Changing Until We Get It Right
This year, we are 245 years into freedom with our 46th president of the United States of America. We’ve had the same flag for 61 years. Did you know there have been 26 versions of the American Flag? I didn’t. In my lifetime, I never saw the changes, so I didn’t know these things had ever happened. In fact, even my parents wouldn’t have been old enough to realize the change was occurring, and that it was monumental.
Oftentimes, change is happening right before our very eyes, even if we don’t realize it. Still, who wants to be a bystander when we can do something more? Namely, we can stop resisting and decide to be part of the change.
So, here is a little food for thought about how you can let your company be part of the change. Being a part of positive change is a way of giving back in a big way.
These Past Few Years
It would be the understatement of the century to say these past few years have been polarizing in our country. In fact, if there’s anything we could agree on it’s that there have been moments of downright divisiveness and hostility. We haven’t been able to find common ground on many topics, especially where we should aim our future.
Nevertheless, we are here in this country and we are together. I think most of us know the importance of change, but sometimes it’s the first step toward change that is the most difficult. Some struggle with aligning change with beliefs and values. Others might fear that change might negatively impact them when they’ve got a good thing going. Regardless of the reason for resisting, change is inevitable—for better or worse—so why not align ourselves with positive change? We can start by being an example within our organizations.
Colors of the Flag
Speaking of positive change, the American flag has seen a lot of it. We now know the flag has seen numerous revisions based on the events that occurred in our country’s history. Even so, do we know what the flag represents? Well, here it is:
- Stars – the 50 states of the Union
- Stripes – the original 13 colonies
- White – purity and innocence
- Red – hardiness and valor
- Blue – vigilance, perseverance, and justice
Now, what do symbols really mean, anyway? Furthermore, do they still represent us as a country almost two and a half centuries later? Let’s think about this together.
What’s So White
Starting with white, what is pure and innocent about our country? Well, if you really dig into this idea of purity and innocence, it’s less about perfection and more about beginnings or newness. Additionally, despite our country being founded in the Christian tradition, white is actually synonymous with the concept of purity for many of the world’s religions.
So, being the melting pot we are, perhaps the white in our flag is a good representation of our country as a whole. Over and over again, we renew our ideals and values, continuing to redefine ourselves based on what we learn from our experiences as we incorporate the viewpoints of so many different cultures and backgrounds.
Regal in Red
Next, we consider the hardiness and valor our country embodies. Without a doubt, from the moment the colonists set sail from their respective homelands, they exhibited hardiness. Then, the soldiers who laid down their lives in battle for our independence demonstrated what it means to have valor. To this day, the challenges we endure within our borders and the enemies we face abroad show that hardiness and valor are something that have never faded. In our tireless endurance of adversity we remain regal in red.
Bleeding the Blue
Finally, blue exemplifies how we are vigilant, we persevere, and we strive for justice.
Now, this is the part where we may get lax. Why? Well, because sometimes when things are going well for us as individuals, it’s easy to pass difficulties off as “their problem.” However, when we are merely a part of a whole, it is everyone’s responsibility to carry some of the burden. Each state in this country is a part of a whole, and each citizen who calls this country home is a part of a whole, as well. We each owe it to our country to act in a way that shows we care.
How can we show we care? For starters, by pursuing what’s right. Like the concept of positive change, doing what’s right is largely in the eye of the beholder. Still, most of the time, we know in our hearts the difference between right and wrong. So, align your convictions with values that are selfless and considerate of others. Then, even when the road is rough, stay the path. All the while, we should keep our eyes fixed on justice… for all.
How Your Company Can Be the Change
Before you lose your mind that anyone might be trying to sway you from red to blue or to hitch your wagon to a different animal, relax. No one is trying to take away your donkey or elephant. This is just a conversation.
To continue, you might be thinking that this is all lovely in theory, but what is a practical application? Certainly, no one has all the answers. If someone did, it would be a heck of a lot easier to vote for our president, right?
Nevertheless, there are values we cling to in the founding of this country. Rights. Liberty. Peace. Prosperity. So, how can we hold onto those values, and still have change? Isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron? How can your company be the change and continue to guard those precious values at the same time?
The Golden Rule with a Twist
Well, one of the long-established maxims that resonates with so many of us in this country is also something that resonates with people of most cultures and religions as well. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Golden Rule. The overarching theme is that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated ourselves.
Let’s take that a step further and propose a challenge for ourselves. What if, as a change for Americans, we did this: Try not to offend others, but more importantly, try not to be easily offended. Would that kind of change even be possible? At this point, what do we have to lose by trying?
While our founding values are solid, another change we could consider would be making some additions. Don’t freak out—it wouldn’t be removing anything or officially adding anything. Rather, it would be striving to add some good things in our hearts and in our deeds. Listening. Understanding. Tolerance. Inclusivity. Unity.
Sure, it sounds so simple. However, these things can be difficult in practice. For example, oftentimes, we are not very good listeners. We don’t want to hear what we think we already know. Then, if we don’t fully listen, how can we begin to truly understand? If we don’t understand, do we have the capacity to at least be tolerant? When we aren’t tolerant, we have a tendency to be exclusive. Obviously, exclusivity is anything but unity. Without unity, can we really claim our country is the United States of America? And if we aren’t the United States of America, then what are we? Does that make sense?
Be the Uniting Change
So, wouldn’t it be a great thing if our country was known for bringing people together, rather than for our mini civil wars? It’s almost like we need to find a new American spirit. In this new American spirit, our focus wouldn’t be aimed at simply making money (because let’s be honest, that’s kind of our reputation), but aimed at making life better for our people and our community. This small change of perspective–starting within our companies–could conceivably make our country better. And hey, we might be surprised at how we still manage to make plenty of money in the process. Mahatma Gandhi gave us something to consider when he said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
Still, how can we operate our businesses and simultaneously be part of the change? Believe it or not, change has to start with a mindset. If we start viewing people differently in our minds—seeing people as actual humans with unique experiences and perspectives, having value, and being worth the investment—we might start acting differently. Then, if we actively look for opportunities to be a part of something good, we will no longer be bystanders. We will be the change.
Changing the Flag, Changing our Hearts
Some of us bleed red, white, and blue. We claim to live for the flag, and that we’d die for the flag. However, the American flag as we know it hasn’t always looked the way it does, and it has been an evolving symbol. Nevertheless, there are certain values we cling to despite the change—purity, valor, justice. Even so, we could know it to mean more—understanding, inclusivity, unity. So, to be part of the change, we have to accept that worthwhile change can be hard, and that it starts in our minds and our hearts.
While we have come a long way in this country, we still have so much work to do. That goes for all of us. We are part of a whole, and therefore we should operate as such until we all determine the work is done. Still, if there’s anything we are good at in this country, it’s working. So, if our grand ole flag could change appropriately to become a better reflection of the times, couldn’t we do the work to be the change, too?