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The Hard Work Starts Now: Voters, Broccoli and Ice-cream

Voting in a new president helps solves some US image problems, but doesn’t deal with many of the the core issues facing us today. We need to be very careful to manage our own expectations at this point. The oceans have not stopped rising. Barack Obama is not the messiah. Of course he is not a very naughty boy, either, but we need to get real. I have high hopes for Barack – he could be one of the best presidents the country has ever had. But that is conditional, unrealised potential right now. Obama hasn’t even taken office yet. We need to take a deep breath, be quietly proud of ourselves for finally waking up, but realise the challenges only start now.

In his speech last night our president elect said:

“This victory alone does not represent the change we seek.”

Amen, Brother.

Last night Sadcox Galt said, in a post entitled I Love Cake:

I’ve been watching, listening, reading for most of those minutes, and I have to say I’m a little shocked at the reaction of some of his supporters. While I admire your optimism, I wonder if you aren’t setting yourselves up for some major disappointment. I was worried that people may have set their expectations a little high, but now I’m pretty sure of it.

One of my key themes in consulting with Microsoft and Sun this week is Broccoli and Ice-cream. Its hard to persuade people to eat their broccoli, whereas ice-cream is easy. Tax cuts are ice-cream. Belt-tightening is broccoli. We just ate our dessert first- that is, we got the ice-cream. But now its time for our broccoli.

As Winston Churchill, a man who truly realised his potential, once said:

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

If America is to be a great nation it must act like one. If we are to be a great people we must play our part. Let’s dial down the expectation and dial up the effort. Its now time, more than ever, to work on things that matter.

Google is just a company. Obama is just a man. America is just a country. How can his election victory possibly be the defining moment of his presidency? Wall Street had a clear purpose, and a frame most of us bought into – making money whatever the external costs.

Its time to get real. Lets roll our sleeves up.

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17 Responses

  1. Well said.

    Suki FullerNovember 6, 2008 @ 12:29 amReply
  2. James,
    I had the exact same kind of thought last night and twittered it and then felt guilty about not being caught up in the hope. This is not going to be easy. There is no magic diet pill here that will make the economy look like Jessica Alba so to speak.

    We are going to have to change what we eat (more broccoli) and exercise and Obama can’t do it for us.

    But Obama can inspire us to get in shape together. Kinda like asking us all to join Team in Training. The way we are going to pull out of this is going to be through the same kind of spirit that wanna be triathletes bring to Team in Training. (No I have never been THAT good but I did do a mini-triathlon because a whole bunch of my company did as well).

    So here is what I want – I want Obama the Community organizer to ask us to do something now, before he comes to office. I’m not sure what it is, but I want it to be something easy like some nice cheese covered broccoli.

    Man, am I the analogy queen or what?

    Kathleen WierschNovember 6, 2008 @ 12:46 amReply
  3. Thanks for the link! And I love the realistic and optimistic tone in this post. It is going to take a lot of work to turn the Bush thang around.

  4. The thing I got from Obama’s acceptance speech is that he’d agree with this blog post entirely.

  5. Great post James!
    I wish everyone would read this.

  6. I started my worrying on my drive home from the election party. Democrats now control the Executive branch and Senate, can we actually deliver and make the change this country needs? I am so proud of my country that mobilized the voter base and elected some amazing people, but now we have to show them that they must not fail. I will eat my broccoli and I hope everyone else does too!

  7. Great post, could not agree more…

    The biggest challenge for him will be to live up to the expectations though, and I hope he’ll manage to show real change as early as possible, because people have short, really short memory…

    Paolo BaroneNovember 6, 2008 @ 11:23 pmReply
  8. Hi, James. Thanks for this. It makes me so glad to read from people who are not seeing this election as the sole redemption of America—as if we, the people, in order to recover a more perfect union, need just sit back and watch the miracle unfold.

    I think there is still a lot of bitterness and polarisation left, and it’s down to individuals to change this. I wrote over on my blog just before the election, about a stark problem with some American’s rhetoric: http://is.gd/5pT2

    Thanks again, and please keep blogging ;)

  9. One of the things that has most attracted me to Obama is his willingness to say, this is going to be hard work. We are all going to need to sacrifice. With Bush it was all Let Them Eat Cake. His call to patriotism was to go out and shop. I wonder – I hope – I almost believe that Americans are ready to step up and demonstrate our better selves. People are searching for meaning. What’s most appealing about our president elect is his appeal to what’s best and most noble in us as human beings.

    Abbie LundbergNovember 6, 2008 @ 11:35 pmReply
  10. People:

    What we need to do is each eat about 30 pounds of broccoli a day for about ten years, and we’ll be just about in position to resolve this country’s fiscal crisis.

    Barack Obama or John McCain or JFK himself cannot avoid the consequences of the bad economics we’ve been pursuing for the past 30+ years.

    If you have not seen this documentary, I suggest that you do: http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/iousa/

    “Rolling up our sleeves” is not going to cut it. We’re facing a tsunami on its way, sandbags are not going to stop it.

  11. very well done. wish i had a better taste for broccoli, but it is fine. still prefer ice cream though :)

    Esteban KolskyNovember 7, 2008 @ 1:48 amReply
  12. Exactly. Now is most certainly one of those “Ask not what your country can do for you” moments.

    The motto – Yes We Can – stands for more than winning the campaign. It’s a message that needs an addendum: Yes We Can, but it’s going to take a lot of work. I think Obama is giving us that message.

  13. Well said. I agree enthusiastically that it’s not entirely about what we expect from our politicians or that we must make sure they know they must not fail, but more about how we, more collectively, can make things succeed. We collectively got more united than I have seen any voting base in my lifetime, so I would love to see us unite behind common goals to improve things all around. How we coordinate such a ridiculous number of diverse individuals? Fine question, but at least now I know the infrastructure exists, and people understand the concept, and hopefully we can all contribute enough in enough of a coordinated effort to make a difference.

    Will it kind of suck to live MUCH farther beneath our means than we’re accustomed, being so painfully addicted to living to our ability to borrow? Clearly, but I don’t see that we have a choice. Hopefully we can all console & counsel one another and get ourselves out of our credit-aholic lifestyles enough to reinvigorate the american dream.

    Sleeves are up, pass the garden tools. Let’s clean up this mess & get to planting! There are young minds to get hooked on science and mathematics before the next generation becomes the last in the global line.

  14. thanks so much for all the comments folks. I clearly struck a chord here. We need to stop asking Obama what he can do for us, and start working out what we can do for him- that means working on Stuff The Matters.



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