Net Effect #4: George Nutwell — Learn Leadership from a Career Special Agent

We’re dropping in for a highlight from our conversation with George Nutwell, who served in the U.S. Foreign Service for nearly three decades, and retired as a Senior Foreign Service Officer in 2014. George shared some powerful stories in our session, underlining the importance of love and humility as critical for any job.

Part of our Net Effect Conversations series: https://abfcareeralliance.org/category/net-effect/

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Episode Transcript

Special thanks to DiscoveryBound NLC intern Brenna Erickson who volunteered to transcribe this episode.

Robin: “I met George many moons ago on a hot August day in Elsa, Illinois at a Principia College football camp. George was the offensive left tackle and I was the defensive right end and we squared off against each other every day and we’ve been close friends ever since. George has a wonderful background with the State Department with law enforcement and security…from Washington to Moscow, to Monrovia, Boston, Baghdad, and Houston. Today we want to see what’s on George’s mind and see what kind of important things you’re talking about thinking about today George.”

George: “Well I think everyone has been affected by what’s been happening the past month or two months and the thing that I’ve noticed the most is that there is a lot of fear out there, you know there’s fear on both sides of the political spectrum. Either people are afraid of disease of or economic turmoil…I feel that when it comes to fear there is really no debate there’s no argument, there’s nothing that you can do to convince someone that they shouldn’t be fearful. The only way that have ever overcome fear myself, or helped anyone else to overcome it, was really just bringing a higher sense of love into the situation. In my job it was all about diplomacy and peacemaking, and my job was to protect the peacemakers to enable them to make peace. So I am very sensitive to trying to bring two sides together, trying to get people to find agreement and that’s really what I’ve tried to do all my life and in my career. Even though I was on the security side, I was still trying to work things out, whether it be a foreign government or different US government agencies, or just trying to get people to come together for a common solution, overcoming their fears that it couldn’t be done…I would always fall back on my faith, my Christian Science background which is just to love people. Of course it’s not a Christian Science thing it’s a Christian thing. Jesus, you know, giving us the Golden Rule, and all through my career,that really is the best form of leadership. It’s operating according to the Golden Rule, whether you’re dealing with people that are below you, or people that are above you, that principle is what ends up making things work, that brings a sense of peace to the situation.” [Start 8:28] [end 9:42]

Robin: “Well you know George, it’s interesting when you say that, I think about the parallels to today…the differing opinions there are…there just seems to be this huge gap… how do you bridge that, I mean how do you … help people think about this?”

George: “Well, of course you’ve always got to think about others, you know, how do they perceive things? You can’t operate based on what you think about it. You’ve really got to include others in that process and when you take that step to think, okay, well, how do they feel or what is their fear, or what is their concern? Well then you’re more apt to be able to act in a way or to say something which is helpful, that is calming. I found that, and really all through my career I was in environments where there was a lot of fear… and so I always leaned on just the simple ideas that, you know, we’re all the image of God, and it doesn’t matter what they believe, or what they’re afraid of, they’re the image of God too. And I’ve had to deal with people that thought very differently than I do, and I really just got used to the fact that people think differently, but that doesn’t make them any less of the image of God. And as I approach them in that way I have found so many situations that seem very difficult and hostile just melt away, even though we were coming from two different directions.” [Start 10:42] [End 12:02]

Robin: “It seems so simple George.”

George: “Yeah, well you know, my experience is that it is simple … and of course what happens, I think is people tend to complicate things they get caught up in you know they get caught up in you know whatever they have come to believe over a period of time of what they think, is the right way of doing things, and they forget that, you know, the most simple thing you know, what Jesus was asked, you know what’s the most important commandment? And he said to love God, and to love our neighbor as yourself. He said everything in the Bible hangs on that. And you know, when I was in the prison ministry I was dealing with people of all different kinds of Christian faiths. I dealt with Muslims, I dealt with Jews, I dealt with atheists, I dealt with Satanists, and I found out the only thing that would bring unity to the conversation was the idea of love. That was the only thing, because of all of those other theological dogmatic discussions and debates …they all ended up in disagreements and arguments. But whatever I brought the conversation back to love, everything just became peaceful and quiet because no one disagrees with the idea of love.”

