Give Me Some Independent Thinkers


A quick announcement:
  If you’ve been a listener of the Dan Mulhern Show on the Michigan Talk Network, see the news flash below today’s RFL

A universal value for leaders in our times should be this:  continuously work to generate independent thinking among those you lead.  Kids.  Staff.  Parishioners, Students. Bosses.  You name ‘em.  For humans are social beings, and we are so heavily and continuously influenced by perceptions and by the crowd that we need someone to vigilantly remind us to check the data and use our own best judgments.

Let one example suffice.  Beginning about Tuesday the modern day village drummers – the TV and radio news – began to tell us across Michigan that a major blizzard was on its way; “details at 11,” “traffic and weather on the 8’s.”  We tuned in.  The drumbeat continued to grow louder – 8-12 inches, 12-15 inches – predicted the Thursday morning reporters.  Kids were getting excited, as Friday appeared sure to be a glorious snow day.  They were texting and high-fiving, thrilled to hear the snow was going to begin Thursday at and continue all night and most of the morning.  Hold the phone.  Just a reality check here.  At midnight in Lansing it still hadn’t begun to snow.  And this is Michigan after all, which means two things: first, we are decidedly not North Carolina or one of those places where a half-inch of snow leads to mass panic.  We drive in the snow all the time.  And second, we are like North Carolina, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Florida and about every other state I’ve visited or lived in this respect:  the weather changes all the time.  Meteorologists (what do they study meteors?) – are wrong by degrees, at least, all the time.

Well darn it all, they weren’t completely  wrong.  It did snow.  About 4 or 5 inches, I’d say.  We can drive in 5 inches in our sleep.  But nearly every school system in central and lower Michigan closed.  In my view – go ahead, call me a curmudgeon – it wasn’t dangerous roads that closed the schools.  It was the hype and what it generated:  thousands of sure-to-be-hyper kids who would be practically unteachable.  And I imagine no school superintendent wanted to be the one to keep her or his schools open while all the rest were closed.  As a result, millions of student-school hours were lost.  Instead of listening to teachers, they were listening to meteorologist Mike Malarchy and his Dopler 10,000.  Oh yes, and watching advertisements like the one that says, “you will probably be shopping for a thousand dollar flat screen TV this weekend.”  Really?  I will?

If you want good for your people and for those they serve, encourage them to ask questions, challenge assumptions, look at the data, and be half as wary of group-opinion as they are of group leaders.  If you’ve got independent thinkers around you, you’ll have a much better chance to

Lead with your best self!


NEWS FLASH:  On Saturday, February 9th, we will premiere across Michigan “The Winner’s Circle with Dan Mulhern” on the Michigan Talk (radio) Network.  I decided to move to Saturday mornings from my daily evening show, because that show was taking away precious family time.  I had to walk the walk, as I discussed in last week’s RFL on “managing our appetites.”  I am excited about the new show which will be all about “making your work really work for you.”  It will air on Saturday mornings from 7 AM until 9 AM.  I will have great guests in the first hour, and the entire second hour will be devoted to trouble-shooting issues at work with live callers.  For example, what do you do with a micro-managing boss, a manipulative co-worker, or a lazy direct report who your boss won’t let you discipline?  Call in at 888-900-9966 to get advice on a work issue that you can bet others are struggling with as well.  You can also send your workplace challenges to me at  The show will stream as well at our home station