The power of our nation lies in our people, not our politicians.
In my last post, I talk about the power of volunteering and how it not only helps others but it has intrinsic personal health benefits as well. It also connects us across communities, systems,beliefs, backgrounds, and circumstances. Everyone has something to gain when we work as a team helping others and helping ourselves because we learn every day,from everyone and everything. The challenge is to incorporate what we learn into what we do next. It requires us to listen, really attend to what those around us are saying and doing and connect their ideas, experiences, and beliefs with ours and others to create synergistic outcomes.
When we expand this idea to the national scale, it can be naturally overwhelming. Partly, there is the fact that the number of people in our country is so high that no single human could possibly incorporate all their ideas. Further, we have a political system that necessarily requires our politicians to acquire and in some cases, maintain votes in order to keep their jobs. It is not surprising then that they spend inordinate amounts of time and money to spread their message and do so in a way that just enough people will vote for them. If they are not provocative, attention wains. Effectiveness is rarely measured and so the cycle continues.
But I would argue there is an opportunity in this chaos to press forward and find a lighted pathway to supporting our nation – even at the highest level of scale. When my daughter was in the hospital for months, I used to say to the doctor – you are an expert in medicine but I am an expert in my child; if we work together, we’ll make far better decisions than if either of us works independently. I believe this is true too for our nation.
I am frequently asked – what is the formula for national-level success? How do we change the narrative in our country from one of animosity to one of, not just co-existence, but of connected readiness – readiness for life, for work, for family, for military, for our adversaries? We have become focused on winners and losers and the collective frustrations that are being vented fuel our energy, provide group-catharsis, but fall short of resulting in positive movement toward our collective goal. Why?
Several reasons come to mind but I believe it boils down to people wanting to feel valued – they want to be heard, supported, and involved. There is oftentimes a mis-assumption that if we listen to or follow one, we must necessarily exclude others but the greatest strength of our nation is our diversity and creativity. It is the very act of disagreement that allows the best answer to rise to the top and it is the gestalt of the system that optimizes that solution. So what are the steps we need to take to steer this ship in a new direction?
1. Coordinate– we need to define the vision for our country for 20 years from now when our newest citizens will be adults and we need to architect the connections across our people – to include experts in all areas by formal education,informal education, and experience. When we coordinate our efforts, we have not only power in collective numbers but we have the greatest level of diversity in background, ideas, experiences, and knowledge present.
2. Collaborate– we need to work together to understand how our individual abilities,experiences, and knowledge can complement the work of others. We need to respect and value these individual differences but more importantly, recognize we are part of a team with the ultimate goal of joining our collective capabilities.
3. Co-create– we need to work together to inspire,create, and disseminate ideas. The greatest opportunities for success require both the input of multiple communities to co-create methodologies and interventions but also the sharing of that information with others as a collective – a distributed set of multi-influencers.
When we, as a nation, can clarify a vision for 2040, architect the pathways of information across and between our citizens, work together to capitalize on the brilliance diversity brings, and design solutions together – we will transform our nation from one focused on intra-fighting to one inspired to collective success!