This morning, in these early hours, we are exploring unity; a much misunderstood and sometimes even maligned and ridiculed concept, virtue and strength of character.

We often think of unity as a destination.  Ultimately, it is a strength of character that advances us towards just such a destination.

Consider unity, for a moment.  Consider the unity of the hand.  It is comprised of diverse players each with talents, perspectives and capacities; four different fingers, 1 “opposing” thumb that seems to complement, nails and a palm.  Separate, each are very limited.  United, they can have the power of touch or a fist… and they can grapple and maneuver and constructively manipulate.  Beyond the capacity of our brain, our human hand has played a powerful role in our growth as a species; especially that “opposing but complementary” thumb.

If you have not guessed already, unity is a personal favorite of mine (if I have favorites, and I do).  Indeed, it is my personal brand as The Unity Guy™, in my work as an educator and entrepreneur… and the founding energy of Epic Engage™.  I believe it a powerful virtue of leadership, fostering the kind of synergy that makes classrooms, workplaces, businesses, families and communities ever more prosperous and flourishing.


Consider, for a moment, the elements of unity and its practice…

  • Seeking the common good.
  • Appreciating differences.
  • Resolving conflict peacefully (and powerfully).
  • Honoring the value of each individual.
  • Being a unifier.
  • Appreciating and celebrating (and loving) humanity.

I have said it before, will again… and say it now.  Unity is not uniformity.  Unity, at its strongest, is based in diversity.  It finds the common ground while celebrating and drawing upon the uncommon differences.  It fosters strategic advantage because it advances diversity of perspectives while strengthening common purpose.  Great teams in sports thrive on it; as do great teams anywhere.


Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.  — Vince Lombardi

Lombardi understood it.  Dale Carnegie did too.  Aragorn understood it in times of crisis.  Great things happen when can rally the sum total with differing talents and perspectives but a common purpose.  I see it in my annual work building and coordinating a volunteer team of hundreds with the Janeway Telethon here in my home Province… egos left at the door, perspectives brought, talents delivered, and purpose shared.

There is nothing kumbaya about unity; nothimg Panacea or Utopian,  It requires skill and work and commitment.  Indeed, here we are exploring its very need and challenge in governance, economics and more.  It demands seeking the common good, appreciating and building on the differences, resolving conflict peacefully and powerfully, and honoring the value of each individual.  It demands of us that we see the humanity.  Then, we are the unifiers needed to lead with common purpose for uncommon results.


I invite you to check this out

Unity works, when it is worked.  Indeed, and if one truly studies global history in the big picture (removed from episodic circumstances), we can witness an evolution of this strength of unity.  We started with collectives of families as a species.  That concept evolved to clans, tribes, villages, city states, nations, regions, economic unions, and commonwealths.  What were once our enemies are now our friends.  Despite the numerous examples of factions and fighting, in the grand picture, unity is winning.  It is the true force of nature.

As noted, I am not speaking of panacea.  It is not perfection; it is perfecting.  It is a hard fought and hard earned (and growing) unity in its most practical and powerful form.

Schools struggle with unity until they go to the football or hockey game.  Then we wear our colors and cheer our team, while during the week we find our factions.  We have the capacity to unite.

Provinces and States and countries do the same.  In-house fighting turns to a strong sense of unity in the face of external threats.  Indeed, united we stand and divided we fall.  We know this.  We have the capacity for this.  Our families, sometimes torn, will stand together in the face of such.  If we do not have traditional family, we will try to find ours in other ways.


Unity is not some Utopian Dream.  It is pragmatism at its best.  Deep down, we get that.  However, we lose it when we somehow think we are not threatened.  Familiarity and comfort can breed contempt.  It requires vigilance and a deeper reflection and understanding of unity… to live it powerfully and consistently.  And there are reasons to do so.  Peace and prosperity.  Synergy fosters such. defines synergy as the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism.

Yes the practicality of synergy is born of unity.  Churchill understood this when rallying the British in World War II.  JFK understood this.  Any great and time tested leader has shown both an understanding of this… and an ability to manifest it.  That is the virtue and character strength of unity.


So, let’s look at this again.  What is the character of UNITY?  It requires vision and strength.  It demands cooperation and understanding.  It is built on initiative, trust and trustworthiness.  It thrives on empathy, flexibility and fortitude.

