I listened to Simon Sinek talk about These Are Not Unprecedented Times and I cannot stop arguing with him in my head. I know Simon from Ogilvy and Mather, we worked there as Strategic Planners back in the early 2000s. I admire him and his body of work tremendously. But there is something in this article that really got me agitated, he stepped over something I care deeply about: bringing others along.
The core of his message, as I hear it, is companies often ignore the need to embrace innovation and to constantly reinvent themselves so they can stay relevant. Changes in technology and the competitive landscape requires whole industries to pivot. This happens all the time, remember Blockbuster Video? It is not unprecedented in this context. So, there is that. OK – it’s a good headline – it’s doing its job! What I am claiming is, outside of his business premise, these are unprecedented times, certainly for me, my family, my community and people across this country.
In this moment, we are asking people to care more about the greater good of our fellow humans than their bottom line or what might be good for just them. I know that Simon cares about this too – his sub headline is, after all, “together is better”! Right now, as a country, we are struggling to let go of some pretty important behaviors for the sake of others. Yes, a form of self-sacrifice was done during World Wars I & II, then we rallied around the core of American democracy; we were fighting villains that threatened the whole of what our country stands for. And I get it, some Americans see those same freedoms threatened. But I don’t. This time around the war we are fighting is to save the lives of our fellow humans. And, that is big, and not normal, and yes, in my eyes, unprecedented.
Thank you for the headline Simon. It made me explore the reasons for my agitation in a deeper way. It clarified another layer of why this historic moment in time is challenging and gave me another place to look, to reinvent my thinking. We also believe in being better together.