Tuesday this week in the US was election day. When people woke up on Wednesday morning some were quite surprised with how it turned out and who won. People were surprised for many reasons including the facts that winner has been someone who has said a lot of controversial things throughout the race and that the winner is not a traditional politician. As with every race there has to be a winner and a loser, sometimes the underdog wins, sometimes the bad guy wins, and sometimes the winner is the one everyone thought was a shoe-in. I’m not going to technically reflect on the result today. What I want to talk about is what we can learn from the result of the election, and there are tons of lessons regardless of which side of the very divisive fence you are on.
First and foremost I believe this is a wake-up call. If you listened to the news or lived in the US for the months and years leading up to the election you’re familiar with the unrest that is being experienced most often as shown with shootings and between the police and minorities. There have been countless calls for change and change has been slow moving, if it has really even happened. The reality is though that you can’t expect change to happen if you aren’t willing to do anything to change. Sometimes those changes are relatively easy like switching breads because your favorite company went out of business. Others are much more difficult like learning how to walk again after spinal surgery or after you lost a leg. The type of change that people have been calling for isn’t the bread type of change, it’s the learning to walk again type of change. And as the well-known definition of insanity says: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. (While that may work for flipping coins it doesn’t work in the situation of human life and tragedy.)
So this very real wake-up call, that the divisive non-politician would be elected, means that people are really sick of how things have been run for a very long time and are finally willing and able to step up and say so. Maybe what we had wasn’t so bad and we were getting along OK with it, but I believe that we can do better as a people and as a country. Maybe what we need most is someone with a big set of brass balls to step up and make some changes. No one makes all good changes, but the hope is always that the majority of changes that are considered are given careful thought given to how other people will be affected by the intended result before changes are made, and that decisions aren’t made based on superficial qualities like money, skin color or sex.
The second lesson here is that there’s always a chance you’ll lose or fail. We don’t like losing or failing especially on such a grand scale or in front of so many people, but sometimes it happens. When the loss or failure happens it is important to take a step back and see why the loss or failure happened. Maybe you weren’t the right person for the job, maybe you don’t have all the qualities that are needed, maybe you didn’t bring enough confidence to the table, maybe you were trying so hard to make yourself look good and fit the mold that you missed that the mold was no longer a mold, maybe you didn’t throw enough money in the ring, maybe you didn’t give it enough hours, maybe you didn’t try something new, maybe you secretly needed to fail so you could finally have a day off, maybe you needed to lose because there’s something bigger and better for you to work on, and maybe the reason you lost or failed isn’t apparent today but will be revealed years from now.
I close with a thought that I heard as part of one of the reactions to the election result: whether you agreed with the election result or not there’s nothing we can do about it now, it has been decided. What we can do though is decide how we will live each and every day. You still have control over the attitude you live with, the career you pursue, the people you’re in relationship with, what you do when you lose or fail, and how hard you work to accomplish your goals, dreams and purpose in life. One leader can do a lot of good or a lot of harm, but they are only one person, just like you are only one person and I am only one person. We may not have the platform that the president has, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to do our part to make the world a better place, regardless of whatever hate or violence others around the world choose to try to throw around. Don’t let a single loss or failure determine the rest of your life. Don’t stop working after a single victory. Each day is a new opportunity to resolve to do your very best and make the very best impact on the world you can.