I am writing this on October 22nd, 2020, but you’ll be reading it November 6th or beyond. Here, just before the election, I feel the deepest undercurrent of hate and distrust in our country since I was born (50 years ago). I don’t know what the state of our country will be on November 6th, 2020.
So, now feels like as good of a time as any to take a moment to talk about this brand, this company, and this name:
I’M NOT MAD AT YOU
I have a very poignant memory from eighth grade about the time I cheated on a math test. I had been sick and absent from school for a week, so I completely missed geometry. The good news was, a friend had the answers. I was able to fill them out when I took the make-up test.
“Stacey”, said the teacher, “I’d like to talk with you in the hallway.”
She changed the order of the questions and I only got one right. She told me that I’m going to get a ten and she needed a letter from my parents explaining that they knew I cheated.
After school, I played tennis against the best local players. My dad decided to come by after work and watch me play.
I won my match and my dad was telling me how well I had played and that he was proud of me. I remember thinking, “Tell him now!”
“Dad, I have something to tell you.”
My dad was the tough parent. If I told my mom, it would get back to him anyway. So I thought I might as well get it over with. I told him I’d cheated on my math test, and how I needed a letter saying he understood what I had done.
My dad simply puts his arm over my shoulder, scoffs, and says: “Stacey, I’ve cheated in a class before. I’m just really proud that you told me the truth.”
It was a relief. He explained that the cheating was less important to him than the fact that I recognized I did something wrong and owned my mistake. That sticks out as the first: “I’M NOT MAD AT YOU” moment and became the foundation for my entire life and business.
Fast forward to 2016
During the presidential election, the anger was palpable. The hyper-partisan politics, the hate, the people getting unfriended on Facebook for voicing their opinions. All this was happening while I’M NOT MAD AT YOU Consulting was just starting out and it’s happening again now.
The same lesson I learned from my dad in eighth grade, applies today. The ability to own your mistakes, the ability to be forthright about what you believe, and the ability to have difficult conversations with one another without being violently mad are essential for not only our country’s future but for all of humankind.
America’s constitution intended to oppose a two-party system. John Adams stated that “a division of the republic into two great parties… is to be dreaded as the great political evil”. By separating powers across many oppositional institutions, they thought to prevent this political terror from forming.
In spite of this, the two-party system prevailed, and continuously grows more hyper-partisan.
Why? Because these institutions understand that group identification (parties), divide people and divided people are easy to manipulate.
It’s okay to disagree.
As a brand, as a company, as a human, I’m an advocate for communication. We need to maintain the ability to find common ground, on a micro and macro level. If we don’t, we’ll end up in a place none of us want to be.
When we interact with people of different beliefs, cultures, or opinions; our goal shouldn’t be to change minds. Our goal should be to educate and understand how each of us got to those beliefs and opinions, all while showing mutual respect for the other’s experiences, regardless of how different they may be. This person-to-person communication has the incredible ability to allow us to better understand our fellow humans and not be so MAD at one another!
We can’t afford to be at each-other’s throats, especially when our country is facing one of our most challenging years ever.
So that’s it, no matter how much we disagree, if you’re honest and own up to what you believe, “I ain’t mad at you!”