Me in the Middle Revisiting the President (#FlashBack)

        
It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on November 10th, 2016.   On November 7th, 2016, shock and dismay registered across the country when we realized this man was going to be our president.  The whole campaign was a farce and I decided to send a protest message that neither candidate met my hopes for Leadership.  Shortly after Election Day I read Regie’s post and decided on a ‘wait and see’ approach.  Now, after three months of chaos and instability, I decided to re-visit both the president and Regie’s Blog.  The now infamous press conference has left us feeling more uncertain about the leadership qualities of the man sitting in the oval office.  Regie’s most recent observation can be found by clicking on this link ~ Full Court Press:

“If you watched (NOW) president Donald Trump’s recent press conference and got clammy hands and heart palpitations, fearing the free world is in jeopardy, I understand.”

“If you want to understand what’s happening between Donald J Trump, the press and the nation, it basically comes down to this: reasonable people have gotten tired of arguing with, and being treated like, 10-year-olds …so they elected one.

Have a nice four years of news.”

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~ And now for my FlashBack post ~

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PRESIDENT TRUMP

November 10, 2016

Thanks to Regie’s Blog ~ Well written! ~ the power of positive thinking ~ It’s all a crap shoot and we’ll all have to wait and see.  

“For the Hillary supporters …pull yourselves together. Please. Some of you are embarrassing yourselves. For the Trump supporters …some of you are too. A little grace and humility might be in order. You just elected Donald J Trump as your nation’s president …and he was once a part of Wrestle Mania.”
“I suppose it’s easy to call for everyone to accept the will of the people when you think your candidate is going to win.”

Regie’s Blog

In 2008, Oprah and Will Smith yelled and screamed and high-fived each other over how amazing the Obama presidency was going to be.

But then, we had a “beer summit” (that was odd). Then, a trillion dollar stimulus package …that turned into a deficit. Then a Tea Party. Then Occupy Wall Street. Then Ferguson, Baltimore, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, Chattanooga, Benghazi and Dallas. Then came Obamacare. And ISIS rose up in the middle east.

Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard and Steve Jobs ALL died during the Obama presidency. Peyton Manning retired. American Idol got cancelled. Tornadoes still ravaged trailer parks in the mid west and hurricanes still chewed up beaches. Several people got eaten by sharks. Brad and Angelina broke up. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian procreated. Smart phones blew up in people’s pockets. We had, like, six hundred Country Music award shows…

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Me in the Middle of Being a Strong Woman (#FlashBack)

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It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on December 4, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title  ~ Me in the Middle Being a Strong Woman ~ below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because it’s just about a week since the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st and I think we can all agree, no matter where you stand on politics, that it was impressive.  Men, women and families all joined together across the nation and beyond to voice their concern about the new leadership in our country.  People of faith and people from different political leanings all stood side by side in unity and peace to send a message of respect and mutual support.   I didn’t march and I was with them in Spirit.  I’m not a Democrat and I didn’t vote for Hillary.  I’m not a ‘feminist’ in the sense of embracing the label.  I’m for humanity and striving for a better world.   I’ve seen many advantages for me as a woman that have emerged due to the activism of dedicated women.  I might not agree with every stand that was represented on the 21st yet I was deeply moved by the peaceful coming together of people of different beliefs and different concerns.  All willing to join together in one voice.  Let’s choose a forward looking patriotism!  I think Brene Brown  says it with class and grace on her Facebook Page.

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 Me In The Middle Of Being A Strong Woman

My Word 2014 #2

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“I wish I had known from the beginning that I was born a strong woman.  What a difference it would have made!  I wish I’d known that I was born a courageous woman; I’ve spent so much of my life cowering.  How many conversations would I not only have started but finished if I had known I possessed a warrior’s heart?  I wish I’d known that I’d been born to take on the world; I wouldn’t have run from it for so long, but to it with open arms.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~

 ♥

#JusJoJan Daily Prompt – Jan. 15th/17 – Mercy

This week I’m stepping back to read more of the wonderful posts by other bloggers. I plan to take a Time Out from politics and Donald Trump’s Inauguration. Here’s one post that moved me enough to want to re-blog.

