When a very smart woman like Elizabeth Warren tells the story of being at her wits end as she looked for childcare to work as a teacher; there is an important message for all of us. Even the strongest people need help to be successful. We need to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to pursue happiness without enabling bad behavior. The line between providing reasonable assistance and socialism is where our political system lives. Every voter must choose between politicians who offer policies benefitting citizens and organizations reputedly leading to a better society. If you want a better society think about what it will look like and what it will take; then choose the person with a plan closest to your dream. Keep hope alive by researching and voting in 2020 and every year that you have the opportunity.
The news these days is often very bad, but we still have reason to hope. Make a point of thinking of the good things in your life or that you have achieved. Make plans that you feel good about and will help someone beyond yourself. Celebrate small things and express gratitude to others for what they add life. Imagine a world where you were alone before looking at the issues of society. People make the world go around and we are all lucky to have so much company. As an adult own your life and feelings while working to improve the management. Thank God for the good things in life and you will see more!
Racism leads people to behave and think in ways that diminish themselves and others. Americans have struggled with attacking others while appearing not to or maintaining plausible deniability for a long time. This evil has caused issues and pain that drag the nation down. The country is threatened by the smallness in people who want to have two sets of rules; one for us and another for them. This embrace of fundamental evil must be broken for the United States to reach its potential. The United States shocked the world when President Barrack Obama was elected because other countries could not do what we had done. Choosing a minority group member for the most powerful position in government is unheard of around the world. Now we shock the world with our electoral pendulum swing to overt racism, fascism, incompetence, and xenophobia in the form of Trump. Evil will always be around but we do not have to accept it or give it a place in our society. We are capable of better as a species and time is running out. Ending the Trump administration is about the soul of America; a country so many amazing people have sacrificed to build. Think, research, communicate, pray, and vote in every election.
Citizens who want a better future need to be active and engaged in the coming months and beyond. Good people need a long and a short game to bring about change in society. A lot has happened in the short amount of time since George Floyd’s killing, but much more needs to be done for real change. Leaders are emerging who focus on benchmarks and bringing people together to get things done. America will change if most of us want it to happen. The challenge for leaders and caring citizens is to develop the habit of following up. We will all have to monitor what is going on in our society and demand that media works for us, not against us. The saying that you need to “inspect what you expect” must be brought to life if we are to fight climate change, create a just society, and improve our republic. Social media and people power have been harnessed to challenge the status quo which makes the continuous effort that leads to change possible. All of us can research, communicate, and vote in today’s society with a minimum of effort (provided there is no voter suppression); it is the least we can do for a decent future. We must all remember the words from the Bible “Without a vision the people perish”.
Americans across the country should be wearing masks in public spaces, but they are not. Many people refuse to protect their fellow citizens from the risk of infection by the simple act of masking up. All of this is taking place while infection rates are rising as predicted. Where are our leaders? A strong economy requires healthy people to work and participate in commerce without fear of death. Scientist point to countries that committed to mask wearing have sustained low infection and death rates. President 45 has no articulated plan for testing and pandemic mitigation, beyond pushing decisions to governors so he doesn’t look bad. States with republican governors often do not have campaigns to promote the wearing of masks. Many people will get infected and die because ignorance rules in one of the most advanced societies ever on earth. We are and will pay a price for this foolishness. Research, spread the word, set the example, and vote in 2020!
The COVID19 pandemic is still with us. I am hopeful that people will continue to help one another to continuously take the steps to reduce the spread of the virus. The wisdom of crowds will have to work in a way that actually reduces crowding and helps individuals to keep their distance while acting to protect others with masks, etc. While the economy is reopening and more opportunities to socialize emerge people can fall into old habits. I hope we can be gentle with one another and lead by example as we battle the spread of the virus. The current president will not lead and chaos lurks throughout our country; as President Obama said we will have to be the change that we seek.
The book Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg talks about being aware of our 1. cues (things that trigger behaviors), 2. routines (common behavior patterns we don’t think much about), and 3. rewards (the feeling, event, or praise we receive that reinforces the behavior). All of us fall into loops of behavior and activities that lead us to what we want in life, or further away from it. Duhigg talks about how powerful habits are in our lives and that we should try to control them. I agree with his conclusion. Lets make our journey through life one that is more of what we want by weighing our habits and whether they add or subtract from what we want to be.
According to the book Exteme Ownership (by Jocko Willink and Leif Babbin) a Leader should do, or recognize the following:
1 – own it all (extreme ownership)
2 – no bad teams, only bad leaders
3 – have Clarity and Belief
4 – Manage your Ego
As I think about the situations I encounter in life and organizations these four pillars stand out as a framework for looking at behavior. Outstanding leaders are examples and not blamers. They ask for help and build people up. You don’t wonder where they are coming from or what they are about because it is clear they want to create solutions based on the truth. Great leaders are not the focus of the conversation and thought because they direct attention on the goal. They manage their own egos and help others to focus on working together for success. Whether it comes from national figures or local people the characteristics of good leadership don’t change. The first person a leader must lead is themselves.
I have written a lot about the current president and the COVID19 pandemic. I understand wanting to move on to something besides the current president and all the dysfunction that surrounds him. The fact that he is the president doing damage to our institutions, society, and security is a reality. In the face of a pandemic and a toxic presidency I thought that I would share some ideas for coping with the stress:
1. This cannot last forever and we should keep our faith in God. Better days are coming.
2. Relax and exercise with good audiobooks, music, podcasts, etc. There is a lot of really excellent edifying free content that will grow your mind and spirit. Get a library card if you don’t have one because there are free digital downloads available. Exercise will strengthen your body, improve your outlook, and boost your immune system.
3. Plan and enjoy good meals that include fruits and vegetables while consuming plenty of water. I try to drink a minimum of 70oz of water per day, starting with about 30oz before breakfast is done.
4. Seek to help other people while staying in touch with family and friends. During tough times there is nothing like being a support to others because it is an even greater boost to our own spirits. Just sharing talk about feelings, meals, events, people, or the day with someone else is a win-win activity.
5. Consume or create art of some sort. Whether it is a virtual museum, a movie, music, poetry, or music setting aside time to enjoy or make art is an expression of hope in humanity. Art is an expression of who we are and helps us to understand ourselves and each other.
I hope these unoriginal ideas are useful to you as they have been to me. Organize your day into blocks that provide some routine and variety of focus for your mind, body, and spirit. Remember as Jocko Willink says “Discipline=freedom”. We all need to develop and structure ourselves and our time to maximize enjoyment of life. I believe we will get to the other side of these dark times.
I make time on a regular basis to count the blessings of my life. Not all of my blessings but those that come to mind. The habit comes in handy regularly and especially at stressful times like the Covid19 pandemic. I can feel the insidious growth of anxiety when I talk with others or listen to the news. We have a lot to think about for ourselves and those we care about. The good news is that because of this threat more Americans and people worldwide will consider science more seriously on climate crisis. Thinking about the joy of taking a breath of fresh air seems more meaningful when it is threatened by a virus. I feel lucky to live in a country that can produce cures for disease despite not providing access to healthcare for everyone. I feel fortunate that so many people know we can be better tomorrow and are acting to make it happen. They say the mind can make energy out of anything including tragedy. I am hopeful that our current problems can be a catalyst for a truly better country.