Thankfully we’ve survived the campaign antics of another election season in the U.S. And the news, whether your candidate won or lost, is that not much is likely to change.
So we can relax. Fear mongering notwithstanding, two, four, even six years from now we’ll find ourselves a little older, to be sure; but, apart from that, not much will have changed. The issues, challenges and debates of 2016 will be alarmingly similar. (Consider how long we’ve been debating healthcare in the U.S.)
The truth is whether in ones personal life, as a leader in business, or a player on the political landscape, real change — not to mention meaningful progress — is rooted in unselfish perspective.
The trouble is perspective is in short supply; unselfish perspective may be near extinction. And big picture vision has given way to the belief that winning is the only true measure of success.
The void isn’t limited to the body politic either. We manage to turn virtually everything into a contest. From discussions with significant others to a town hall meeting examining the health of our communities, dialogue far too often gives way to a debate. And with the combination of self interest and a commitment to victory, we dig in and hold our ground as if engaged in a battle for field position.
Unwilling to give even an inch, we witness — well, something like a political campaign. No real dialogue. No information. No learning. No compromise. And no progress.
With rare exception, here’s what we seem to have forgotten: meaningful change doesn’t begin with the articulation of a winning argument or even a winning strategy. It begins when individuals become more concerned with listening than talking, and at least as concerned with understanding as being understood. It begins when winning today — whether with family, neighbors or colleagues — is less important than teeing up the dialogue that will enable us to find solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.
Because no matter the venue or the issue, lasting change does not come in a day. Or a week. Or even an election season.