Like many of us I went to bed last night deeply concerned about the outcome of the USA presidential election; waking early this morning to see that Donald Trump was indeed likely to be elected was a real shock.
I felt deeply disturbed, but probably not surprised. After all Brexit had happened so in terms of voting outcomes we now know the pollsters really can no longer predict with any accuracy at all.
What really disturbs me is the concrete evidence that what I had believed was a strong and better societal liberalisation and globalisation over my lifetime is a mirage. OK – so we now have in place many laws and regulations about diversity, anti racism, anti homophobia and pro-environmental protection and pro inclusion etc but what, as a society, we haven’t done is changed the underlying values and beliefs of what so many others hold dear.
Our values drive our behaviours!
And this is what has happened in the USA as it did in the UK over Brexit. The values clearly articulated by Donald Trump that are about anti diversity, anti gay, anti inclusion etc and are about protectionism, pandering to fear of change and xenophobia and simple selfishness have drawn millions of people to in effect come out and say that they share those values.
I am not stupid; I know that we have been through the years since 2008 where salaries and incomes have not increased, indeed they have decreased in real terms; I know that we are into times where our children may well be more financially disadvantaged than my generation. I am not well-informed on USA employment issues but I know that there is nothing like the more generous annual leave, sick pay or maternity leave and benefits that we have in the UK. I am aware too that in real terms income levels of the employed in the USA (as in the UK) have fallen. This means those in work no doubt feel they work even harder, are even less valued and others from other countries have “taken their jobs” – the same spin that the media portray in the UK.
So that media spin opens the doors to millions of people feeling that they want to “take back control” by voting for Brexit or voting for Donald Trump. Is this really “taking back control”?
So why have I just heard the one and only “presidential” speech from Hillary Clinton this afternoon when she was finally authentic and impassioned and expressed the right values? She made the point that we should “never stop believing that fighting for what is right is always right”. If this was the real Hillary Clinton, this was how she needed to campaign. As a woman I get why she didn’t really attract the female vote; I too understand that she is seen to be part of the establishment and so many voters expressed their anger by voting for Trump.
In reality, Donald Trump (like Farage is authentic and has integrity – really he / they do!) The definition of integrity is being true to your values – it is the actual values that so many of us disagree with! But that authenticity is what attracted all those millions of voters whose values are aligned with Farage and Brexit or Trump and anti immigration and anti-globalisation (and the rest!!). Brexit was also apparently driven by anti immigration, selfishness and so on.
So this morning I felt outraged; not helped by the fact that I had been a bit of a wimp personally in the last 24 hours with an infection and an injured leg and was feeling sorry for myself. What could I do? Was I just going to be angry at this proof that the world is still heavily populated by large numbers of people whose values I am fundamentally at odds with?
A force for good:
No – I remembered my own previously cited model of “microwave leadership” and that I reminded myself that I need to continue to be a “force for good” in my own networks and relationships i.e. in my own circle of influence. If I (and loads of others of you) continue to fight for what is right, to do the right things, to show compassion, to help others and to “pay it forward” there really will come time when there is a tipping point for a growing movement underpinned by the right values. Did you hear the values that Angela Merkel articulated one by one today in her speech welcoming Donald Trump to the presidency, explaining that the valued relationship between Germany & USA was based on these values? Good for her – she had the courage to spell out how Germany needed and intended to work with the Trump regime.
Thankfully (in this instance) the Founding Fathers of the USA rather disempowered the president in terms of the constitution they drafted as Barack Obama found; but Trump is a different beast to Obama and of course he has his own party in power in the Senate which Obama didn’t have. That may well make a huge difference.
Donald Trump and his supporters will only have power if we give it to them.
I really do believe therefore that we all in our own ways and in our own networks need to be our own “force for good” – to be professional, to use our expertise with compassion, to provide help and care to those that we can, do our best and to be appreciative of the strengths, talents and contributions of others and what they give. We do this within our own circle of influence i.e. in our own networks. We don’t need permission from anyone to do it – we just do it and share the good values and behaviours and actions.
Microwave leadership model:
If lots and lots of us do this, then like a microwave that heats by vibration of adjacent molecules until all molecules in a food portion are vibrating and heated, we can heat up the right values and together we can lead a movement to arrive at a tipping point of genuine liberal and societal change.
Let’s each commit to being our own force for good and encouraging those we know to do likewise. Lets together lead the change we want to see.
I got back on with this approach today in my own small way.
As Hillary Clinton said this afternoon “never stop believing that fighting for what is right is always right”.