Fair warning, this is not my typical article. It’s not about leadership, business, careers, culture, entrepreneurship, or the military. But it’s related. This post is about the importance of finding common ground and learning how to work with people you disagree with. In the vitriolic, bitter, hateful and often venomous climate that seems to exist in America today, I felt it was time to say something.
If you’ve read my articles, you know I have addressed this subject before but mostly in a business sense. In an article called, 10 Leadership Lessons I Learned Living on a Nuclear Submarine, I wrote about one interesting aspect of submarine life, there is no escape from a bad colleague. Once on board, you were stuck with the crew that was deployed.
“I like working with people with strong opinions, loosely held.” Jordan Harbinger
From this experience, I learned to get along with people I had differences with. I learned to resolve conflicts and seek common ground. I learned to look for win-win outcomes which has served me well in business. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think this is a rare trait. I’m also becoming increasingly aware that, in the news and political world, getting along is not what gets ratings or votes.
“I ran away from politics, It’s too bizarre at home.” Jimmy Buffett
Maybe it’s because I turn 50 this month that I’m seeing things differently. I’ve always been a news and political junkie but the last year has cured me completely. The hatred that is present in news and politics today seems over the top. Honest debate, decency and respect no longer exist. It’s become clear to me that news outlets are just trying to get ratings to sell commercials and politicians are just hustling votes. Dividing Americans helps both be successful and they are doing a good job.
I’m not buying any of it though and I wish more Americans would as well. In response to the current political climate, I’ve completely stopped watching and listening to political news and I’ve turned to reading, podcasts, and audio books. In truth, my life has become much better. Instead of getting angry and picking sides in latest silly debate, I’m filling my days with learning, writing content and growing my business.
“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Neil Peart
My choice for political party, candidate, and news outlet is simple, I choose “none of the above.” Instead, I’m just going to stay quiet, mind my own business, work hard, love my neighbors, respect those I disagree with, and do my best to create a company that my vendors, community, employees and customers are proud to be associated with. In my opinion, that’s the best choice.
What do you think? Am I wrong to opt out of the current political scene? Are there more people like me who are simply choosing to say no? What’s wrong with selecting “none of the above?” Let me know in the comment section below.