Robin: “… so what does the future look like, how are we going to move forward? These are the kinds of things that are on people’s minds. So how have you gotten through some of the challenges in your past … with respect to your career and facing different obstacles in your way?”

George: “Well I’ll share a couple of instances. Most of my career I was in an environment where there was a lot of fear, but there’s two things that come to mind. One, I was in a newly independent Soviet republic in Central Asia and the crime there was just unbelievable. People were afraid to go out after dark. They were even afraid in their own houses. I mean within two weeks of me arriving there we had armed assaults on Americans and other westerners, we had home invasions, we had beatings, robberies, rapes on the street, we had a murder of an American. It was probably the scariest environment that I had ever experienced, and there wasn’t really seeming any answer to it. But I was doing all of the things according to my job. I was meeting with the police, I was contributing where I could, I was bringing in experts from the US, I was sending local authorities, doctors. I was briefing the Americans on how to be safe, I would go out at night time, we had patrols. I mean we were doing everything humanly possible to try to create as safe of an environment, but there’s always a certain point where humanly there is just nothing left you can do. And there was one gang in particular that was committing a number of the crimes against foreigners, and Americans, and you know the police force was just developing, and there was a lot of corruption and there was a lot of inexperience as to how to deal with such things. And so it was something where I would always bring prayer into the situation. You know I would do everything humanly I could, but still I had a daily practice of prayer. And one day as I’m about to leave my apartment to go the embassy, and I lived in an apartment building where I was the only American, and I had my chevy S-10 blazer parked outside, and everyone knew there was an American living in that building. I remembered that I had promised to pray for someone in the family who had a job interview and so I went back to my living room and I sat down and I spent about a half hour praying for that person, and praying that they would reflect the mind of God, and that they would know what to say and what to do and you know, that God would lead the way. And certainly knowing that one Mind was in control of everything. And so that was about an additional 30 minutes, and I went down, and I got in my SUV and I went off to work. Later that day the local police came to the embassy and said, we have a report to share with you that’s very important. And the report was that this gang that everyone had been looking for had targeted an American, and they were waiting outside his apartment building, and they had weapons, they had rope, there was five or six of them. They were prepared to kidnap this American, and so at the bottom it said what the address was. Well it was my address. They were preparing to kidnap me that day, but during that 30 minutes, because they had showed up to be there right as I would normally come out, during that 30 minutes I was praying. One of the neighbors looked out, saw these guys sort of, you know, hanging around, and called the police. And in this country that’s really an unusual thing, first that a neighbor actually would get involved in looking after their community that way, and second that they’d call the police, and third that the police would actually show up. The police showed up, they detained them, took them to the police station, and they admitted to all of the robberies and the assaults on Americans and westerners, and they were put away for a long time. And so it’s a good example where, you know, I tried a lot of things humanly to help those guys get wrapped up, but the thing that did it was me sitting down and praying for my family member for 30 minutes and that was an incredible example.” [Start 19:45] [End 20:20]

“The other one was in Baghdad at the end of my career I volunteered to go to Baghdad to be in charge of security at the US embassy…and so while I was there, there were about 50 rocket attacks on the embassy and that had been in an I mean that had been going on going on for a number of years and it it just seemed that there’s nothing that could be done about it we had the US military we had the friendly Iraqi forces we had we had everyone that you could possibly have to try and resolve the situation and yet it continued to go on and and so while I was there I prayed every day about it and I was protected I had a month I have several really close calls myself and some people who work closely with me had very close calls but everyone was safe but there were other people that did lose their lives and were injured and I kept thinking to myself you know what more can I do in my prayers to do something about this to put an end to it and one day as I opened up the bible and I’m reading in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says to pray for your enemies and I realized well you know I have been praying for myself, I have been praying for the people I work with, I pray for family and friends but I’ve never prayed for my enemies before and right now I’ve got some pretty serious enemies.”

