We’re all faced with the reality that there is more division than ever in our country and we are having a hard time seeing our way out of it. What do you do when faced with loved ones who really draw different conclusions than you do about issues that matter to you?
It’s often been said that emotional maturity means owning our emotions and opinions. If you do that honestly, self-reflectively, and critically, and you believe others have done the same, what does it mean if you draw different conclusions? Are one of you wrong? Perhaps. But is that really the issue at hand?
Sometimes, the greater issue isn’t who is wrong — it’s how you connect with one another despite that differing conclusion. That’s when great leadership shows up.
I’ve used this quote before, but it certainly applies again: Rumi said, “Out there beyond right and wrong is a field. I’ll meet you there.” As long as we see in terms of right and wrong, there is no chance for connection. So the question is, can you meet your ‘opponent’ there, in that field beyond? How can we see our way and build connection when we disagree so strongly?
Abraham Lincoln was known for his ‘team of rivals’. When he was elected, he put together a team of people who disagreed with him in an attempt to understand the big picture. He wanted to see both sides. He sought honest connection out in that field of which Rumi speaks. That’s what we need from real leadership: the ability to connect.
As we face a new year, connection is key. Whether building a company, leading a non-profit, growing a family or facing elections, if we can bridge the divide we can create a vision of real possibility. Start with the people closest to you; how can you build a bridge across your disagreement? How can you meet in that distant field?
I don’t have the answers for this — I don’t think anyone does, because each disagreement, each relationship, is unique. But I do know this: it needs to happen, and soon.
How will you build connection this year?