The US election is over and, whether you are pleased or displeased with the outcome, you gotta love the expressions of solidarity, hope, and cooperation that have been expressed by many Americans, on both sides of the aisle, let alone by many more people and leaders around the world. There are many things to celebrate in this situation, if only we give ourselves the permission and time to take a look and call them out. That is, in fact, a pretty good way of approaching any situation. If you have any doubt or need a little encouragement, read on to think it through and make it so.
Since a few readers took exception to last week’s Provision, asserting that it was a rather obvious endorsement of our new President-elect, Barack Obama, I thought I would start this Provision with a rather obvious endorsement of his challenger, Senator John McCain.
My wife and I have been on the road this week, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, meeting with clients and prospective clients of LifeTrek Coaching International. Thanks to the magic of satellite radio in our rental car, we’ve had the privilege of listening to far more radio stations for far longer periods of time than we usually get in our hometown of Williamsburg, VA. It’s been fun to listen to so many stations from around the world. You gotta love it.
For a time we were listening to the BBC as they were taking calls from around the world about the significance of Obama’s election. I will not forget the call that came in from Nigeria. “What was the best part of the US election?” asked the radio interviewer. Now I would not have been surprised to hear this man sing the praises of Barack Obama. But that is not what we got. Not at all.
Without pausing for an instant, this man responded, “John McCain’s concession speech. That is what we need to learn how to do, here in Africa. In Africa, after an election, the loser is immediately announcing plans to undermine, destabilize, and even kill his victorious opponent. But that’s not we got from America. John McCain showed us the way of real democracy. He was a true leader. To so quickly congratulate his opponent and to pledge his willingness to cooperate in the government was an outstanding example. We must learn to follow in his footsteps.”
You gotta love it. “Country First” was, indeed, the guiding light of John McCain. And everyone around the world is celebrating the news. I was struck by one editorial that called into question the concern that Barack Obama was elected President just because of his race, as if that were a bad thing. Never in the history of the world, this editorial remarked, has a nation peaceably turned over the reins of power to one of its most historically oppressed minorities. America is, once again, leading the way when it comes to the evolution of the human race. You gotta love it.
That has been the theme of our work over the past few days and since the founding of LifeTrek Coaching International in 1998. We celebrate the best to bring out the best in life and work. That’s more than just a catchy slogan. That’s how we do what we do and why it works.
Celebrate the Best. This orientation is where it begins and ends. No matter what is going on, there is always something worth celebrating. We just have to notice. “The optimist,” it’s been said, “looks at the glass and calls it half full. The pessimist looks at the glass and calls it half empty. The appreciative person looks at the glass and calls it beautiful.”
Think of all the things we can notice about that glass! We can notice its shimmer, its shape, its feel, its arrangement, its color, its design, it convenience, its utility, its location, and its value to mention only ten. There are literally no end to the things we can appreciate about any situation. You gotta love it.
The same thing is true, of course, about the things we can depreciate. There is no end to the things we can complain about and it is often easier to notice these things. That’s because pain and problems have a way of getting our attention. When we break a bone it hurts and we cry out until the bone is set, the healing begins, and the pain subsides. When we lose a file it distresses us and we search around until the file is found or recreated and the work continues.
It’s easy, in every painful or problematic situation, to start whining about what’s gone wrong. We blame ourselves or others, adding insult to injury. We pile on with the “could-a, would-a, should-a” rap until we fall prey to the downward spiral. What we depreciate, depreciates until we have sucked all the value, all the potential, and all the energy right out of the system.
To Bring Out the Best. Fortunately, the opposite is equally true. What we appreciate, appreciates. By noticing the things that are beautiful, noble, true, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, and good, we lean into the upward spiral of realizing our full potential and becoming the best we can possibly be. It may take discipline to pay attention to those things in the face of adversity, but it’s never impossible.
That’s the hope of every coach, consultant, and change process. We want people to catch the wind of new life and new creation, whether our task is in the marketplace or in the open space of human development. When we were in New Jersey this past week, we were facilitating a two-day, off-site meeting for a pharmaceutical communications agency. As the process went on, and people began connecting with their best experiences, values, and wishes, I was struck by the energy they unleashed and the language they were using.
“We want to be refreshing,” was a recurrent theme. “By being refreshing to each other and to our clients we will achieve more than if we simply bear down and grind out the work.” The CEO summed it up this way: “I want us to be a blessing.”
