Published on: February 25, 2010Now available on iTunes…
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MNB Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
I used to love watching Sunday morning political shows, but I’ve found lately that my patience is wearing thin. Or maybe I’m just getting cranky in my old age. Whatever.
It was last Sunday, and I watching “Meet The Press.” During the round table discussion that came at the end of the show, moderator David Gregory brought up the fact that there have been numerous magazine covers and stories about the idea that Washington, DC, is broken - that the system is dysfunctional, that compromise and intelligent discussion seem to be dead, and that ideological extremes make it difficult to actually solve problems.
He asked the Republican congressman at the table what he thought of this notion, and he promptly launched into a two minute diatribe about how it is all the Democrats’ fault. Then he asked the Democratic congressman, and he spent his time blaming the Republicans.
At that moment, I wanted David Gregory to stand up and say to both of them, “Get off my set. Get out of here. This is the problem. I ask you a question that has serious implications for the future of the country, and all you can do is blame each other. Get off my set and don’t come back until you are willing to actually open your minds to the idea that the other side might have a point, might have honorable intentions, and might be worth listening to and agreeing with on certain issues.”
Of course, David Gregory didn’t say that. He probably couldn’t say it. (He probably would have lost his job, but he also would have become an instant hero to millions of Americans.) Jon Stewart is probably the only one who could have said it and made it stick ... and he’s already a hero to millions of Americans.
This is, of course, a problem not just with our elected officials. These days, an open mind and a willingness to listen, discuss and compromise is seen as a sign of weakness or indecision.
I was thinking about this the other day because someone was nice enough to send me an email complimenting me on the level of discourse here on MNB. I appreciate that...and it is a compliment that needs to be extended to most of the folks in the MMNB community. I say “most” because we do have our share of hardliners - some might call them “wingnuts” or the “lunatic fringe” - who seem to have positions so hardened that they seem calcified.
There are plenty of metaphors for this. One of the current favorites seems to be the phrase, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
In our book, “The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies,” there are several chapters that deal with intellectual hardening of the arteries. One of my favorites is Michael Sansolo’s take on In The Heat of the Night, a movie in which everybody assumes they have the answer to whodunnit, except that they keep finding out, time and time again, that they are wrong...because they have been working from such a strict set of assumptions that they cannot see the clues among the actual facts.
This is our challenge. On a small scale, here on MNB, we have to keep an open mind about the issues and challenges that face our businesses. On a larger scale, as citizens, we have to be willing to listen, discuss, negotiate, and even see the world through the other person’s eyes.
If we don’t...well, the levels of rancor that seem to define the public sector right now will only be the beginning. And it isn’t going to be pretty.
For MNB Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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