There is something very trusting about Americans. When foreigners meet us, they have shared that they find us to be very open and friendly. When people fall we want to see them get back up and we might even invite them for dinner or to sleep in our guestrooms to help out. We could meet someone at an event and make five key introductions, invest in their new company, connect them professionally to a job opportunity or mate without really knowing them at all. We go by hunches, instincts and referrals. Giving gives us joy and we always root for the underdog and love the comeback kid.
We try not to hold grudges. Takes too much energy away from chasing the next a bright red bouncy ball in business or our personal lives. Grudges are like Masters, and we have an aversion to having too many Masters.
One might think that it's a form of manipulation, to get something out of the relationship, result of inbreeding or an ulterior motive. I would argue for 93.6 percent of Americans it's not. It's in our nature. We practice goodness and if we get burned too harshly we might curb it a bit, growl and bare our teeth, and hope we can forgive, make amends and move on to be joyful and start chasing squirrels again.
I think it comes to us as naturally as a my dog Jeri. She was a slightly overweight Chocolate Labrador who would stand at the door when we came home, tail wagging, bouncing out of her skin with joy to see us. Her hips shaking from side to side like a slinky extended between a child's hands.
Jeri wasn't the smartest dog... and I am quite sure she would have brought our country's PISA scores down and skipped out of taking many of her standardized tests in pursuit of 'living in the moment'' priorities, like an itchy paw or belly rub. The Poodles and the Shepherds, even the Terriers tested higher than her (see here of this month's dismaying findings on American Adults from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies- OCDC global test). When told she was in trouble, Jeri did experience some real shame, mentally committing to try harder. And she meant it. And we meant it. Sometimes she looked at us with such soulful eyes, such wisdom, I realized we weren't giving her enough credit for her strong EQ (emotional intelligence).
Yes even in stinging defeats, Jeri was resilient with loyalty and of good cheer. Always. She was pure of heart and tried not to complain too much even when her hips and body began to fail her. She was beautiful with dark ears soft like a velvet triangles. Such a soft heart and just wanted to be with you. She was always up for the opportunity to play on sore hips or to fixate INTENSELY on a meaty T-bone.
Jeri represents to me the heart of American spirit. I believe in our resiliency we are all Chocolate Labradors at our core (no offense Marley, you are one of Jeri's heroes).
Sometimes we get bashed (bad dog!) and we realize we have to entrepreneurially redefine how we are to do things (like education, politics, and reflect on painful mistakes of the past).
Sometime the Labrador meets the Pit Bull and things might get ugly, but the Labrador will always try to friendship, collegial approach first and when they can't (i.e. Government Shutdown), the fangs will come out and they will take a stance even if it's distasteful to them.
The Labrador/Spirit of our country needs to spend some time in the 'Lab' and we have some very big issues we need to address before we can have our belly's scratched again. We have to focus on industry disruptions like EdTech and the future of human capital. We have to focus on wage equity, diversity and inclusion. We have to focus on our health, innovations, digital divide and abilities to compete on a world stage and utilizing our comparative strengths (trust, entrepreneurship and big hearts are big ones). We need to be aware of how we are perceived by our counterparts across the Globe, not lose our self-confidence mixed with depreciating humility that has served us well while scheduling more play dates and less trips to the vet .
Jeri just taught me who we are. I saw us in her. She is gone now but I know she lived,loved, played, suffered, fell and always until her final hours at the age of fourteen got up again.