19 days... I think I'll be able to make it 'till then.

I'm done high school in two and a half weeks. Yikes!

May your day be full of joy,

Michael
___________________________________________

=Annwas Adeniawc=

The Open Door - FortMac'08


Monday, June 02, 2008

Pirates, Ninjas & Dragons: Living in a World of Imagination

Crossing blades with pirates on the high seas. Going hand to hand against ninja J├┤nin in the forests of Japan. Wreaking havoc on hordes of horrid wer-creatures astride a fiery dragon. Alas, the days have long past that such thrilling events could pass in any realm but the imaginary. Yet imagine we can.

We have been obsessed with the imaginary and fantastic from the time the first child asked their parent for a bed-time story. And as that first parent spun for their child a tale of unknown wonder, so too does the tradition of fashioning fantastical tales from nothing continue today. I am sure that everyone can think of a favourite tale from their childhood: a tale of princes and princesses perhaps, or of a troll under a bridge or boogiemen under a bed. We are, from a very young age, immersed in a world of imagination.

Take the entertainment industry. It feeds, and is fed by, the imaginations of the writers, singers, painters and spectators who immerse themselves in its many branches. Television programs and films create and display for us the marvellous images in the heads of their creators. Novels and plays allow us to see what is unseen; that is, use our minds to fill the gaps of what is not shown. It is easy while reading a novel or watching a play, to imagine yourself taking part in the events and become completely immersed in this land of the mind. And still there is art - the physical manifestation of imagination - and music, which harkens back to the oldest forms of storytelling and the bards who wandered Tara with their tales.

What is it that attracts us to the imaginary? There is so much to see, so much our world is filled with. Why, then, do we come up with tales of things outside of what we know?

The answer lies in the question itself. We create stories and fiction because of the Unkown. Where did the trees come from? What are stars? What lies *just* beyond that horizon? A thousand, indeed thousand upon thousands, of tales of imagination have sprung from those questions and others like them. It is inevitable, as anyone who has observed small children will tell you; we are curious beings and, especially in small children, even the smallest unknown can beget the greatest of tales.

And it is by observing children that we can discover the greatest truth about imagination; that it is, in fact, their domain and kingdom. Children are the kings and queens of that amazing, marvellous realm called imagination. That is not to say, however, that adults have no place in this world. No, even though we may grow up on the outside, inside that undeniable force - manifested outwardly in the form of a look of childlike innocence or in a glint of mischief in the eye - called the Inner Child reserves for us our place in the halls of the imaginary. Imagination is, in its deepest essence, the much sought-after Fountain of Youth.

So although we may grow old and our swash-buckling skills may decay, we may still conquer that beastly giant. Or rescue a beautiful princess. Or simply take a stroll with Nyads in a quiet wood.

For we do, after all, live in a world of imagination.

Michael
___________________________________________

=Annwas Adeniawc=

The Open Door - FortMac'08