Our political media is addicted to CHER! – The bigger picture for September 2016.

As a nation, we desperately need to step back and see the bigger picture of what is happening with our media this crazy political season.  Our current election is a spectacular example how focusing on the near-term and provocative is coming at the expense of overlooking the long-term and important.   

Today’s media have been totally co-opted by the capitalist pursuit of CHER – clicks, headlines, eyeballs & ratings.  Like a cheap drug, with relentless addictive tendencies,  CHER  controls and takes advantage of a media that is addicted.  Real journalism, stories with depth or perspective, are a secondary consideration these days.  For today’s media, the most important thing is going viral, getting clicks, grabbing eyeballs, and generating ratings.  

Take a minute (heck go crazy and take ten), stand back and look at this recurring situation over the last few weeks, much less a year, anyone can plainly see the pattern that has emerged.  Step 1 we all know is Donald Trump says something outrageous. This something that would completely disqualify anyone else from consideration for the presidency.  In previous years the media would have had time over days and weeks to dig in and turn this story into a mountain negative fallout that no candidate could overcome.  For Step 2, the media is incredulous and yet almost gleeful at the newest  deplorable de jour.  

Don’t blink.  Because what Donald Trump has realized and mastered is Step 3, his “get out of jail free…again” card, which is to simply say something even more outrageous and certain to gain headline attention,usually in the next day or two.  And for Step 4, our sad, CHER addicted media just can’t help themselves.  Like addicts desperate for a fix, they run to the very next story, dropping every consideration of digging in deeper on the previous outrage (punish women for abortion, pillage Iraqi oil, kiss up to Putin…all so yesterday’s news!) in favor of once again getting that ratings hit for today.  You can viscerally feel their mania.

Now, after a year plus of campaigning, anyone can come up with dozens, literally, of completely deplorable statements from Trump, not to mention genuinely disqualifying facts about his record.  None of which have led to any kind of accountability or consequence.  The underlying or overarching big picture net effect is that Trump dominates the headlines and hence controls the narrative.  Meanwhile, our media continues to be driven by their addition while ironically asking “how can this continue?”

I’d suggest the answer is in the mirror.  Just days ago Newsweek did a “blockbuster campaign rocking” story on Donald Trump’s business connections, some of which extend globally to some very unsavory people and create an absolutely clear conflict of interest for any president.  Now, just two days later, that headline has been blasted from the headlines by Trump’s most recent birtherism fiasco.  The talking heads proclaim this latest deplorable will certainly hurt Trump in the ratings.  

But mark my words! Another ratings golden egg of outrageous bird poop will spill out of Donald’s mouth before the weekend is out.  The media will wet themselves yet again and drop everything for the newest Trump McNugget.  And so the cycle begins again.  When will the media wake up to the fact that Trump has made them his bitch?  He uses them again and again…yet they can’t seem to break the habit.  It’s like some bizarre new form of mass Stockholm Syndrome where Trump is the hostage taker and our national future, and the future of the entire planet is the real hostage.

Let’s hope they break their CHER habit soon.

The Bigger Picture – Opening Thoughts…Starting with a dose of Ethics/Reality for our world view!

Data point! Recently announced, the global wildlife population has declined by roughly 50% over the last 50 years. Frogs, fish, falcons, forests…Half! Just 50 years! That is a sobering data point. Like some sort of evil version of Moore’s law working in reverse…“Nomore’s Law”? It yields twice as many people and half as much of everything else. But let us appreciate the simplicity of those numbers. They deliver simplicity & clarity in an otherwise complex and confused world.

Clearly human activity is creating change, some good and some bad but most scary is the TBD (to be determined) stuff we haven’t even considered. Some impacts will slide slowly, relentlessly into place. But others may just snap. It’s one thing to hike back up a hill you’ve just skied down. You learn to appreciate the long hike back. It’s a difficult trek to the high place you once were, but you can do it. It’s quite another thing to ski off a cliff. Climbing back up may simply not be possible plus you may be dead or at least badly broken. No one really knows if our climate change journey will feature a few cliffs.

Assuming the best case “hike back up the long hill” metaphor works, what will it actually mean to FIX global climate change? I mean completely fix it once and for all. Today, we are continuing to put more and more CO2 into the atmosphere with each passing year. I have yet to hear any idea how many years before we are projected to turn that corner and begin to decrease the CO2 tonnage we add each year to the growing glut. And how many years after that until our total yearly planetary impact is carbon neutral? And finally, how many years after ceasing to dig the hole even deeper will it take to clean up the trillions of tons of carbon suspended in the atmosphere so that we might bring CO2 back to pre-industrial levels? In the bigger picture, THAT is the true finish line…Earth Day for real.

One might logically think that we could collectively imagine what this means to our future (Vision) and objectively agree that the current situation is untenable (Reality) and must be fixed. But we can’t. Isn’t that odd? Unfortunately our American (Vision /Courage) culture has a glaring weakness. It has a large blind spot when it comes to the leadership dimensions of Reality & Ethics. It’s a big problem. I would go even further to say that it is THE PROBLEM of our age! We are by and large, oblivious to reality. And without a shared understanding of the realities of climate change – costs in dollars, lives, species lost, etc. – we are unlikely to move forward to work together for a solution.

