I generally avoid politics like the plague that it has truly become, but I’m mad as hell, and I have a few things to say. Note: this is the part where you sit up straight, pay attention, and make notes.
This morning, I saw one newscast too many with the words, “Fiscal Cliff” looming on the television screen, and I finally realized the biggest threat to the American Dream is not terrorists, global warming, or natural disasters. It’s you.
I consider myself an average American. I’m a small-business owner, with a marketing firm that supports other small business owners. I have a husband and two dogs. I enjoy traveling in my RV (purchased from another small business, by the way) and I love blogging about my adventures and the interesting people I meet. Like most Americans, I still worry about my savings account, retirement, and healthcare, but most of the time, I lead a happy, rewarding life.
Right now, however, I’m in the mood to kick a few anthills. As a business owner, and someone who has worked in leadership roles for the past two decades, I’m looking at your performance. If you worked for me, you’d be fired.
We The People – nearly 315 million People – hired you for a specific role in governing our country, and we, just like any employer, have certain expectations. For example, here are seven things I expect from all employees, along with a few insights into how these expectations are relevant to you:
- Show up for work. This is a fundamental rule. I give you money and benefits in exchange for your time, so I expect you to arrive on time and give me my money’s worth.
- Set clear, measurable goals. Your work goals should support the company’s overall mission and strategic plan. Just a refresher: our American “strategic plan” is the Constitution. I just double checked, and found no reference to financial chaos. It’s not about your individual power trip; it’s not about your party rhetoric; it’s not about your religious beliefs. It’s about AMERICA.
- Meet deadlines. When we have a work deadline, it’s “all hands on deck.” We arrive early, stay late, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Note that we do not go on vacation or “work from home,” when it’s an urgent situation demanding face-to-face interaction. We owe it to our clients. If you can’t embrace the idea that We The People are your employer, perhaps you could give us the same respect a valued client deserves.
- Develop leadership skills. Most cities around the country have Leadership programs that teach core values such as Community Trusteeship, Inclusiveness, Collaborative Decision-Making, and Personal Responsibility. Have any of you even been through these programs? Can you even imagine what would happen if Congress adopted these values? The idea leaves me breathless.
- Teamwork. We create a supportive environment and an atmosphere of mutual respect. We want to make each other successful. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. The divisive rhetoric displayed in Congress would never be tolerated in my workplace. It would be impossible to achieve our goals individually, or as a team, and our business would fail. Get it?
- Ask for help. If you lack skills in a certain area, get training, or ask for help from a colleague with more experience. For example, if you’re downright incompetent when it comes to setting and managing a budget, hire someone who’s a pro. The country is filled with entrepreneurs – both republicans and democrats – who have made millions because they know how to motivate people, minimize conflict, and manage money. Warren Buffet comes to mind. Why on earth have you not reached out to the most talented people in this country and empowered them to solve the problem that you so obviously cannot?
- Take personal responsibility. I’m not interested in excuses and finger-pointing. I’m interested in results. And it’s time for every single member of Congress to take personal responsibility for the success of the entire congressional team and this country.
Helpful hint: If you want to avoid a fatal stampede off the Fiscal Cliff (or meet any other Congressional challenge) you don’t have to “compromise,” a word that means no one gets what they want. But you do have to collaborate. No single person or ideal can solve the country’s problems. But by brainstorming together, you can take an idea, build on it, make it better, and prove that We the People can still hope for The American Dream.
Most sincerely yours,
G. Elaine Acker