Step 1 – YOU DON’T HAVE TO – feel like this anymore.
I’m a big fan of West Wing. I really am. The level of discourse in that show is simply wonderful. The images… the characters… Anyway, there is a nice little exchange I just had with a colleague, who was sharing with me that he was resisting change…
… he wasn’t comfortable with a change that was about to happen. And immediately, a scene within West Wing came to mind.
The story goes like this…
The President, Jed Bartlet was plagued with a 5 point drop in approval ratings. Concurrently, a position paper on how to bring down the Bartlet Presidency was being surfaced by the press. Because the paper was highly critical of the administration, Bartet and his senior staff had to read the paper. In the paper was a key message, that…
Leo (Chief of Staff) drives Bartlet to the middle, and Bartlet lets him take him there.
After Bartlet & Leo read the paper, up comes the time for them to talk about it. Now they are confronted with their partnership in mediocrity. Bartlet brings up the suggestion from the paper, that Leo is the one driving them to the middle. Leo struggles with the message and then rejects it with a strong retort, that Bartlet is the one to drive them to the middle.
The two principles go back an forth in the dialog, and wrestle with whose to blame for their position. After some negotiation around the topic, it’s recognized that Bartlet is a big thinker, the one with vision, the one who ultimately gives direction. Faced with that notion, he justifies his political inaction with all the constraints on his office… These incessant compromises weigh him down and keep his true leadership from coming out.
He sighs, “I don’t want to feel like this anymore.”
And then Leo urges him, “You don’t have to.”
This insight hits Bartlet squarely between eyes. He and Leo feel the weight lift as they confirm together that they are going to start doing things differently. They are going to disregard their fear of losing a second term in the Whitehouse. Instead, they are going to follow some of the vision of the President and tackle some of the issues that they’ve always wanted to.
Leo’s strategy… LET BARTLET BE BARTLET.
Step 2 – LOOK FOR A BOLD ACTION – to commit to that change.
No… I’m not through talking about West Wing. The very next episode begins with Jed Bartlet making a speach in which he is about to to make a bold unprecidented announcement which is certain to enrage Congress, and trigger the parties to launching into a series of political attacks on the Adminsitration. The speach needs a parable to build up to that announcement.
And so, Jed Bartlet spoke about a story that his grandfather used to tell, about 2 Irish lads who while walking through the countryside came upon a wall that they thought they could not climb. Instead, of trying to climb or even backing away, they first threw their caps over the wall so that they were dedicated to either get over the wall or lose their caps.
Making a bold statement can be fun, enlightening, and invigorating. It can liberate you to act freely, without prior burdens. It can open up new territory so that you can set the direction for yourself and your endeavors.
But don’t be reckless. Be thoughtful. Look before you leap. And get ready for consequences.
A bold move can also disturb and surprise those around you. They may become shocked and react. They may wish that there was more of an opportunity for them to persuade you to keep things they way they were.
Keep in mind that, there is a reason to make the move bold. Certain changes don’t come easily.
Keep in mind that, as long as you are being fair to others and fulfilling your promises, it is your perfect right to be bold… to catch others by surprise… to be independent… and to act unilaterally.