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  • Simon Rickman

Politicians, mind your habits!

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

It's just like the blind just leading the blind!

Whilst we await our Brexit fate, I started to think about how things could possibly be any worse than they are today. We seem to be sailing in SS United Kingdom, but like a rudderless ship, we haven’t got a clue as to where we heading, or how we are going to get there.  Not good….

Of course, it’s easy to stand on the side-lines and scream and shout (ask any footie fan what that’s like); but when you see a tragedy unfolding, it’s hard not to say anything about it.  The definition of a tragedy is knowing that the end isn’t going to be good; and then seeing it unfurl in front of your very eyes.  You desperately want to do something to stop the express train crashing in to the station, but no one is listening, despite lots and lots of people waving their knickers and pants in the air (see The Railway Children if you think I‘m being smutty).

Whatever happens, we have to trust the people we put in charge.  And, to be honest, I do trust Mrs May as a genuinely honest, hardworking and diligent Prime Minister.  It’s unfortunate for her that she was given the opportunity after the last leader decided that he could see the writing on the wall.  No one was prepared to pick up the reins.  So, good for her!  Yet….it’s going to be so bad for her.  Shame.  Timing is everything.  This was definitely not the right time.  But she had the guts to give it a go.  Better than the others who chose to stand on the side-lines.  That’s far too easy to do (as a footie fan, I know!)

So, I want to think about what our politicians can do better.  How can they inspire us?  How can they regain our trust and belief (did they ever have it?).  I thought about what advice I would give them if I could.  And what better model to choose than the 7 habits of Highly Effective…..Politicians. 

Be proactive.  This means taking complete and utter responsibility for everything and anything that happens to you.  It’s NOT about blaming others.  It’s about accepting that you have a choice to take, so take the positive one.  Choose the right attitude, and surround yourself with like-minded people.  Focus on what you CAN do, not on what you can’t.  How many of our politicians chose to lay blame at everyone else, but not at their front door.  And when something goes wrong, they still blame the previous Government, regardless as to when they were last in power.  It’s boring, and it’s childish.  Get over it!

Begin with the end in mind.  We seem to be stuck in a cycle of perpetual short-termism.  Our future is merely the next few months, never mind the next few years.  So, we can’t focus on what we really want (yes, say it, “what we really, really want”).  And if we can’t see where we want to go, how on earth are we going to get there?!  The Brexiteers would have us believe that there is a Nirvana just around the corner.  The Remainers look back to a better time when we were part of this great big happy European Club.  I’m afraid that they are both wrong (in my opinion).  Regardless, we have to think positively about what we want the future to look like, and then we can begin to set targets and goals and dreams on how to get there.

Put first things first.  This is all about making the time to spend on the important things in life, like building effective relationships.  In our current crisis, we seem to hell bent on destroying each other.  Our politicians have become rude, arrogant, pig-headed.  Of course they know better than we do (OK, they aremore informed); but they are so hell bent on knocking each other for its own sake, that they seem to forget about the very people who put them there in the first place!  So, let’s remember that it’s our lives you are playing with here; not your career.  Start thinking about the collective United Kingdom, and not just about scoring cheap points off of each other…it doesn’t make you look good.

Think win-win.  If ever this was required, it’s now.  This is all about making sure that any interaction leaves both parties feeling that they have got something out of the transaction.  Even if the other party doesn’t get everything they wanted, they feel that they have been consulted, listened to, and a compromise has been reached.  All we are seeing, and have seen for the last two years, is a win-lose war of words.  And all this results in is a lose-lose for all of us.  So, please put aside your differences, think about the other half of the voters (well, 52/48 is nearly half), and take in to consideration the best of what we all want.  I know, easier said than done; but at least go in with this philosophy in mind.

Seek first to understand, then be understood.  This one is always the hardest to do.  That’s because it often requires a ‘paradigm shift’.  In other words, put aside all of your prejudices, biases, pre-conceived ideas etc.  Then step back.  Stop.  Listen to the other person; but from THEIR perspective.  Don’t jump in with your opinion or solution, however, tempting this may be.  Because if you do, you won’t fully appreciate what the other person is saying, feeling, experiencing.  And if our politicians were truly able to do this, then they might, just might, do the RIGHT THING, and not just something that meets their short-term goals.

Synergy.  OK, this word always looks and sounds American to me.  And at this moment in time, we sure as hell shouldn’t be looking to the Americans for guidance!  So, putting this to one side, let’s focus on what we have been striving to do for the last 20 years; and that is accepting that we are NOT all the same.  And that’s good!  We ALL have something to contribute to the debate, to society, to our future.  Diversity is not a dirty word (though some of the political correctness stuff was getting on my nerves).  By embracing what we all can contribute, we can genuinely learn from each other; see a different perspective; create a more holistic result.  So, our politicians would do well to think about our collective needs, and not just follow the Party line.  After all, it’s our future they are playing with.

Sharpen the saw.  This one is easy…..if they get it wrong, just cut off their heads!

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