SEC Primary: Mouths shut, feet up

On a day when everyone is talking, tweeting and posting yet (going out on a limb here) probably not meaningfully connecting with each another, it’s time to review a few leadership truths. Or lessons that seem to have gone missing:

1.) To not have a position is to have a position. Be ready with your own when asked. When Saddam Hussein called the U.S. ambassador for Iraq, April Glaspie, prior to invading Kuwait in 1990 (millennials, look up your history), he asked if the United States had a position on Kuwait. When the ambassador said that the U.S. did not have a position, Hussein rolled his tanks right across the border, starting the first Gulf War and a mess that remains, well, messy 25+ years later. There was obviously more to the situation, but at a simplistically speaking, this validated story has been widely cited as an example of when a non-position is a position.

Masked caricatures of Bush 43 vs. Saddam Hussein

A similar dynamic holds in this year’s presidential election. If you’re choosing silence and your job involves leading others, you might want to make sure corresponding actions are clear about where you stand before uttering any words. Because if you don’t, others are going to make their own conclusions. We need more balanced leaders willing to share more sense and sensibility right now. Yet for some reason that’s not happening. Go ahead and speculate on the reasons why if you want, but it’s a pointless exercise to try and figure out what others are thinking or doing. Focus on doing something yourself.

Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton

2.) Should you choose to share how you’re viewing this year’s election and which candidate you’re supporting, make sure your point of view is actually informed by something substantive rather than the sound bite or talking point of the day. There’s really nothing worse than echoing what someone else has said and claiming that view as your own without any original thought. Besides that’s what social media is for, to echo and reflect — not lead and direct. Throw in the cable channels, too, for exhaust to fan the flames.

3.) If these first two options are too tiring, then do what Mama used to instruct via double negative: If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. The process being what it is, it will continue whether you say/do anything or not. It turns out that even some things in this world remain greater than us.

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Note on what will soon be a fading memory, this year’s Oscars: Please don’t feel compelled to go see “The Revenant,” if you haven’t already crossed that one off your list. Gory, long, depressing and not even Leonardo DiCaprio’s best work. Instead watch Super Tuesday returns tonight. It’s kind of the same thing, or two for price of one, from the comfort of your own hotel room.

Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio