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Running head: CORE ASSIGNMENT #2 1

Core Assignment #2

Ronald Hoon

Arizona State University

OGL 482

October 28, 2017
CORE ASSIGNMENT #2 2

Core Assignment #2

Is my earliest recollection a memory, or something someone told me about later in life?

I’ve always envied those who say they can remember an event from two or three years old. It

seems like almost everyone I know can do that. It amazes me that anyone could remember

something from that early in life. It’s equally amazing that someone could actually recall their

young age at the time of a memory. In my case, on the other hand, I seem to have only a messy

collection of early memories with little or no idea of what age to assign them to. Maybe the

worst part is that several of these memories are random and insignificant. An interaction with a

friend, something someone said in a classroom, a grocery store aisle, a song playing in my

mom’s car. It’s like my young mind wasn’t yet programmed to recognize important moments as

important, and mislabeled walking into the laundry room as a memorable event.

An early episode in life of which I have no recollection, but is nevertheless significant to

the rest of the story, is my birth. It wasn’t anything dramatic or miraculous (unless you count the

monsoon storm outside the hospital window a little dramatic, and any childbirth a miracle).

What’s significant about my birth is that I was two weeks late, and my mother was in labor for

36 hours. I blew past my due date in mid-July and was at last forced out on the 30th of the

month. This wasn’t without a fight, however, as I appeared to everyone in the delivery room

determined to move as slowly into this world as I possibly could.

Why are these details significant to the rest of my life story? They are part of—the first

part of—a continuing theme of laziness and late-bloomer-ness. There are silver linings standing

by, however. And, overall, by now, I feel I’ve mostly cured myself of the laziness and late-

bloomer-ness condition. But indulge me as I consider some past events that shaped who I’ve

become.
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I was weaned off breastmilk shortly after my birth at a mighty five weeks old. Legend has

it I would frequently fall asleep within minutes of beginning to nurse, keeping me from getting

enough to eat. So, my concerned mother asked her doctor about it, and his pedagogical response

was, “He’s lazy.” To be diagnosed as lazy at five weeks could have led to some pretty serious

issues, as you can imagine. But I turned out okay. This diagnosis does, however, align with the

lazy theme that began with my slow and extended birth. It’s certainly a less graceful theme than a

pattern of demonstrated high intelligence and success from infancy on. But, like I said, there is a

silver lining; when it counts—when it really matters—I’ve managed throughout life to wriggle

my way out of my tendency to indolence and actually accomplish important things. I’ve also

been pretty lucky in some big ways.

To begin with, I count myself tremendously privileged and fortunate to have been born in

a nice part of the United States, to married parents who loved me, and that I was born without

serious health complications. Those are like three winning lottery tickets lined up in front of you;

and I’ll never fail to consider how great those blessings are.

To be honest, I’m sincerely surprised that I’ve made it 32 years without dying.

Particularly that I made it through a rambunctious childhood with plenty of opportunities for

accidents. I consider that a big win for me. And if I didn’t just jinx it by writing that, I’ll be

fortunate to live another 32 years. Beyond that, another 32 might be pushing it—but my paternal

great-grandfather did live to 96, so we’ll have to wait and see.

When I mention my rowdy, high-spirited childhood, I’m referring to what are probably

the experiences of a lot of young boys growing up—lighting things on fire, digging holes a small

child could get stuck in, climbing trees, climbing walls, climbing on the frames of two-story

houses under construction, riding bikes in the middle of the street, backflips into the pool, and, in
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one case, even getting into the car and driving it into the house. At the risk of sounding old and

preachy, I must say that I hope kids in this day and age still get out and run around the

neighborhood with their friends, having fun together, and getting into just a little bit of trouble.

I’m even a father now, and I yet I hope for that. Reason being is that those moments seem to be

what make childhood, childhood. Today, as we know, there is so much technology, so much

information, so much to look at, and kids are started so early in serious sports and academics so

they can compete and have opportunity as they get older, that I worry some children are robbed

of the fun of childhood that makes it what it’s supposed to be.

