It’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s what you make happen.
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States.
Yes we need change, but even more importantly is that we need to change. It is true that unless leadership spells out a vision of a future that we will want to be a part of, we are not going anywhere. But it’s just as true that we have to go from being “ready for change” to being “ready to change.”
Most people are ready for change if it is done for them; few are ready to change if it means hard work, focus, discipline, accountability and taking responsibility for their actions (i.e. a willingness to accept and pay all the consequences of them).
The three areas that America will need to change if any large scale change is going to happen are: Mindset, Skillset, Capability.
Mindset – America has slid from a can do, will do country to a can’t do, won’t do nation. We bring more excuses than we bring results in the work we do. We have more of a spend ethic than work ethic. We are a country of burners vs. earners. We have been seduced by what’s interesting in both our work and personal lives away from what’s important. We have deteriorated from being transformational (as in democracy being humanity’s grand experiment) to being transactionally myopic (get the deal, do the deal, next deal) and finally to being transactionally blind.. It is that transactional blindness that pushes us towards panic when we are stopped from making transactions. We can’t solve a transformational problem (i.e. rising above the Darwinian survival fray where nobody wins in the end) with a transactional solution. On a more humane level, Obama and McCain have both given us a direction we need our minds to take. Obama is demonstrating the need to be inclusive vs. exclusive; McCain is demonstrating the need to be gracious in defeat and taking personal responsibility where it applies. With regard to McCain and before him Hilary Clinton, both have demonstrated a model of mental toughness that we would do well to emulatle, i.e. how much disappointment and frustration can you feel without becoming belligerent, vindictive, grudge holding and inelegant.
Skillset – We are still stuck in bricks and mortar when we need to be more technologically and informationally competent. Our children and even leaders eschew math and science and have given the advantage to the rest of the world that not only embraces those subjects, but dare I say, actually enjoys them. With regard to being late to the digital age, Jack Welch once said: “I avoided the Internet, because I couldn’t type.” Either we become competent in the skills necessary for tomorrow or we will work for others who are and who won’t take too kindly to our excuse making and complaining.
Capability – Process and infrastructure. After we have the proper can do, will do mindset and know what to do skill set, we will need a know how to use those skills process to actually implement, create or build the services or products to succeed in a global economy. Then we will need an infrastructure over and through which to do the building and creating and delivering. Little did we know that one of the best strategies for succeeding in the 21st century was to lose a war to the United States or have such a dilapidated infrastructure that you couldn’t buy or use US products and services. Enter the United States to rebuild or build those for you while letting its own infrastructure deteriorate and you have the world now tilted very much away from us.
No matter how powerful the vision, if it is not followed with readiness to change as demonstrated by the proper mindset, skillset and capability, it will never be realized.
God bless Barack Obama and John McCain, God bless America, and God bless all of God’s children.