01/22/2015 04:27 pm ET Updated Mar 23, 2015

'My, Oh My, President Obama, I Do Declare!'

It wasn't the Explanation of Independence, it was the Declaration of Independence

Well, President Obama has given his State of the Union address and the Republicans and political pundits are having a field day. And I'm pretty sure that even many of the Democrats who were disenchanted with him and his low ratings are now enthusiastically supporting him.

But I'm guessing they all have President Obama wrong. That is because they are all transactional and political animals who delight in reading in all kinds of ulterior motives and in second guessing what President Obama's political strategy, or how he is slyly plotting his legacy for that future presidential library.

I have a different and what many of you jaded skeptics and cynics will say is an overly naive view. I have a fantasy that sometime before his address President Obama looked into a mirror, possibly after shaving and after Mrs. Obama was asleep.

And instead of looking in the mirror overflowing with fear and paranoia as Nixon might have done towards the end of his presidency when he was talking to the Dead Presidents' gallery in the White House, I'm guessing that President Obama looked into that mirror with determination and thought or maybe even said to himself:

"Barack! Stop being defensive, stop whining, stop being so explanatory, stop being so conciliatory, stop being such a wuss! Figure out what the heck you stand for, what you will stand up for and what you're going to stand up against and then declare it and do it! You've got a couple years left. For crying out loud, just man up!"

In working with leaders I have the found the best and the few to possess the following character traits:

  • The WISDOM to know what's important
  • The JUDGMENT to then know the right thing to do
  • The INTEGRITY to do it
  • The CHARACTER to stand up to those who don't do it
  • The COURAGE to stop those who won't do it

Only time will tell if I got it wrong and if this was merely a political play.

I'm hoping it's doesn't turn out that way, but if it does I'll still be okay with it.


That's because I'd rather look for a reason to believe and risk being foolish than look for a reason to distrust, be cynical, jaded and end up bitter. If that happens I will be the one who lost. And if that happens to you, you'll end up that way, too. But I am hopeful.

Why am I hopeful?

A few years ago I had the good fortune to have dinner with Norman Lear and my late mentor, Warren Bennis. I asked them, "What do you think is the greatest threat to the world?"

They both gave the same answer, "Expediency." By that I believe they both meant that the more rushed people are the more they don't do what's right. The more they don't even know what's right.

I then asked them how they feel about the world. They both also gave the same answer, "I'm an optimist, because if I weren't, I couldn't get out of bed in the morning."

And so am I, for the very same reason.