I had the fortune of participating in a webinar with Dr. Ben Carson this morning. The call was to discuss Federal actions being taken during the COVID-19 pandemic from his perspective as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. There are a couple of things I’ll mention about the call later, but more importantly, first, why I hold him in such high esteem. He is a man I have admired since reading his book, a bestseller, Gifted Hands. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read it, please do! Ben teaches valuable life lessons from his life experiences.
Ben overcame poverty and changed from being the class dummy to being respected for his intelligence. He was raised poor by a single mother who had married at 13, held a third-grade education, and came from “horrible family life.” Ben had a temper, had a tendency toward violence, and had poor self-esteem. All the things you would think could prevent him from success of any kind.
He proudly proclaims his mother is the reason for his success. She always believed in him, wouldn’t accept and excuse, and dreamt that making her children read would free them from poverty. Ben says that when you aren’t allowed to give an excuse, you find solutions. In his reading (BTW his mother couldn’t read), he learned how to drift into a new world, one he wasn’t familiar with, one Ben knew he could enjoy. Through reading, he realized that your success in life comes from your actions and that you control your destiny. That if you thought you were dumb, you are, yet if you thought you were smart, you would act the part and become that too. Your brain is smart enough to make a difference.
He believes that we need to engage in respectful discourse, yet political correctness keeps us from saying what we feel, so speak from your heart. That we all came here on different boats, but we are on the same one now and need to work together. That the leaders who designed our system of government did so for a well informed and educated populace. When we become less informed, we become vulnerable. He recites that his role model is Jesus, who taught in parables, Ben likes doing so as well when he can. Ben suggests that our nation’s symbol, the Bald Eagle, flies high because it has two wings, a right-wing and a left-wing which we need to remember. And that we need to be compassionate to others in need, as we well could have been in similar situations by simple life choices.
What caught my attention on our call were these: First- he said that as a neurosurgeon, he was humbled how families untied around the children he operated on and that he sees us uniting as a country during the pandemic in a similar way. And that from his belief in the bible, phases of life do not last forever, suggesting this to will pass.
Over the centuries, the past shows us many periods in world history. I’m not sure that the individuals of these times knew the significance of change as it occurred over the years during their lifetime. Did the people see themselves moving from the bronze age to the iron age, or from the age of revolution to the romantic era? Have you noticed that parents don’t see changes in their children as they grow as we do who don’t see them as often? When we are part of a change, it is hardly noticeable as the gradual movement is scarcely perceptible. What are your thoughts when you look at old pictures to then realized the significant life changes you have forgotten about?
The industrial revolution came about with advancements in communication (telegraph-telephone) and transportation (canals-railroads). It was a time where the population had grown, and there was a need for more creation of food and products. It was gradual but necessary to meet the demands of the growing population. Our time is no different! The world population continues to grow, communication has evolved a remarkable pace, and it is nearly impossible to imagine the changes in delivery coming.
I’ll agree that during this pandemic, we have lost track of time, lost sanity, and every morning we seem to wake up to groundhog day! What is hidden from our view is that these last eight weeks are like no other in history. We are living in the first-ever worldwide economic freeze, highly accessible media rage, and an unfolding tragedy yet to be understood. However, in these last few weeks, we have ushered in a new era in record time, and we are yet to see the powerful changes that are here to stay.
The pandemic has demonstrated we have access digitally to more information than we ever knew possible. While the temporary new normal has shifted our minds from the dramatic nature of the change, yet we are now in it full throttle. It isn’t typical employees doing typical work; it is the recognition that through human advancements, we can achieve more today than at any other time. We are on record pace to achieving those never before answers to questions we may have never thought we were capable of asking.
It isn’t merely connectivity, which by itself is remarkable. It is how quickly we can discover, alter, and create. Automakers shifted to medical device manufacturers in weeks with new innovative ideas improving the product. Science at record pace found new solutions never before thought possible. And human interaction will be forever changed in ways we are yet to understand. You will be able to add to the list of ways you’ve seen adaption to needs for you.
Leadership will be your new opportunity to stand up and make a difference. Positive change is here for those who are willing.
An information crisis! The crisis is in the news and on social media. I won’t take a side as there is good evidence of bias all around us, no matter your persuasion. But, we must realize the agendas today are strong enough for recognized personalities to lie, alter the truth, and distort facts. Could their interest be fame? And why they’re selfish wanting ratings and not sharing meaningful information that will help our country in time of need.
Not too long ago, times seemed different to me. For example, I was a regular observer of “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert. At the time, I felt he reported fairly, and I enjoyed watching the differing views on various political topics. I was okay with David Gregory for a time, but never really got too excited about watching his program. Then, when Chuck Todd became host, I stopped watching altogether and have never participated again. I found him to be incapable of a fair or intelligent discussion.
Just yesterday, I watched a segment that emphasized the length; some are willing to distort facts in representing our current leaders. Dan Crenshaw, Navy Seal, and member of Congress, talked with Bill Maher, Comedian about President Trump. It was a post on LinkedIn that caught my attention (thank you to whoever posted it).
I am not an observer of Maher, nor do I know much about Crenshaw, so it was interesting for me to watch. Dan admits Trump has faults, but his policies and love of our country are what lead him in his support. Bill, by stating his feelings toward Trump, “he does nothing but pass the buck, lie, finger point, and shirk responsibility,” should be considered biased or closed-minded on Trump’s intentions. That, unfortunately, is our media today!
It is through watching this segment a few things have reignited in my mind that I want to share:
- Anyone that is recorded daily in lengthy conversations can be taken out of context.
- When we are compared to perfection, we fail.
- The context of our statements is critical.
- If we hear accusations, ask yourself, was their goal to make someone look bad, or get to the truth?
- And, base facts on what we knew at the time statements were made.
I sense observation of these ideas will help us choose who we listen to and guide us on how we report what we have heard.
Our President is an optimistic man, perhaps overly confident at times where he can be misunderstood in his honest efforts to lead. These traits make him an unusual target. If I understand his style, it helps me appreciate his intent. I feel he loves our country and shows an uncanny willingness to make personal sacrifices for our country’s success. We need to concentrate on more policy and less on personality. Our country is only as good as our healthy debate on issues we care about, not by systematically dismantling those who were elected to represent us.
I don’t know a single person who is filled with enough hate for an individual, that they are willing to sacrifice our country to prove a point. I hope we see through those who appear to be different.
If we look at humanity and the roles we have played over centuries, it isn’t the most intellectual, nor is it the strongest who survive, but those who adapt to the changing environment. In times of historical disruption, transformation is immediate! We learn quickly, who among us have natural leadership qualities. As these frontrunners instincts kick in, they get a feel for the opportunity and anxiously grasp onto the challenge of adapting eagerly to the situation.
We are caught in a pivotal moment right now—tittering between the danger of the pandemic and the need to shift back to normal. Those who step up now are the individual’s history will write about. Our rescuers will be those who have a sense of stability, chose to respond instead of react. They will lean into the opportunity, remain calm in the face of danger, and take the initiative to find solutions. The champions will be those who are willing to risk, aren’t afraid of mistakes, and take personal responsibility.
For us to ensure the wellbeing of families, businesses, and communities, we need for those chosen to lead to realize reaction is tied to the past and response is linked to the future. We have never been here before; a reaction will be based on fear. We know putting our hand on a hot stove will burn!
Leaders, you are at the intersection of danger and opportunity. We pray for your ability to respond; it will enable our future.