For me, those early childhood experiences (which, again, I can’t quite recall my age at

the time of most of them) helped me to learn the art of creating relationships. Though I didn’t

know it at the time, I was learning to communicate, and to connect with people through shared

experience. We all know the comfort and closeness that comes naturally when, as adults, we

experience something traumatic with someone, such as a car accident, or when we share a joyful

experience playing a fun game when we’re all together for the holidays. In those moments, we

create relationships. In adulthood, such experiences—be they dangerous or exciting—seem to

happen less often and be less impactful. In childhood, it’s as if amazing things are happening

every day. That gives children an opportunity unparalleled in the remainder of life to learn and

grow and become. But that can be stifled by iPads and iPhones, computers and video games, if

these otherwise good and harmless devices are used too intensely and/or too often.

Long story short, I want kids to enjoy childhood, as I was fortunate to do, so they can be

better kids and better adults. We all secretly know that when we’re binge-watching a TV show,

we’re not really progressing all that much, and there’s probably something better we could be

doing with our time (not that I’m opposed to relaxation—remember my lazy diagnosis). This
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principle is particularly important for children, so I hope no child is too anxious to have their

own Netflix account someday.

Something else that face-to-face interaction, recreation, fun, and shared experience

allowed me to learn as a child was what my developing strengths were—not to mention an

understanding of my weaknesses. I began to recognize what I was good at, what I was

comfortable with, what I was afraid of, and what I felt passionate about. For instance, while

some friends of mine clearly excelled while playing flag football, I was discovering that that

wasn’t my strength. I also loved to draw, and was pretty good at it. As I discovered that that

wasn’t something everyone was good at, I realized it was a skill. I learned that a skill can become

a passion. Friends who took their developing skills and became passionate rather than passive or

dismissive about them are today among the most successful of my friends.

An important aspect of my childhood was my baptism at the age of eight in the Church of

Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church. This is one memory that

has an age! In our church, a child of 8 years old can decide to be baptized, go through a brief

interview process with a regional Church leader, schedule a date, and be baptized in a font at a

Church building with family and friends around. It’s a wonderful experience for everyone

involved. Most 8-year-olds who are raised in the Church do decide to be baptized immediately

following their birthday. In my case, however, following the theme of being a lazy late-bloomer,

when my parents asked what I thought about being baptized when upon turning eight, I said no. I

sternly explained to everyone around in my family and at church that I wasn’t interested in and

would never be baptized. In reality, I was only afraid of going under the water and getting water

up my nose. The truth was I wanted to be baptized, and was jealous of kids at church who

already had been. I felt they some ability I lacked to be able to keep water from going up their
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noses while being dunked under the water in the font. After a few months of my parents

assuming I was destined to be apostate, it was explained to me that I could plug my nose while

going under the water. Once I understood this, a date for my baptism set.

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, being baptized signifies

a promise to God that you will keep the commandments, and, in so many words, be a good, kind,

and loving person all the time. While we know that we won’t live up to this promise throughout

our lives, we make this promise and are baptized to show our commitment to lifelong

improvement. Since my baptism, I’ve done just that. I’ve also served in many volunteer positions

in the Church, including a full-time missionary for two years in Brazil. Today, 24 years after my

baptism, I serve as the president of the Sunday School organization in our local congregation,

with the opportunity to lead 10 teachers and over 200 students of all ages—youth to retirees. This

role provides a great deal of fulfillment and happiness for me, mostly because, beyond the

administrative aspects, it gives me the opportunity to teach a variety of classes and a variety of

age groups at church from time to time. My commitment to the Church, and to my faith in

general—a huge part of my life, which ranked highest on my values checklist—began with my

baptism in 1993.

In the years that followed, my trek through junior high and high school was fraught with

some difficulty, both socially and academically. I shifted through groups of friends, never feeling

too close to any single group. I always had friends, but lacked a best friend, or a close-knit group

of buddies I could always rely on. Any time I would be dating a girl, she would take on the role

of the best friend. When it would end, that would dissipate, and I would go back to looking.

Some friends of mine were closer to me than others, but nothing ever seemed to stick the way I

really wanted. Over time, I began to have the sense that until I had a serious girlfriend that I truly
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loved and wanted to marry, I just wouldn’t have the kind of friendship I craved. I remember

ultimately being alright with that. Perhaps that was so much so my desire that I subconsciously

wasn’t building stronger relationships with other friends. Although I was outgoing, friendly, and

skilled at building working relationships with people, perhaps I never become too close with any

one individual who I wasn’t dating because I subconsciously didn’t want to.

