Thursday, June 12, 2008

Doing what is right, rather than what is easy...

It is not a sin to learn from mistakes and move forward.

It seems that many consider it a weakness to admit a mistake. Rather than use new information and do a course correction, some leaders double-down and refuse to even consider a change in direction. There is a perception that to be a strong leader you must never be wrong. I've seen this tendency in many recent leaders. Perhaps you know a few. Remember the story about the emperor who wore no clothes? <>.

Sticking to your guns regardless, rather than being a strength, is sometimes a sign of weakness.

It is important to have a balance between when to make a stand and when to change positions. Sticking to either extreme is flawed -- it takes good judgement to "know when to hold them and know when to fold them". This is true in cards, it is true in stock trading, and it is true in life in general.

Two recent news stories demonstrate the importance and honor of learning and changing your position, even though it may surprise former allies and pit you against strong opposing forces. Sometimes you just need to do what is right rather than what is easy.

In the first case, Scott McClellan, a former White House press secretary under President George W Bush, discovered that he was mislead by the Bush administration to perpetuate lies. He documents this in the recently published book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception." When he learned more, he changed his position from supporting the current administration as a strong loyalist to speaking out against these wrongs.

Please read the book and various news articles to learn more, in particular the New York Times article at:

In the second case, Massachusetts state Rep. Paul Kujawski went from opposing same-sex marriage to voting to allow it, despite major pressure from others. As he learned more about gays who wished to marry, he moved from a position opposing same-sex marriage to one willing to allow different strokes for different folks. Did allowing same sex marriage materially damage his own marriage? -- No. Did allowing it materially help others? -- Yes. So Paul left behind his former beliefs and reached a new, better informed position that allows more people more freedom in an area where it benefits those people and does not harm others.

Please read more in the San Jose Mercury News at:

When knowledgeable, well respected stalwarts flip sides, everyone should take note because this is not done lightly. Both men considered their respective situations carefully and thoughtfully before making their final decisions.

I am in a similar position with regard to freecycling. There was a time when I was a strong proponent of The Freecycle Network (TFN) and helped in many ways as an inside member of its core team. But when I realized that TFN had made some major mistakes that harmed many innocents, I was compelled by my sense of honor to do what was right rather than what was easy.

For details and references please see:

Luckily, I am not alone in my observations and trying to right wrongs. Many, if not most, of the original freecycling leaders likewise left TFN before, during, and after I left for similar or related reasons. These people include Nancy Castleman (original head of the modsquad forum), Judy Ruzich (original head of the GOAs), Pastor Ken Hedden, David Neeley, Karen Welliver, Charlotte Hess, Karen "caveguru" (original author of the TFN moderator manual), Elva Hesting, Rob Robertson, Robin Brown, Eric Snyder, Kelly, Deanna, Lorretta Woodbury, Eric Burke, Lynnie Jones, Cynthia Armistead, Linden R. Gibson, Nora Child, and many others.

Note that while I no longer support TFN, I (and these others) continue to strongly support freecycling.

Tim Oey

1 comment:

Frank said...

Tim, you are so correct:) In life we all make mistakes, that is part of our way of learning.

Part of the human nature is change. We can our minds about much as we age and gain wisdom. It is the wisdom that we gain that engages our minds into thought. It is the thought process and the research or that thought's objective, that helps one change their mind.

As we grew into the TFN management positions we started to see drastic changes in the grassroots concept of how and why TFN grew so popular and respected, it started to feel not so good.

Upon seeing these grassroots concepts being trampled over and/or completely discarded, it became harder and harder to stand by and watch. When doing something stops feeling right, one would have to realize it is then wrong. Tim, myself and those you mentioned and many you didn't mention decided it was time to stop doing wrong!

Then we went one step further and decided to right the wrong. We did not give up on the grassroots frecycling movement, we continued to promote freecycling and built thousands of new groups to do so. With those thousands of new groups came tens of thousands of free freecyclers.

Some may be asking what is free freecycling. Well, it is just that, free freecycling. In most new freecycle groups they are about the community! Yes, we want to keep the useful items out of the land fills. This is our major objective, but not our only one.

If you take as an example, as I don't want to speak for all of the independent freecycle groups. We allow lost pet posts, and have had pets returned home. How great is that! My pets are loved like they are children, aren't yours:) We allow I am looking for a home in such and such area. We allow churches to post events that don't charge an admission but accept donations. There are many other COMMUNITY posts SIG allows. We are not about a ton of rules, we are about community. Neighbor helping Neighbor in any way they can.

Many of the freecycle groups may be as liberal as SIG, but I can't claim they are without first hand knowledge. I would be willing to bet that most Non-TFN freecycle groups have also kept with the original grassroots concepts of "Its about the community, not tons of restrictions and rules".

I am not going to say our Non-TFN groups don't have a few rules; it wouldn't be prudent not to. The rules are kept at bare minimum. Our groups are fun and not stiff, we even talk to one another: OH MY!

I was only one of the first to see what TFN (which started out as Freecycle) started creating a "Monster" as I called it then and now.

I stepped down from all positions I held at the time and left. Very shortly after that several others started seeing things turning corporate and not the grassroots freecycle we all knew. When the founder of freecycle started making a living from funds granted off the backs of hundreds of volunteers; and changeing rules all to often, many folks came to the free side of freecycling.

This included you Tim, that was a happy day for me as we had worked so hard together to make the grassroots freecycle grow. Folks, you will see that Tim felt so strongly that TFN was doing was wrong he stood up for what he believed it. He took it to the Court Of Law! Tim I applaud you, as do just about everyone mentioned in your blog and so many more!

Tim had the conviction to fight for what he (and so many others)felt was true. TFN overstepped their bounds, they attached Free Speech! They will not accept the fact that freecycle is a generic word. It was given freely to the world to use. We will continue to use it, why, Free Speech!

TFN struck back at Tim and his wife with a SLAPP suit just to spank Tim for having the heart to fight for what is right.

What a guy attaching Tim's wife who has nothing to do with Tim's fight for Free Speech!

If you follow the archives Tim supplied you will see that the court agreed with Tim and he won both cases. Yes, TFN has appealed, it isn't their money they are spending so why not!

I dubbed Tim "The Father of Free Freeclcyers" because of the hard fight he has been fighting (and continues to fight) to keep freecycle free! Thank you Tim.

So please remember the title of this blog! "Doing what is right, rather than what is easy..."

Tim is living by these words and he has been doing so for YEARS!

PK (Founder of Sharing Is Giving)