The key words here are “shared” & “together”. Do you like these words? Some people don’t, they really don’t. They may pay it lip service but many Americans are dedicated individualists. We’ve been taught to be self sufficient, to fight & compete to win, and to expect to keep our winnings, including our winning opinion, regardless of overall accuracy. We own our individual opinions and we must defend them from “the others” who would co-opt us into consensus for they are evil “group thinkers” who will destroy our individuality and steal our freedom to be different. This fear is tragic.

Every tragic hero has their tragic flaw. And more often than not that tragic flaw can be found dead center on the flip side of their greatest strength. For us Americans, our natural strength is our Vision & Courage! We are innovators, rule breakers, and risk takers. Our historical perspective comes from rebellion & revolution. We are rugged individualists who like cowboys & rock stars. From NFL Football to Venture Capital Unicorns, we love to take a big, new and different direction to deal with whatever challenges confront us. Americans will take a huge risk, fail spectacularly, and make our money back on the movie rights. We have NASA, Hollywood and lots of money, what else could we possibly need? And that cultural aptitude has served us well…up to now.

So what has changed so dramatically in the last 50 years? How is it that today, what was once our greatest leadership strength, is now our tragic flaw? What has changed is our world. In 1965 our world was still a very new & open place. Our nation was one of many separate and distant countries; some of which were our sworn enemies. Modern jet travel and telecommunications were just beginning to connect our various cultures. There were many areas of our planet, still largely unexplored, where you could truly get lost. And there was still plenty room to grow, so many resources to be exploited and technologies to be harnessed for that growth. Our competitive spirit, innovative culture and America vs. the world perspective served us well, very well. But things were beginning to change…

Earthrise

Earthrise is a photograph of the Earth taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. In one fell swoop of a camera shutter our world view was shifted, our perspective lifted and the big bad world, out there, all of a sudden seemed very small, very precious and very fragile. Moreover, WE were in that picture. All of us! There were no “others”, only us, sharing a single small planet. Some people have called that picture, Earthrise, “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” For the first time we could see, simply and clearly, the Reality that all of us lived together on that single blue oasis in a vast cold black desert of space.

And today, that is our current reality. Do you still see it? That iconic image has faded from our mind and, as might have been expected of American culture, we have struggled to maintain that Ethic of shared destiny, achievement and togetherness. I would argue that is because our strategy has failed to change with the times and that our blindness to Reality and reluctance to accept the Ethics of our connectedness.

That singular image clearly & simply illustrates how the game has changed, dramatically. And if we fail to update our strategy, that great cultural strength from our past will become the tragic flaw in our future. Today, like no other time in history, we must learn the counter cultural values of shared understanding, broad consensus and working together. There is no other place to go. Unless we update our thinking & learn to work together, the next 50 years of our journey will be a rough one.

So what is your personal world view? Do you see the world as yourself vs. others? Does your organisation? Or do you see us all on the same team, working together despite our differences. The answer to that question is crucial to how you perceive life and experience others. At the macro level of organizations, the old outdated competitive “us against them” world view is the single most significant stumbling block to progress. Just ask Microsoft…but more on that in another post!

The good news from this picture is that huge opportunities exist in the journey to that real Earth Day. Technologies will be discovered, industries will be born, new companies will be created and fortunes will be made by the companies that can understand and ride this new market wave of ETHICS (think connection, the internet, working together) & REALITY (think climate change, security/transparency, big & important data). Companies that are able to bridge these perceptual gaps will be well positioned to ride this wave. And companies that invest in the leadership education to build that capacity will be at the forefront of a great opportunity.

So let’s save the planet…and make a fortune. Somebody’s got to do it.

Welcome to THE BIGGER PICTURE!..the DSP Blog.

Welcome to “THE BIGGER PICTURE” – the Diamond Strategy Partnership Blog. We’re just getting started and most posts will be authored by myself, D Scott Pierce, President & Founder of Diamond Strategy Partnership. If you’re taking the time to read these…THANK YOU! I look forward to hearing your comments & suggestions as we begin both a conversation and a learning journey.

Most posts will connect current news on leadership, business, politics and culture to the underlying themes of The Leadersihp Diamond® – Working Together (ETHICS), Big Picture Thinking (VISION), Shared Understanding (REALITY), and Life Leadership (COURAGE).

I would like to share two of my favorite quotes…

The first is from former Ford Super CEO Alan Mulally …“The challenge with communication is the illusion that it actually occurs”. Funny & prescient!

I’m not sure if he originated this one but my friend & mentor Ahmed Yehia is the source of this clever play on perspective! “People think their confusion is the result of complexity, yet often the reverse is true”.

Think about those for a moment. Let’em sink in!

These quotes have stayed with me through my years in business and leadership development. I see their truth & wisdom time & again. Our work at DSP is focused on providing solutions to reverse this trend by expanding what we know to be not only “accurate” but to be both “accurate & complete”. It is often this “complete” part of the understanding process that is crucially missing from truly shared understanding and that enables the illusion of communication, confusion and conflict.

The bottom line impact is that we are less motivated or able to work together. That is a big problem because working together has never been more important – for business success or for saving our planet. And unless we figure out how to work together soon, we’re going to be in serious trouble. So let’s get started because the time is now.

I hope you will wish me luck and please feel free to email me (Scott@DiamondStrategyParternship.com) with comments and with your own perspective to help expand THE BIGGER PICTURE!