You know that storyline, the one about the key character who keeps his or her head low, doesn’t engage in the surrounding hype or chaos, but centers deep within, makes a choice to do the right thing, the hard thing, then does whatever necessary – oftentimes beyond great odds – to make it happen?
You know that storyline?
So do I.
And why, why, do we and most of humanity respond to that storyline? Why do we come back to it time and time again? Why do we wait through the agonizing conflicts so we can cheer, cry at the final outcome?
Because deep down, this is the world we want. This is who we want to be. This is the narrative we want for ourselves. We want to be the hero, the good leader, the someone that people love and revere. We want a good and safe community for ourselves and our families. And we want to be counted among the greats.
Here’s the thing about the greats: They find a way to do great things, to build great stories, without intentionally hurting others. Just the opposite. The very best find a way of extending a hand beyond their immediate circle and begin building a community where it didn’t exist before.
This is rare because it is difficult.
The world taunts us, prods us to attack one another for our uncommon grounds. Instead of respecting each others’ differences – even trying to better understand them and find the commonalities – we are baited to stand up tall and shout each other down. I’ve seen vicious behavior in the name of what is touted as common good.
It is difficult to not take the bait. It feels good to have a platform, a cause, and it is easy to tip that scale to the point of building a platform on the backs of others, at their shame, expense. Is it more important to be right or to be a good neighbor? Love built on hatred for others is not love. And it doesn’t build great leaders, or heroes.
While it is important to stand up for what we each believe in, there is room for civility. In fact, if we are to truly strive for what is good and right, civility is a necessity. Honoring the story in each person, and doing our best to bridge the gaps, is the only truly good narrative. This is what the greats inherently know, and it’s what they strive for.
This is who we can become.
Like the storyline we love so much, we, too, can choose to keep our heads low, not engage in the surrounding hype or chaos, center deep within, make a choice to do the right thing, the hard thing, for all involved, then do whatever necessary – possibly beyond great odds – to make it happen.
That, my friend, is the Big Win.
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