We have just had a very tough budget introduced here in Newfoundland and Labrador; the product of a global drop in oil prices and a period of expenditures based on the seemingly unexpected nature of that drop.  Indeed, and now …  the blame game begins.  That being noted, and fully recognizing that a multitude of factors have brought us to this point… the political game thrives on blame.  Sitting governments, in power for mere months, seek to justify economic actions in the face of an opposition that was once the government.  Blame is part of that justification… on all sides.  Various interest groups and stakeholders lay claim to the need to be relatively unaffected by the economic reality of the day.  I get it.  We are often driven to protect our own.  In some cases that is hugely justified… for the populations most vulnerable.


But what if our own were seen at a higher level?  I am not political.  I find it to be divisive, inherently so.  I have long said that ideologies constrain us and ideas free us..  One such idea is unity.  How would unity look in facing an economic fire?  How does unity manifest itself in the face of a literal fire in Bay de Verde?  Unity does not imply that there be no dialogue, no consultation, no exchange of views; but it’s spirit is built on cooperation, not contention… and it is inclusive, not partisan.  It is powerfully built on common purpose and not divided agenda.  It is not kumbaya.  It is hard earned and vital.


What does unity look like in the classroom?  At school?  On campus?  How is it manifested?  What are its strengths?  How does it move from faking it to making it?  How can it be based on diversity, and not uniformity?  What is it’s return on investment for students and educators?

What does unity look like in the workplace and in business?  How is it manifested there?  What are its strengths and capacities?  How does it move from going through the motions and nice words… to reality?  How can it be based on the strategic advantage of diversity?  What is it’s return on investment?

What does unity look like in the community… in the sphere of economic management, politics and governance?  How is it manifested in constructive dialogue and creative problem solving?  What are its strengths for our communities, regions and nations?  How does it move from a nice idea to a working reality?  Do we need an external threat or how can we find it within ourselves?  How can it be based on diversity, and not that bland uniformity?  What is its return on investment for all of us?


Some reading this might say… it will never happen.  But it has, and it will again.  If we can look to and study those times in history… both the moments and wholesale processes… we can find patterns of behaviour and understanding… and a practical optimism that was the force for its evolution.  United we stand and divided we fall is a truth.  It has been born out throughout history.  Short term and personal agendas divide and conquer.  Hard earned unity builds and grows.  Indeed, we are at a time in history, given technologies of communications and war alike… where the capacity to practice unity has never been stronger and the need to do so never been more vital.

Unity is a choice.  It requires optimism and for us to understand the power of …

  • Seeking the common good.
  • Appreciating differences.
  • Resolving conflict peacefully (and powerfully).
  • Honoring the value of each individual.
  • Being a unifier.
  • Appreciating and celebrating (and loving) humanity.

I believe in these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but addeth to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day. And if we widen out the sphere of unity a little to include the inhabitants of a village who seek to be loving and united, who associate with and are kind to one another, what great advances they will be seen to make, how secure and protected they will be. Then let us widen out the sphere a little more, let us take the inhabitants of a city, all of them together: if they establish the strongest bonds of unity among themselves, how far they will progress, even in a brief period and what power they will exert. And if the sphere of unity be still further widened out, that is, if the inhabitants of a whole country develop peaceable hearts, and if with all their hearts and souls they yearn to cooperate with one another and to live in unity, and if they become kind and loving to one another, that country will achieve undying joy and lasting glory. Peace will it have, and plenty, and vast wealth.

Still, it is a choice to practice it.  The choice is ours… at school, family, work and community.  My suggestion in these early hours is that we each reflect on our role in fostering powerful and practical unity; one that moves away from bullying and/or getting one’s own way to a place where we work together (and I mean work) to build a bigger pie… and share it while we are doing so.

Have discussions in your classrooms, schools, workplaces, businesses and communities.  What would unity look like?  Study and reflect on the card above.  Consult and dialogue on what a foundation of unity would do for you, all?  Discuss the work and understandings necessary.  Get real.  Get united.  Then, stand and deliver.


Budget 2016 for Newfoundland and Labrador is out now.  Indeed, it is a tough one, and probably, in amy ways, expectedly so.  The news is still tough.  Tough, indeed.   For each of us, it is time to consider what it might mean… what pains arise from it, how does it affect us as individuals, families, schools, companies, organizations and communities. Which way do we actually go from here?

That requires study and the virtue of discernment.

