Very recently, we all witnessed the splitting of a nation. During the Presidential campaign, divided cities became divided counties, and divided states of blue and red. Even social media became a battleground where shocked “friends” learned that their community was not what they expected and had to redefine their visions of friendship. It was hard to miss the tension, sometimes even passionate hate that these elections brought forth. The scandals, the ads, and the below the belt remarks that defined a national ideological turmoil; a community truly divided.
But in the end, we depend on one another. Like in any community, this nation is a complex network, where individuals have an effect on one another and on a shared environment. For it to continue to symbiotically survive, everyone will have to work towards fostering that network, using differences as platforms of conversation and building relationships in spite of conflict.
This brought to mind our previous publication: A New Leadership Mindset for Scaling Social Change. If we can internalize that we are all part of a team and cultivate that capacity, we can then produce the systematic change we seek. Putting aside differences, teams of communities would all have to engage in the leadership process: Connecting, Organizing, Systems Thinking, Bridging, Learning and Reflecting. This is definitely not a linear process, but rather a circular process. Different communities and individuals may even be at different points in the process, but as long as everyone is participating, then with time, significant change will occur.
So where do we start?
In practicality, it may be daunting to think about real ways of inspiring transformational change, but as the publication states, the process begins with ourselves; Connecting internally to our own “intentions, values, beliefs, and worldview then listening and asking questions that help individuals make meaning of their individual experience and understand each other better.” We can all do this, at any time, re-connecting and redefining ourselves as often as needed. We can also find opportunities to reach and build Bridges towards others, volunteering in our communities, creating networks of change, helping an elder on the bus, listening to those around us, even joining a leadership community where we can learn from other’s experiences. These are the things that begin to create a community to help us learn our differences and our common interests.
Through understanding ourselves and those around us we are already engaging in the leadership process and are therefore in a better position to Organize, Systems Think, Learn and Reflect. A Transformational Change to our national instability could therefore never be a top-down movement but rather a conversation between neighbors and friends, a sentiment that is contagiously shared among many crossing geographical boundaries, a national engagement in the leadership process. If we learned anything from these elections, it should be that communities do not have to like each other to connect and work together for the betterment of all and that this journey will take the civic engagement of many. Maybe hope is not embodied in a single candidate but rather in the community and the contributions we can all bring through actively engaging in the Leadership Process; as individuals, and as all the communities that make up our nation.