Folks are Restless


The last month has been reminiscent of a time 40 years ago, in the late 60s when all hell broke loose. Powerlessness and acceptance of injustice were cast aside, as people took to the streets in the U.S. and around the world.  In 2010 we saw a foreshadowing of this renewed restlessness when the Tea Party rose up out of, what seemed like, nothing and nowhere. In 2011, it’s been  Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain — Wisconsin — Libya, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan. Everyone’s getting in the act: This past Friday the majority of the Detroit Pistons’ basketball players (who, unlike the revolutionaries, dispute that they were acting in concert) skipped or came late to a mandatory practice. Coach Kuester came down hard, benching the whole lot of them. These are uneasy days for presidents, monarchs, dictators, and coaches. What about for everyday leaders? Anything for us to learn?

Hopefully, we’re inspired! In the Middle East these individuals have risen up at great risk. Ghadaffi has allegedly murdered thousands so far.  Now, those protesters were showing some major “everyday leadership.”  Can’t say I’ve ever taken a risk a hundredth so high.

Second, we should be encouraged by these acts of grassroots leaders. Much has been written about the role of Facebook and cell phones, and that is surely true. But they were people organizing for change – against monstrous forces of resistance. Somewhere, we can be sure, there were small cadres of Margaret Mead’s famously called a “small group of committed, citizens [who] can change the world.” Successful everyday leaders – unlike the tyrants they are toppling – always collaborate with others.

Finally, those of us “in power” – as parents, bosses, owners, managers, priests, teachers, principals, etc., – should pay attention. These revolutions did not spring from nothing. There were long-standing grievances. And there were costs being paid long before the revolutions came. People cheat their cheating governments. Organized labor fights the government (or corporation) that should have been their partners. Basketball players were far from giving their best in their mediocre season with a coach they’d lost respect for.  So, they all finally exploded out of their higher-ups failures to create genuine communication.  I don’t know the personal inside of any of these situations, but I can’t help but think that the standoff and mutiny facing Wisconsin Governor Walker, like that faced by Pistons’ Coach Kuester, has an awful lot to do with not being willing to the do the hard work of seeing others’ perspectives; the hard work of seeking win-win ends; and the hard work of reaching a compelling enough shared vision that their followers would genuinely be willing to seek win-win as well.

It’s easy to see ourselves on the side of the little guy, taking to the streets. But most of us in one way or another are also “the big guy,” and we’d best listen hard and long to those who labor under our regimes.  You might ask your peeps this week, “Hey, what am I not seeing as parent/boss/etc., that you think I should know about to help support you in your work?”   Listening, to . . .

Lead with your best self,


p.s. Thanks to SO MANY of you who helped out my buddy Mick.  I mailed him a check for $625 today from sales of Be Real which he edited perfectly.  He’s on Day +5 and waiting hopefully for his brother’s cells to now start multiplying and fortifying him. Your continued prayers are appreciated.

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  • I’m glad to know I haven’t been the only one seeing a connection between the events in the Middle East with those in Madison over the last couple weeks. I see a lot of parallels, and I think there’s a lesson to be learned in all of those events.

    And thanks again, Dan, for giving us an opportunity to help Mick a little bit right now. Many of us who have visited your site over the last couple years have gotten a lot from him, and it helps to feel that we can give something back.

    Best of luck, Mick. We’re all thinking and praying for you.

  • I agree, we are seeing more support for “change” but no one has taken the time to define what our collective desire for change will look like. Are we becoming an “Angry” nation? I don’t think so, we chose not to elect an angry governor this last time around. I think we want more consensus and cooperation but I think we lack the will to figure out how to get there. The change I want to see is “iniative and innovation” for better government. Here is to leading at your best!

  • Hi Dan,
    How are you? I have not responded in a while and wanted to make sure you knew I look forward to reading your Monday morning posts. I often forward certain ones to friends, and have also used others to begin conversations with my CEO here at work.
    Your writing inspires me.
    One comment on today’s article is: I hope that violence will stop, but demonstrations continue. I look forward to my government responding in the same positive manner to the demands of our U.S. demonstrations as we encourage and support them in other countries.
    Thank you for all you do Dan.
    Traci Furman

  • C’mon, Dan, PLEASE don’t “liken” what’s happening in Wisconsin with the Piston’s coach’s situation. There are thousands upon thousands of working-class people (not highly-paid athletes) protesting peacefully at the state capitol for worker rights…collective bargaining rights…and they are being ignored. The key here is peacefully. I believe that the people are tired of being quiet. Most of the folks I’ve spoken with up at the capitol square want the right to earn a decent living, raise their families and take care of their needs. They are concerned that this part of the American fabric is being ignored.

  • The violence is in the policies sought more so than in the street. Civility in how one gets things is sometimes camoflage. Civility needs to be in substance not only in actions to get policy.

  • It doesn’t take an entire population-segment to constitute “revolution”. A single idea can be “revolutionary” and can “revolutionise” an industry, a field, or a single person’s career. One person (or two) can cause a revolution in the feelings and thoughts of countless, open-minded Americans.

    Revolution isn’t a given direction. So many people want to associate it with rebellion, while rebellion is still this — post-Victorian, misplaced angst, misplaced guilt, unfulfilled need to see justice (vigilantism), sort of hodge-podge of mostly positive emotions. But rebellion can be done in its own time, in its own way. A rebellion is merely a resistance against the prevailing headwind, where a revolution is like changing the direction of the wind.

    There are all these revolutions involving indecency. I’m sure it preoccupies the average modern mind, when everything is so cozy, that predecessors of change-inducing behaviour were apt to do things that not only do many modern people most likely shun, but deeply, many modern people most likely secretly worship.

    You’re talking about modern Egypt and Libya. We’ve seen some people demand what for an American amounts to legislative action and for some more oppressed people amounts to the very root of democracy. There are Americans who applaud the results in Egypt; where are their other two branches, in terms of show of support? It might even be too much to ask: where’s the decisive judicial revolution, or, where’s the decisive executive action? There might not be that much steam behind the “revolutionary” moment.

    Effectiveness isn’t just in effect. Anybody can strut and stride around. Long-lasting effects are in laying foundations. What else happened in Egypt at the same time as all this purily-applauded “revolution”? Wasn’t there some mass rape or other in the very same crowd?

    Frankly, I think the region is a joke as far as its vying for position in “civilization”. If the people there were worth including in the heady, egotistical march of “progress”, why, they shouldn’t have repressed proper knowledge of the antiquities. Any number of bold and “Revolutionary” arguments could be made. Far more people have died in suppression of said knowledge than died on that day of riotous bacchanalia so recent.


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