Seeking full information is crucial, as is reflection.  Thinking things through is paramount to deciding on paths forward.  No doubt, there are voices and forces now challenging the budget in some way, shape or form.  They are united in complaint but not, as yet solution.  Certainly, some hurts or complaints are more dire than others.  Either way, it truly requires us to best discern what impact it has and what sacrifices it demands… and even what opportunities it might create.  Yes, opportunities.

It is not lost on me that, as long as we look for economic respite from cuts and shrinkage, we are not looking for markets and opportunities elsewhere.  It is a big world outside of our 500,000 souls here.  But, that is another blog.  This post, here and now, ties into the news of the day but finishes this week looking at building UNITY.  Yes, unity.  And here we go again.  Let’s explore this further.


Unity does require work, but the payoff is synergy.   It requires focus but the payoff is powerful effect.  In times of trial, we need it most of all.  One model I have suggested over the years to help in building practical and powerful unity is what I call ICCCCAN or IC4AN.  In addressing any matter, individually or collectively, I suggest you consider these 7 steps to get on both the same and the right page, for you.

1. Clearly identify the core ISSUE.

You start here because going after symptoms leaves you with the problem still.  In order to avoid band aids, we must take the time to discern the core and true issue.  What is at the heart of the particular matter we are facing?  What is the ultimate problem that we need to address in the now?

2. Next, articulate the CAUSES.

Start to get specific on what has gotten you to this place, this space.  Exhaust all the factors that have contributed.  Create a comprehensive inventory of those factors.  They will serve in helping formulate responsive strategies.

3. Then, get clear on the CONSEQUENCES.

For ultimate motivation, get abundantly clear on what will happen if you do nothing about the current issue.  Get it so palpable and taste-able that you know something must change.

4. Establish the CRITERIA for making any decisions.

Here, you set up your Litmus Test… getting clearing on the parameters and limitations that govern any decision… time and money often times are examples… but not always.  Get clear on the real world boundaries that will guide your decisions.

5. Now, look at the matter of CHARACTER.

What will define us in how we answer the challenge?  What strengths of character are most being called upon at this time.  Character is the soil of action.  It is the heart of the solution.  Character guides us too.  Get clear on what virtues you must draw upon to make this work.  Focus on 3-5 go to strengths.

Maybe even do a 5 Card Virtues Spread online here.


This is your Character Compass… you have identified the issue, gotten clear on the causes, consequences and criteria.  Now you set your course, founded on character.  And now, you are ready to address tactics.

6. Establish core ACTIONS necessary to address the issue. 

Ground these actions in the discerned and decided character of Step 5.  Alignment is everything.  Consistent action demands it.  If the actions do not align with the sense of character, change one or the other.  Alignment is vital.  Establish 3-5 core actions that must be taken, with consistency and commitment, in order to address the problem.  You can create subsets of activities under the 3-5 but keep your core at 3-5.  Simplicity and focus are indeed crucial.

7. Get clear on what your NOW is…

Then, after you have your strategic analysis and action plan, it is time to kick start this thing.  Here, you get very clear on what your first step must be.  As Shinedown sings “The first step is the one you believe in; the second one might be profound…” .  All in all, this is the launch pad step.

With discernment and diligence, determination and truthfulness, you conduct the first 6 steps.  With zeal and initiative and accountability and commitment, you approach the 7th step and throughout your work ahead.

When we face challenges individually, these steps offer a strong but flexible structure to get clear.  Certainly, for me, over this last year… it has been a true source of help and guidance on my road back to full health, business, work and life.  No doubt.

When facing challenges together, they provide the opportunity to both get clear and united.  Whether addressing personal or Provincial economies, these 7 can be purposeful and effective.  They require work, but they produce efficiency and effectiveness, through synergy.


I am throwing out a constructive challenge.  This week, around unity, what is one challenge you are facing at work, school or community?  What is the issue you face?  Maybe it relates to the economic news of this day, as a family or business or school or community.  Walk yourself through this process.  How could you see drawing upon these 7 steps to affect constructive change?

Try that out… unity is not easy stuff but it is a phenomenon of creative power… it can illuminate the whole earth, or our corners of it.  Ain’t nothin’ kumbaya about that.  Indeed, in accepting where we are and finding a synergism in hard earned unity to find our best answers, making things change and happen requires zeal, if we are to forge and lead.  Until then, and through it all… these are my considered thoughts.  I wish you…

Peace, passion and prosperity.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™


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