Thursday, November 10, 2016
So here's some good news: the presidential election of 2016 is over. Donald Trump won. Hillary Clinton lost. Which means there's nothing in this piece even remotely calculated to persuade you as to how to cast your vote. Nothing. What you will find, however, are a few non-partisan observations that, like Trump's victory, nobody sees coming.
And the best part is that all of them are good, no matter who you voted for.
The first observation is something I can relate to because I've been an independent consultant for a long time. Whenever I interview prospective clients, they invariably ask me the same questions, including the infamous, "Do you have experience in our field?" It sounds like a reasonable question, but it's not, in fact, an appropriate one, because while a certain amount of familiarity is definitely an asset before plunging into a situation, it's the very lack of experience that allows an outsider to recognize flaws and opportunities to which lifers have become either blind or immune. Thomas Edison famously acknowledged this when derided about his eighth grade education. The lack of a higher education, he maintained, freed him from the constraints of dogmatic thinking. He was able to see alternative solution and create thousands of inventions by not thinking in traditional modes.
It's pretty much the same thing in my own career. I don't need to know the intricate details of threaded fasteners or how to write a million lines of code. I need to know just enough to spot a flaw and improve output. And since I'm not a lifer, I have no allegiance in corporate legacy or fear of political reprisal. Many are the times I've challenged "We've always done it this way" with "And that's why you're losing money." That's when the client accepts my recommendation and we turn the business profitable.
The second observation is that young people everywhere should be thrilled with the notion that the world still offers them possibilities, no matter how little experience they have. Who among us hasn't trudged out of a job interview having been rejected solely because "you don't have the experience?" Remember saying to yourself, "I can do this job, if they just gave me a chance?" You never doubted you could prove your naysayers wrong. And remember that time when someone, somewhere looked you in the eye, smiled and said, "I know you've never done this before, but there's something about you that tells me you'd be a natural at this"? If anything, this election shows that experience isn't everything, but hard work, endless energy and the will to succeed can drive you to your goal and win it.
A third observation is reserved for some of our older friends. Forget what you think about Trump for a minute and focus on the fact that the man has never held public office (neither did the Founding Fathers, Ulysses Grant or Dwight Eisenhower, for that matter) and now holds the highest public office in the land. That's pretty good. But I suspect that in the wee hours of the morning, many people imagine what they would do if they were president, only to comfort themselves that "I don't have the political connections to run for office."
Well, I guess that myth just blew apart. Trump not only didn't get any active Republican support, he actually got active Republican opposition. He had no political connections, but lots of political enemies, fueled mostly by -- dare I say it -- jealousy.
Yet I find something positive even in that jealousy. The fact that there is no longer any excuse -- other than your own self-doubt -- for not pursuing your goal, and now a guy you're not so crazy about just proved it. You may not like it, but that very jealousy confirms both opportunity and possibility are still very much alive in the United States and that every kid really can grow up to be President. That's important to you and me, but it's critical to our kids and everyone who has left the work force due to the last eight years of rejections.
You don't believe that, do you? Well, you don't have to. Not yet. But come the twentieth of January, you may just have to.