Though not the one-finger salute the majority of Americans would bestow upon the former president, the sights and sounds coming from Youngstown over the past weekend were alarming to those who cherish democracy.
Others can espouse the dangers of theocracy, authoritarianism, and fascism within our borders. Trolls can lob whataboutisms, sling snark, and hyperventilate over a dozen fanciful conspiracies. Each time they deflect and distract, the Overton window slips from the radical and begins normalizing the unthinkable with barely a murmur from the average American.
Why? Because the average American is tired, unappreciated, distracted, and worried about their freedoms, privacy, healthcare, and finances.
After spending the best hours of the day on someone else’s urgent tasks, it’s unsurprising that many people collapse into their couches at home and lose themselves for a few hours of trivial escapism, mindlessly binging on one vice or another. This daily routine of hyper-busy work followed by a crash diminishes you, giving you a bystander role in someone else’s story. You’ve become the equivalent of a non-player character (NPC) in a video game. Little more than set decoration for the main character who has their act together.
This is not where effective leaders are forged. Of course, you must rest, but you must also regain meaning in your life. There is no shortage of tangible existential threats you could offer a hand in improving.
Is climate change too daunting for you? Work on reducing pollution in your hometown.
Does defending democracy against a small but roaring tide of fascism and theocracy seem too formidable? Challenge your local lunatics running for positions on school boards and county chair seats.
This is not the time to be coy. You, and most people you know, agree on what makes a good versus a lousy leader. Unfortunately, because so many are so rundown, we don’t notice the growing degradation. We don’t audit our self-leadership and our beliefs often enough.
Here’s a reminder.
- Effective leaders are firm believers in the value of democracy and agree that what’s happening in our country today is not normal.
- Effective leaders respect the Constitution and believe in the rule of law.
- Effective leaders recognize the will of the people and accept the results of a free election.
- Effective leaders support the right to choose, the right to privacy, the right to contraception, and the right to marry who you love.
- Effective leaders oppose authoritarians and those who fan the flames of political violence and threaten personal rights, the pursuit of justice, and the rule of law.
- Effective leaders consider those who stormed the United States Capitol and attacked law enforcement on January 6th to be insurrectionists.
- Effective leaders support the peaceful transfer of power and oppose nullifying votes and thwarting the will of the people.
None of those declarations are illogical or fringe ideas; they are embarrassingly obvious. I implore you to recharge your batteries and reduce your zone-out time so you can get back in the game and play a formidable role in reducing the effect of lousy leaders on you, your community, your business, and our nation. The quickest way to achieve that is to shift from working on the multitude of manufactured fires throughout your day and invest more time in that which is important and aligned with your values. Doing so will help you regain your focus, clarity, and resolve to no longer allow yourself to be passively led to places you do not want to go. You are the main character of your life; begin to act that way.
Karl Bimshas is the Boston-bred California-Chilled Leadership Advisor, Writer, and Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to be confident, competent leaders in their field without becoming jerks. http://www.learnfromkarl.com/