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Trust, Team, and The Government

I don’t understand the government shutdown.  I get my information from my husband, Stewart, and Colbert.  Occasionally I listen to a panel yell at each other on a news network.  I try (kinda), but I don’t fully understand.

I hear people vent about how immature it is that our government leaders won’t sit in a room, fight it out, figure it out, and walk out of the room with a solution.

I share that frustration.

I try to imagine what it would be like to be one of those leaders, but I can’t picture it.

I’m a leader in an organization of 1,300.  I know what it’s like to walk into a room with my colleagues, knowing that a fight is coming, knowing that someone’s going to yell, someone’s going to cry, I’m going to get red splotches all over my neck and jaw, we’re going to disagree, we’re going to spend hours in that room, and we’re eventually going to emerge from the room with a plan. 

But I also know what makes it possible for us to enter that room and fight, argue, cry, splotch, disagree, strategize, and emerge with a plan everyone is behind.

We’re a team.  We work very hard to be as healthy and functional a team as possible.

We spend time together.  We team build in ways that are fun and in ways that are emotionally and relationally risky.  We build trust in each other’s motives and character.  We practice telling each other the truth—the hard truths most people don’t say to one another, the vulnerable truths most people keep private. 

It’s because of our work on building and maintaining a healthy team that we are able to sit down in a room, fight it out, and emerge with a plan.

That’s why I cannot imagine our federal government leaders sitting in a room, fighting it out, and emerging with a solution that they’re all behind.  They don’t work on being a healthy team; they work very hard on defining the sides, the talking points, the arguments, and the differences.  They don’t trust each other’s motives or character, and no one else does either.  They don’t tell each other the truth; they repeat their parties’ talking points.  They don’t have the best interest of the team in mind; there are more political maneuvers and power plays than I can begin to imagine.

While I share the frustration of the American people; I cannot believe it’s as simple as sitting in a room and talking it out.  How do you do that with people whose motives you question and whose character you abhor?  How do you do that when you have no trust that anyone is being honest or authentic?  How do you do that when you know people will leave the room and undermine the plan in national media?

Clearly that kind of leadership is beyond my capacity and pay grade.  I want them to figure it out; they HAVE to figure this out, but I’m also very glad that I’m not one of them.   


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