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Humanity; People


Moving Forward

Inclusion versus Exclusion

I admit it, I read a lot. I find myself very curious about many things not the least of which is the viewpoints of other people. Since I wrote my last post things have been pretty crazy.

I have been working with a client to help build a bridge between philanthropy and businesses as one part of a new model to address some of our issues around the management of health and the delivery of health care.

To many it may be just a matter of semantics; but I see philanthropy as different than charity. Philanthropy to me has a connotation of investing in a larger cause or purpose. I am not saying charity is bad, but I rather like the idea of making investments in societal infrastructure to achieve a better quality of life for everyone and more comfortable for me. I don’t really like codependency between adults in any form very much.

I also see the management of health and delivering health care as being related, but different. I think that managing health is a collaborative effort that involves patients/people, providers, payers, educators, etc. in investigating and creating solutions; hopefully on a proactive rather than reactive basis.

My clients organization is mission driven, they are a not for profit. We have had interesting discussions about how their role in delivering health care is really the how of what they do rather than the what. It is really a delivery mechanism rather than the goal itself. We have been discussing of late whether the role of his team is actually an important bridge to that larger mission because it allows people from the community to get involved in a lot of ways that is not direct care giving.

I saw a statistic recently that said over 75% of people are not feeling fulfilled in their jobs. I know from my work in employee engagement that less than 30% of American workers consider themselves highly engaged and in many cases they feel they don’t trust the senior management of their organization or the leadership of the country. I find that very sad, but also a significant opportunity. In fact a very recent study stated that this lack of engagement costs the U.S. economy alone $350 billion annually.

When we have those kinds of numbers we are losing enormous opportunity every day. The research says we lose trillions annually to turnover, health related expenses, poor productivity and a number of related areas because of that sense of disengagement. We have tried for the last nine or ten decades to replace engagement or alignment with a larger purpose with technology with pretty mediocre results, but still we persist. Technology won’t ever replace relationships and relationships are God forbid built on peopley stuff like trust and communications and mutual respect. Technology can’t replace that.

When I look at the impact of technology on communications on relationships; especially things like social media I wonder whether it has helped us or set us back a couple of hundred years. It has certainly removed some restrictions to the flow of information, but it has also provided an unrestricted platform for a lot of people to say really nasty, hateful, things to and about other people.

I remember when I was growing up my mother would often say “if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all”.

As a leader and an aspiring manager I found that really doesn’t work. Sometimes you need to give people constructive feedback that may be difficult for them to hear. Withholding that feedback in my opinion does them a disservice and it may if taken too far be blatantly dishonest. That isn’t nice.

I have tried to modify my mother’s intent message slightly and focus on saying things that are productive and well intentioned. I like to think I get it right about 75% of the time, my goal is of course 100%, but I know I have a lot of work to do.

As a former executive and current coach and consultant I continue to be disappointed by how much of my role is encouraging people to listen to each other and seek common ground and how acceptable it has become to criticize someone else’s viewpoint or solution without feeling any obligation to present a solution of your own.

Our most recent election was won by a candidate who articulated that as part of his mandate; being elected to join others who shared his viewpoint to ensure that the viewpoints and solutions that don’t fit their worldview don’t move forward, or better yet don’t get heard. I am not sure which is more appalling-

·         That an educated person would embrace such a position

·         That others would vote for him or her

I don’t blame him entirely, as I have said before the other candidate failed the trust test miserably as well.

I find other viewpoints interesting and sometimes very instructional. I don’t always agree with them, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a society where you don’t within reason have a right to advance a viewpoint.

Before anyone gets too abhorred most people wouldn’t describe me as a liberal or do-gooder. I have strong opinions and convictions about many things, I just don’t feel a need to prevent others to have views that are not coincident with mine. Again I would encourage people on both sides of issues to consider that.

I think there are certain essential truths that aren’t negotiable, but they are much more limited that some would articulate.

 I think forcing another person to do something against their will or values is pretty consistently wrong. I think using superior physical, mental, or financial capability to force someone to do something against their will is wrong. Beyond that I think we should look at situations contextually and one at a time.

The current environment seems to becoming more and more polarized and excluding more and more people. I find most of the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle to be equally uninspiring.

Recent actions like Brexit, discussions about building a wall between countries, and excluding people from immigrating to or visiting the U.S. because of their country of origin are in my opinion moving in the wrong direction no matter how well intentioned.

I come partially from a family of immigrants. My maternal grandparents both emigrated here from Italy. Italy isn’t on the list currently, but things can change.

I understand a desire to keep America safe, but find it a bit ironic that there has never been a terrorist attack on American soil by a current or former citizen of the seven countries on the list.

On the other hand, countries who have harbored terrorists are excluded, but members of the current administration have business interests in those countries. I hate to be cynical, but I don’t think that is coincidental.

Our current President has strong viewpoints as do his supporters. Strong boundaries and discipline have merit sometimes, but I think that the people of Syria and others need compassion not discipline.

 To paraphrase the late novelist Morris L. West who used the Catholic Church extensively as a backdrop for his books, “People are crying out for bread and we are giving them stones”.

It would seem much of our leadership is driving in that direction.

I would say that is equally true for both sides of the aisle. We need leadership to bring people together, not widen the divide.

I guess I will continue to look for ways to include rather than exclude and find solutions that benefit many rather than few. I might only have limited success, but somehow it seems much more satisfying….



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