"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi
So much for a nice slogan. Too long for a bumper sticker. How about living that way as an expression of who we are?
What would you like our community to be like? Find it difficult to answer that right off the tip of your tongue. Well, you're not alone. Most people when asked that question point blank get a glazed over look in their eyes. And they have little if anything to say. Seems to me it's strange that after living for X number of years that so little thought has gone into that question, either personally or collectively. We generally give up all the decision making to the powers-that-be --- planners, city council, police, legislature. Mostly what the rest of us do is: A) protest against what someone else has proposed, or B) complain about what is without doing much to change it, or C) nothing at all.
I know this is a general picture and that there are various non-profits and community groups, like H2OLY & the well, that do make things happen. But I find that for the most part our community is reactive more than pro-active. And it's not peculiar to Olympia. As Americans we have been trained well since childhood to leave the decision making to the experts - grown ups, teachers, the answers are in the back of the book (put there by some expert), politicians, and so on.....
You can consider this the ranting of a bitter old man, or you can take this as a challenge to look at the power you have, or that we can have collectively. Consider the following from Janine Unsoeld's blog, Little Hollywood:
I am trying to wrap my head around some of the differences between rich and poor people as though it were as easy as saying all rich people are the same. My first thought was that poor people, meaning generally working class people on down economically, worry these days about whether they will have health care or whether they will even have a job. Rich people on the other hand worry about whether the gardner they hired is really a documented worker in this country legally or what the weather will be like in Majorca for their vacation.
Now I know that's too simplistic and not fair to rich people who actually have compassion. It's also not fair to the poor or working poor who have no compassion towards anyone other than themselves. But it's my starting point.
So what are some of the concerns of people who dress in $1,000 suits and dresses and hang out with ex-presidents, or CEO's of corporations? And how are those so very different from the concerns of people who shop at Wal-mart? And there are those who shop at Wal-mart that don't give a rat's ass what happens to anyone else, including those who hang out with ex-presidents. So this is not a one-sided harangue against any class in particular. More an attempt to gain some insight into this RICH vs. POOR political message we hear so much about these days.
I'm reminded here of the song God Bless the Child by Blood, Sweat & Tears:
Well, the election is over…thank goodness, and while the paper, this and other blogs, and all of the recreational pundits will read various messages into the results one thing is clear: the winners now have to govern. Now is the tough part.
I want to share with all those who were successful on Election Day, and all those who were maybe lucky enough not to be up this year, a lesson I learned from serving on the school board.
On a recent airplane trip I read about a study done by business consultant Michael Losada and psychologist Barbara Frederickson (see www.thesunmagazine.com May ‘09) where they articulated far better than I ever could exactly why some organizations often fail so spectacularly and why other organizations are often so successful. From my tenure on the school board, and as made so clear by the study, I can share lessons learned as to why the board is so often dysfunctional and unproductive. I strongly believe that the same lessons can be illustrative for all policy making groups (i.e., city council, BOCC, state legislature, etc).
At the school board, and as the study found as is so often the case in almost all low functioning organizations, the “positivity ratio” (ratio of positive to negative statements) is often less that one to one. The high performing organizations have a ratio of 6-to-1, meaning that for every one negative statement they had six positive ones. This is neither mere pop business psychology nor of small significance. People on high performing teams had an even balance between asking questions and advocating for their own points of view. They also spent an equal amount of time focusing outward (i.e., in public boards situations, toward the public) and inward within the group.