Notwithstanding all that, I did have friends around me in my junior high and high school

years, and for that reason I consider myself fortunate. Although I never intentionally made efforts

to build stronger, lasting relationships, I had people to see on the weekends, and was blessed to

get to know a wide variety of individuals.

My grades were a struggle in a similar way. Academically, just as socially, I found it

difficult to commit. This is a serious regret in my life—maybe my greatest regret to date—that I

didn’t try harder to get better grades in high school. Looking back, my friends in various groups

were going out on the weekends and having fun just like I was, but were also being responsible

and committed to their schoolwork during the week, or whenever it was necessary. Uncommitted

as I was, I assumed that anyone partying and having a good time was as indifferent and

unenthusiastic about school as me. I was wrong. Today, seeing more clearly through the lens of

past experience, there are high school-age youth I’m honored to know through church, whose

commitment and diligence I see and admire greatly. I wish with all my heart I would have

followed such stalwart examples in my high school experience, worked hard, and gotten better

grades.

In my sophomore year of high school, I met with a counselor on campus to whom I

expressed my dislike for school, and my foolish belief that it wasn’t a relevant institution for me,

as I could simply self-educate using the internet. Among my grievances were a heavy disinterest
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in math, and a lack of desire to learn a second language—two things most students around me

were busy with. The counselor then told me something I wish he never had—that I could choose

a standard diploma track over a scholastic. This would effectively do away with my second

language concerns, and eliminate any math requirement beyond sophomore year. I chose the

standard track, and the counselor switched me onto it without hesitation. Looking back, I’m

surprised he did that, and I wish he hadn’t. Regardless, I chose that path, and my choices being

mine, I set myself on a trajectory toward mediocrity. In so doing, the perspective could be taken

that I was fulfilling the “Peter principle,” the tendency of people “to rise to ‘their level of

incompetence’” (“What is the Peter principle?”), only without the “rising” part. A more accurate

perspective perhaps is that I was disregarding my potential.

Even then, it’s possible that that isn’t a fully accurate perspective either, as I never really

considered myself to have much potential at all. Potential wasn’t something I once saw in

myself, and then became disillusioned about it. I just didn’t consider potential conceptually in

my own life at all. It was there, of course; I wasn’t completely incompetent. To friends during

this period of my life (and for even a few years after high school), I was, according to them,

either the “smartest dumb person,” or the “dumbest smart person” they knew. To teachers, the

story went, “He’s bright, he just needs to apply himself.” This commentary of friends and

teachers, with hesitant recognition of faint potential, whether intentional or not, actually provided

some encouragement for me. Of course, my loving parents always believed in and encouraged

me. Over time I started to recognize potential in myself as well.

In 2006, I did something strange and counter to my long-held non-committal life

philosophy and enrolled at Mesa Community College. To my complete shock, the four classes I

took over two semesters yielded two A grades and two B grades. For the first time in my life, I
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felt like a student. Not only was I in school and getting decent grades, I was enjoying it along the

way and learning a lot. As I grew in accountability and self-confidence, I began considering

other ways I might strive to be more than I’d been up to that point in my life.

I should mention parenthetically that the realization that I had potential and was capable

of living up to it was coupled with a sudden panic that I was 21 years old and had wasted an

extraordinary amount of time. Again, remember, the condition of laziness and late-bloomer-ness

is brutal. In some moments, this realization caused me to feel rushed and anxious. Other times, I

simply felt there was no use in trying to make up for lost time, that it was too late, and I should

just accept my role as a loser in society and attempt to live with it. Somehow, to my advantage,

the rushed and anxious moments got me to act just enough that I could push myself forward to

do good things.

This led me to consider the possibility of serving a full-time mission for the Church of

Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—something I had sworn off years before. As I had mentioned

previously, high school was a time of listless effort and self-indulgence. Others who had

prepared themselves for years to serve faithful missions had not wasted the time I had. They had

been diligent in organizing themselves and their time, and had made responsible personal choices

that allowed a mission to be a natural next step when the time came. With me, past mistakes

needed to be cleared up, and preparation was put on the fast track. Miraculously, in February

2007, I received a letter from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT formally calling me to

serve a full-time mission in Brasília, Brazil. I would spend two years learning the Portuguese

language and committing seven days a week to serving and teaching others. This was a very un-

lazy thing to do, and I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to do it. Today, the

Church is more selective about who is allowed to serve in the capacity of a full-time missionary.
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I might not have been able to serve if it had been ten years later. But there the opportunity lay

before me. In an act that went way against my laziness philosophy, I accepted the call. I was to

report to the Missionary Training Center in São Paulo, Brazil on June 6, 2007.

