Happy Presidents’ Day. We all love to worship an idealized version of our leaders—the guy in the top hat or the guy with the wig (and maybe one day the lady in the pantsuit). But what if you were president, what would you do? Could you do it? Could you handle the stress of it? Yes, your hair would go grey in four years, don’t deny it.
I was thinking about what to write for Presidents’ Day and I remembered how often I’ve said to myself, “At least I’m not Barack Obama.” But as a leader of a company, there are similar pressures and challenges, high expectations and hopes that, in some ways, can never be met in real life. Would your behavior today change if you knew what it really takes to be president? If you were in the same spot as the president, what would you do?
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself, because the truth is, even if you’ll never be president, you are a part of the whole experience for the leader of the nation. And perhaps putting yourself in a president’s shoes for a few minutes might make you a more effective citizen in this democracy.
1. Could you handle being ridiculed, made fun of, mocked, and mimicked on the national news, Twitter, and Saturday Night Live? How do you think that would feel?
2. How would you transform a situation—let’s just say a “red line” situation—where there is no clear, easy answer? Would you resort to force or to some other technique? What is more important, ego and status or real resolution and results? It’s extremely easy to have an opinion. It’s extremely hard to be the person who has to make a decision.
3. How would you balance the desperate needs around our future ability to live on this planet with the desperate needs of people living today, in this country? Is there a solution that works for both? What would that look like?
4. Could you resist the bullying pressure of threatening industries that tie campaign donations to favoritism? It’s easy to say yes to this one, until you’ve been in a situation where you’ve felt threatened. Especially by people who are experts at threatening in a way that seems really, really, really appealing and desirable. I mean, we have to feed the world and power the whole economy, don’t we?
5. What kind of world do you want to create for your fellow citizens to live in? Because at the end of the day, great presidents don’t just respond and react to what’s happening around them; they create a new vision of where we’re heading and what is possible. Think the Gettysburg Address, the New Deal, and the Space Program.
Think about it. What would you do if you were president? Happy Presidents’ Day.
Such great questions, Maria!
Your questions offer us a way “into” the presidency… They ask us to “walk-a-mile” in a president’s shoes. I imagine that one of the most difficult tasks of being a president would be to develop an “inner ear” whereby you listen for a “still, small, voice” inside, a voice that looms louder than all others demanding your affirmation. In this regard, if I were president, I would hope to follow the Scriptural passage in Micah– for a president, no matter how great, is a mere “mortal.”
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
A president — no matter how great — is a mere “mortal.” As such, he must do justice, act mercifully, and be humble. If I were president, I would hope to leave behind a nation that is environmentally more “clean” and socially more “just” than the one that I inherited. I would work to be a servant to my country in the deepest sense, sacrificing power, economic gain, and reputation, if need be, to serve the greater good. It is a tall order, and one that no president to date has ever lived out — the excuse has always been — he’s only human. But what is our humanity worth, if not to, at least strive, for the highest ideals?
Hey J. Cummings, you’ve got my vote!
He’s got my vote too! It is a sad situation when these things mentioned by Mr. Cummings can’t be achieved because of pettiness, prejudices, lobbies, big business and all types of shenanigans going on on Capitol Hill. Yes, he is only a man, but he could have and would have achieved much more had he had the co-operation of the many elected officials from the 50 states. The thing to do is to take care of America first, then the world. We would be in a better place. If only!
So much goes on behind the curtain that we don’t know about. I sometimes wonder if our elected leaders go into office thinking they can do good for us, and then find out someone/group, not elected, holds all the keys. Like the corrupt CIA who for years & years have caused more wars around the world then we can imagine. What if the President says I don’t want any more of these secret killings and supporting dictators, etc. and the CIA and others in power behind the scene, say do what we say or your famly will suffer? Since good men go into office and then end up doing terrible things, like drone strikes that kill innocent children, etc. it just makes me wonder why would they do it if they were free to not do it? We still don’t know for sure who was really behind the killing of Kennedy. Many think it was the CIA. Makes me wonder – when I had such hopes for our President and now find myself wondering what happened!
Maybe if hadn’t lied and said “If you like your plan you can keep it, and if you like your doctor you can keep him” he wouldn’t be so ridiculed! He knew that was not true when he said it.
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Congrats is a small word, but we are too excited to see you this happy. Be blessed, forever!