Robin: “I would say yeah”

George: “And so I just started doing that I made that a part of my daily prayerful work I was praying for the guys that were firing the rockets and that’s just as simple as as knowing that they too are the children of god and that God speaks to them just as God speaks to me and within a couple of weeks the rocket attacks stopped and no that didn’t happen anymore while I was there in fact there hadn’t been any rocket attacks in the past ten years and there were just a couple in this past december january when you know there’s a bit of a flare up there but those rockets didn’t hurt anybody and I think most of them just went over the compound so I learned there that you know we have to pray for everybody we’ve got to pray for the people that are opposed to us the most against us or what we believe or what we think or what we’re doing and only then do we do we gain the peace that we’re looking for.” [Start 22:15][End 23:16]

Robin: “Well I love it I’m gonna move on to our next and final question so in this environment that we’re in today, how do you have a conversation or should you be having conversations with different professionals you know people that aren’t necessarily where you are in your career path or maybe even not in your career and I pulled this down from the Wall Street Journal today where it says you know there are silver linings out there there are things that are positive there are openings that if we just take advantage that we can find them, what are your thoughts about that George?”

George: “Well you know since I was in that career for 27 years it had been a while since I was in a situation where I was in a situation where I really needed to start reaching out to different people to find out what next steps to take while throughout my career I would certainly talk to mentors and people within my my agency but when I decided to retire, I realized well okay what am I going to do after this and you know these are big steps I started doing job interviews and networking and you know working on my resume and doing all that kind of stuff and I realized you know I really don’t know too much about this stuff and so I just started calling up people or contacting people who had made that transition into retirement and I would go and have lunch with people I would talk to them on the phone I would do it via email or messaging and I would just say look would you mind if I could bend your ear for a while and just find out you know how did you make that transition from working to a new career or maybe its a similar career but it’s something different and and I found that people were very happy to sit down with me or have lunch with me or whatever it was and talk about their experiences and I would just listen and I certainly had questions but I found in that process where I was starting to interview and I was starting to have to make those kinds of decisions that whether I was in an interview I would think about these people and the things they told me and they really were helping to guide me along the way with what questions to ask and what things to to consider about well would this be the right job the right fit the right match for me for them and that there was a lot of things that helped me to make a lot of critical decisions over that period of time you know I mean it could be things like you know for that kind of job what would the pay be or what kinds of things would I be responsible for or you know what is it like to work you know for a CEO or and you know all of these different things that I hadn’t been accustomed to you know working for the government and so certainly people who had worked for the government and left and then went on out into the private sector you know they had a lot of things feeling and things they had experienced in that process and you know I I can’t recommend it enough for people whether you’re in a career and thinking about a change or retirement or you’re looking for a job or whatever is it you know people love to help you as long as you have a very humble and receptive attitude you know when you go and talk to them.”

Robin: “Well I think that’s terrific advice I think those are great ideas and thoughts George and I think that those will resonate certainly with our audience and I want to get to kind of our top three takeaways, talk about these for a moment George.”

George: “Yeah well you know as I said you know love in the end you know you can do all kinds of things humanly I mean and if you’re good at your job there’s no end of you know the experience you have and the different ways that you can accomplish things but often the only way is really to add more love into that situation to the people you’re dealing with to the challenge to your opposition to whatever it is that you’re dealing with you know just add more love to that situation and and that’s what’s going to really enable you to overcome it [Start][End 28:41]

Robin: “I like it and and and have that humility that you talked about earlier you know it’s okay if you don’t know the answers it’s okay if you don’t even know some of the questions but if you just start the conversation that’s where that humility comes in and that other person will see that and you know you just move right along.”

: Yeah humility is it’s really important it for for job success and I have found that if you’re willing to humble yourself and ask questions and to show that you don’t know everything people bend over backwards to help you and all throughout my career everything that I have ever done I have found that when I humbled myself to others to go to them for ideas or counsel or or helping what you’re doing I mean I just found that they’re always they’re always willing to lend you a hand.” [Start 29:04][End 29:48]

Robin: “You know the idea that that fear you know removing that fear of a challenge something that’s kind of outside your comfort zone or maybe outside your box but you say it’s the path to growth and promotion”

George: “Yeah you know looking back at my career every major promotion i got with my job was when I was willing to stand up put my hand up and say hey I”ll take that on when everyone you know is kind of backing away and everyone’s quiet and you can hear crickets you know that person that steps upland says yeah I’ll take it I’ll do it.”

Robin: “Well I bet there were plenty of crickets whenever you were volunteering to go into the missile zone for crying out loud.”