Ladyleemanila

demolition-4

I guess it was anger that triggered it
Never knew the reason for tit for tat
The double assault with no mercy
There’s no way for us to flee

It was easy to say we were not the same types
People moan, grumble, groan and gripe
Fuelling the list of enemies or adversaries
Could we settle this and be friends?

Six days of never ending war
Smoke rising, wreckage charred
Where do we go from here?
Stop! I plead with a tear

mercy, mercy
I’m flawed
tired and weary of life’s struggles
I come to you for forgiveness
my Lord
have mercy
I plead

I’m nothing
without you
have mercy on me, my Lord
I’ve realised my mistakes, mercy, mercy
please do
what’s best
for me

forgive me
my sins
I promise to follow you, Lord
for without you, I am nothing
show me
the way
my Lord

For: #JusJoJan…

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PRESIDENT TRUMP …

Thanks to Regie’s Blog ~ Well written! ~ the power of positive thinking ~ It’s all a crap shoot and we’ll all have to wait and see.  

“For the Hillary supporters …pull yourselves together. Please. Some of you are embarrassing yourselves. For the Trump supporters …some of you are too. A little grace and humility might be in order. You just elected Donald J Trump as your nation’s president …and he was once a part of Wrestle Mania.”
“I suppose it’s easy to call for everyone to accept the will of the people when you think your candidate is going to win.”

Regie's Blog

In 2008, Oprah and Will Smith yelled and screamed and high-fived each other over how amazing the Obama presidency was going to be.

But then, we had a “beer summit” (that was odd). Then, a trillion dollar stimulus package …that turned into a deficit. Then a Tea Party. Then Occupy Wall Street. Then Ferguson, Baltimore, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, Chattanooga, Benghazi and Dallas. Then came Obamacare. And ISIS rose up in the middle east.

Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard and Steve Jobs ALL died during the Obama presidency. Peyton Manning retired. American Idol got cancelled. Tornadoes still ravaged trailer parks in the mid west and hurricanes still chewed up beaches. Several people got eaten by sharks. Brad and Angelina broke up. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian procreated. Smart phones blew up in people’s pockets. We had, like, six hundred Country Music award shows…

View original post 570 more words

Me in the Middle Looking for a Leader (Part 1)

free-leader-3

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This post, along with my next two posts, is going to help me explore my thoughts about what qualities make a good leader.

My good intentions have been not to get political on this blog.  I hope to explore these qualities without picking a particular candidate or bashing a particular candidate.  It seems the campaign season here in America has gotten way off track.  It’s become almost impossible to explore what Leadership means much less what kind of Leadership America needs at this time.

Today I’ve chosen a post by Heather Plett @ www.heatherplett.com.   I’d love to hear what you think of Heather’s definition of Leadership and the qualities to look for in that person.

We need leaders – at ALL levels of our governments, institutions, communities, and families – who can dance with complexity, play with possibility, and sit with their fear. We need leaders who can navigate the darkness. We need leaders who can hold seemingly opposing views and not lose sight of the space in between. We need leaders who know how to hold liminal space. 

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What kind of leadership is needed for our time?
By Heather Plett ~ www.heatherplett.com

Can’t you just give us clear direction so we know what’s expected of us?” That question was asked of me ten years ago by a staff person who was frustrated with my collaborative style of leadership. He didn’t want collaboration – he simply wanted direction and clarity and top-down decision making.

What I read between the lines was this: “It makes me feel more safe when I know what’s expected of me.” And maybe a little of this: “If you’re the one making decisions and giving directions, I don’t have to share any collective responsibility. If anything goes wrong, I can blame the boss and walk away with my reputation intact.”

I didn’t change my leadership style, but it made me curious about what different people want from leadership and why. While that staff person was expressing a desire for more direction, others on my team were asking for more autonomy and decision-making power. It seemed impossible to please everyone.

