Finding Life Lessons In An Election

We’re into week a million of what typically used to be a five week federal election.

Even though somewhat a politics follower anyway, with three weeks to go I’m ready to throw in the towel.

The rhetoric is ramping up on what has already been a Canadian version of a polite mudslinging fest.

The repeated half-truths and blatant lies to secure votes drive me nuts.

We the people deserve better than that.

My vote determined a long time ago, why bother subjecting myself to what at times feels like torture.


Waffling in the push pull of indecision to step away, a thought came to mind.

Instead of stepping away, why not step back and to the side.

Have a look at the larger picture to see what it holds.

Hmmm, sounds like perfect fodder for the ever curious mind.


Didn’t take long for the ideas to start flowing.

After scratching off the list a few rants rather than observations, here’s what was found from the wider view:


Truth is what you make believe

The words truth, reality and facts are thrown around a lot, and even more so during political campaigns.

Doesn’t take long to figure out any statement prefaced with “the fact of the matter is …” really means “my opinion is …”.

Truth is personal and ultimately subjective shaped by what you know and believe.

Unless entering purposefully and openly into exploring opposing positions, seeking to disprove yourself or discovering what you don’t know, the knowing of which will change everything.


Even at that, we’ll still infuse ourselves into the equation in trying to explain what we see.

Truth is relative no matter how factual we’d like it to be.

Have I mentioned before the only textbook from university still on my bookshelf is “How to Lie With Statistics (pdf)” by Darrell Huff?


Informed is not the same as consumed

People tuned out and turned off by politics is totally understandable.

The constant bickering and nit-picking between politicians is about as fun as listening to kids in the backseat on a long trip before ipods and dvds.

We end up as the collateral damage from their games.


But ignoring what’s going on isn’t a solution either.

There’s too much at stake.

And the issues don’t go away.


Consumed isn’t healthy either.

Twenty-four hour news channels make mountains out of mouse terds.

Non-issues are blown far out of proportion and become distractions from other points of discussion.

Life goes on beyond the bubble world created by the internet and TV.


Between ignoring and engrossed is a place of being informed.

Finding a way that works for each of us to cut through the noise and get to the “facts” is key.

Participating in the conversation is important because we all benefit from the perspective each other brings.


Trust your spidey sense

Have you ever met someone and know pretty quickly who they really are.

Then with others you get the sense they’re holding something back, you’re not seeing who the person really is.

Sure you’ll give them a chance, but you proceed with certain amount of caution and holding back.

To the good or not so good, eventually they’ll reveal their true selves.


Politicians bring to mind one of the few quotes I remember from the Oprah show:

when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time – Maya Angelou


This isn’t at all about judging people.

The point is about staying true to yourself and standing in your inner power.

Your spidey sense tends to pick up on incongruencies to give you the heads up long before you can see them logically.

Whether a green, yellow or red light, when your spidey sense is offering guidance on how to proceed, heeding its advice often proves to be a very good course of action.


Dont Just Stand There Keep Engaged


What you need to hear isn’t always what you want to hear

Denial’s only purpose is to keep things as they are.

In your mind that is.

The longer denial goes on, the more difficult change becomes.

A course correction or reconsideration of the “facts” early on could have made the transition much smoother.

Instead change gets a bad rap for being hard.

We make change a struggle.


What you need to hear often creates the exact breakthrough you’ve been searching for.

The way you’ve always thought suddenly has elbow room for new insights to appear.

Growth or change can take hold.


Leaders are not managers

The biggest takeaway from my time in the corporate world has been this distinction:

Leaders create change; managers manage change.


Most leaders are really managers by this distinction.

A good leader will rock the boat because a course correction is needed.

A good manager will keep everyone happy.


What we traditionally call leaders are really those who come to be in charge.

But they aren’t necessarily the ones who create change.

Funnily enough, people often think they want change when they really don’t.

A different face for the status quo feels new and safe at the same time.


Leaders are not in a popularity contest.

Change and progress is uncomfortable and scary for many.

Sometimes you have to go where most aren’t ready to go.

We tend to forget about life before there was a right we now take for granted.

The few who have stood up for change were hated, ridiculed, jailed and even killed.


Old vs New Tug of War

The way things have always been are at odds with the way things could be.

The tension of being right pulls one side towards the other – back and forth, back and forth.


Only we forget change is going to happen whether we want it to happen or not.

You can fight the good fight, put off as long as possible or hold on for dear life, but in the words of the Borg, “resistance is futile”.

Change is a matter of when, not if.


Instead of focusing on how to keep things as they’ve always been, perhaps the better question is asking how to be part of change and kick off a co-creative process.

Imagine if duh-why-didn’t-we-think-of-that-before-now emerged simply because win-lose and us-them was put aside.


Many shades of grey

Inclusion is all about widening into a bigger picture.

Bigger pictures hold a lot more opinions and ways of being in the world.

Facets once unseen now need to be taken into account.

Finding clarity out of ambiguity and opposing perspective is part of expanding awareness.


Division brings focus to defining the edges of black and white.

Diversity allows shades of grey to appear in the consideration of multiple perspectives and possibly birth an entirely new one.

The mindsets of competition and collaboration take us down very different paths.

How we choose to be together changes what can emerge.


Here I am both clearer and muddy.

There’s so much more to paddle around to suss out further.

Nothing is clear cut except for the importance of keep showing up.


Politics is one of those topics you’re not supposed to talk about along with taxes and religion.

Let’s buck the trend.

Have you had any takeaways from politics that apply on a much broader scale?



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Lorraine Watson - on rustic porch

chief nudging officer


Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.


  1. Carrie Ann Lahain on October 3, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    No politician wakes up in the morning thinking “Today I’m going to ruin lives.” Most of them are as mired in the “gray” of reality as the rest of us, even if their party platform is black and white. Also, we the people need to take note that we “hire” our representatives on promises that they may intend to keep, but that they may not be able to keep. In a way, we set them up for failure…We demand: “Do what you said you’d do or you’re out” when compromise is the only way to get anything done in politics. Let’s hire people who show a propensity for compromise and we’ll get better results than we do from those who steadfastly tow the party line.

    I try hard not to let political wind-bagging bug me. I realize that the pendulum swings back and forth and we always manage to survive. I also remind myself that politicians are humans who’ve taken on huge burdens and expectations. Half the time they’re going to get slammed no matter what they do. This makes me less hostile toward them.

    • Lorraine on October 5, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Great point. Remembering other people, no matter how much we disagree with what they believe, are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters really does help shift perspective by finding something in common.

      Very much agree about getting better results through compromise and flexibility rather than drawing lines in the sand. Creative conflict is highly misunderstood and holds a lot of potential.

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