It’s Halloween day as I write this post that releases on November 4th, the day after the polls close, the day when we rejoice in the void created by the ceasing of hateful political ads, rallies and rhetoric.
I write in advance with words and thoughts that are pro-active and not reactive. That cannot predict the outcome but perhaps can help you (and me) navigate the aftermath. No matter what that is.
On this day it is highly unlikely that we have a clear outcome. That the agony of not knowing is still ever present. That we find ourselves both hopeful and fearful. In this transitory space I encourage you think about how you might use your energy, your talents and your passion in a productive way.
Good for you for voting – but more is required if we are to make our democracy work, if we are to heal and become stronger together, if we are to step into the full potential of the American dream.
Here is my message to you. No matter what the outcome, no matter if your guy (face it – it’s still mostly guys) won or lost, no matter how you feel about it, do not allow yourself or others to rob you of your agency. Do not lose sight of the power YOU have and the collective power we have together.
Back in early 2011, I committed myself to an overarching core belief that leadership matters. Not just leadership at the extreme top of our nation or organizations. Our CEOs and presidents and executive directors are important – without doubt. However, at Evergreen we believe that leadership is an action, not a position. We believe that leadership is needed at all levels. That each of us, in our own way, can step up and lead.
Starting a small business is an act of leadership – that leads to a healthier economy and stronger community. Participating in a community group is an act of leadership that can move others to a better place. Reaching out to someone different than us is an act of leadership that can bridge differences with a sincere human connection.
One of the reasons I chose the name Evergreen for my company was due to the fact that the tallest and longest living evergreens on earth are the Giant Redwoods or Sequoias – who grow to over 200 feet and live to be up to 2000 years. They can grow to great heights – and flourish for so long because they entwine their roots together – creating a vast network that supports each tree. And that is the work each of us can do, entwining the “roots” of in your community, supporting each other and helping us reach new heights now and in the future.
Those of you who have been in my workshops or programs know, I also believe in the power of taking continual small steps toward a desired future. And then another step and another and another. So at the conclusion of every workshop, coaching session or leadership circle, each person makes a commitment to take that one small step forward. In this post-election time I can’t demand it of you, but I certainly can plant a seed. Given the place at which we find ourselves as a nation today, I would ask that each of us takes one small step toward healing and moving forward.
Perhaps you might choose to:
- Attack the issues and not the people
- Become more activity engaged in our community or political systems
- Envision possibility rather than complaining about the problems
- Search for solutions rather than place blame
- Seek common ground at the same time respecting and honoring differences
- Nurture and grow your own leadership, or that of another
- Listen to those you differ with, not to persuade, but to understand
- Use your social media posts to uplift rather than tear down
So today, hold an election of one. Vote for yourself. Name your position or your intention. Perhaps you vote yourself to be the:
- Convener of community activities
- The deep listener
- Creator of safe spaces to have difficult discussions
- Founder of things in your community that need done
- The healer
- The visionary
- The community builder
- The mentor or tutor or teacher
On this day, take to heart the words of Abraham Lincoln from November 19, 1863 as he honored those who gave their lives for democracy and this nation:
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Please live into the idea that democracy is “by the people”. That includes you and me and all those who want to create a better nation for all.
I leave you with more wise words, this time from Margaret Mead.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”