As somebody who travels all the time and works with global teams, I am always curious about not only what is happening in my home country Germany, but also what is going on around the world. Recently, a close friend of mine recommended that I watch a YouTube video of US President Obama’s speech he gave in Philadelphia. Not just as an example of a high performance presenter who was in full control of his message, his voice, his posture, and even his use of stories and comedy, but also for a key message he was sharing. He said, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” I thought to myself, that message could be given to so many countries around the world and the message would ring just as true. Unfortunately, with our busy lives, our lack of energy, and too often our negative mindsets, we too often would rather criticize or blame others instead of getting involved and playing an active role.
As we watch the amazing feats of sportsmanship and athleticism at the Olympics, you see the same thing. A ton of complaints and criticism about the venues, the referees, the weather, the poverty, the local politics, etc. Clearly all of these things can be issues, but again we would rather blame the IOC. Once again though, this is the responsibility of all of us - the media, the sponsors, the athletes, the locals, and us as spectators to get involved to do what we can to make a difference. We are the ones who can determine the future of sport and the role it can play.
Unfortunately, this same behavior also happens in many organizations. There is a transformation, a new direction, a reorganization, a new technology or tool and suddenly everyone becomes a helpless critic. We rarely see people who challenge the status quo, who fight for a new and better way, who jump in and get dirty, and who will try the untried even if it may be risky. Instead you hear, “I have to pick my battles wisely.” We understand because getting involved takes energy, it takes a high performance mindset, it takes resilience. Today, with limited resources and a challenging business environment, these things are in high demand.
To be able to get involved requires a clear self-image of being active and not just being a commentator. It requires Sustainable High Performance habits and it requires a willingness to be vulnerable and to challenge your own comfort zone. Yes, a lot is going on in countries, in sports, in companies, and in your life but life, like democracy, is not a spectator sport.
As always, I would love to hear what you think.
By Jogi Rippel