Leadership is about rising above our lower self. Leaders set aside their own discomfort to make something more bearable for the other person. This creates the opposite of divide. It creates connection. And that’s been proven in psychology and neuroscience.
I haven’t watched much of the political debates, because I don’t need to – nor do I want to. All the debates seem to be is a blame and shame game anyway. We don’t need more of that in our polarized society. We need leaders who say, “I’m sorry Mr. Presidential Nominee that you feel I haven’t done enough for the American people. But let me tell you how I plan to help them when I get elected into office.” Blame and shame only adds fuel to the fire. This answer acknowledges their feelings as legitimate and stifles the negative energy, then shifts the narrative to a hopeful future for the American people. (Where it should be.)
But this is typical politics. 🙄 An unfortunate circumstance is that we watch this unfold and mimic their behavior. If people in positions of power and influence answer blame with blame and shame with shame, then that must be okay. Then the people who look up to us see us demonstrating this behavior and assume that it’s okay. It all filters downward.
I have several friends whose political beliefs firmly oppose my own. I value these friendships, because they offer me perspective. We can tease one another, but we never blame and shame. We understand each other as people with good hearts, who want the best for this country.
Best is subjective on so many factors in our individual lives. If I can appreciate all those factors that created this unique human being who brings value to my life on all sorts of other levels, then I need to appreciate that those factors led him or her to their political beliefs too. You can’t have one without the other. We should be accepting of each other whole, perceived flaws and all.
I was once seeing this guy, and we were in that phase where you’re more than just friends but not necessarily boyfriend/girlfriend. The relationship was kind of at a standstill in this space, so I asked, “Where are we going with this relationship?” And he responded, “What relationship?”
First of all, that answer told me ev.er.y.thing. I needed to know about where he stood (and consequently, where I stood). Needless to say, that ended. 😂
He had such a close-minded view. A relationship exists with every person in which we interact. (Remember intimate, relational, and community?) Relationship itself is a noun. It’s a thing, right? But it requires action to make it a thing. Without connecting, binding, or relating, the relationship doesn’t exist. You’re just left with separate things.
Leadership starts with oneself. We can’t judge our politicians for answering blame with blame and shame with shame when we do the same thing. If we don’t like the polarization within our society, then we need to reflect on how we are contributing to it. There is a reason why people say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” But realistically, we can’t do it alone.
In the day-to-day, most of us don’t interact with the Presidential Nominees. Most of us don’t even interact with our local elected officials. A relationship doesn’t really exist, unless you choose to pursue one. (Which I encourage you to do!) But elections do give you an interactive opportunity. And relationships do exist with your peers.
Show up in these relationships. Be an active participant. When there’s a mutual understanding and joint effort, together you make relationships work. And generally speaking, isn’t that just kind of how elections work? You show up to the polls, you communicate via your ballot, and collective voices influence the future of your relationship with government.
So don’t just be a thing! Engage! Be humble, and be kind. 💖