Minority Rule—insisting on unanimous consent is often unnecessary and even detrimental

Cartoonstock.com: Board meeting where chairman is manually lifting everyone's hand with ropes and saying, "Excellent—It's unanimous!"

Years ago I served a church that was searching for a senior pastor. Eleven people were on the search committee. In their first meeting, someone must have suggested that their final decision be unanimous—to call a new pastor, all eleven members must be in agreement. (A scripture verse might have been used to support this position, “That they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21).

After months of prayer, and multiple interviews, ten members of the committee were convinced that one particular candidate was the right person for the job. One person dissented. Because of their commitment to act unanimously, the will of one person prevailed over the preference of ten people. It happened again; the same person dissenting overruled the will of the vast majority.

This predicament is called minority rule and it’s an unwise practice.

Every team or committee should be composed of vigorous-thinking individuals who are striving to make good decisions. Everyone should have a voice and a vote, but one person should not be given the power to overrule the opinion of others. It might be reasonable to say that 70% of the group must be in agreement, but to set the bar at 100% is unnecessary and can be detrimental. There’s nothing wrong with a split decision. 

A split decision may even validate that the right decision was made because it implies that critical dialogue was pursued and multiple perspectives were considered. While a unanimous decision may indicate that the decision is simple and the best answer is obvious, or that everyone genuinely agrees, it can also indicate that the group is not taking the decision seriously, all variables have not been explored, or that some members may be intimidated by the arguments of those who are more demonstrative and verbal.

What do you think?

Critique and argument are keys to progress

How are things made better? What are the forces that can improve products, services, systems, and ideas? Critique and argument are indispensable.

Most of us are uncomfortable offering critique and/or arguing. It’s easy and pleasant to praise, encourage, and agree with others, but it’s difficult to critique and challenge. Similarly, we enjoy hearing words of commendation but we bristle at phrases that suggest we should do things differently. We like it when people agree with us and affirm our thoughts, but when they push back and disagree we are put-off.   

But critique and argument are indispensable for progress. The key thing to remember is that feedback is a gift so critique and argument should be received (even solicited) and considered positive. 


Verb—to evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way

Noun—a detailed analysis and assessment of something

I avoid using the words criticize and criticism because they sound harsh and oppositional, whereas critique is a softer, more helpful approach. 

Everything—a Broadway show, a new model of car, software, a new hire, work done, performance—is improved by intentional and systematic critique from multiple sources. Feedback is a gift, and critical feedback is especially useful.

My friend Allen is professor of choral studies at a major university. When coaching his conducting students, in addition to praising them for what they are doing well, he must tell them what they are doing wrong. If he doesn’t, they will think all they are doing is satisfactory. It would be counterproductive for him to praise something that needs to change.


Noun: a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong

Verb (argue): to exchange or express diverging or opposing views

Argument helps us clarify our thoughts and articulate them accurately, and we consider the ideas of others in a respectful and critical manner. 

(By the way, political debates are not good examples of the benefits of argument. When politicians “debate” all they’re basically saying is, “You’re wrong and I’m not.” There’s seldom any thoughtful discourse about real issues.)

Here’s a good article on the benefits of arguing.

In your family, at work, among friends…is it acceptable to critique one another? Is arguing allowed, even valued? The answer to both questions should be yes.

What do you think?

2023 Travel with Friends trip to the British Isles

Click below for brochure

For the past 11 years I’ve led groups of friends on annual trips. We’ve travelled to Paris, London, Rome, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, western Europe, the Mediterranean, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Amsterdam, Russia, Peru, Greek Isles, and North Africa. We’ve never had a malfunction or bad experience, just memorable, life-enhancing moments.

I’m happy to announce the Travel with Friends trip for 2023 – 16 day trip to the British Isles.

Aboard the beautiful 5-star Regal Princess ship, we’ll circumnavigate the British Isles, visiting the highlights of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

Have you ever longed to see:

  • Stonehenge – the prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England
  • Beaches of Normandy – where the D-Day invasion began
  • Paris – Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Belfast, Ireland – Giant’s Causeway, Belfast Highlands
  • Cork, Ireland – Blarney Castle, Waterford Crystal
  • Glasgow, Scotland – Inveraray Castle and Scottish Highlands
  • London – Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, British Museum, National Gallery
  • Invergorden, Scotland – is there really a Loc Ness monster?
  • Newcastle, England – Bamburg Castle, Hadrian’s Wall

The trip, limited to 40 guests, will be life-enhancing.

Here’s the brochure with details.

If you want more information, I’m hosting two information meetings on Zoom January 21 &28 from 7:00-8:00pm .  If you’re interested in participating contact me at [email protected] . Or email me with any questions you have.

Five best books I’ve read in the past five years

According to Cicero, if you have a library and a garden, you have everything you need in life. That may be an exaggeration, but I have both and can confirm that they are life-giving. Here are pictures of my library and vineyard.

Relative to libraries and books, we read for the pleasure and benefit of thinking another person’s thoughts. Here are five books that I have enjoyed and have benefited from. 

A Gentleman in Moscow — Amor Towles

This novel chronicles the plight of the Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, a former aristocrat sentenced to a life of house arrest at the Hotel Metropol in Moscow The Count’s saga begins in 1922, in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, and unfolds over the course of 32 years. Stripped of his spatial liberties, Rostov is forced to confront limited circumstances in the confines of the Metropol.

Upon his sentencing, a 32-year-old Rostov returns to the Metropol to find himself relegated from a grand suite to an attic room. It’s within these humbler living quarters that he contemplates a maxim imparted to him by his godfather: “If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.”

The ending will stay with you forever. 

The Undoing Project—Micael Lewis

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky were two Nobel Prize-winning Israeli psychologists who developed much of the base work behind behavioral finance, including recency bias, hindsight bias, anchoring, how ideas form in the mind, and others. Their friendship was exemplary; their work fascinating.

This book is a biography of these two great thinkers, an insight into their friendship, and an explanation of their work. The last line of the book made me cry.

Think Again:The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know—Adam Grant

In 1933, the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote that “the fundamental cause of trouble in the modern world is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” While this is just as true today as it was in the early twentieth century, the problem actually runs deeper; almost everyone recognizes arrogance and overconfidence in others—but never in themselves.

Since the time of Russell, what’s become known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect has been experimentally validated. Research shows—and personal experience confirms—that those who are the least knowledgeable in a subject tend to be the ones who overestimate their own knowledge and abilities, while those who are full of doubt know enough about the topic to better gauge the extent of their ignorance. [from Amazon review by Ryan Boissonneault]

I enjoy reading everything Adam Grant writes. This book was particularly good (and humbling).

Fermat’s Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World’s Greatest Mathematical Problem—Simon Singh 

Pierre de Fermat was an amateur mathematician of the seventeenth century who claimed he had proved one of the world’s greatest mathematical problems: No three positive integers, a, b, and c, satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than 2. In the margin of his journal he wrote, “I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain.” But no one ever found a copy of his proof. For 350 years, mathematicians around the world tried to recreate a proof of Fermat’s “last theorem,” as it was called, and failed. But in 1994, Professor Andrew Wiles wrote a 130-page proof, thus solving the world’s greatest mathematical problem. This book tells the fascinating story. 

The Road to Character—David Brooks

This book focuses on “résumé virtues” vs. “eulogy virtues.” Instead of asking, “What do you do?”Brooks wants us to ask ourselves “What is my character?”

Through a series of essays of great people (Eisenhower, George Marshall, George Eliot, Augustine, and Samuel Johnson), Brooks leads us through his journey toward developing his best character: moving toward love, humility, joy, a greater purpose, passion.

His conclusions include: We don’t live for happiness…we live for holiness. We are famously flawed but also splendidly endowed. In the struggle against your own weakness, humility is your great virtue and pride is the greatest vice. Character is built from your constant inner confrontation.

It’s a book everyone should read.