Discussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 3 of 3

Part Three of Three in this Series

Key Points

  1.  “Men and women want to do a good job. If they are provided the proper environment they will do so.”  – Bill Hewlett, one of the founders of Hewlett Packard.
  2. “Neurotics think that everything happens because of something that they’ve done and it’s their fault. Character-disordered people, on the other hand, assume too little responsibility, everything that’s happening around them doesn’t have anything to do with them.”
  3. Building habits of good leadership qualities can really make a difference. Practicing love, friendship, and respect will eventually become second nature

Conversation Highlights

  • Analogy of the Garden and the Law of the Harvest – 3:26
  • Making Choices – 8:47
  • The Labors of Leadership – 17:48

Danny :Hello and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan, and I’m here with Tommy Ryan. How you doing, Tommy Ryan?


Tommy:I’m doing well.


Danny :Awesome.


Tommy:Got some gardening in yesterday.


Danny :I thought that you had some gardening with Dad, that was awesome.


Tommy:Yeah, and it really felt like my first.


Danny :Yeah. So you’re planting, or what were you doing?


Tommy:We made some irrigation, more irrigation, hose and then planted some seeds.


Danny :Very nice, very nice. So I want to hit part three of “The Servant”, if we could hit, the last one only to get three episodes to get through this, but wanted to cover the last bit of the book here. And again, this is a book called “The Servant”. The subtitle says, a simple story about the true essence of leadership by James C. Hunter. And we are on chapter five, and chapter five starts off with a quote, I think I quote this before earlier in the book, which was from Bill Hewlett, one of the founders of Hewlett Packard, which is, “Men and women want to do a good job. If they are provided the proper environment they will do so.” So on chapter five, it is about the environment. So we’re going to talk about creating the proper environment.


Just to get us kicked off here, what is, when you think about creating an environment at ThreeWill, what do you think of first?


Tommy:I think the Maslow’s needs, hierarchy of needs, so creating an environment that gives you the basics of, comfortable. A comfortable seat, and it’s not too hot, not too cold, just right.


Danny :A wicked good internet connection.


Tommy:Yeah, little things like that, that definitely falls in Maslow’s needs there. Back to fast.com to see what our internet connectivity was. Kind of excited, because it started of like 300 and something, and that was megabit, so it’s gigabits. I think that’s the first place to start. Just the fundamentals. And then I think people want to be in an environment that they’re cared for. And that sounds kind of squishy softy type stuff in a corporate environment, but at the end of the day, I think that’s what can make or break keeping good people. And being in an environment that they feel appreciated in, cared for, and then, those things they want to do the same for the customers. If they have that environment for themselves. And I think if you don’t have some of that basic care that you sense in your environment, it’s hard to provide that for the services you do as a person working in a consultant company.


Danny :Well, the first couple of bits from this chapter are actually some analogies. And one is one from, which is talking about the relational bank account, and he pulls that from the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And this is just a reminder, a relational account metaphor teaches us the importance of keeping healthy relationship balances with significant people in our lives, including those we lead. Simply put, when we meet a person the first time, we basically have a neutral relationship account balance. Because we don’t know one another, and we’re still testing waters. As a relationship matures, however, we make deposits and withdrawals, and this imaginary account’s based on how we behave. For example, you make deposits into these accounts by being trustworthy and honest, giving people appreciation or recognition, keeping our word, being good listeners, not talking behind other backs, using the simple courtesies of hello, please, thank you, and so on. We make withdrawals by being unkind, discourteous, breaking our promises and commitments, backstabbing, being poor listeners, being puffed up and arrogant and so on.


I guess he’s, why pull this relational bank account into creating the proper environment, why do you think he’s pulling that in?


Tommy:I think you have to work in an environment that you have trust with one another, and those things, feel that foundation of trust. With these things that you do you create vulnerabilities. You go and make commitments towards delivering something, and sometimes if you have a low trust environment, you’re going to do things to protect yourself. And that doesn’t necessarily give the best service to a customer if you’re working out, just you, vs. if you build up some trust with your teammates, with your client. And you can after things more aggressively, accomplish more because you’re spending more time towards a solution vs. things that protect you as an individual.


Danny :Awesome. The next metaphor that he brings up is one of what we started the podcast out with, which is the principle of the garden. And that is, we do not make the growth occur. The best we can do is provide the right environment and provide the necessary frictions so people can choose to change and to grow. So you think, the metaphor of what you’re doing in the garden, and how does that what you relate to what you do here at work?


Tommy:Yeah, the law of the harvest, is this?


Danny :Yep. He goes on talking about staying at the Ritz, and the conversation that we had with one of the folks that was there. And this is one of the attendees of the seminar. He was asking about, sort of noticing what happens, and trying to figure out how does this behavior occur when everyone is so courteous to other people, and he asked one of the folks there, and he says, “We have a motto here that goes like this: We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” And then he thought it was interesting, and he’s like, “Okay, that sounds great.” But then the guy follows it up with, “If we don’t behave this way, we don’t get to work here.” So it’s like, if someone doesn’t believe you’re a lady, you’re serving ladies and gentlemen, then it’s basically you don’t get the privilege of working there. Is there anything about that you don’t understand? I laughed and I told him I got his point. So interesting, going into how do you create the proper environment.


