Do you ever fantasize about what you would do if you were president of the United States?
Or is that just something I do?
Okay, I’m not president. I have no desire to become president. And I think it’s safe to say I never will be president.
But if I were, here’s one thing I would do differently:
I would host a monthly presidential round table.
Let me explain what I mean, why I would do it, and what I think the takeaway is for you and for me.
When I say a round table, here’s what I mean. Each month, we would pick a topic: Climate change, gun control, education, poverty, whatever. And I would invite 8, 10, 12 people representing a wide range of opinions.
And this is important. It would NOT be nine people who are parroting what I’m already saying and one person who sounds like an idiot chosen to represent the opposition. This would be people who can clearly articulate a wide range of different views representing what different people in the country believe.
And it would NOT be a free for all where everyone is yelling and screaming and trying to talk over each other. None of that. Instead it would be highly structured. It would be divided into three parts.
Part one: Each person gets five minutes to present their point of view. The mike turns off at five minutes, and it’s the next person’s turn. That way everybody gets heard.
Part two: Each person gets three minutes to explain how and why they came to a different point of view than the others.
Part three: Each person would have an opportunity to suggest policy initiatives that could accommodate multiple points of view. Is there a way we could move forward and still keep most people happy?
Let me explain why I think this is important. There is an increasing tendency for those in power (not just political power) to try to silence dissenting points of view. This is dangerous. When people don’t feel heard, they go to more and more extreme measures to make themselves heard. It escalates to yelling and screaming. And when that doesn’t work, it escalates to violence. Pretty soon you have a civil war. Don’t think it can’t happen. It happens all over the world, and it can happen here.
People need to be heard.
You might say, “But, Dwight, I’m right. The other people are wrong. Why would you give someone who isn’t right a platform?”
I would give them a platform because people need to be heard. People won’t listen to us unless and until we listen to them.
We have no hope of convincing people of our point of view until we listen to them. None. Until we listen to them, they will close their ears and shout at us because they don’t feel heard.
We all need to take a breath, stop, and listen.
That doesn’t mean we need to agree, but there’s always the possibility that we might learn something new.
You never know.
James writes, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV
As breakthrough leaders, I believe you and I need to lead by example and do our best to listen first, talk second.
By doing that, we can help build a better world.
Have a fantastic week!