Sometimes “I’m Better Off” Isn’t the Best Measure of Good Government

Privilege and Position Shouldn't Determine What's Right

I’ve stepped back from public comment about our current leadership in order to inwardly address the anger and frustration I feel towards our U.S. political environment. We are realizing the obvious. The current direction will not make America great again. This is not good government. And, honestly, it might not have been any better had the election results been different. We have some deep and difficult work to undertake before we get to good government.

photo credit: Madi Robson |

I freely admit that the Trump Administration and some of their actions have shown a momentary improvement to the economy. My net worth has gone up along with everyone else’s. At least those of us fortunate enough to have a net worth that can be impacted by policy.

But good government is not determined solely by the benefits for those who already enjoy privilege and position. Good government is about helping all so that we can move forward together. The policies of this administration, despite claims made during the election, will not accomplish that.

I understand that we have a problem with government largesse and bureaucracy. I am hopeful that some of the shrapnel from the budget policy bombs being dropped will positively change that. But efficiency won’t make America great. It will be too little and an investment in things and not people.

Politicians always claim that they will be able to unify people. That’s the only way that any organized group can move forward — whether it’s a nation, a sports team, or a business.

The proposed funding recommended by the current administration is not a unity budget. Ironically, the results it brings will further divide the American people. Despite an effort to paint the “enemy them” as immigrants and terrorists, we are pitting ourselves against each other.

It’s easy to be complacent. I’m white and middle-classed. There’s a good chance I’ll be better off economically in four years. But I won’t see the unity that makes us great. I’d rather have less and walk shamelessly with every single person.

And Now, for a non-political, Political Announcement

I’ve been wading through the issues in this political season trying to decide my vote for president. Not once have I ever leaned toward Mr. Trump. I tried to listen. I tried to make this election about the political issues and ignore the non-political. But I can’t. Because at some point, the non-political elements will become political.

For all those, including some dear friends, who have tried to justify what Mr. Trump says and how he acts, I have just accepted the fact that you and I are in far different places.

Some may even challenge me over the question of grace. Doesn’t it mean anything to you that Mr. Trump apologized and that he says he’s a changed man? they will ask.

First, a non-apology (a statement that sounds like an apology but that is worded to place blame on those who were hurt or offended) is not an apology. Remember, Mr. Trump is the one who told us that he has no need for forgiveness. I have not heard a genuine apology yet. (He’s only on version 2 of his apology as of the writing of this post, so perhaps he’ll improve.)

Second, I’ve heard a lot of locker room talk and locker room talkers over my lifetime. That’s what Mr. Trump says this is — just locker room talk. Locker room talk is not ok.

The inner compass of locker room talkers does not change when they’re not in the locker room. They still objectify people, start rumors, cast blame on others and avoid taking responsibility. They just shift to a more subtle and, some would say, more acceptable mode. I believe Mr. Trump truly feels that he has made some major changes only because he has changed his language for the public. That’s applaudable, but not my primary concern.

Mr. Trump is still a locker room talker. It’s classic bully positioning. He must make others look bad and show his power over them because of his own lack of self esteem. If that means inciting racial violence by espousing white supremacy or trying to downplay the mistreatment of women, he knows no boundaries. And talking has a bidirectional element to it. Talking can reveal our inner selves and it can also mold our inner selves.

Mr. Trump has openly admitted that he has behaved badly. His language and demeanor almost guarantees there is more bad behavior to come.

For non-political reasons, I will never vote for Mr. Trump. For those of you who believe you can, just remember that non-political reasons transform themselves into political realities for us all. This will not make America great.


Releasing Expectations

Freedom to Move On

For some time, I’ve been holding on to some expectations. I’m releasing a few of them as of today.

[Photo Credit: Artists in Christian Testimony Int’l]

When we coach people in leadership, we urge them to set expectations for their followers and to patiently assist them in owning those expectations. Sometimes what we fail to tell our leaders is that, after a measured degree of diligence, it’s okay to let those expectations go and to stop setting themselves up for disappointment.

And, if the leader’s heart is right, it’s okay to kindly, but firmly move on.

Moving on could mean a lot of different things. But when that time comes, the leader must own the consequences — both bad and good.

Are you facing an expectation that appears hopeless? Have you done all you know to do to help?

Then let go. And smile. You’re free of that one. It’s time to plant a new seed in fertile ground.


The Fate of Champions

Looking for sacrifice, not conquest

Records were set on social media yesterday when the world was introduced to Caitlyn Jenner, the transformed individual we have known as Bruce Jenner. Before you settle back and think that this post is about what is right or wrong about that story . . . stop. I have some opinions about that. But this post is about a larger theme.

