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Insights: Vote for Change
May 17, 2011
Vote for Change
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"Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."
- George Bernard Shaw
"So he's dared to enter the political debate," you might be thinking.
No, not really, although the fact that voting is very topical right now might hopefully serve to catch readers' attention a little more than usual:-)
I certainly don't think it's my place to endorse any political parties or figures in this newsletter but I do think that there are some interesting parallels between voting and life coaching that may cause you to engage in some relatively lighthearted reflection.
Some people will never vote, no matter how much is at stake or what the issues are.
"Waste of time." "I couldn't be bothered." "How can one person make any difference." "There are better things to do with my time." "I hate politics anyway."
These are the typical statements that you will hear from the perpetual 'no-shows' at the polling station. The attitude is not dissimilar from that of people who shy away from taking responsibility for their lives, preferring to blame others and everything else around them for their lack of success.
These people find it 'easier' and 'more convenient' to find fault with the world and others in order to justify their situations, than to take the action steps needed to get them closer to where they would prefer to be.
Other people will vote for the same party time and time again, regardless of how well they actually perform in government or in opposition. To these people supporting political parties is a bit like supporting your favorite sporting team - loyalty is everything. Here's the kind of things you'll hear from this group.
"My father's father voted for x, my father voted for x and I will vote for x, plain and simple." "I could never betray my party." "I am a x supporter through and through." "This leopard doesn't change its spots."
Of course if you are a politician at heart then loyalty is to be expected but for most people blind loyalty is often a sign of insecurity. In coaching we often get to help clients who, at least deep down, want to change but simply don't have the courage to take actions that are in any way 'out of the ordinary' or foreign to their normal routines.
Then there are the spoilers - people who vote every time but with a spoilt ballot. They view elections as opportunities to register their silent protest against what they see as a wholly unfair and unjust society.
There are many people who live with pent up frustration at the inequities of life. They feel that they have drawn a 'short straw' or that fate has dealt them an unkind hand. They will use any opportunity to 'get back' at the system that they despise or to try and 'level the playing fields' so that others don't seem so advantaged.
Still other people will vote in accordance with what they are told to do because they feel that someone else knows better (in some cases, sadly, physical and/or mental intimidation may even play a role).
Some people are easily manipulated by others. Such people generally lack self confidence or self esteem and find it easier to trust the opinions of others than to access and believe in the wisdom of their own inner voices. In life coaching we deal extensively with people who struggle to live up to their own expectations of life, exactly because of this.
Finally, there are those voters who see their votes as potential instruments of change. They carefully assess the performance of the elected people and parties and those in opposition and use their precious votes either to reinforce good performance or to punish poor performance.
These voters can be likened to ideal coaching clients. They are responsible, confident, aware - and not at all frightened to take action to bring about change if it is needed to get them to where they want to be.
Action the change you want to see
If I were asked to nominate just two words that most forcefully evoke the spirit of elections and life coaching, I would choose CHANGE and ACTION.
You cannot live the life of your dreams without welcoming, accepting or confronting CHANGE. You cannot embark on the changes required to live your dreams if you are not prepared to take the necessary ACTION.
So as you contemplate whether to vote tomorrow - and where to place your cross - think carefully about what it is you think needs to change, then take action and vote for the person or party that you honestly think is best equipped to bring that about.
Once you've fulfilled your democratic duty, think carefully about what it is you would like to change in your life and then take some small but important action to set the wheels in motion.
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