I’ve been thinking back to that conversation lately as I watch the incredulous rise to power of Donald Trump. No matter how many sexist comments he makes, no matter how many people with disabilities he makes fun of, and no matter how many small business owners he cheated, his support base remains remarkably solid. As he himself has said, he “could shoot someone and not lose votes”. (I’m glad I’m no longer teaching a course on public relations, because he’s breaking all of the “rules” I used to teach and getting away with it.)

It seems implausible that this could happen, but this article on Trump’s appeal to authoritarian personalities helps me make sense of it. 

“‘Trump’s electoral strength — and his staying power — have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations,” political scientist Matthew MacWilliams wrote in Politico. In an online poll of 1,800 Americans, conducted in late December, he found an authoritarian mindset — that is, belief in absolute obedience to authority — was the sole “statistically significant variable” that predicted support for Trump.”

“Authoritarians obey,” says the author of the study, “They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened.”

Authoritarians hold strong values around safety, and they expect a leader to give them what they need. They don’t mind following a bully, as long as that bully is serving THEIR needs for security. Hence the popularity of Trump’s proposals to build a wall on the Mexican border and to keep Muslims from entering the country. They might even put up with some of the bullying directed at people like them (hence the surprising tolerance of Trump’s behaviour among his female supporters) if it means those who threaten them are kept at bay. Take, for example, the times when Trump told security to throw the protesters out of the places where he was campaigning – he made his supporters feel safe because he was roughing up “the enemy”.

Where does an authoritarian mindset come from? According to the article quoted above, there is evidence that it is passed down from one generation to the next. Religious views can also play a strong role. Those who were conditioned by upbringing and religion to obey the authority figures at all cost are more likely to vote for someone who reflects that kind of leadership. If you grew up never allowed to question authority, no matter how illogical or unbalanced it might seem, then you are more likely to have an authoritarian mindset.

There is also a correlation with how fearful a person tends to be. Those who are, due to personality and/or conditioning, frequently motivated by fear, will be more inclined to trust authoritarian leaders because that’s what makes them feel more safe.

Does it matter that some of us prefer authoritarian leadership over other styles? Shouldn’t the rest of us simply adapt a “live and let live” attitude about it and not try to change people? Don’t we all have a right to our own opinions?

Though I am deeply committed to holding space for people in a non-judgemental way (and I tried to create that environment when I was leading the people I mentioned above) I am convinced that it DOES matter. Yes, we should respect and listen without judgement to those who look for authoritarianism, and we should seek to understand their fear, but that doesn’t mean that we should allow their fear and social conditioning to make major decisions about who leads us and how we are lead. That authoritarian mindset is a sign of an immature society and it is holding us back. It must be challenged for the sake of our future.

Around the same time as my staff person asked for more authoritarian leadership from me, I was immersing myself in progressive teachings on leadership such as The Circle Way, The Art of Hosting, and Theory U. These methodologies teach that there is a “leader in every chair”, that the “wisdom comes from within the circle”, and that “the future is emerging and not under our control”. Though these models can (and do) function within hierarchical structures, they teach us to value the wisdom and leadership at ALL levels of the hierarchy.

Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze (two people I had the pleasure of studying with in my quest for a deeper understanding about leadership), in this article on Leadership in the Age of Complexity and in their book Walk Out Walk On, say that it is time to move from “leader as hero” to “leader as host”. 

“For too long, too many of us have been entranced by heroes. Perhaps it’s our desire to be saved, to not have to do the hard work, to rely on someone else to figure things out. Constantly we are barraged by politicians presenting themselves as heroes, the ones who will fix everything and make our problems go away. It’s a seductive image, an enticing promise. And we keep believing it. Somewhere there’s someone who will make it all better. Somewhere, there’s someone who’s visionary, inspiring, brilliant, trustworthy, and we’ll all happily follow him or her.”

This style of leadership may have served humanity during a simpler time, but that time is past. Now we are faced with so much complexity that we cannot rely on an outdated style of leadership.

