Leaders are Bigger than Elections

Over the last year, I’ve been working on my “grilling game.” I have a new vertical cooker (kinda a hybrid between a smoker and a Weber kettle grill; check out http://www.pitbarrelcooker.com/), coupled with a few other grilling “toys” that include a wireless Bluetooth-enabled temperature probe. My family, neighbors, and I have enjoyed filet mignon, T-bone, NY Strip, wings, ribs, chicken, pork tenderloin, brisket burgers, smoked brie, jalapeño bombers, etc. I’ve also done vegetables, cinnamon/maple apples, and baked beans on the Pit Barrel Cooker. All have been fabulous. But during the last few weeks, I turned my attentions inside.

Mostly because of rain, I chose to try my hand at stuffed peppers. I parboiled some fresh peppers, cooked up some hot Italian sausage and brisket burger from a local butcher shop, added rice, shredded cheese, spices, and some “magic.” Voila, stuffed peppers! I was going to finish them off on the grill, but in the end, due to weather, I finished them off in the oven. Maybe I’m migrating from the grill to the kitchen. Watch out! I now have my eye on a no-knead artisanal bread baked in a Dutch Oven. Could this be my mid-life crisis?!!!

Because I didn’t eat all the stuffed peppers, I vacuum-sealed and froze several. I’ve taken them to work (positive reviews from my team, including my executive admin who happens to be Italian, woo hoo!) and eaten a couple for lunch or dinner myself. I must admit, they’re pretty tasty. In fact, I had one for lunch today. For me, it’s comfort food. And it’s a stress reliever. My wife calls it my new “hobby.” I’m not sure what it is, but regardless, I’m having fun and it’s tremendously relaxing after a long, stressful day or week at “the office.”

While eating a warmed-up stuffed pepper today, my mind was filled with a variety of random thoughts: good food, great times with family, traditions, family of birth/origin, hobbies, global travel, the allure of “food,” new adventures, and so on. The pepper I ate was good and so were my self-reflections. The stuffed pepper was MORE than nourishment. It represented many things – Family – Hospitality – Nutrition – Farmers – Roots – Traditions – Legacy – Adventures. And I needed it today more than normal.

Yes, I was glad for the nourishment, the sustenance of the food. But more than that, I need a break from the “real” world. As you probably know it was “election” day in the US. And, yes, I voted.

The local polls opened at 6am. My alarm was set for 5:15am. And I woke up, wide-awake, at 4:45am. Never in my adult voting life (over 30 years) have I been so anxious to vote. Yes, each vote matters, even mine. I arrived at my poll (a local elementary school) by 6:10am, waited in line for 25 minutes and cast my vote. Then I went to work.

I arrived before 7am. And I felt numb. Never in all my years of voting have I felt such strong emotions. The candidates for the two “big” parties are both disappointing to me. They don’t uphold my values or appeal to me in any way. And yet one of them will win and become the President of the United States, POTUS.

Ugh! How disappointing! I felt like it was the first “lose/lose” election of my adult (post-18) life. This last weekend at church, my pastor said, regardless of your vote and the outcome, life in the US will not be the same going forward. “It” doesn’t end with Election Tuesday. I think he’s right. He encouraged us to exercise our right to vote (for which I’m extremely grateful). And he didn’t give any guidance re: which candidate to vote for (for which I’m also thankful). But I agree with him, the next several years (maybe even my lifetime) will not be the same regardless of who “wins.” I am saddened that Trump and Hillary (one of whom will assuredly become the next US President) were put forth as our two best presidential candidates. Really? I know scores of people who could do better, simply because they have better morals and ethical behavior.

But in the end, while eating my stuffed pepper and reflecting on the election, I was reminded that we can each only control our behavior and our thoughts. We can choose whom we’ll vote for but we don’t control the outcome of the election. We can choose to work hard, but we don’t control our height or natural athletic prowess. We can choose to be kind and serve others, but we don’t control organized crime. You get the point. We each chose, daily, our behavior. We determine moment by moment what actions we’ll take, but we don’t control the outcome.

My advice? Do your thing and then let it go. Vote, then don’t worry. When it’s time for the next election, vote again. If you want to get involved in local or national politics, do so. Just recognize that you’ll not control the outcome of the vote. Do you thing, then let it go. Pray about it. But don’t worry. Take action. But don’t fret. Be wise. But don’t be despondent.

In the end, all our can control is yourself. You can’t change the behaviors of your spouse, your boss or your kids. You don’t get to determine who will be the next president or senator. You don’t get to determine if your favorite team will win the World Cup or the World Series. In the end, all you can control is yourself. Your thoughts. Your actions. Your behaviors. Your adjustments. Isn’t that enough responsibility?

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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