These past three months have been filled with climactic events with which we are bombarded 24/7 by media and social network highways. It is beginning to feel like the world is rapidly spinning into anarchy and a very dark place. Headlines shout about the disaster of the Brexit vote, what it will mean to Great Britain, and on a wider footprint, the European economy. A number of our big American banks are already sending out messages of gloom and doom because the United Kingdom is leaving the European market. Add to this, the constant deaths reported daily in the Middle East and Western Europe, along with the United States, the result of an individual killing people in a crowded location. Immediately, assumptions are made that it’s ISIS, or some other form of terrorist related conspiracy against innocent unarmed victims. After the recent news cycle of tragic events, it’s interesting to hear leaders talk about communities needing to heal, to be “more engaged communities,” and “understanding the people in our communities,” and yet very little is being done to promote this. Oh yes, both the Democratic and Republican Conventions trotted out all the emotional hooks involved in this complex issue, but so far no clear solutions or action plans.
Not to be outdone, the French government is bringing Christine Lagarde to trial for negligence over a fraudulent 405 million Euro payout the French state made to a Paris businessman when she was the Finance Minister. Add to this an increasingly vituperative political campaign about to begin in the United States between the Democrats and Republicans, and the stage is set for a very dangerous condition: the creation and rise of dictatorship under the guise of financial security, physical safety and a “closing the door” upon the world’s seemingly endless problems and challenges.
Your ability and skill to be a beacon of values based leadership has never been more important. Whether you are talking with clients, peers, friends or family, our world is desperately seeking men and women of character who demonstrate integrity, trust, caring, and rational thinking, enabling discussions to be focused on facts and reality, avoiding simplistic and naïve generalizations with their flawed solutions. As you read this issue of Eagle Talk, step back and be reflective on the actions you can take which will help to stop this terrible polarization, driving the alienation of large numbers of people to dislike, distrust, and see others as evil. To do this well you must ask yourself two key questions:
- First, are we as human beings desirous of being members of a community which shares values? If we are, then everybody is seeking the emotional self-confidence and security knowing they belong to a community where they matter and make a difference.
- Second, if we view the world with optimism and a happy outlook, are we joyous in our lives or do we see nothing but darkness?
The politics of anger is as old as history. As a leader, the key to dealing with this human emotion is to keep in the forefront of your awareness to never take history for granted. If economic and political freedoms are diminished, it is a reality that basic human needs are unmet. True leaders never let up. They are always engaged in making change work and contributing to the future of society and mankind. They live the values of “Serving Leaders.”
Is “digital engagement” a cheap way of thinking we’re managing problems while in actuality we’re pushing people further away from human contact? Is the worldwide upsurge in isolated, frustrated individuals willing to blow themselves up, or be shot while killing and maiming others, the result of being repelled by a false sense of community by moving towards managing society digitally and eliminating the importance and need for value based leaders communicating with us?
Reading history, it becomes clear that periods of great crisis are part of historical reality. We are clearly living in a moment of global crisis that is going to test each of us and our individual resiliency to be ourselves, live our values, and in doing so, be beacons of light for the countless individuals who are running scared, confused and unsure about the future.
Leadership is a lonely place at times of great conflict with the clashing of what seems to be all powerful cultural forces. Winston Churchill is one of my heroes. He single-handedly kept the flame of truth and freedom alive in the dark months of 1940 when Nazism appeared to be unstoppable, and Hitler was on his march to world domination. We need leaders now. For each of you this is the moment to step up and rise to the occasion, making a difference by bringing our world back into a rational and pragmatic environment.