“Heroic leadership rests on the illusion that someone can be in control. Yet we live in a world of complex systems whose very existence means they are inherently uncontrollable. No one is in charge of our food systems. No one is in charge of our schools. No one is in charge of the environment. No one is in charge of national security. No one is in charge! These systems are emergent phenomena—the result of thousands of small, local actions that converged to create powerful systems with properties that may bear little or no resemblance to the smaller actions that gave rise to them. These are the systems that now dominate our lives; they cannot be changed by working backwards, focusing on only a few simple causes.  And certainly they cannot be changed by the boldest visions of our most heroic leaders.”

Instead of a hero, we need a host. A leader-as-host knows that problems are complex and that in order to understand the full complexity of any issue, all parts of the system need to be invited in to participate and contribute. “These leaders‐as‐hosts are candid enough to admit that they don’t know what to do; they realize that it’s sheer foolishness to rely only on them for answers. But they also know they can trust in other people’s creativity and commitment to get the work done.”

A leader-as-host provides conditions and good group process for people to work together, provides resources, helps protect the boundaries, and offers unequivocal support.

In other words, a host leader holds space for the work to happen, for the issues to be wrestled with, and for the emergence of what is possible from within the circle.

Unlike a host leader, an authoritarian leader hangs onto the past as a model for the future. Consider Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. Instead of holding space for emergence, he knows that his support base clings to the ideal of a simpler, more manageable time. It’s not hard to understand, in this time of complexity, how it can feel more safe to harken back to the past when less was expected of us and the boundaries were more clear. Don’t we all, for example, sometimes wish we could be back in our childhood homes when all that was expected of us was that we clean up our toys before bedtime?

But we “can’t go back home again”. The future will emerge with or without us. We can only hope that the right kind of leadership can and will arise (within us and around us) that will help us adapt and grow into it. If not, our planet will suffer, our marginalized people will continue to be disadvantaged, and justice will never be served for those who have been exploited.

In his book, Leading from the Emerging Future, Otto Scharmer talks about leadership not being about individuals, but about the capacity of the whole system. “The essence of leadership has always been about sensing and actualizing the future. It is about crossing the threshold and stepping into a new territory, into a future that is different from the past. The Indo-European root of the English word leadership, leith, means “to go forth,” “to cross a threshold,” or “to die.” Letting go often feels like dying. This deep process of leadership, of letting go and letting the new and unknown come, of dying and being reborn, probably has not changed much over the course of human history. The German poet Johan Wolfgang von Goethe knew it well when he wrote, ‘And if you don’t know this dying and birth, you are merely a dreary guest on Earth.’”

What he’s talking about is essentially the liminal space that I wrote about in the past. It’s the space between stories, when nobody is in control and the best we can do is to hold space for the emerging future. We, as a global collective, are in that liminal space in more ways than one.

With Wheatley and Scharmer, I would argue that an important part of our roles as leaders in this age of complexity is to hospice the death of our old ideas about leadership so that new ideas can be born. Authoritarianism will not serve us in the future. It will not help us address the complexity of climate change. It will not help us address racial or gender inequity. 

We need leaders – at ALL levels of our governments, institutions, communities, and families – who can dance with complexity, play with possibility, and sit with their fear. We need leaders who can navigate the darkness. We need leaders who can hold seemingly opposing views and not lose sight of the space in between. We need leaders who know how to hold liminal space. 

This is not meant to be a political post, and so I won’t tell you who to vote for (partly because I am Canadian and partly because I’m not sure any candidate in any election I’ve witnessed truly reflects the kind of leadership I’m talking about – they are, after all, products of a system we’ve created which may no longer work for the future).

Instead, I will ask you… how is this style of leadership showing up in your own life? Are you serving as host or hero? Are you holding space for the emerging future? And are you asking it of the leaders that you follow and/or elect? Or are you still clinging to the past and hoping the right hero will ride in on a white horse to save us?

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Hero ~ Mariah Carey

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And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you