That’s not typical language when it comes to the business world, but that’s what happens when we connect the dots between the best of the past and our dreams for the future. We radiate possibility. When we notice and celebrate the good stuff we generate both the desire and the design to get even more of the good stuff in life and work. I know it sounds simple, but I’ve seen the dynamic over and over again. And it amazes me every time.
So let that be a lesson to us all. “You gotta love it” is more than just an expression. It’s a way of looking at the world and going through life. The more we find to love about situations the more refreshed and refreshing we will be.
Coaching Inquiries: What helps you to appreciate the best and the beautiful in every situation? What reminds you to stop whining and to start rejoicing? How can you more fully savor the positive dynamics of life? Who can become your appreciation buddy on the journey? What do you notice right now that you can celebrate?
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LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..
Thanks for a life changing and life saving Provision on the power of the individual to make a difference. Sitting on the sidelines and letting others decide how the country will be run is the ultimate personal power give away. Who is in office does matter. The 2000 Presidential election proved that. A simple act, like washing hands, can literally save a life. So, too, when it comes to casting a vote.
Your piece on hand washing was very timely. Just on this morning’s news from NBC there was a segment on all the handshaking that the candidates had been doing and there was a shot of John McCain getting some hand washing solution from one of his aides.
Thank you for your mention of our conversation about Boston in your last Provision. It was nice to read along and know that I was with you in your thoughts as you wrote. I always appreciate your Provisions. They stimulate thinking in good ways.
From a reader in Bosnia: I wanted to congratulate you the winning of Barack Obama. I hope he will change things on to better for both you and the rest of the world.
When my son was serving his second tour of duty in Baghdad in 2005 he wrote me the following note: •Mom you would not believe these people here, they are being threatened with death and still they are turning out in the millions to cast a vote that may or may not even get heard.• Here was a news report on that event by the Washington Post Foreign Service on January 31, 2005:
“Millions of Iraqis turned out Sunday to cast ballots in the country’s first free elections in a half-century, the ranks of voters surging as attacks by insurgents proved less ferocious than feared and enthusiasm spilled over into largely Sunni Arab regions where hardly a campaign poster had appeared.
At least 45 people, including a U.S. Marine shot while on combat patrol in Anbar province, were reported killed in suicide bombings, shootings and mortar and rocket attacks. But for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003, the haggard capital and other parts of Iraq took on the veneer of a festival, as crowds danced, chanted and played soccer in streets secured by thousands of Iraqi and American forces. From the Kurdish north to the largely Shiite south, at thousands of polling stations, voters delivered a similar message: The elections represented their moment not only to seize the future, but also to reject a legacy of dictatorship and the bloodshed and hardship that have followed the U.S. invasion.”
It’s great that so many Americans voted in the recent election. But how many Americans would stand in line in the United States with a gun to their head or bomb in their path to cast a vote? Let us never take that privilege and responsibility for granted.
You have had some very thought-provoking Provisions lately. I always enjoy reading them. Have a Biblical question for you. Where in the Bible does it say “Jesus said if you disrespect one, you murder them.” (Ed. Note: Jesus never said that. He did say that, “You’ve heard it said that you shall not murder, but I say to you that you should not even be angry” (Matthew 5:21f). Perhaps that is what you were remembering.)
I enjoy your Provisions, but sometimes I think they are idealized and not too “real world.” “Goodness, peace, and joy” are admirable sentiments. But “peace” is hard work. Hard work is not something that is wide-spread now. And, shrinking every day. We need a Gandhi-like leader like Washington, Jefferson, or … … to lead us. Visionary leaders always seem to be in short supply?
The problem we have now is that we are a nation of producers and takers. Last figure I saw was that 55% of the population derives its income from government. We know that government consumes wealth; not producing anything. At what percentage does the producing population turn on the consuming population? 55-45, 25-75, or 10-90? I don’t know. But I do know that neither “spreading the wealth around” nor being “in Iraq for 100 years” is the path to peace and prosperity.
It is evident that the intent of your last Provision was solely to get out the vote for your candidate. If you indeed wanted to stir up passions for all then you would have presented opinions from the other party as well. Your intent in this specific Provision was quite clear and, in my opinion, self serving. I wish you peace and joy as well. That truly comes through serving as opposed to being served.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
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