Jodi’s Journey: A key to overcoming division

Nov. 15, 2020

The journalist in me loves elections – but not in the same way I did when I began in the profession.

Back then, I liked the rush of breaking news and the unpredictability that tight races could bring.

Today, experiencing elections mostly as a spectator, I appreciate the insight the results provide. Every four years, I feel like we get our best look at the state of the country: what’s driving us, what’s upsetting us, what’s inspiring us.

It’s not always an easy or welcome analysis — understanding, for instance, that people vote in certain ways because they feel left behind or disadvantaged. But it’s important for any of us in leadership to listen to what those votes mean and to apply that insight accordingly.

My big takeaway from our most recent presidential election is probably obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Our country is incredibly divided.

So is our community. The obvious example here is the powerful divide between those who believe masks should be required in public and those who don’t.

But, c’mon, even the membership of Minnehaha Country Club was split 50-50 over something as seemingly non-divisive as hosting a golf tournament.

So clearly this is an unfortunate theme for 2020.

But here’s the thing about division: It leads to less.

I didn’t go into math for a reason, but I know that in any division equation you end up with less than what you started with. Apply that to a community, a business or an organization and you have recipe for decline.

So what’s the opposite of division? Multiplication.

I witnessed that recently too. And it was a good reminder that human beings always have more in common than not.

Social media has plenty of downsides, but it also quickly can amplify good.

To that point, some of most popular things we posted on social media in the past two weeks didn’t really have much to do with business. And they definitely didn’t involve the pandemic or politics.

The first was a set of two photographs by Paul Schiller that noted how the space in our signature “Arc of Dreams” sculpture is perfectly designed to frame up a full moon.

“Seriously, though, that gap represents a leap of faith,” I wrote in sharing it. “And it’s a good reminder to have faith, appreciate the beauty around us and remember we’ve overcome challenges before and will again.”

The post was “liked” more than 1,000 times, shared more than 300 times and has reached more than 83,000 people.

I guarantee you those were people of both political parties and people of no political party. I guarantee you they were people who support a mask mandate and people who don’t.

And they all reminded me that hope is a universal need. That no matter how we’re dealing with today, we all inherently want to believe tomorrow can be better. The person whose views seem so opposite of yours, deep down, wants the same things you do.

Then came a post we shared for a group that helps support area nurses, offering them and other medical personnel something as simple as a free bagel and coffee.

That took off too, reaching more than 52,000 people and leading to hundreds of health care workers starting their day with a reminder that others in the community care about them.

And that reminded me how good multiplies just as fast as bad, generally faster.

It’s not enough to assess the state of the country and the community and simply call for unity. Unity takes leadership, and that’s another conversation.

But multiplication? That simply takes individuals, each finding ways to do good and foster hope whenever, wherever it works for you.

Multiplying attitudes and behaviors is the only way to change the culture of a country, a community or a company.

And the result of that equation is greater than division every time.

Jodi’s Journal: COVID shame and culture change

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Jodi’s Journey: A key to overcoming division

There are no quick, easy answers to addressing the division that seems to surround us. But there is a way to start.

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