Sunday, January 14, 2007

Senator Obama, Read "Your" Lips

“How would that make you feel if somebody did that to you?”

With that phrase, you are not only saying and living by what your mother taught you, but it also implies – to all the non-lawyers in the world—that in negotiations and legislation you would accept the deal you are proposing, if you were on the other side of the table.

I am saying this not to chastise, but to forewarn you to not fall prey to the “Read my lips” debacle of President Bush part 1 and too-many-to-mention gaffes from President Bush part 2. Because you see, I am just as excited about your being not merely the next best thing, but the best thing, period for our country to come along in a long time--a “neo Reagan” following a “Carteresque Bush” (policies, P.O.V. notwithstanding).

In all honesty, only 30 % of my enthusiasm is about you. The remaining 70 % is about the deep ache and hunger to find someone to believe in who just might not turn out to have feet of clay, if not hardened intractable concrete. I am not alone in personally starving for someone who can break through or at least thaw the skepticism, cynicism, transactional myopia and ROI blindness that has engulfed, consumed and ultimately betrayed all of us.

It’s not an impossible task, but here is something to keep in mind as you plan your and possibly our future. A skeptic is someone who is reluctant to trust and believe; a cynic is someone who refuses to trust and believe. A skeptic is someone who once trusted and believed and was disappointed; a cynic is someone who once trusted and believed and was betrayed. Nevertheless deep inside all skeptics and most cynics is a deep abiding ache to trust and believe once more, but to do so without the fear of being disappointed or betrayed again.

Something else to consider. As you are evolving (and hopefully not merely morphing), don’t be merely motivational or even inspirational.

To motivate is to pump people up (or from a cynical point of view, puff people up). It aims people toward a goal (usually the leader’s personal one) and then fires them toward it like a rifle shot. Too often, the people listening do not have the courage of the leader who is doing the pumping and aiming. When the pump's away, the people deflate. After such calls to action I have heard people say to each other, "That's easy for him to say. He’s got enough power and money to have the courage of his convictions." Too many people are too far down and too weary to buy into being pumped up momentarily.

More people need to be lifted up than pumped up. This is what inspiration does. Whereas motivation seeks to mobilize you by telling you to take action, inspiration accounts for the notion that if you are too wounded you may need some compassion and healing before you get back on your feet. That compassion is not wasted. It feels good to be understood--to have others know that sometimes you're not being lazy; sometimes you are too hurt to do anything other than lick your wounds after a truck has hit you. But as with motivation, inspiration, although more satisfying to the spirit, can also fall short of helping people reach a goal. Too often, inspiration lifts you up but doesn't give you specific steps to take. So you are left feeling better, but still just as lost about what to do next.

If trying to motivate or even to inspire falls short of helping people reach a goal, what's a leader to do? He can enspire his people. To enlarge is to make larger; to enable is to make able; to ennoble is to make noble. To enspire is to both lift up and direct. Enspiration makes something happen. It gives people the will to find the way and also the way to sustain the will.

To find one of best and most endearing and enduring examples of this, you needn’t look beyond an enspirational leader that has enchanted both you and your children. Just remember how Peter Pan enspired Wendy to go to Neverland with the simple directive: “Second star to the left and straight on ‘til morning.”

For us to achieve the audacity of hope, we may need you to have the audacity of Pan.

© 2007 Mark Goulston

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