George: “but that you know out of that came a promotion every every one of those challenges whenever I took it on every one of those a promotion came out of it and of course a lot of personal growth and development and character you know all of those things that are really are the things that we all want you know that we we you know money’s great right and things are great but really we we want growth we want development we want opportunities and those come when we are willing to stand up and raise our hand and say yeah I’ll take it on I’ll do it and and I can’t recommend that enough.” [Start 30:37][End 31:24]

Robin: “You know our buddy Chris Helms says you know ‘hey George, but doesn’t our world today embrace leaders that are not particularly humble? Why do you think this would be how come why are people embracing these leaders that you know don’t seem very humble?”

George: “Well you know I I think if you look throughout history there are a lot of leaders that get into high positions but if you look at the people who have really made a difference and change the world those are people who are really they’re willing to out their neck on the line they are willing to give up everything for doing what’s right and those are the people that are remembered in history and I mean two people come to mind from American history are Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King you know those are two people that really changed the world and they were willing to put it all out there you know you know that as far as I can tell and I’m sure maybe somebody will correct me but the only president that I know of who ever went out onto the battlefield and had bullets whizzing by his head was Abraham Lincoln and that’s the kind of leadership that really makes people dig deep and say hey if he’s willing to do that I’m willing to do whatever it takes and of course Martin Luther King you know willing to put his life on the line every single day for what he believed in I mean that’s leadership that’s what people remember and if you’re in the military or you’re in any kind of law enforcement job you’ll you’ll hear people say that the leaders they’ll follow anywhere are the ones that get in front and lead the way they go into harm’s way they don’t stand in the back and watch to see what’s going on they take the lead and so not everyone is going to go into battle or war but those same principles really are what changed the world and if we’re talking about really having an impact on the world or our country that’s what you gotta do.”

Robin: “Well I appreciate that so very much and so I I love the things you’re saying George I think it’s really great a few final questions if anybody has any questions for George please put them in the Q&A how do you discern so one of the questionsI thought was an interesting question how can you discern the character of a prospective business contact just from the internet did you when you were reaching out trying to make new contacts did any of that ever cross your mind or do you ever have to face that or wonder I’m not sure if I want to talk to this person or not.”

George: “Well certainly you know if they’re respectful if they’re expressing that humility like like I talked about you know I would say respect and humility are things that you can recognize and I I definitely can I Mean I can feel that whether even if it’s you know an electronic message it’s just something you can feel from their words in the way that they’re addressing you or approaching you and I think that that’s a good sign of sincerity.”

Robin: “I had a really so this question is a little long but let me just see if i can paraphrase it a little bit. So I have an independent artist who works with individuals from other countries and you know working with all of the different countries that you have maybe you have some ideas here but they’re not allied so they have different values and they do business differently but they still how do you still remain faithful to the things that are important to you when you have all of these different ideas I mean you mentioned a little bit about working in the prison with all of the different faiths and different values, this person is asking how do you stay true to yourself even though the places the people may have a different set of values?”

George: “Well you know that would come up because in my job people wanted opportunities to come to the U.S. they wanted to do me favors so they could get visas and trips and just all kinds of things when you work for the embassy you find there’s a whole lot of people out there that want to become your friend and I I just always stuck to what the rules and the l was and my personal standard of principles and ethics and and I’m always looking to help people but I had to help them within those you know within those lanes and I would find ways to help people maybe it wasn’t the way they were looking for help but I would still find a way to help them and and I think and I would still be respected in the process and sometimes I would I would just simply say you know I can’t do that that’s just not right and and and if I was being respectful to them they would accept that they would understand that.” [Start 36:32][End 37:19]

Robin: “Well when you were making career changes here’s another question when you were making a career change, how did you go about timing. Why all of the sudden make this career change or why why volunteer for that what advice do you give for someone looking to change careers right now?”

George: “Well I mean there were different things that I was thinking about but a big part of it was family and you know because I had spent a lot of years overseas and my last overseas assignment was Baghdad Iraq and I certainly did a whole ot of self reflecting during that time while I was there and it really caused me to think about what is most important to me and the two things that i thought about were my family and service to god how do I serve God better? And in the end during that because I spent like three years networking talking to people I was really preparing to set myself up for a nice big private sector job after the government because a lot of people in government do that they have those opportunities and in the end I came to this conclusion that well the only way I can focus on family and try to serve God was basically I was going to retire and I decided to do the chaplain work now of course you don’t get paid for chaplain work.”

