Recently I was speaking with a senior executive over coffee. In the middle of a business conversation, we gently discussed politics (a potentially risky idea with someone you don’t know and want to build a relationship with). He told a story that has relevance especially during this election year.
He termed himself Center Right and said 12 years ago he was working with a team of people that he truly admired for their intelligence, their commitment, their energy, and their creativity. “It was a great job. We were doing extraordinary work together. I admired and respected everyone on the team and loved working with them every day.” Then they began to voice their views about the 2000 Presidential Election and everyone else on the team had a totally opposite opinion than he did. He said “I thought they were morons!” Because everyone kept expressing their opinions, he said he kept thinking they were morons, so the job quickly lost all that wonderful flavor he so loved.
His story stuck with me, and I remembered something I had said to Cathy a several months ago as we were returning home from a dinner with dear friends of ours. I said “I really can’t understand why they think ********** is so wonderful when everything ********** says is so incredibly stupid, vapid and lacks any relevance to reality. I know this is ridiculous but it makes me doubt their intelligence.” (This is only a smidge better than saying they are morons.) Cathy, being Cathy, said “They are probably thinking the same thing about you and how you feel about *****”
If people on opposite sides of any issue in partnerships, families, teams, companies and government think the other side are morons, all dialogue and forward progress stops. Nothing of any real value is accomplished.
Accomplishing anything with people of opposing beliefs requires a passionate commitment to a shared vision – a common purpose. It also requires a shared commitment on how you act and communicate with each other; as well as, a deep respect for the ultimate effectiveness of diversity of opinions and approaches. The shared purpose and shared way of being with each other transcends the opposing versions of how do you get there. The common purpose is held as the guiding light for all thoughts, actions and behaviors.
Seeing people with different views as morons is just plain arrogance and arrogance will always stop any learning or effective forward movement.
So, I will do my best during this politically charged year to whack the morons. The primary moron to feel my mallet will be me.
Care to comment? Would love to hear from you.