You can't put gold trim on a pandemic. Lessons learned from the 2020 election cycle.
|Live your life as if you were someone you would vote for.
The unwritten, and sometimes explicitly written, rule for the workplace is: no politics. Religion is permissible to the extent your religion is like self-help, but politics is OFF LIMITS.
I spend 50% of my free time thinking about politics and religion (the rest on therapy, eating, family, reading and exercise - in that order). To not share my politics or faith at work, in an environment that will consume 80% of my adult life...well, that sucks. It makes me want to rebel.
I have a courageous 18 year old boy inside, rebelling against the segregation of work and politics. He posts things on Facebook. He writes blogs.
When I was 27, about 2 yrs into working at Deutsche Bank, that 18 year old boy wrote an email to the research desk. This was during the Romney/Obama election.
The research desk published a report stating the Obama administration would cause dips in share prices across several sectors. A true statement in the short term, but my 18 year old boy wasn't having it. I wrote an email to the research authors, accusing them of political bias and market manipulation. I made my case that Obama's fiscal policies would stimulate the economy.
Apparently, the research desk that influences hundreds of billions of dollars, staffed by leading minds in economics and business, didn't take lightly to an email from a second year data entry employee from the accounting department. A few days later, I was taken by my boss's, boss's, boss, to see my boss's, boss's, boss's, boss.
Big Boss: "So you like to read the research reports?" (holds up a print out of my email)
Big Boss: "Where did you go to school?"
Me: "University of San Francisco. I studied international business."
Big Boss: "This isn't the type of thing we do."
Big Boss: (makes a show of tearing up the email print out) "Hey Nick."
Big Boss: "Just leave the research guys alone." (smirking, a little proud)
In the elevator with my Boss's, Boss's, Boss (one level below the Big Boss)
Boss: "How was it?"
Me: "I'm okay."
Boss: "That was a 'don't do it again, but don't worry.'"
Me: (thinking inside, "I don't care")
That 18 year old boy inside cares more about the politics, than the politics.
During this election, over the course of the last year, I've learned four things that have allowed my 18 year old boy to mature.
1) If you want to make a difference, the water cooler isn't where to start.
My 18 year old boy wrote an email to the research desk, and what changed? Did the research desk rethink their position? Obviously not. They laughed at my email, then tried to get me fired for breaching protocol. How about the Facebook posts I made this year? Did that change anything?
The people I've met in my life that can be swayed in a political discussion don't want to spend 30 minutes going through the history of Black Lives Matter or the economic tradeoffs of healthcare reform. They are more influenced by the character of the person talking. If you want to make a difference, be competent. Be an example.
Live your life as if you were someone you would vote for.
If you have an issue you are particularly passionate about, you're probably not alone. Find the people working on it, join their efforts, write for them - not yourself. At work, you can be an LGBTQ ally, fight micro-aggressions, or raise money for a non-profit, all without barking from the comfort of your internet portal.
2) Be useful, not loud.
Drumpf's tweets in 2016 had gravitoss, by 2020, they were a punchline, and in 2021, they'll be gone. Why? Because his 18 year old boy never matured. If Bush Jr., Obama, Dick Cheney, or Hillary Clinton dropped a tweet today, it'd have more weight than Drumpf, and Drumpf is a SITTING president. Changing the world is hard work. It takes relentless vigor and humble patience. Don't write a flippant email, write an email that's useful.
3) Tyrants can win, but tyrants will always lose.
Tyrants, con men, liars, and cheats can obtain obscene amounts of power. Tyrants don't earn respect, they abuse their power to demand it. A tyrant asks for fidelity, before earning faith. "Middle management" is a meme of wanna be tyrants.
That is why this blog is important to me. I want more power, because I want more respect. I want to earn respect, through competence and hard work. I want more money for that effort. But I want to ensure I fight tyranny in the process. If I gain more power and more money, but empower a tyrant, or worse, become a tyrant, then my life is wasted.
Drumpf is a tyrant. He ran his administration with constant churn, never listening for more than 30 seconds to anyone. The constant leaks were from people, employees, and family members, that did not tolerate tyranny. A person with no experience as a real executive or with government, demanded fidelity from brilliant executives and government aids. He demanded everyone see him as the smartest person in the room, without doing the work to become smart. And he won, a lot. He amassed a cult following which he'll ring dry before for the rest of his life.
Tyrants can win.
But tyrants always lose.
Drumpf lost under circumstances that made it nearly impossible to lose. An incumbent president hasn't lost a race in nearly 30 years. Drumpf was chugging along with the best unemployment numbers in history. Then God handed him a pandemic, a war with the perfect political enemy, an enemy that would allow Drumpf to exercise the full scope of his office and emerge as a global leader. I'm being machiavellian here, but a war against a pandemic is possibly the easiest path to reelection possible. But fidelity without faith is unstable.
Drumpf is a tyrant, so Drumpf lost.
4) Real men cry.
When I was 18 years old, the two emotions I knew were anger and belly laugh happiness. Every other emotion was a foreign language. But anger isn't always anger. Anger is often a mask for fear, shame, or sorrow. And belly laugh happiness isn't always happiness. It can be a way to cope with otherwise harsh realities, to guard oneself from the truth.
You've got to put the anger or joking aside to experience humanity. You've got to cry. The shortest verse in the bible is John 11:35, "Jesus wept."
Donal Drumpf doesn't cry. Donald Drumpf WRITES IN ALL CAPS, likely when he's feeling scared or cornered. Donald Drumpf tells Dr. Fauci to smile more, when Dr. Fauci is warning us hundreds of thousands of people could die.
You can't put gold trim on a pandemic.
I cried for many reasons when Biden was announced the winner. My 18 year old boy has deep resentment for tyrants. He's scared of tyrants. He's been beaten up and left behind by many tyrants. When Drumpf became president, those tyrants were vindicated. The world became tyrannical. So the 18 year old boy became callous. He laughed off the bullying. He played along, gave him a chance. But when Drumpf lost, that 18 year old boy could finally be himself, he could allow himself to feel the tyranny, and it hurt. Than, the tyranny evaporated with the 18 year old's tears, and the 35 year old could finally take over.
That's why this is important to me. I want to promote anti-tyranny leadership. I want to be anti-tyranny leadership.
I want to live my life like someone I would vote to be my boss.