This was originally published on November 8th, 2008.
President-elect Barack Obama has captured the world's imagination. He has helped us believe that -- as he put it in his victory speech -- "all things are possible" and that we can put our hands "on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day."
Now, let's not wait for one man to save the world. Let's use the exuberant energy of his triumph to propel each of us forward. Every American can find his or her own way to make a difference. And one way to do it is through our work.
We can become New Radicals -- that is, find a way to leverage the skills we've acquired in our careers and put them to work on the world's greatest challenges. Already, thousands of people like us are doing precisely that (for more about the New Radicals, please see archived articles).
As a human being, Obama also embodies much of what mere mortals like us aspire to. Watching his campaign, I marveled at his ability to raise the tone of the discourse, to encourage people to remember that we exist not for ourselves exclusively but also for one another, and that each of us can choose how we interact with the world.
As I interviewed New Radical pioneers for my book, I was really struck by how they did precisely this. In fact, this is what makes these "radicals" "new". They believe in the pull of vision. They recognize the power of dialogue. They see the possibilities inherent in working together toward change. In fact, I began to think of "positive, constructive, hopeful" as the New Radicals credo.
And this isn't just a neat phrase, but a tool we can actually use -- a reference point for all of our choices and actions. "Try this experiment," I suggest to my clients. "The next time you need to make a decision, or when you're in a meeting and it's your turn to speak, run it through the 'positive, constructive, hopeful' filter first. I guarantee that something will shift. And you'll begin to see that we change ourselves and influence others even in the simplest ways. Forget the world stage: right in the middle of daily life, you can make a difference."
This is a great moment in America's history. My guess is that the remarkable man at the center of it all will soon echo JFK's immortal phrase, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." This is our chance to be one step ahead of him. To realize that, in adoring him, we are actually signaling a desire to reconnect with the deepest part of ourselves and to find a way to make a difference. And that is within reach of all.
Please share how you've been channeling your inner Obama by commenting below. Or email me directly at email@example.com.
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