A Few Words from Paul: Both/And

We can do better than this. Really. It wouldn’t take much.

Last month I teased that I was going to talk about the election and political climate and did not. You were totally bummed. I know. This month, I have to.

stencil.default (7)What the heck is going on here?! We have entered a brand (not so) new world of talking right past each other that I have not seen in my lifetime. It would appear to me that we have one candidate representing all the pissed off people (mostly white) in the country and another who we are not sure we can trust nor that we want to relive the ‘90’s. Voting AGAINST a candidate instead of for one seems to be a popular voting strategy these days.

The inability to work together, compromise, and seek first to understand is standard now across politics, campuses, and business. These inabilities have made it easier for us to retreat to our corners of the country listening to those people we already agree with than it is to engage in the hard conversations that so desperately need to be held.

I’ll prove it to you.

When was the last argument you had with someone where you were able to walk away from feeling you learned something new rather than being ticked off? Uh, huh. I’m waiting…me neither. Where are the both/and conversations that need to be held to truly get at the heart of issues and reach solutions that are best for ALL of us and not just the few making the decisions? Yeah, not happening.

So how do you deal with difference? We have to stop hiding behind our privilege both from an identity and educational standpoint. It has never been easier to either avoid difference or explain away difference as ignorance. Mess with your head and watch MSNBC immediately following Fox News. Shake it off and then think about what you just saw.

Do you seek out different viewpoints when working on a problem? Do you involve folks that have a unique perspective instead of the adopted way of looking at things? When was the last time you read something that really ticked you off? Why do we surround ourselves with people that tell us what we want to hear?

I am full of questions and no answers. Shocker. I do know this though. We (yes, you and I) have to take leadership and make the first step. Everyone is waiting for the other to bend first. True leadership is stepping in front when the time has come to start something extraordinary. That time is now.

Let’s get after our problems together. I will work on yours this year and you will work on mine next. Take turns, right? Seemed to work well in grade school.

But there I go again, thinking possibility.


Paul is the President of LeaderShape and pinches himself everyday for that opportunity. He is a father, son, husband, athlete, avid reader, eternal optimist, and sucker for the underdog.

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