Voter #1

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I wanted to be first in line at my polling place this morning. There was something symbolic in that notion. I arrived 25 minutes early to a parking lot devoid of activity, the only cars those of the poll workers inside. Some news story captured my attention and when I looked up, there was a person standing first in line at the doors. My plan up in smoke. As I approached, I saw it was a young African-American woman and smiled. I thought to myself, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t have to be first, I just have to be a part of the solution. I was proud to stand behind her as she approached the table as Voter #1.

Vote for hope over fear

Ten years ago today, we elected the first person of color as our president — but what mattered more than the color of his skin was the way he made so many of us feel … hopeful. No matter where you stand on the political continuum today, there doesn’t seem to be much hope.

This afternoon, I attended a lecture by an entrepreneur alumnus whose family came to the US as asylum seekers from Uzbekistan when he was eight. He’s created thousands of jobs in the US economy. Then I read this story about an immigrant couple whose community is taking care of them in a time of need. This is who we are America, not the fearmongering racism of the president’s rallies and TV ads.

When you vote tomorrow, let’s see if we can find some of that hope and rekindle the American Dream for all of our citizens, and, yes, the world. Let’s find a way back to being that beacon of hope.

When you vote, remember who we are and aspire to be. Your vote does matter. It always matters.

Presenting a better alternative

While talking to scouts last night about respecting the American flag, some of their questions led to a great discussion about our American right to free speech — specifically how the government can’t prevent any citizen from expressing his or her ideas even when those ideas make us feel extremely uncomfortable or unwelcome. As long as the expression is not a direct threat to personal or public safety or inciting violence, it has as much right to the public square as ours do. The second we start to limit speech, we’ve sacrificed one of the greatest of our founding ideals.

The way to counter ideas we find reprehensible is not squelching or drowning them, but by presenting a better alternative.

Using the right tool

I was about to make what’s become a regular breakfast: peanut butter on a toasted English muffin. Disappointment struck when I realized I’d used the last of the peanut butter earlier this week. I remembered my frustration trying to get the knife blade to scrape the remnants off the sides of the jar, trying to avoid ending up with a handle — and hand — full of peanut butter. I threw the jar back into the pantry even though I knew it was “empty”.

I really wanted my PBM this morning, so I grabbed the jar — and a spoon. The large curved edge of the spoon easily scraped the sides of the jar clean and provided me with a large enough dose to satisfy my craving.

Made me wonder how often I end up wasting resources at my disposal because I’m using the wrong tool.

Continue to show up

As I flew out of DC today and looked back down our National Mall, I imagined all the young people that would fill the spaces in between the monuments and buildings in the hours to come. I remembered how Marine One darted over my head by the Washington Monument yesterday, carrying the president to a Mar-A-Lago-bound Air Force One. It struck me that those who create a meaningful life are those who SHOW UP. Not just for the main event, but who continue to work, to learn, to improve themselves, and to give, day in and day out.

I applaud and am awed at all the young people who showed up in our capitol and around the country today. You showed up to the big event. Now continue to show up every day. In your classes. In your communities. In the voting booths. In your own hearts. In everything you do.

The perfect white guy

A while back when I was talking to a female friend (who’s an avowed progressive) about the possibility of running for office, she looked at me very seriously and said,

“You’re the perfect white guy.”

What she meant was that I did a reasonably good job of standing up for people that aren’t straight, white, and male while looking very much like I wouldn’t. A donkey in elephant’s clothing, I joked.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this since that day, and have realized that there are a lot of straight, white men just like me. We understand the advantage inherent in who we are. We welcome diversity of culture and opinion into our lives. We intervene when we see overt injustice.

But, yet, in today’s world, we’re also seen as the root of all problems. The oppressors, the 1%, the privileged. That creates an almost untenable conundrum in how to navigate our current progressive political culture.

I don’t intend this as any sort of sob fest for straight, white guys. Far from it. I know exactly how good I (and we) have it. It just makes me wonder how effective it is to amplify the far left’s “white male privilege is the root of all evil” mantra when there are plenty of white men who are standing squarely on the side of justice.

Perhaps it’s time we cool down the rhetoric and ideology and start engaging each other as individuals instead of labels.

Intention, every … single … day

Some days, the 1900 calorie limit sucks. Some days, the endless parade of meetings and projects wears on me. Some days, my ambitions feel suffocating. Some days, the veneer of life threatens to crack. Some days, the pieces of the puzzle flicker in and out.

It’s those days when I rely the most on intention. What do I want this day to be? How do I want to feel about myself and my accomplishments? What do I have to do to make it so?

Intention, every … single … day.

Stealing back the week

“In every organization, some employees spend an inordinate amount of time on tasks that don’t really matter.” — Robert Pozen

We’re halfway through the work week — the time I try to do an assessment of how my time spent aligns with my objectives. Wednesday morning provides a great opportunity to steal back the week if it’s gotten out of focus.

Little changes make a big difference

I don’t have a ton of space in my apartment. My dining room table is pushed up against a wall and became that place where I threw all the extraneous stuff that came in the door. It was a stress-inducing eyesore — especially since it’s the background when I have video calls from my home office. Since moving a plant, a few of my favorite books, and a couple of other accents to the table, I’ve been more motivated to keep it clear of clutter. It makes a wonderful place to enjoy my morning coffee, too. Little changes can make a big difference.