What we can learn from this Inauguration Day

2010 Update: I made the decision to bring Say “Alaka‘i” here to Talking Story in late May of 2010 when the Honolulu Advertiser, where the blog previously appeared, was merged with the Star Bulletin (Read more at Say “Alaka‘i” is Returning to the Mothership).

Therefore, the post appearing below is a copy of the one which had originally appeared there on January 20, 2009, so we will be able to reference it in the future when the original url it had been published on is no more…

Hibiscus

What we can learn from this Inauguration Day

Just figured out something. I have lived through at least a dozen Inauguration Days, if you figure them the easy way every four years: All of them since Hawai‘i became the 50th State. And I have a confession to make, one which several of you may share with me. I’ve never paid attention to a single one, feeling they were pretty anti-climactic. Not until today, when Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States.

This one is different.

Yes, because Mr. Obama is a native son of Hawai‘i.
Yes, because this will be the first time a family of blended color lives in the White House, a home for the First Family which had been built by slaves.
But mostly because of this feeling, perhaps summed up best in the title of our new president’s own book; it’s because of the Audacity of Hope.

I’m paying attention to this Inauguration Day because like so many, I’ve gotten swept up in the feeling of hope this time. It is because of this very pervasive feeling we all seem to share now, that things will get better. We are starting to believe in better, and we are willing to make it so. We hope in different, we hope in new, and we hope in each other. This isn’t just a one-man show.

Part of this new, is that our “we” has gotten much bigger too: There seems to be a new global partnership happening in a very grass roots manner as well (thanks in no small part to social media, which has come of age in this election). Heads of state all over the world have to pay attention now too as their populace gets better connected, and expectations are rising everywhere. There will be no resting on laurels in the name of blind tradition. New partnerships are being formed which transcend national boundaries, overflowing into the arena of greater shared humanity.

This feeling of pervasive hope is what we can learn from this Inauguration Day: This is what Alaka‘i leadership does. Leadership delivers change which in turn delivers hope and optimism, and not the kind of change which delivers apprehension and fear. It delivers an energy that seems to replenish itself, ever vibrant, ever courageous, ever possible, even when we’re fully aware how much work is involved.

I think we need to be audacious in all the great expectations we hope for, for I believe we are usually much more capable of what we tend to give ourselves credit for. We are bigger than the normal smallness of our expectations. Barack Obama has used measured words, cautioning us repeatedly. He tells us the road ahead is climbed, not traveled, and the steep ascent out of this recession will still be difficult; sacrifice must be made. He asks us to dig in and pull ourselves up from our bootstraps, realizing that now, the “real work” begins.

I don’t dispute any of that, however we’ve heard it before, and this is the difference I see: We’re not digging in and beginning to work harder because that’s what it takes, or because it’s all we can think of doing; we’re doing it because we are seeing some new possibilities we may not have seen before. We are okay with the thought that we might live in a different way, and while we may be cautious, we’re not afraid.

We want different and new, and this time, different and new doesn’t scare us: It fills us with hope.

The best leadership doesn’t really deliver results (that’s where great management comes in). Leadership delivers positive, optimistic feelings along with the belief they are realistic. Leadership also delivers the energy to pursue what it takes so those feelings stay with us.

So today, I am joining the rest of the world in celebrating the inauguration of our 44th President of the United States. He isn’t our savior, for we’re still the ones who must save ourselves, however he is now the leader of our country, and I’m joining the festivities as a way of telling him thank you for getting us here.

Mahalo nui loa Mr. Obama, for believing in us enough, and investing in your work of leading knowing that we’re worth it.

Comments

  1. says

    Rosa, a great post that captures the essence of the moment.
    I’ve been thinking about audacity this month too and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here:
    “I think we need to be audacious in all the great expectations we hope for, for I believe we are usually much more capable of what we tend to give ourselves credit for. We are bigger than the normal smallness of our expectations.”
    Leaders lift the lid off that smallness, show what’s possible, encourage, support, challenge and allow the energy to flow.
    Thanks.

  2. says

    Why thank you Joanna! You have given me a phrase in return, for I like this: “Leaders lift the lid off that smallness, show what’s possible, encourage, support, challenge and allow the energy to flow.”

  3. says

    Rosa, this post so eloquently articulates the feelings of many today. I love your reminder that leadership does not deliver results but optimism and the energy to sustain it. Great leaders cultivate great doers, they set the tone, they provide a strategy and they motivate and empower those around them to bring about that change. This is a wonderful post!!!

  4. says

    A great post Rosa. And I am especially glad for this line:
    “He isn’t our savior, for we’re still the ones who must save ourselves”
    With the euphoria a lot of people forget it – he will be there, smiling and all, but the people down will have to do the actual work, no matter what.
    The “small people” will make his plan come through or hinder it in the end.
    Cheers on your new President, and hope you will bring His promises come true

  5. says

    Maybe Obama is why it feels (to me) like 2009 is going to be a good year and different from others. It’s like success is around the corner and smells like a loaf of warm bread just out of the oven.
    Something is leading me (maybe that smell of success or baked bread) and maybe it’s Obama. But still it’s up to me to deliver.
    I’m glad I got up at 3.45 am to watch the inauguration. I just felt compelled.

  6. says

    Mahalo Karen (USA :) Roland (Hungary :) and Chris (Australia :) for adding your voices here! As I just commented for Ulla (Berlin :)
    “One of my dreams for our future Ulla, is that there are more world leaders who capture the global attention President Obama has: We Americans certainly do NOT “have the market cornered” on leadership! I like to think that Barack Obama’s success will inspire other emerging leaders as well.”
    I add your home countries to your name because the international flavor of our optimistic Ho’ohana Community absolutely thrills and motivates me. I believe we are in a time where leadership is beginning to be valued more than ever before, and I love the feeling this belief gives me.

  7. says

    I’m pretty sure it was late in the novel Gorky Park where everything looks bleak that the (Soviet) hero says to his would-be murderers, “I find I have an incurable disease … hope.”
    After all the politicians we’ve had who lied to us, repressed us, ignored us and used us, even we the most cynical generation ever born still can’t help but hope for a better world and for a leader whose leadership will be directed by his own good character. May it be so.