Updated: Nov 23
All things are interdependent and constantly changing. But it’s hard to “walk the talk” of those enduring truths. If I really believe all life is interdependent, doesn’t that mean Donald Trump is a part of me, like my hand is part of my body? What should I do, then, with the revulsion I feel toward his belittling, bullying tactics? It doesn’t make sense to disdain my own hand.
I woke up after election day wanting to worry and escape. I fantasized about taking a day off to tune-out, fume and ruminate on a hike, maybe drink wine by a fire. But those are just ways to suppress my fears. They would keep me feeling isolated and insulted, fueling the same contemptuous and controlling energy that fuels Donald Trump.
It is vexing how often we harm ourselves like this, whether at work, in our communities, or with our families. Every blaming thought or snickering rebuke is an intimate micro-experience of Donald Trump. Passive-aggression, veiled power plays and subtle manipulations are not uncommon. If we don’t learn to more skillfully respond to challenges in our lives, rather than habitually react, there’s little hope we’ll ever learn to heal our divided nation.
It’s easy to feel powerless to change these ingrained, counter-productive habits in self and society. But they are so limiting. I believe four practices create a way forward:
Coaching: We all need a safe place for powerful connection. We need to give voice to our unprotected self, commiserate with another, imagine bold possibilities, and be accountable to taking concrete steps. As the votes are counted, let’s seek out someone from whom we can request – and for whom we can provide -- this mutual support.
Conversation: Our communication has devolved into self-protecting position-taking and turf-holding. When was the last time you risked having your mind changed? Could it be that was your last real conversation? Let’s relearn the art of listening to understand, thoughtfully sharing ideas, and seeking out dialogue that expands the narrowness of our own thinking.
Curiosity: This may be the one skill needed to change anything for the better. I think it’s the common denominator to a racially-equitable, ecologically-viable and financially-resilient future. Let’s cultivate curiosity with all we’ve got. Today I’m asking myself, what can I learn from the aggressive white men who find safety in Donald Trump? What does my Best Self call me to do as the page turns on the 2020 presidential campaign?
Conflict: Engaging in constructive conflict can be a tough skill to learn and earn. I have become healthy-conflict-fluent in some situations, but in others I still shirk away with self-doubt. I keep trying. The ability to engage in open, constructive conflict is how we turn pain, hurt and disagreement into mutual, life-supporting solutions. Our country needs us to do this. Let us not use the conflict style of Donald Trump to create destructive habits and toxic relationships.
These four practices are the foundation of my consulting approach. I help create healthy, productive relationships where people become their best selves while doing their best work. Each of these – coaching, conversation, curiosity, and conflict – is connected to practical, learnable skills that help my clients perform better as individuals, teams and entire organizations. If this approach resonates with you, let’s talk.
It seems to me that Donald Trump is a human being filled with countless unresolved hurts. I see his energy in myself when I act impulsively and from fear. But I’m trying to see him also as a gift. He has shown our country how pervasive and harmful our dysfunctions are. He has motivated countless creative acts of civic engagement that wouldn’t exist without him. It is more clear than ever how badly we need to change.
That’s because we are interdependent and constantly changing. As we change, may we honor the fact that we deeply need each other.