One of the most important lessons of leadership is being played out in American politics right now. I want to highlight it, and I trust you not to see any political motive in what I say.
In the current contentious US presidential race, candidates are defining themselves by what they are against rather than by what they are for. This is due to a number of factors: nationwide disappointment with the current administration, the verbal assassination tactics of Donald Trump, and the desperate issues facing the nation. All of these have moved the tone of the campaign toward the negative, and this is largely true of every candidate.
Note how this has left the voters feeling. Few are captivated by their candidate. Most are tepid at best, if the polls are anywhere near accurate. A huge portion of voters report feeling exhausted by the process and wishing the election was already over. The negative tone, the parade of candidates declaring their spite rather than their passion, is surely much of the reason.
Compare this approach to that of the great presidents. Though every presidential candidate has to speak of what they oppose, some are able to paint in brilliant terms what they dream for the nation or what great destiny awaits a valiant people or how God is still with us as we seek to do good.
The people—weary and beleaguered though they might be—are lifted by this approach. Some of the greatest achievements in history have sprung from it.
Churchill didn’t just spout hate for the Nazis. He spoke of the “broad, sunlit uplands” and the “finest hour” that belonged to the British people. Lincoln didn’t just attack slavery. He spoke of the “patriot hearth,” “offended brethren,” “better angels of our nature,” and government of the free “under God” that “shall not perish from the earth.”
In other words, odd as it may sound, the great presidents spoke of what they loved. They poured love—of fellow man, of future generations, of country, of liberty—into their politics. It captured hearts. It won voters. It lifted the nation.
Let me speak bluntly. Bitching is easy. Criticism is cheap. Complaining is common. Leaders elevate. Leaders inspire. They do both by bringing their love to play in the fight. Churchill loved the British people, their emerald isle, and their destined future. He made it contagious. So did Lincoln in the cause of union and liberty.
Perhaps the best at this in recent memory was Ronald Reagan. It was “morning again in America.” We were living at a moment “the founders envisioned and prepared us for.” We would “win because we are destined.” Government “was not the solution it was the problem.” The solution was “the genius of the common man, the average woman, set aflame by the American dream.”
Reagan spoke of his love. Great leaders do.
So how can you employ this truth into what you do? If you lead, you hope to engage, inspire, elevate, motivate, and energize people. This is far more readily done by love than animosity, more by positive passion than angry criticism. How can you put this to work in your world?
That’s it. Have a wonderful weekend. And don’t forget to pass this email along to others who can benefit from it by clicking on the “Forward” below. More soon.