The full detail of a two-year mission, and the effect it has had on my life, would require

more time than I have to write this paper (meaning it would likely several months to synthesize

into a narrative). I will have to expand on it later. Hopefully an excerpt or two from letters home

will provide a glimpse.

Few moments are as sobering in life as when you realize how good you had it growing

up, but didn’t appreciate it. That naturally leads to profuse apologizing from child to parent,

laughing on the part of the parent (I imagine), and a sincere desire to be better, and to fully

appreciate the people in your life that love you. On a mission—I think particularly when serving

in third-world nation—such sobering moments occur quite often. The mission itself in totality

could be called a humbling experience.

In a letter home on May 19, 2009, just a week before finishing my mission and returning

home to Arizona, I wrote the following to my mother:

“I like to think that for every son there’s a lot to be sorry for. Part of me learning and

changing on the mission is recognizing just what an idiot I really was before. Not that I’m perfect

now. I have many flaws. But I’ve learned a lot. Really, if anyone were to ask me what was the

price I had to pay for me to learn to do what is right, I would say ‘two years of my life as a

missionary.’ That having been said, I’m sorry for anything I've done in the past that has made

you even a little worried, sad, upset, disappointed, frustrated or any other mildly negative

adjective you can imagine. Now, don’t go thinking too much about those things, just know that

I’m sorry for all the stupid things I’ve done to make your job harder in the past. I can’t do much
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to make it up to you while I’m here but you can be sure that once I’m home I’m at your disposal

to do whatever you want! You name it. I love you more than I can say and I’ve gained an

incredible appreciation for motherhood, especially for my own mother” (Hoon & Hoon, 2009).

Learning and growing isn’t always about grand realizations or intense experiences.

Sometimes it’s just about getting used to a new culture over time. An example of this is from a

letter sent home to my family on April 21, 2008:

“I really wanted to get a haircut today but the salon is closed because it’s another one of

those every-other-week holidays in Brazil where everything is shut down. It’s almost always a

holiday here. Some months have two or three holidays per week. It makes going to the post

office and getting haircuts difficult, but oh well… We have our Presidents Days and Veterans

Days, but the kinds of holidays that Brazil shuts down for would be the U.S. equivalent of Arbor

Day or something like that. They’re all taken very seriously. It’s so lazy it’s actually amazing.

The day I watched a man walk out of his house with a bag of garbage and walk it across the

street to a field and light it all on fire and then walk back to his house and go inside, I’ve had a

deep respect for the Brazilian people” (Hoon & Hoon, 2009).

Countless experiences over the two years I spent in Brazil—learning the language,

learning the culture, realizing the many mistakes I’ve made in the past, walking the streets in the

rain, failing and trying again, and getting to know the sweet, wonderful people—operated for me

like a fulcrum to redirect my path in a direction I wouldn’t change for anything.

My return home from Brazil was met with a struggle to adjust to friends who seemed to

expect that I would not have changed over the two years. It was as if the expectation was that my

life was simply paused for that time, and that we could all finally press play the day I got home.
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Well, I couldn’t live up to that expectation. I had changed. And for the better, in my opinion. Not

everyone back home felt that way, however, and some friendship sadly faded away.

Ordinarily, in the Mormon community, plenty of grace is offered to those getting home

from their missions. In general, we understand that a returned missionary is a different person

than the one who left. The friends I came home to were a mixed group of members of the Church

and not. None of the Church member friends had served missions themselves. So, overall, that

grace and understanding was not there. This sad experience left me feeling a strong desire to

separate and make new friends. As I set out to accomplish that, I found myself having the

opportunity to date women I might never have met if I hadn’t broadened my circle of post-

mission friends. One of these women, as it turned out, became my wife Kelcie.

Kelcie and I began dating in 2012, and we married in 2013. Without her, I wouldn’t be, as

I write this, now five weeks away from graduating from ASU. I wouldn’t have had the

professional experiences I’ve had. I wouldn’t be a father. In short, I wouldn’t be the man I am.

Her impact on me is simply beyond the power of language to describe.

