After a recent presentation, I overheard someone say about my presentation, “he could have spared me the political commentary.” What’s interesting about this statement is that I had spent literally no more than 2 minutes commenting on anything remotely political.

One of those two minutes was spent on a send up of the word politics (from two roots, “poli” meaning many and “tics” meaning bloodsuckers, an old but classic line). Then I made a self-effacing joke about my own political affiliations. I did’t say anything about opposing viewpoints.

The second minute must have been the problem. What did I do? I defended free enterprise and capitalism. I said it seems to me we live in an age where success is questioned. When I grew up, I wanted to learn what people did to achieve financial success in the hopes that I might learn to do it, too. Today, there seems to be a climate of distrust, and the suggestion that if someone is successful they somehow took advantage of the less successful and should be penalized for it. I said we all needed to defend a system that has created opportunity for so many.

That was the gist of my remarks. The audience, all entrepreneurs, seemed overwhelmingly in favor of my defense of free enterprise based on the spontaneous round of applause. But obviously there was at least one dissenter.

The person who didn’t care for my perceived “political” remarks made another comment about me seeming to blaming the current administration.

I identified a problem and qualified it as my opinion. I expressed concern, not blame. There is no upside in blaming. The only upside I see is identifying a problem and working together to solve it. Some may not agree. They won’t join in. Others might agree, and if enough like-minded people come together, we make progress.

I am not threatened by opposing points of view or disagreement. I am, however, deeply concerned and put off by  conjecture fueled by only emotion and poor thinking and unsupported by facts. I think it detracts from serious dialogue.

If you live in the U.S., you and I are part of the same culture and citizens of the same country. We all have a right to be interested in our state of affairs, and responsible for making them better when we can. Politics is one process, but not the only one, for addressing concerns.

I don’t care much about your politic affiliations, and you shouldn’t care too much about mine. What we should both care about is finding common ground, identifying problems that affect us all and then working together despite our differences and because of our shared interests to make our country a better place.

Mark Sanborn
About Mark Sanborn

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international bestselling author and noted expert on leadership, team building, customer service and change. Mark Sanborn graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University. In addition to his work as a business educator and author, Mark continues to be an active leadership practitioner. Most recently he served as the president of the National Speakers Association.

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