Robin: “I remember George I mean it seemed like you were being offered jobs with some pretty high profile organizations and you were the one saying okay this is how much I want to make and this is the kind of work I would like and you know and then you’re saying you ended up choosing a job that you’re volunteering?”

George: “Yeah I had I had offers from a professional sports franchise and from oil companies to advise them on security issues and in the end I realized that really I needed to be a to be as a lot of people say I wanted to feed my soul, that’s what I really wanted I wanted to feel good knowing that while I had served Uncle SamI was very proud and grateful to do that but I was looking for a new kind of service and so that’s what led me in to the prison ministry and also you know spending a lot of time with the family and I’d be able to coach you know little league baseball and go to ballet class and you know all that kind of stuff so those were the kinds of things that drove that decision.”

Robin: “Well I think those are wonderful comments and I just appreciate so very much all of the wonderful inspiration and ideas I’m going to launch our poll I would appreciate if everyone could take a few moments and complete this poll it’s only 4 questions it will take you a couple of minutes at the most and tell us if you enjoyed our program and um you know and if it just give us your feedback we really appreciate it just so you know…” *gives more information about how to stay connected with ABF and George, job opportunities, and ABF updates*
“… and George we thank you so very much today for helping us think about this environment with an inspired perspective bible-based real quality good thinking it’s so so needed today and we just so appreciate you’re willing to be a career ally George has been with us from the very beginning just appreciate your support and we thank everyone so much for everything for being here I’m gonna shut down the poll and I’m gonna close out this wonderful episode for with our good buddy George and say good day goodnight and thank you all for being here.”

George: “Thank you Robin for everything you do”

Robin: “Thank you George we love you man have a great day.”

George: “Take care see you brother”

Edited version:
Robin: *introduces george and personal background, introduce george’s job and adk about his thoughts today*

George: “Well I think everyone has been affected by what’s been happening the past month or so two months and the thing that I’ve noticed the most is that there is a lot of fear out there, you know there’s fear on both sides of the political spectrum. Either people are afraid of disease of economic turmoil there’s there’s a fear of of taking a step to far or not far enough you know no matter where you turn there’s just a lot of fear and um I feel that when it comes to fear there is really no debate there’s no argument, there’s nothing that you can do to convince someone that they shouldn’t be fearful and the only way that have ever overcome fear myself or helped anyone else to overcome it was really just bringing a higher sense of love into the situation. In my job it was all about diplomacy and peacemaking and my job was to protect the peacemakers to enable them to make peace and so I am very sensitive to trying to bring two sides together, trying to get people to find agreement and that’s really what I’ve tried to do all my life and in my career even though I was on the security side, I was still trying to work things out whether it be a foreign government or different US government agencies or just trying to get people to come together for a common solution overcoming their fears that it couldn’t be done that the two sides uh you know have there you know that it’s a stalemate of some kind and I would always fall back on my faith my faith my Christian Science background which is just to love people. Of course it’s not a Christian Science thing it’s a Christian thing it was Jesus you know giving us the golden rule and all through my career I really that that really is the best form of leadership it’s operating according to the golden rule whether you’re dealing with people that are below you or people that are above you that that idea that principle is what ends up making things work that brings a sense of peace to the situation.” [Start 8:28] [end 9:42]
Robin: * asks how to bridge the gap between opposing sides in an argument and help people go “well here’s a way to think about this”*

George: “well of course you’ve always got to to think about others you know how do they perceive things? You can’t you can’t operate based on what you what you think about it you’ve really got to include others in that process and when you take that step to think okay well how do they feel or what is their fear or what is their concern well then you’re more apt to be able to act in a way or to say something which is helpful that is calming I found that and really all through my career I was in environments where there was a lot of fear uh there was a lot of fear about uh people’s lives and so I always leaned on just the simple ideas that you know we’re all the image of God and it doesn’t matter what they believe or what they’re afraid of they’re the image of god too and I’ve had to deal with people that thought very different than I do and I really just got used to the fact that people think differently but that doesn’t make them any less of the image of god and as I approach them in that way I have found so many situations that seem very difficult and hostile just melt away, even though we were coming from two different directions.” [Start 10:42] [End 12:02]

Robin: “It seems so simple George.”

