Last updated: Hope is not a strategy: The time for leadership is now

Hope is not a strategy: The time for leadership is now


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“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky.

It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency.

Hope should shove you out the door,
because it will take everything you have
to steer the future away from endless war,
from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures
and the grinding down of the poor and marginal…

To hope is to give yourself to the future
– and that commitment to the future
is what makes the present inhabitable.”
― Rebecca Solnit

For those aware of the precipice upon which our world teeters, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, September 18, 2020, delivered a savage blow.
When learning of the news, I fell to my knees, my daughters struggling to comfort me – the woman who should be their rock, not their albatross – as my phone began buzzing over and over and over again – others reaching out, searching, too, for something; anything, to tether us back to hope.

We’re aware that resiliency is a muscle, and yet we also know that muscles fail – that one day, often without fanfare or warning, the parts of ourselves which we’ve taken for granted simply give way.

Except, of course, that isn’t the case here.

We’ve had plenty of warnings, but have found ourselves as a global collective unable to reverse course, for a host of reasons. And a lack of leadership in its truest forms is at the root of that: selflessness, courage, and the ability to truly place a concern for the greater good at the core of what we do.

Hope is not a strategy: Leadership is critical now – and businesses must help fill the void

The saddening, stark reality is that today those with the most money gain access to power, and thereby privilege.

This isn’t exclusive to the United States – countries everywhere are struggling to make the will and voice of the people heard and respected as societies collapse in slow-motion.

As I’ve said before: As core, unwritten social contracts lie in tatters, people are turning to companies to fill the void that’s been left. We’ve recognized that it’s money that drives change – and so citizens are becoming activists when they shop or choose who to do business with.

But with the passing of RGB, the stakes become much higher – for people and businesses alike in America. Protections like health care, equal rights, free and fair elections, and much more are incredibly vulnerable. Citizens will begin to seek other places to live, making the US less competitive or viable when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent.

The world is aflame, quite literally, and yet governments aren’t taking the measures needed to assure that future generations have an earth to live upon, so businesses are stepping up.

“Women and men, working together, should help make the society a better place than it is now”
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

There comes a time when hoping that the arc of history will be on your side isn’t enough; when things snap and people break. Leadership means displaying the courage and conviction to actually drive change, not just talk about it.

What’s been done so far is not enough: To save what we love, we must fight for it, now

While businesses have been addressing the issues plaguing society via initiatives and marketing campaigns, the needle hasn’t moved much. That must end, now.

People are tired of being told that change takes time; we’re well aware of that.

Professionals are asked to consider their personal brands before speaking up – there’s a fear indoctrinated into members of society, making them believe that there might not be anything worth putting everything on the line for.

The time for small gestures and small changes is over. As of today (September 20), Ginsburg’s official memorial has not even been formally announced, but there are efforts underway to replace her, before the election. The night of her death, leaders in Congress were tweeting out their excitement over the prospect of such happenings.

For the well-meaning who urge citizens to hold onto hope and believe that good will somehow magically win, you must understand that hope is not a strategy; that even the most agonizing recountings of the most personal horrors haven’t been enough to make our current leaders move beyond a political line to defend the human line.

Perhaps Joan Didion was right: the center cannot hold. Because for most of us, there is no longer a center. There are sides, and we must choose which we are on.

The true mark of leadership now – and for future generations looking back at this moment in time – will be those who understood how important it was to use every ounce of power and privilege we have to change things.

The last thoughts that Justice Ginsburg had were of us; even after all that she’d accomplished, all the good that she’d fought for, she couldn’t pass in peace, for she feared what the future might hold.

May her memory be the spark for a revolution of true leadership, underscored by the inherent belief that all lives matter, and that equal rights apply to everyone – not a select few.

Equality for ALL:
Go from messaging about inclusion to making it a reality.

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