What does that professional experience include? Pulling from the “About Me” section of

my e-portfolio:

“In 2011, I began working as an investment advisor with a wealth management group at a

large insurance company. Shortly after joining the group, a ‘teaming initiative’ was introduced

company-wide, which encouraged individual sales representatives to join together. After a few

months, it was becoming clear that some teams were working well together and experiencing

success, while others had begun to struggle and fail. The question of why this was happening was

what first piqued my interest in the study of organizations.
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“Our wealth management group assumed that we would be successful because we had

come together with many of the same ideas, philosophies, and values in mind. The assumption

that this would naturally facilitate success proved to be a pleasant but unfortunately abstract idea,

and we soon found ourselves among the ranks of the failing teams. This further intensified my

curiosity on the subject of why.

“While it was a discouraging experience to be part of a failed team, it led me to recognize

my enthusiasm for observing and studying organizations from the outside looking in. Since that

time, I’ve enrolled at Arizona State University to study organizational leadership, have had the

opportunity to assist in research, have prepared for graduate work in organizational studies, and

have begun working as a learning and development specialist at an insurance company, where I

have the opportunity to develop curriculum and lead training classes” (Hoon, 2017).

Between the former insurance company mentioned (MetLife) and the latter (National

General Insurance), I worked as a fraud analyst at PayPal, and as a financial investigations

analyst at American Express. Having worked at these large, publicly-traded, Fortune 500

financial companies in my career thus far has left me with the sincere question of why. I want to

know what makes organizations—on every level; micro, meso, and macro—behave the way they

do. This interest in why has less to do with the financial side of things, and more to do with the

psychological aspects. Why, at the root, do organizations (which, ultimately, are made of up of

people) behave the way they do? This has become the great question of my career. I’m not yet

sure if that question will keep me as a practitioner within the corporate world, or if it will lead

me into academic research. What I know is that why is the question that won’t go away.

In my career thus far, I do not have formal management experience. Early on as an

organizational leadership major at ASU, I felt that it would be beneficial to have management
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experience in order to inform my assignments in the program. I also thought that this degree

program would prepare me abundantly to work in a management role. As I near the end of my

degree program, I’ve found that the opposite has occurred. While there are myriad teachings

valuable in this program for someone wanting to assume the role of a manager, what I’ve taken

from it is that I feel abundantly prepared to avoid management all together, and instead apply

leadership principles in non-management positions.

One of the most significant principles I’ve learned as an organizational leadership major

at ASU has been that there are distinct differences between management and leadership. As of

today, I feel I am better equipped than almost anyone to apply leadership principles in an

organizational setting. And yet, I have zero desire to be a manager. Managers—particularly those

in corporations—are, in my opinion, the scourge of the earth in this day and age. We may not be

beset with plagues in our day, but we are cursed with an abundance of managers, the

incompetence and irrelevance of which knows no bounds. The world needs less management; it

desperately needs leadership. Organizational hierarchies need to be replaced with flat structures

(the flatter and more loosely-coupled the better).

No manager ever improved an organization, or fixed a problem, or made lives better—

leaders did those things. Managers limply slurp and glug from organizations the life supplied by

leadership. Management is a signal of inefficiency; leadership is efficient by nature.

If there is a period to place at the end of my degree program, it would be the above

paragraphs regarding management versus leadership. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have

learned through the organizational leadership program the inimitable importance of leadership.

In conclusion, if I may provide a tribute to two people I have the opportunity and honor

to lead—my children. Mason (3) and Ava (1) help me each day to put into practice what I read
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and write about in this degree program. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to learn and grow the

way I get to. It might be a strange belief in today’s modern organizations, but I believe that to

lead is to love. Being able to lead and love my children as their father is the joy of my life. Like I

said, I hope I have cured myself of most of my laziness and late-bloomer-ness. But that’s not

quite right—it’s my children who have cured me of it.
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References

What is the Peter principle? definition and meaning. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2017, from

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/Peter-principle.html

Hoon, R., & Hoon, R. (2009, May 19). May 19, 2009 [Web log post]. Retrieved October 28,

2017, from http://elderjordanhoon.blogspot.com/

Hoon, R., & Hoon, R. (2009, April 19). April 21, 2008 [Web log post]. Retrieved October 28,

2017, from http://elderjordanhoon.blogspot.com/

Hoon, R. J. (n.d.). About Me. Retrieved October 29, 2017, from

https://ronaldjordanhoon.weebly.com/about-me.html