When something different emerges, whether it is a different thought, a different approach to a problem, a different ideal, or a different lifestyle, those who are inclined to the difference go out in search of a champion.

“If we could just find someone with an established reputation and reveal them to be ‘our different,’ our cause will be catapulted forward.”

I don’t fault that logic. It’s much easier to create a buzz over a household name or a public figure than it is to take an ordinary person as a spokesperson.

We want champions. We select people who have a public presence and we gladly sacrifice their image. We happily stand by as critics draw beads on them personally and subject them to ridicule and tear them apart — less as champions and more as sad objects of ridicule.

As I watched the news and social media this morning, many were praising Caitlyn Jenner for her courage, many were pitying her for her plight, many were vocal about what went wrong, many were expressing alarm over what the world is coming to, and many, many, many were making jokes and reducing Caitlyn to less than she is . . . a human being made and loved by God with strengths and weaknesses, just like the rest of us.

Despite the claims that Bruce Jenner is now free to be who he wanted to be and that Caitlyn Jenner is gloriously happy in her new life, there is a more sordid side.

The darkness comes from those who were glad to see Jenner become a champion in this. And the glad people aren’t on just one side or the other of the controversy.

You see, when something different needs a champion, we often choose based on who is expendable. And if we oppose the change the difference foretells, we focus our negative thoughts and hatred on destroying the champion.

Let’s get away from the glitz and the hype of our entertainment industry heroes. We do the same thing for other different and often unpopular causes.

Those who have spoken out against racism are often ostracized and physically threatened. Unpopular political positions on the economy, immigration, gun control, and healthcare, to mention a few, are rarely discussed in productive dialog. Instead, those who speak out on both sides are targeted and subjected to hateful speech and behavior. Sometimes these “champions” are often outspoken using the same vitriolic bile as their opponents because they naively believe that their fate will be written as conquest instead of sacrifice.

The rest of us stand away from the violence of the words and the fists. In a morbid moment, we look forward to the day that our champion will be our martyr. You see, we never really expected them to win the war. We just wanted them to buy us a few more bullets.

I don’t know if Caitlyn Jenner is happier now. My view of celebrities is that very few of them are ultimately happy. My sole point here is that it is sad what we will do to the champions, regardless of their cause.

As you think about your cause and about the way you want to make the world different, be careful in choosing a champion. You have, in all likelihood, turned them into a living sacrifice.

There are real champions, of course. Look around you. They are the ones who quietly serve and make a difference. The measure of their impact is often one person at a time. You may not know their names, but real champions don’t need publicists or social media accounts.

Real champions aren’t always conquerors. They can be sacrificial offerings, as well. Yet, real champions choose neither the path of conquest or of sacrifice. Real champions choose only to serve.

Timely Procrastination

Do you suffer from procrastination? Have you ever had something you really needed to do, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to do it? Maybe you’re like me and have a whole list of these tenacious to-dos. What if I told you that I’ve discovered a sure-fire method to conquer these worry-mongers — efficiently and painlessly?

Well, I have two methods for you. The first is the answer to the procrastination problem you’ve heard dozens and dozens of times, but have routinely refused to pursue.  Simply do it.

Now, I know you’re a little upset with me because you wanted something new and exciting — like a new app for your smartphone — that would take each lingering item and line it up for elimination. And, because I have so much experience in this area, I think you probably would also like for this magical solution to include a premium-feature that would take care of these items without you actually having to do anything.

That’s not going to happen.

However, I can give you one more little tip that works every time I use it. Here it is:

Schedule 15 minutes to do something — anything — about the task you are putting off.

Schedule 15 minutes to do something — anything — about it.

Setting a time for your “procrastinable” allows you to set it aside and reduce your anxiety. Simply marking your calendar makes you feel better about yourself and this long-awaited activity.

Even if the item will take you an hour, set aside 15 minutes and show-up for that appointment with yourself. Several important processes will be set in motion.

  • In the moment, you’ll feel relief that you are finally doing something.
  • Forcing yourself to address the challenge allows you to truly assess what needs to be done.
  • Sometimes the effort required to do the task will allow you to decide whether this thing should be done by you — or at all.
  • Often, when we start working on things, the anticipation of fulfillment may push us through to completion. We find that we had more than 15 minutes, after all.

15 minutes. If it’s not worth 15 minutes, then maybe it really shouldn’t be on your list.

Procrastination isn’t a character problem. It’s a priority problem. Whatever is on your list, big or small, just set aside a little time to see what you can do.