George: “yeah well you know my experience is that it is simple it is simple and and of course what happens I think is people tend to complicate things they get caught up in you know they get caught up in you know whatever they have come to believe over a period of time of what they think is the right way of doing things something and as a result they forget that you know the most simple thing you know what Jesus was asked you know what’s the most important commandment and he said to love god and to love our neighbor as yourself he said everything in the bible hangs on that and you know what when I was in the prison ministry you know I was dealing with people of all different kinds of christian faiths I dealt with muslims I dealt with Jews I dealt with atheists I dealt with Satanists and I found out the only thing that would bring unity to the conversation was the idea of love. That was the only thing because of all of those other theological dogmatic discussions and debates was all they ended up was disagreements arguments anger nut whatever I brought the conversation back to love it just everything just became peaceful and quiet because no one disagrees with the idea of love.”

Robin: *asks what the future looks like, how do we move forward, how have you gotten through some of the challenges in his past are relatable to today with respect to his career and facing different obstacles in his way*

George: “Well I’ll share a couple of instances most of my career was in an environment where there was a lot of fear but there’s two things that come to mind one I was in a new newly independent Soviet republic in Central Asia and the crime there was just unbelievable really people were afraid to go out after dark they were even afraid in their own houses we had a we just I mean within two weeks of me arriving there we ad armed assaults on Americans and other westerners, we had home invasions, we had beatings, robberies, rapes on the street, we had a murder of an American it was it was probably thhe scariest environment that I had ever experienced and there wasn’t really seeming any answer to it but I was doing all of the things according to my job, I was meeting with the police I was contributing where I could, I was bringing in experts from thew US, I was sending local authorities doctors you know how to deal with the cr5ime and you know all of the different aspects of crime. I was briefing the Americans on how to be safe, I would go out at night time, we had patrols, I mean we were doing everything humanly possible to try to create as safe of an environment as we could but there’s always a certain point where humanly there is just nothing left you can do and there was one gang in particular that was committing a number of the crimes against foreigners and Americans and you know the police force was developing there was a lot of corruption and there was a lot of inexperience as to how to deal with such things and so I it’s something I would always bring prayer into the situation you know I would do everything humanly I could, but still i had a daily practice of prayer and one day as I’m about to leave my apartment to go the embassy and I lived in an apartment building where I was the only American and I had my chevy s-10 blazer parked outside and everyone knew there was an American living in that building. I remembered that I promised to pray for someone in the family who had a job interview and so I went back to my living room and I sat down and I spent about a half hour praying for that person and praying that they would reflect the mind of God and that they would know what to say and what to do and you know that god would lead the way and certainly knowing that one mind was in control of everything and and so that was about an additional 30 minutes and I went down and I got my SUV and I went off to work. Later that day the local police came to the embassy and said we have a report to share with you that’s very important and the report was that this gang that everyone had been looking for had targeted an American and they were waiting outside his apartment building and they had weapons, they had rope, there was five or six of them, they were prepared to kidnap this American and so at the bottom it said what the address was well it was my address, they were preparing to kidnap me that day, but during that 30 minutes because they had showed up to be there right as I would normally come out during that 30 minutes I was praying, one of the neighbors looked out, saw these guys sort of you know hanging around and called the police and in this country that’s really an unusual thing, first that a neighbor actually would get involved in looking after their community that way and second that they’d call the police and third that the police would actually show up.”

George: “The police showed up, they detained them, took them to the police station, and they admitted to all of the robberies and the assaults on Americans and Westerners and they were put away for a long time. So it’s a good example where, you know, I tried a lot of things humanely to help those guys get wrapped up. But the thing that did it was me sitting down and praying for my family member for 30 minutes, and that that was an incredible example.” [Start 19:45] [End 20:20]

George: “The other one was in Baghdad at the end of my career. I volunteered to go to Baghdad to be in charge of security at the US embassy. “Volunteered, yeah, and so while I was there, there were about 50 rocket attacks on the embassy and that had been going on for a number of years. And it` just seemed that there was nothing that could be done about it. We had the US military, we had the friendly Iraqi forces, we had everyone that you could possibly have to try and resolve the situation, and yet it continued to go on. And so while I was there I prayed every day about it and I was protected. I had a month where I had several really close calls myself, and some people who work closely with me had very close calls, but everyone was safe. But there were other people that did lose their lives and were injured and I kept thinking to myself you know, what more can I do in my prayers to do something about this, to put an end to it. And one day as I opened up the Bible and I’m reading in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says to pray for your enemies. And I realized, well you know, I have been praying for myself, I have been praying for the people I work with, I pray for family and friends, but I’ve never prayed for my enemies before, and right now I’ve got some pretty serious enemies.”

Robin: “I would say yeah”

George: “And so I just started doing that I made that a part of my daily prayerful work. I was praying for the guys that were firing the rockets and that’s just as simple as knowing that they, too, are the children of God and that God speaks to them just as God speaks to me. And within a couple of weeks, the rocket attacks stopped and that didn’t happen anymore while I was there. In fact there hadn’t been any rocket attacks in the past ten years, and there were just a couple in this past December and January, when you know, there was a bit of a flare-up, but those rockets didn’t hurt anybody, and I think most of them just went over the compound. So I learned there that, you know, we have to pray for everybody. We’ve got to pray for the people that are opposed to us, the most against us, or what we believe, or what we think, or what we’re doing, and only then do we gain the peace that we’re looking for.” [Start 22:15][End 23:16]

Robin: *asks, in the environment we’re in today, should one be having conversations with different professionals they know, people who aren’t necessarily where you are in your career path, or maybe even not even in your career*

George: “Well you know, since I was in that career for 27 years, it had been a while since I was in a situation where I really needed to start reaching out to different people to find out what next steps to take. I would certainly talk to mentors and people within my agency, but when I decided to retire, I realized well, okay, what am I going to do after this? And you know these are big steps. I started doing job interviews, and networking, and working on my resume and doing all that kind of stuff. And I realized, you know, I really don’t know too much about this stuff. And so I just started calling up people, or contacting people who had made that transition into retirement. And I would go and have lunch with people, I would talk to them on the phone, I would do it via email or messaging, and I would just say, look, would you mind if I could bend your ear for a while, and just find out, you know, how did you make that transition from working, to a new career. Or maybe it’s a similar career, but it’s something different. And I found that people were very happy to sit down with me, or have lunch with me, or whatever it was, and talk about their experiences. And I would just listen. And I certainly had questions, but I found in that process, where I was starting to interview, and I was starting to have to make those kinds of decisions, that whether I was in an interview, I would think about these people and the things they told me, and they really were helping to guide me along the way with what questions to ask and what things to consider. Would this be the right job, right fit, the right match for me, and there were a lot of things that helped me to make a lot of critical decisions over that period of time…I can’t recommend it enough for people, whether you’re in a career and thinking about a change, or retirement, or you’re looking for a job–whatever it is. You know, people love to help you as long as you have a very humble and receptive attitude when you go and talk to them.”

Robin: *asks George to talk about the top three takeaways*

George: “Yeah well you know as I said you know, love. In the end, you know, you can do all kinds of things, humanly, And if you’re good at your job there’s no end …[to] the different ways that you can accomplish things. But often the only way is really to add more love into that situation, to the people you’re dealing with, to the challenge ,to your opposition, to whatever it is that you’re dealing with, you know, just add more love to that situation and that’s what’s going to really enable you to overcome it.” [Start][End 28:41]

George: Yeah, humility is really important for job success. I have found that if you’re willing to humble yourself, and ask questions, and to show that you don’t know everything, people bend over backwards to help you. All throughout my career, everything that I have ever done, I have found that when I humbled myself to others, to go to them for ideas or counsel or helping, I found that they’re always willing to lend you a hand.” [Start 29:04][End 29:48]

Robin: “I like it. Have that humility that you talked about earlier. You know, it’s okay if you don’t know the answers. It’s okay if you don’t even know some of the questions. But if you just start the conversation, that’s where that humility comes in, and that other person will see that and, you know, you just move right along.”

Robin: *asks if he thinks the idea of removing that fear of a challenge, something that’s kind of outside your comfort zone is the path to growth and promotion*

George: “Yeah you know looking back at my career every major promotion i got with my job was when I was willing to stand up put my hand up and say, hey I”ll take that on, when everyone is kind of backing away, and everyone’s quiet. And you can hear crickets when that person steps up and says, yeah I’ll take it .I’ll do it.”

Robin: “Well I bet there were plenty of crickets whenever you were volunteering to go into the missile zone.”

