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The Leading Edge – Barack Obama’s Wholly Un-American Speech

(also seen at basil and spice) My first reaction to Barack Obama’s "More Perfect Union" speech was how utterly un-American it was. My second reaction is that I only hope that he continues down that path, because if he does, he offers America a tremendous opportunity to move out of and beyond the morass it finds itself in.

(also seen at basil and spice)

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My first reaction to Barack Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech was how utterly un-American it was.

My
second reaction is that I only hope that he continues down that path,
because if he does, he offers America a tremendous opportunity to move
out of and beyond the morass it finds itself in.

His handwritten
speech was not for American Presidents only; it demonstrated three of
the best qualities that any leader can possess and what constitutes
taking on the “real” special interests or shall I say cultural
proclivities that have got America and many American companies into the
morass in which they finds themselves.

Conflict Avoidance
– As a country and as a people we don’t deal very effectively with
conflict. Instead we react to it by either “bunkering” and trying to
deny reality (such as continuing to believe we could go from supreme
creditor to deepest debtor, without negative repercussions for our
global standing and influence) or by becoming belligerent and hostile.
In his speech, Obama stepped into the fray, articulated and understood
without condoning the positions and points of views of the parties he
focused on and then took on another current and self-defeating American
tendency.

Transactional Myopia – America has
slipped from the high minded and highly principled mindset of figuring
out the right thing to do and doing it to a transactionally myopic “get
the deal, do the deal, next deal” way of thinking and behaving.
American culture has replaced relationships with transactionships which
are “zero sum” and always short sighted. George H. Bush was less myopic
and understood that if you break Iraq you own it, whereas George W.
Bush’s leadership (or lack thereof) derives more from his M.B.A., a
degree not known for developing people who are circumspect. People’s
conversations, even with their loved ones, have all but been replaced
with negotiations. Negotiation is about winning or avoiding losing;
relationships are about relating. Relating requires listening in order
to understand vs. listening in order to come up with your next
counterpoint. Obama senses the short sightedness and doomed-to-fail
transactional approach and this may explain his reluctance to engage in
“eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” banter with Hillary Clinton.
The effectiveness in that approach for Clinton garnering votes in Ohio
and Texas only speaks to how many Americans are stuck at that low
minded, low ideal, take vs. give state of mind (which one can
understand when surviving daily can distract anyone from high
mindedness). Obama enjoined and ennobled us to do better by
transcending out of transactional myopia and implied that in doing so
we would be able to transform America from where it is to where it
could be.

Object Capriciousness – “Object
constancy” is one of psychology’s most awkward, but most explanatory
terms. It is the ability of a person to maintain a connection and a
relationship with another person, a goal, or hope in the face of
disappointment, frustration, hurt and injury. It is the single
greatest measure of maturity and its lack, the greatest indicator of
immaturity. That is why children and immature adults when upset with a
friend or a spouse, will completely lose their connection and throw
away a relationship by declaring: “I hate you, you’re not my friend” or
“Let’s get a divorce.” Obama demonstrated this by asserting his
continued support and even love for the Reverend Jeremiah Wright while
decrying his statements and positions and confronted all of us with our
continued relationships with people we disagree with. Awareness of this
is also what caused a philosopher (whose name I can’t find) to
conclude: “The measure of a civilization is how it treats those who
have hurt it.”

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Until and unless a leader, be it American
President or corporate CEO can enjoin, ennoble and empower his people
to overcome their conflict avoidance, their transactional myopia, and
object capriciousness a country or a company will be stuck wondering
what ever became of it rather than seizing the grand opportunity of
what it could become.

About the author

Mark Goulston, M.D. is the Co-Fonder of Heartfelt Leadership a global community whose Mission of Daring to Care it dedicated to identifying, celebrating, developing and supporting heartfelt leaders who are as committed to making a difference as they are to making a profit.

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