Tommy:You said, was this the CEO of Ritz Carlton?


Danny :No, this was just someone who works at Ritz Carlton. So within their training, they institute the concept of saying, the motto here is that we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.


Tommy:Yeah, I just re-listened to a podcast from Andy Stanley’s leadership podcast that was having those interviews, things that go back to before they had some solids concepts. And I think that the whole attitude, I think, creates an environment of service, and an environment of mutual respect. You are a lady or a gentleman serving ladies and gentlemen. It’s not being a servant to a master as much as, we are respectful people serving respectful people.


Danny :Yes. Chapter six is called “The choice”. And within there I pull out a quote that I’ve got earmarked here. “Traditional thinking teaches us that our thoughts and feelings drive our behavior, and of course we know this to be true. Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, our paradigms do in fact greatly influence our behavior. Our behavior also influences our thoughts and our feelings. When we as human beings make a commitment to focus attention, time, effort, and other resources on someone or something, over time we begin to develop feelings for the object of our attention. Psychologists say we cathect the object of our attention, or in other words we become hooked or attached to it. Perhaps this explains why adopted children are loved as much as biological children. Why we get so hooked on pets, on cigarettes, gardening, ooh, here’s gardening again, booze, cars, golf, collecting stamps, and all the rest of things that fill our lives. When we pay attention to it, spend time with it, or serve, we become attached to it.”


So talking about choice, free will, this is very much a chapter that we relate to, and making choices, and the small choices in our every day, how important those things are to us. You can just agree with me, say, “That’s brilliant, Danny.”




Danny :I believe leadership begins with the choice, is one part of this he’s pointing out. And then he talks about the differences between neurotics and character-disordered people, which is, neurotics assume too much responsibility and believe everything that happens is their fault. Character-disordered people, on the other hand, generally assume too little responsibility for their actions. So you’re seeing from one end of the spectrum to the other, which is neurotics think that everything happens because of something that they’ve done and it’s their fault. Character-disordered people, on the other hand, assume too little responsibility, everything that’s happening around them doesn’t have anything to do with them. And those are the two spectrums that people can have with this.


Next point, next earmark, I’ve got plenty of earmarks in this chapter, but determinism. “For every event there’s a cause has generally been believed to be true for all physical events, although even this is being challenged by some of the new science. Freud, however, decided to take it a step further. He applied the same principle to human will. He claimed that human beings essentially do not make choices, and that free will is an illusion.” Boo. I should play some booing. Boo, Freud, Boo, he got it wrong. “He believed that our choices and actions are determined by unconscious forces of which we can never be fully aware. Freud asserted that if we know enough about a person’s heredity environment, we can actually predict his behavior right down to the individual choices he makes. This theory dealt the concept of free will, a devastating blow.” Boo.


Tommy:Yeah, I think, nature/ nurture thing. It’s not either/or, there’s an influence there. That Freud meant. He’s nailed well, but it’s not an absence of free will, for sure.


Danny :A couple of ones, and I keep coming back to this book, which I will get to here in a second. I recently … Here’s another quote. “Freely smooth to speak, I added. I recently took an executive course on business ethics where they broke up the word responsibility into two words, response and ability. The course taught us that we have all kinds of stimuli coming at us. Bills, bosses, marriage problems, employee problems, kid problems, neighbor problems, you name it problems. The stimulus is always coming at us, but as human beings we have the ability to choose our response.” Yay! “In fact, the teacher said, speaking more quickly, the ability to choose our response is one of the glories of being human. Animals respond according to instinct.” So, and then again, I read this in college, and it had a profound effect on me, which was a book from Viktor Frankl called “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Do you know the premise of the book?




Danny :So Frankl was, basically he was a Jewish psychiatrist and had spent time in concentration camp. He was in prison for several years, lost nearly his entire family and possessions at the hands of Nazis, and even endured horrible medical experiments. He suffered terribly, and basically had a horrible experience there. So he provides a response to Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud once asserted, “Let no one attempt to expose a number of diverse people uniformly to hunger. With the increase imperative urge of hunger, all individual differences will blur, and instead will appear the uniform expression as one instilled urge. Thank heavens, Freud was spared knowing the concentration camps from the inside. His subjects lay on a couch design, in the plush style of Victorian culture, and not in the filth of Auschwitz. There, the individual differences did not blur, but on the contrary. People became more different. People unmasked themselves. Both the swine and the saints. Men is ultimately self-determining.” Oh, getting chills down my back. “What he becomes, he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine, while others behave like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself, which one is actualized depends on decisions, but not on conditions.


Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers at Auschwitz. However, he’s also that being who entered those gas chambers upright with the Lord’s prayer of the [inaudible 00:16:11] Israel on his lips.” Cool. Boy, getting into more philosophers here. Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once said that, “Not making a decision itself is making a decision. Not making a choice itself is a choice.” Remember, said one of the people in the book, “We said that the road to authority and leadership begins with the will. The will is the choices we make to align our actions with our intentions. I’m suggesting that in the end, if we all have to make choices about our behavior and accept the responsibility for our choices. Will we choose to be impatient or patient? Kind or unkind? Actively listen or merely silently waiting for our opportunity to speak? Humble or arrogant? Respectful or rude? Selfless or selfish? Forgiving or resentful? Honest or dishonest? Committed or just involved?”


Tommy:He can’t say until he’s in that situation, right? We all want to be that person that rises to the occasion, but then when we’re under particular stress, and being in a concentration camp, would you be that swine or would you be that saint? I’m not sure if I wanted to do the experiment.


Danny :And then to wrap this chapter up, “the labors of leadership and love are character issues. Patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, respectfulness, forgiveness, honesty, commitment. These character building blocks or habits must be developed and matured if we are to become successful leaders who will stand the test of time. Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become our character, and our character becomes our destiny.”


Chapter seven, “the Payoff”. There’s a quote here from Jem Rome. “For every discipline effort, there’s a multiple reward.” And let’s see, I’m almost there, we’re almost there. Pulled from a quote that I’ve got, “How I did here. One of the things I learned in corporate life was that corporate mission statements are fine, I suppose even a useful purpose, but we must never forget that people buy into the leader before they buy into the mission statement. Once they have bought into the leader, they will buy into whatever mission statement the leader’s got. If you were to live your life all over again, what would you do differently? The top three answers that came were they would risk more, they would reflect more, and they would do more that would live on after they were gone.” So this was a question of people who were over 90.


“Joy is about the inner satisfaction and conviction of knowing that you are truly aligned with the deep unchanging principles of life. Serving others breaks you free from the shackles of self and self-absorption that choke the joy of living.” Joy is about the inner satisfaction and conviction of knowing that you are truly aligned with the deep unchanging principles of life. Serving others breaks you free from the shackles of self and self-absorption that choke out the joy of living. There was a book called “Religions of Man”, one that was mentioned a couple of times in the book. He says, “All the world’s great religions conclude that man’s greatest problem since the beginning of time is his self-centered nature, his pride and his selfishness. Some religions refer to this as sin, Smith concludes that the great religions of the world all teach us how to overcome our selfish nature.”


Alright, couple more quotes here, and we’re going to put a button on this. One from Dr. Albert Schweitzer, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know. The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Okay. I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know. The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. “And in the Book of John, Jesus told his disciples that his incredible joy could be their joy if they abid his commandment. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Jesus knew there would be joy and loving the verb, extending ourselves for others. Our purpose here as human beings is to grow towards psychological and spiritual maturity. This is what pleases God. Loving, serving, and extending ourselves for others forces us out of our self-centeredness. Loving others pushes us forward out of our terrible twos. Loving others forces us to grow up. And it starts with a choice, intentions minus actions equals squad. We’ve got to act on what we’ve learned, because if nothing changes, nothing changes.”


And that, my friend, there’s an epilogue in the back, and that is it. Any overall wrapping up thoughts you’ve got from going to the book? Or what sort of, maybe let me ask this, what sort of thing sticks in your head after we’ve gone through these last three or so podcasts that you’ll take away from the book?


Tommy:It’s reaffirming that all about trust, about relationship, creating environments people want to work and serve in. And I think a lot of it, we’ve talked about this third part because it’s the most recent idea, not getting the book the highlights of it, but I think the whole bigger purpose outside of just the day to day, but creating an environment of trust and environment that you want to make something bigger than yourself. Those are some of the quotes that I took away, I appreciate you sharing that.


Danny :Absolutely, absolutely. And it was nice, I appreciate the time we get through this, and next week we’ll pick up back up with some, starting some interviews, and so we’ll go back into those. I’m reading a couple of other books, we might jump into those books if I think they’re good ones for us to go through. It helps me process, just going through it the second time, and a lot of these, reading through this reminded me, now it feels like a “Now your homework”-moment, a lot of it, I believe you’re a great servant leader. And a lot of these qualities, I was like, “God, that sounds a lot like Tommy.” So it was really neat going through the book and just reflecting on what it means to be a servant leader. A lot of the things that I think environment-wise that you create around here for the people that you work with, you really want to leave a legacy, you care about what we’re going today.


In fact I have to show you this, but I went, I was out shopping with Amy a couple of weekends ago, and there was this little saying that I picked up that I’m going to hang up here in the office, and it just reminded me of you when you were talking about wanting to leave a legacy. And it’s, the choice of every day that we have, what we do during that day, and what are we going to do with that time, and we can’t get that time back, and what are we exchanging that time for. And so it’s fun, it’s fun going through this journey with you. I appreciate this opportunity to have these types of conversations, and I appreciate you creating a great environment here at ThreeWill, too.


Tommy:Thanks, Dan.


Danny :You betcha. You betcha. So we’ll pick back up next week, and we’ll talk to you then, and thank you so much for listening, and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye-bye.




Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

Danny RyanDiscussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 3 of 3

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.