Do the Kardashian’s Rule the World?
Earlier this week I had meetings with two 30-something millennials. Both extremely bright, compassionate, hard-working, and willing to speak strongly and respectfully as they expressed their positions. One had quite a conservative outlook on life, the other quite liberal.
In both meetings we had significant agreements and disagreements on important issues. The conversation was spirited and respectful, and when we ended we were better friends and genuinely understanding of the other’s opinion. Being able to disagree without being disagreeable is a rare thing nowadays.
Here are some broad stroke generalities about society, and certainly not indicative of the two conversations I had this week. I’d be interested in hearing if you agree or disagree.
- When people have strong and passionate opinions based on life experience with family, friends, or the media, the facts don’t matter much. When discussing politics, religion, sexuality, marriage, money, or myriad other issues…feelings win.
- If you are one who comes at issues from an historical or traditional perspective you just may be labeled as out-of-touch, old school, judgmental, and maybe even a bigot.
- Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And yes, everyone can have an opinion, yet being passionate and opinionated about an issue doesn’t make you wise, creative or mean you deserve a deciding voice to influence the issue.
- Cultural influences have tremendous sway on people’s thinking. What’s “trending” online has nothing to do with what’s right, accurate, or based on sound reasoning. What’s trending is driven by algorithms designed to bring to the forefront what’s popular or controversial. Oh, how I miss Walter Cronkite. The New York Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times collectively have 10 million Twitters followers. And…the five Kardashian sisters have over 143 million followers collectively…Lord help us!
- Those with the most polarized opinions, whether traditional or progressive, are likely to be judged harshly, called names, and even hated for their perspective. It’s a horrible thing to state, but many have little tolerance for those who disagree with them. Our society is becoming emotionally weaker.*
- It’s much easier to be a “little tent” organization than “big tent”. Big tent people have to be willing to embrace different opinions and beliefs, and “lean into” difficult people in order to hold the tension that will exist. Little tent groups are easy, because they just shun or kick out people that don’t agree with them. It easy to exclude all those who don’t “drink the same Kool-Aid”. I recently watched David Letterman interviewing Barack Obama. President Obama stated (paraphrase) it appears that the people who listen to NPR and the people who watch Fox News don’t think they live on the same planet. Perhaps they don’t.
- There is no group so intolerant as the one that demands tolerance.
So, what do you think? I believe we need to work hard at being tough and tender. Yes, be ready to express our opinions and even more ready to listen intently, with a purpose of building relationships, rather than just stating our rebuttal. We could see every encounter as an opportunity to change our story ending. What do you think?
*A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Dr. Edwin Friedman
This blog shares perspectives on how we all have the ability to create new story endings that are meaningful, powerful and filled with hope. I facilitate culture changing processes that help organizations achieve greater impact. Also, I provide leadership coaching to help executives and aspiring leaders become the fullest expression of who they’re intended to be.
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