Today is Veteran’s Day – November, 11, 2016. A day when flags are flown, heroes alive as well as those now gone are celebrated, federal, state and local business close, restaurants and businesses have give-aways and discounts for the military and their families. A day to speak the words: Thank you for your service to those who answered the call to defend our country and our freedom.
This year, 2016, Veteran’s Day has a deeper ring for me – and for many Americans.
Just a few days ago, we learned the outcome of an incredibly contentious and uniquely historical presidential election. Our President-elect is business mogul, Donald J. Trump. His opposition was the first woman ever nominated to run for President: Hillary R Clinton. The campaigns were run quite differently and the two candidates, as well as the two political parties and the citizens of the United States, often clashed in values, principle, temperament, background, promises, experience, hope/fear, policies…the list of differences seems endless. The outcome was shocking to most Americans – while the polls continuously showed Mrs. Clinton in the lead – on election night, Mr. Trump held to a solid lead in the electoral count. He won – she lost. Just that simple!
Or is it?
In the few days following this elections, the American people are a divided people. There are demonstrations in the streets of major cities. Elementary school teachers are faced with students in fear their parents will be deported and there will be no more family. Middle school students are chanting ‘build the wall’ in the school cafeterias – terrifying classmates of Hispanic descent with the possibility of the government deporting their family members. High school students are burning flags, protesting at school, marching down hallways chanting ‘president-elect/not my president’. Social media is a frenzy with inappropriate pictures and comments of both Clinton and Trump. Long-time friends are ‘un-friending’ and blocking each other.
We have created a state of fear. I do not believe the actions and or comments would be much different had Mrs. Clinton become the President-Elect. So, it is not necessarily who won the election. It is the unrest, the fear, the dissolution we have allowed to fester. Seems America is a pressure cooker – about to burst.
You may ask: What in the world does this have to do with Veteran’s Day, or with Life and Leadership Coaching?
Two words: Fear and Gratitude.
When our military are called to deploy, to defend our country, to protect the citizens and our Constitution – there is fear. Will they come home safely, will they keep us safe, how will we take care of everything while they are gone, what will it be like for us when the mission is completed…
The gratitude is when they come home, or the mission is complete, or we have answers to the many haunting questions and have regained a sensation of at least some control in our lives.
It really is not so different in coaching. The fear is the unknown, the ‘what if’s’ that hold us back. It is often fear that causes us to lash-out at others, as the lashing-out seems to give us the false sense of ‘control’. And after all – aren’t the unknowns and the what if’s and the lack of control the root of many of our fears? So, when we regain some control (or at least a sense of influence and we acknowledge that we are doing the best we can) the fear naturally shifts – even if just a bit – and in its place, we have the choice to fill the space with an awareness of gratitude.
Veterans – I am grateful for your service, for your sacrifice, for keeping my family and my country safe and strong. Thank you!
Fellow Americans – I am grateful for our diversity, for our constitutional rights – many call privileges, for our responsibility to vote for our leaders. We are not all going to agree on who or how or what; nevertheless, can we all agree that fear begets fear and that being frightened, worried, anxious or in panic is NOT the way of American? It is not the way of the future we see for ourselves, our children or generations to come? Can we all be grateful, look forward to change as well as some status-quo so our leaders ‘get it right’ for our country.
There is a greater good – it’s called the United States of America. Let us be smart and strong balanced with grateful and compassionate. Is there not a way, today, as we celebrate the brave men and women who say: Not on my watch!
Fear or Gratitude…..where do you prefer to live?