Winston Churchill once noted, “Americans will always do the right thing after they have exhausted all the alternatives.” Others have mentioned that we only throw money at problems, and if the money doesn’t help, then the problem wasn’t real or cannot be solved.
Overall, we are not trying hard enough.
We think less, worry more, and appear to outsource our leadership to corporations. The alluring twin sisters, fascism and communism, wantonly capture the imagination of young adults and the disenfranchised, while the disillusioned embrace a rise in autocratic thinking.
A significant portion of our population is apathetic. Many are angry but also lazy, agitated, and whirling about without a sense of purpose. We as a people are not “digging in” and trying everything we can to improve things with an industrious and compassionate spirit.
While it can be taxing, civil debate and disagreement coupled with pragmatism and searching for common ground are hallmarks of a healthy democracy. Today, our attempts seem to be halfhearted, half-measures. We readily share in the detest of our opponents, political or imagined, and forgo the passion found in the shared pursuit of our dreams or the betterment of others less fortunate.
We are all responsible for this eroding spirit and grit because we complacently let it happen. We celebrate the First Amendment by giving microphones to crackpots, then undermine the gesture by reporting the fear and hate they spout as fact rather than deranged opinion.
We preach the virtues of accountability in theory but avoid it in practice.
We fixate on finding ways to coat, soothe, and relieve dysfunctional symptoms and systems rather than solve the core problems that make us ill.
We elect and then re-elect chaotic leaders who moan and complain about wedge issues and mock those who roll up their sleeves and work for our mutual betterment.
We spend a lot of energy doing very little to move forward.
Here is a sample of our results:
- 42% of Americans are obese
- Over 115,000 people are shot by a firearm every year, and more than 38,000 of them die
- We are #1 in Oil Consumption, #3 in Coal Consumption and #1 in Illegal Drug Consumption
- 2.3 Million of our citizens are incarcerated, giving us the largest prison population on the planet
- We are #1 in Healthcare costs yet do not have proportional healthcare results
We could do better, and you could help. You could lead.
Dream big, think profoundly, decide pragmatically and lead courageously. There are no shortages of serious problems yearning to be solved. Pick one, then use this outline to take action.
- Write down the problem or challenge that you need to solve.
- Describe the desired state that could exist without the problem.
- Describe why that state is desired.
- Create a specific and measurable goal to make your intention clear and tangible.
- Set criteria on how to find solutions to the problem.
- Brainstorm a list of alternative solutions.
- Narrow the list and pick the “best few” options.
- Assess each option’s feasibility and potential risks versus gains.
- Reach a tentative agreement with the problem’s stakeholders.
- Put some resources toward the best fallback plan.
- Firm up the final decision and announce it to those affected.
- Develop an action plan to go forward.
- Implement the action plan with confidence, commitment, and passion.
- Review, assess and celebrate progress.
Trolling is effortless, and bluster is cheap. Find a problem, preferably the one you complain about most often, and put your head, heart, and hands into solving it.