The cause of and cure for the challenges facing our Country have been intensely debated over the last five months. Unfortunately, good leaders from all races, backgrounds and beliefs are still divided about what to do with our nation's past mistakes and how to create a better society for everyone in the future. The only thing we all agree on is the fact that the United States is not very united right now.
Our founding Fathers and Mothers, and all leaders who influenced America over the last 244 years, were imperfect people. Like us, their aspirations and actions were not always congruent.
Recently, the cancel culture has made it easy to tear leaders down, search for and highlight their faults and criticize their contributions. The problem with this approach is that it tends to bring out the worst in everyone and does nothing to make our world a better place. In addition, we wind up living in a "group think" echo chamber that makes our families, workplaces and communities more and more divided with fears fueled by mistrust and misunderstanding.
BUILD UP OR TEAR DOWN
Many of the people around us are hurting, exhausted, anxious, and angry. The unprecedented challenges associated with working and living in a world filled with uncertainty, chaos and conflict is causing a lot of people to feel overwhelmed and afraid.
It's time to call a truce on talking about what divides us, communicating what we don't like or expressing a pessimistic opinion about the future. I'm not suggesting you deny reality. Positive leaders don't look at a glass of water as being half empty or half full of water. They look at the whole glass, but they are committed to serving others by sharing the water their God has given them.
Today we need more positive leaders who consistently and sincerely make the choice to serve others by building people up and not unconsciously tearing someone down. We need more positive leaders who can create conversations that inspire authentic optimism and bring out the best in everyone, not just the people who share their world view. This is especially true for the individuals in our family, workplace and community that have different values and beliefs, made major mistakes or caused us pain.
I saw them tearing a building down
A team of workers in my hometown.
With a heave and ho and a mighty yell
they swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
And I said to the foreman, "Is this team skilled?
Like the ones you'd use if you had to build?"
And he laughed and said, "Oh no, indeed.
The most common labor is all I need.
For I can destroy in a day or two
what it takes skilled builders years to do."
So I thought to myself as I went on my way.
Which of these roles do I try to play?
Am I a wrecker who walks through town
content with the labor of tearing down?
Or am I patiently building something with care
and making my world better because I was there?
OUR QUESTIONS CREATE OUR WORLDS
Most leaders have not been called to solve the world's problems, but we all have the opportunity and responsibility to have a positive influence on the people in our family, workplace and community.
If you want to unite your team and help all the people around you come through this crisis stronger than they've ever been, start building everyone up this month. You can achieve that goal by asking more positive questions that get other people to talk about the root cause of their success and ask them to share stories about times when they were at their best.
A "negative" question focuses attention on problems, failures and things we can't control. If you ask, "What problems have you experienced over the last few months?", the other person will find an answer to your question; but rarely does someone respond to a negative question and feel confident, competent and committed to creating positive change after the conversation. Most of the time, negative questions cause people to get discouraged, defensive and blame someone else for causing the problem. However, if you ask positive questions like...
When you think back over the last few months, where have you been most successful at work or with your family?
What are you better at today than you were five months ago?
What challenges have you overcome in the past?
How did you overcome those challenges?
What's an example of something a leader, teacher, coach or parent did to bring out the best in you during a difficult time in your life?
What people or stories have inspired you over the last five months?
Why is the mission of our organization important to you?
What do you like about being part of this team?
What are some examples of when our team has been at our best?
What can you do this month to maximize your strengths and use them to reach a challenging goal?
These questions will also generate answers, but the conversation has a greater chance of inspiring and influencing the person to feel better about themselves and their ability to win when the game keeps changing. It will also contribute to making their world a better place because you were there.