Tuesday, February 9, 2010

American Reset

Yesterday's post was a brief introduction to Dr. Frank Luntz's latest book: "What Americans Really Want...Really." It is a fascinating journey into the minds of our neighbors, bosses, employees, politicians, and friends - a snapshot of what is going on in the American psyche.

The research, stories, and findings provide a wealth of knowledge that any leader in any organization ought to know - and put into practice. Based on his research, Luntz closes the book with a list of nine priorities of what America really needs.

  1. Resetting our expectations about life, opportunity, and the American dream - most Americans aren't asking for "everything I can get." All they are asking for is the "opportunity to succeed" and "the good life" if and when they get there. Rather than fixating on what we want, we need to appreciate everything that we have.

  2. Renewing our celebration of the American family - the American family is broken. Not entirely shattered, but certainly broken. Americans realize the importance of the family even as they struggle to protect it. The essential familial ingredients of time and attention are increasingly rare.

  3. Reestablishing the respect for religion in America - From the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620 to the writings of the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia 150 years later, the early American experiment with democracy and opportunity has its origins deeply rooted in religion. In recent years, America is trending toward a new and more troubling experiment. We may soon find out what happens when we unlink our freedoms from our faith.

  4. Rebuilding the mutual commitment between employer and employee - too many Americans are unhappy in their current jobs. Considering we spend more time at work than we do at anything other than sleeping, this is particularly troubling. Workers need a few more dollars, but even more important, more satisfaction, more fulfillment, and more excitement from their jobs.

  5. Reinstilling accountability in American government - what American people need from government is elected officials who say what the mean and mean what they say. We will continue to lower our expectations about how much government can do while raising expectations about how well government delivers on what it promises.

  6. Restoring personal responsibility and empowering creativity among America's youth - what America's younger generation needs is both a firm hand and a gentle guide to channel their creativity and raise them from near economic ruin. Generation 2020 (Luntz's term for those born 1980-1991) can and should be the most successful, dynamic, and diversely talented cohort in American history.

  7. Respecting the accomplishments, experience, and continuing resources of America's seniors - it is by their labor that the foundations for our success were laid. It is their dreams that we must remember to embrace, live out, and enjoy. There is no longer a clear line between "retired" and "unretired." Businesses, schools, community groups, and churches can all benefit from the vast resources American seniors have at their disposal.

  8. Investing time and commitment into mentorship - young people need the foundation of a supportive family to survive and thrive, but many also need the capstone of an accomplished mentor to strive and achieve. America's greatest need for mentorship is in the communities where broken schools and broken families are breaking the dreams of America's youth.

  9. Remembering to have some fun along the way - we have too many challenges, too many problems, and too many worries to give up on life and forget to have fun. You can't make it a better tomorrow if you don't take the time to enjoy life today.

"What Americans Really Want...Really" is powerful and sobering glimpse into what we collectively are thinking, hoping, dreaming - and fearing. If your passion is about people, then this book really ought to be your next reading assignment.

We all share a continuing responsibility to better understand one another. Understanding is an essential underpinning for our community. The more we have of it, the better - especially when our public institutions are wavering.

No comments: