Serve a Good Purpose

Germans believe that when you serve another person – dienen – you have to accept the value system of that person. He who serves, has to do things, has to act in a way, which they might otherwise fully reject. Even more, the person serving is obligated to do their very best. Germans do not consider this a relief, not as a transfer of moral responsibility from the one serving to the one being served. On the contrary, it represents a burden for them, knowing from the very start that they will invariably come into conflict with their conscience.

On the other hand, when a German is willing to serve a good purpose, a cause they believe in, they are freely submitting to a belief, taking a moral stand, agreeing with a set of arguments. They can formulate those arguments in a way which fits their values. If one can no longer support the cause, there is no obligation to continue contributing time and effort.

Psychologically this means that serving a good cause, whether through action, financial assistance or communicating the message, means serving one’s own value system. We are obligating ourselves freely. Independence and self-determination are protected.

Protect their ways

But why do Germans have such difficulty with dienen, serving? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Germans in many ways live mit sich – with themselves, and in sich – in themselves, in the sense of how they live, where they live. Their surroundings are very much a part of their personality, their self-understanding. Unexpected visitors, regulations or limitations on their private lives are quickly interpreted as personal attacks. The boss calling unexpectedly, friends dropping by for a visit, colleagues giveing unsolicited advice concerning their private life make Germans feel uncomfortable.

To serve well, though, means to push to the side one’s own values, beliefs, ways of living. The better one can do that, the better they can serve. And that is the difficult part for Germans. They prefer far more beraten, to advise, or to complete a task. Beraten involves addressing a topic, subject, problem. It is impersonal, independent of one‘s values, lifestyle, belief system.

To serve a good purpose

Back to serving a good purpose. German non-governmental organizations – NGOs – are confronted by the dilemma that they need to function well as organizations, but do not want to give their members the impression that they work for an organization. Internal power struggles are poisonous for small, low-budget organizations. Members need to know that they are serving a higher purpose and not an organizational structure.

For Germans, their work, what they accomplish day in and day out, is very much a part of their personal identity. On the one side this makes it difficult for them to maintain distance from their work. On the other, however, it enables them to work very conscientiously and independently. The German logic is: „Do you want to understand who I am. Look at my work.“

Lone Ranger

Lone Ranger: one who acts alone and without consultation or the approval of others.

In 1933, the radio show The Lone Ranger first appeared. Later, it was turned into a television show, which ran from 1949-1957, as well as a series of books. The story follows the adventures of the Lone Ranger – the only ranger who survived an ambush by “Butch” Cavendish in a canyon known as Bryant’s Gap. 

After the fighting, the injured ranger is discovered by Tonto the Indian, who nurses him back to health. The two men then fight crime together, with the Lone Ranger in a mask, so as to conceal his identity.

Although in the program the Lone Ranger was not alone, he and Tonto had clearly defined roles – the ranger was the leader, and anytime Tonto and the Ranger were separated, Tonto wouldn’t act without first consulting the Lone Ranger.

Mars Attacks !

In the American movie Mars Attacks! there are two generals who advise the President of the United States. One, General Decker, is very opinionated and not shy about telling the President when he disagrees with something. The other, General Casey, only gives his opinion when asked, and then always tries to soften it considerably.

Consequently, when Martians first land on Earth, it is General Casey, not General Decker, who is chosen to greet the Martians and welcome them to the planet. As Casey prepares for his big moment, he says to his wife: “Didn’t I always tell you, honey, if I just stayed in place and never spoke up, good things are bound to happen.”

The Buck Stops Here

The saying “the buck stops here” is used to refer to the person who takes responsibility. It is derived from the expression “pass the buck” which means to pass responsibility from one person to another. 

The phrase “pass the buck” comes from the game of poker, in which a marker, called a buck, was used to indicate the dealer. When changing dealers, the first dealer would “pass the buck” to the new one, thus passing responsibility.

During his presidency, Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk, which read “The Buck Stops Here.” It was his way of showing that, as the leader of the United States, he was responsible for anything that happened in the nation. 

He also made several references to this quote during his public statements, and in his farewell address, President Truman said “The President – whoever he is – has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”

LeBron James calls plays

Sunday, May 10, 2015. Sports Illustrated online. 

„Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James says head coach David Blatt wanted him to inbound the ball on the final play of Sunday’s Game 4 but he overruled the coach. Instead, James hit a game-winning jumper as time expired to give the Cavaliers an 86-84 series-tying win.  

`To be honest, the play that was drawn up, I scratched it,’ James told reporters. `I just told coach, Give me the ball. We’re either going to go to overtime or I’m going to win it for us. It was that simple.

`I was supposed to take the ball out,’ James continued. `I told coach, There’s no way I’m taking the ball out, unless I can shoot it over the backboard and it goes in. I told him, Have somebody else take the ball out, give me the ball, and everybody get out of the way.’”

Baseball and pitch-calling

Steve Krah of the Elkhart Truth (newspaper in Indiana) wrote online: „More and more, catchers at the college and high school levels are seen peeking — or even staring — in the dugout to get the sign from a coach.

While some programs let their pitchers and catchers manage their own games, many others — especially NCAA Division I schools — take that off the battery mates’ plates.

Notre Dame pitching coach Chuck Ristano calls nearly every pitch as well as pick-off tosses and pitch-outs and sets the defense for the Irish.

`I want (the pitcher and catcher) to have some element of ownership in the game, but the reality is we have access to a lot more information than the kids do (like tendency and hitter spray charts),’ Ristano said. `We just want them to focus on executing their pitch.`’

Notre Dame employs a numbers system that is flashed to the catcher, who then consults a wristband chart that suggests which pitch and part of the strike zone to throw the pitch.“

Football Audibles

In Football for Dummies Howie Long (a former professional player) and John Czarnecki (Fox Sports commentator) write:

„In American football, the quarterback relays to his teammates in the huddle what play the coach has called. The play is a mental blueprint or diagram for every player on the field. 


Quarterbacks are also allowed to audibilize, or change the play at the line of scrimmage. A changed play is called an audible. Quarterbacks usually audibilize when they discover that the defense has guessed correctly and is properly aligned to stop the play.

Everything the quarterback says in the huddle refers specifically to the assignments of his receivers, running backs, offensive linemen, and center.“

audible: heard or able to be heard.

American Football play-calling

Calling a play in American football is a complex process. During any one given play each of the players on a team has a different, specific, scripted role to play. 

Who calls the plays? Either the head coach or the offensive coordinator. In some situations the quarterback.

How is the play communicated to the players? The quarterback may have a speaker in his helmet connecting him with the coaches. A substitute player can be sent in with the play. The play can be communicated from the sidelines via hand signals.

More and more teams are using a no-huddle offense to speed the game up. Players take their positions as quickly as possible, and get their assignments from the quarterback or from the coaches on the sideline.

Situation Room

The so-called situation room – a complex of rooms of several thousand square feet and located in the basement of the White House – is where the President, selected members of the cabinet and the national security teams meet during a crisis or when secure communications are essential. They make up the President‘s inner circle of security advisors.

NASA has a similar kind of „war room“ in which it manages and monitors all space flights. Access have experts in altitude control, dynamics, power, propulsion. In the lead are the flight controllers.

„The War Room“, a 1993 documentary by D.A. Pennebacker, told the story of the inner circle of then presidential candidate Bill Clinton‘s election team. Although the film crew shot less than forty hours of material over a roughly three month period, it succeeded in giving viewers an authentic inside view of how a presidential candidate‘s inner circle works.


Mentor: A trusted counselor or guide; tutor, coach; from Greek Mentōr. First known use 1616. Mentoring has become popular within American, and other, companies. It asks an experienced senior-level colleague to provide advice to a less experienced, junior-level colleague. American managers will seek advice wherever they can find it, as long as it is sound, helpful, and most importantly discreet.