Using the US election as a High Performance … and Higher Values reminder.
In the shadow of the US presidential election I find it nearly impossible to miss the “this could never happen here” chatter. Canadians believe in human rights and dignity for all. Canada is diverse, inclusive, kind.
Well – blah blah blah. I’m not convinced that this reputation totally applies to Canada any more. I think that we have been all of the things– I’m just not sure that we still are. And if we are – I think we are very close to not being as inclusive and kind for much longer.
Why? We have been taking “who we are” for granted for a long time. Being the kind, generous population that we think we are requires hard work, dedication and, likely requires that we disrupt our personal routine: I wonder if we haven’t all gotten a little lazy.
In my book, The Power of More – How Small Steps Help You Achieve Big Goals – I wrote about the possible disadvantage of being naturally talented. It is my experience if early results come easily one runs the risk of not learning how to be tough and dedicated as a career progresses.
Natural talent can help you to be good, but only thorough and constant preparation will give you the confidence to be great—on demand. For the power of more to work, you have to want to do more on the bad days as much as you want it on the great days—even if the attempt isn’t nearly as much fun on bad days and you risk failing. Being tough is a (badge) that you earn as you train. (And like everything else) you lose (that badge) as soon as you stop being tough.
I don’t think that we have any right to take who we once were – who we still hope to be – for granted anymore. I’m not so sure that we’re all working at it anymore and we all need to be working at it all the time.
It’s not a stretch to assume that (Rob) Ford Nation, which was just recently the majority in Toronto and still has a significant presence, would be firmly behind Donald Trump and all of his populist messaging. I don’t think that this group is some sort of anomaly that exists only around Toronto and can’t be found throughout our great nation. And I think we are drinking the same Kool-Aide that all the American pollsters were drinking if we think that a Trump-like character on a Canadian ballot couldn’t possibly draw out the lazy, NIMBY worst of us.
To be clear I too am one of the ‘we’re better than them’ preachers on the values and virtues of being Canadian. As a nation we had a natural talent to be – and so we were — clean, green, kind and generous. I love thinking that we shun bigotry and racism, that we are open to diversity of faith, sexuality and abilities. I am proud to think that Canadians care for the quality of our environment for this generation and every generation to come. …. but are we actually doing these things today. Am I? Are you? I’m not certain that this is how other nations see us anymore.
Having the potential to be kind, to be a defender of others’ safety, or to be a protector of human rights to doesn’t mean that you are. Only actually stepping up and stepping in makes you so. The sort of kindness and generosity that we believe Canadians represent is more than once-off gestures. Increasingly many expect ‘others’ to do the social conscious heavy lifting. Having advocated for others long ago doesn’t mean that you are their advocate today. Because you voted once does not make you a voter today. Every day we need to care, act, and speak up.
As Canadians we are incredibly fortunate that as a collective – we have a reputation for being naturally kind and inclusive. This is the core of why we have the confidence to believe that this is a great nation. We cannot take what makes it great for granted.
Let’s do more than think that this couldn’t happen in Canada, let’s make certain that it doesn’t. Let’s re-commit to being dedicated to living and leading by the values that we think we have – in the moments when it’s easy to do and in the moments when it’s not so easy to do.
It will be the constant little gestures; supporting comments and inclusions that will continue to define us. How people give and support changes as we ourselves change; some have time, some have money. Some have both and some have neither, but we all have a voice. Doing nothing- saying nothing, when you believe that human rights, dignity and decency are something, paves the way for populist messaging to take a serious hold.
We had hoped that they would choose to be “With Her”; it’s a real shame that enough of them didn’t. What are we Canadians to do about that? We can choose to be with and for each other. I’m with you.