George: “But, you know, out of that came a promotion. Every one of those challenges, whenever I took it on, a promotion came out of it, and of course, a lot of personal growth and development and character. You know, all of those things that are really the things that we all want. You know, money’s great, right, and things are great, but really we want growth, we want development, and we want opportunities. And those come when we are willing to stand up and raise our hand and say, yeah, I’ll take it on, I’ll do it. I can’t recommend that enough.” [Start 30:37][End 31:24]

Robin: *asks why he thinks the world is embracing leaders that are not particularly humble*

George: “Well, you know, I think if you look throughout history there are a lot of leaders that get into high positions. But if you look at the people who have really made a difference and change the world, those are people who are willing to put their neck on the line. They are willing to give up everything for doing what’s right. Those are the people that are remembered in history. Two people come to mind from American history: Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Those are two people who really changed the world, and they were willing to put it all out there. I’m sure maybe somebody will correct me, but the only president I know of who ever went out onto the battlefield and had bullets whizzing by his head was Abraham Lincoln. And that’s the kind of leadership that really makes people dig deep and say, hey, if he’s willing to do that, I’m willing to do whatever it takes. And of course, Martin Luther King, you know, willing to put his life on the line every single day for what he believed. That’s leadership, that’s what people remember, and if you’re in the military or you’re in any kind of law enforcement job, you’ll hear people say that the leaders they’ll follow anywhere are the ones that get in front and lead the way. They go into harm’s way. They don’t stand in the back and watch to see what’s going on. They take the lead. And so not everyone is going to go into battle, or war, but those same principles are what changed the world, and if we’re talking about really having an impact on the world, or our country, that’s what you gotta do.”

Robin: *asks how you can discern the character of a prospective business contact just from the internet when you were reaching out trying to make new contacts or wonder “I’m not sure if I want to talk to this person or not”*

George: “Well, certainly, you know, if they’re respectful, if they’re expressing that humility, I would say respect and humility are things that you can recognize…I can feel that, whether it’s an electronic message, it’s just something you can feel from their words in the way that they’re addressing you or approaching you. I think that’s a good sign of sincerity.”

Robin: *asks how to stay true to yourself even though the places or the people may have a different set of values*

George: “Well you know that would come up because, in my job, people wanted opportunities to come to the U.S. They wanted to do me favors so they could get visas and trips and just all kinds of things. When you work for the embassy, you find there’s a whole lot of people out there that want to become your friend. I just always stuck to the rules and my personal standard of principles and ethics. I’m always looking to help people, but I had to help them within those lanes. I would find ways to help people. Maybe it wasn’t the way they were looking for help, but I would still find a way to help them, and I think I would still be respected in the process. Sometimes I would just simply say, you know, I can’t do that. That’s just not right, and if I was being respectful to them, they would accept that, they would understand that.” [Start 36:32][End 37:19]

Robin: *asks when he was making a career change, how did he go about timing/ advice for switching careers*

George: “Well I mean there were different things that I was thinking about, but a big part of it was family. I had spent a lot of years overseas, and my last overseas assignment was Baghdad Iraq, and I certainly did a whole lot of self-reflecting during that time, and it really caused me to think about what is most important to me. And the two things that i thought about were my family and service to God, how do I serve God better? And … I was really preparing to set myself up for a nice big private sector job after the government. A lot of people in government do that. They have those opportunities. And in the end, I came to the conclusion that the only way I can focus on family, and try to serve God, was basically I was going to retire. And I decided to do the chaplain work. Now of course you don’t get paid for chaplain work.”

George: “Yeah I had offers from a professional sports franchise, and from oil companies, to advise them on security issues. And in the end, I realized that really I needed to … feed my soul, that’s what I really wanted. I wanted to feel good, knowing that while I had served Uncle Sam and I was very proud and grateful to do that, but I was looking for a new kind of service. And so that’s what led me in to the prison ministry. And also, you know, spending a lot of time with the family, and I’d be able to coach little league baseball, and go to ballet class. And you know, those were the kinds of things that drove that decision.”

Robin: “Well I think those are wonderful comments and I just appreciate so very much all of the wonderful inspiration and ideas…and George we thank you so very much today for helping us think about this environment with an inspired perspective, with Bible-based good thinking.

END

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