I don’t know about you but I love having free will. I’m not overly fond of being told that I “have” to eat a certain way, or do something against my will. I want to make those choices for myself. Does anyone else feel that way?
This is why “free” is on my list of favorite words: for both meanings. It is my favorite price and my favorite condition. If someone is selling me something that will cost me my freedom - I’m out. No thanks.
Lately I have noticed that many leaders and groups are using fear and anger as a form of selling a brand, product or thought. The choice to use that tactic is theirs. The choice to buy in to that fear and anger is ours. What you might not realize is the cost of that buy in.
Let me start with the individual cost. I recently heard a terminally ill patient explain how her perception of time changed after she received the diagnosis. She was asked if she is angry. “I refuse to waste even one minute of time in anger. Anger will block my access to laughter, love and peace.” These are wise words indeed.
You are not free if you are angry. Every thought, action and reaction is now running through a lens of anger. Anger is toxic. Think of anger as a large digger that digs wide trenches around your freedom and you are stuck in the quicksand. Your thoughts and actions are no longer free. You are trading your freedom for anger. Is it worth that price?
Just as dangerous is the contagious nature of anger. It can spread through a group like fire through gasoline. The culture of anger, name calling, competition, finger pointing and shouting chants is not new. History has shown us what can happen in these circumstances.
Here’s my problem with this mob mentality of selling. I have never seen a problem find the solution in this type of atmosphere. Historically, it has just enlarged the problem. We see that playing out currently.
I will never forget when a group of business leaders showed me a better way. The product of one company had some tragic defects and a second company had supplied a part that contributed to the problem. The two companies scheduled a high level meeting to discuss. I was invited to help facilitate. I wasn’t expecting it to be fun.
When the meeting kicked off, the CEO of one company stood up and announced that the sole purpose of coming together was to determine the root cause of the problem so we could jointly determine the solution and implement as quickly as possible. He told us that we were not there to place blame or point fingers. We needed everyone to win and no one to lose or we would all lose. We were there to fix the problem – as a team.
That is exactly what we did. Lots of questions were asked. Data was pulled; Information was pulled from that data. More questions were asked until finally, we had a consensus as to the root of the problem. But that was the easy part. The next step was to collaborate on the solution and implement it. Once again, we worked together to identify all the options. No criticism, no hidden agendas. Just a common objective to fix the problem and save lives (I warned you it was a tragic defect. I wasn’t kidding.)
After many, many, meetings and investigations, we found the best solution and started to make the change. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fast, but the problem has been fixed for more than fifteen years. This is problem solving 101 but I’m not seeing it used much these days. We seem to be much more interested in assigning blame.
There are big problems in our world. There always has been and I expect that will be the case when we are long gone. Let’s not add to them with the angry mob mentality. What are we teaching our youth?
As for your individual life – well – none of us are getting out of here alive. Our time on this planet is finite. Do you want to trade the joy, laughter and peace inherent in every human life, for anger and violence?
I’ll answer my own question. Absolutely not! But I’ll be there all day long if someone wants to work together to solve problems. No finger pointing allowed.