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How President Obama Can Be Disruptive Instead of "Lame"

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Mark Goulston, M.D.
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In a world of know-it-all's, arrogance, finger pointing and hubris, humility is disruptive.
To get something significant done in the remainder of his term, President Obama doesn't have to fall on his sword, but just the right mea culpa might serve him well.
My book, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life, is about dealing with people who aren't mentally ill, but who are crazy making. If I were to ask President Obama if he has any of those, he'd fall over laughing and say, "They may not be irrational, but they're certainly impossible and I deal with them every day!"
These are people you can neither confront nor reason with without either approach making the situation worse or at the very best just keeping it stuck. And avoiding them or becoming defensive only allows them to ride roughshod over you.
The central tenet in my book is that when dealing with impossible people, you need to lean into them. And if you do it in the right way, you will not only find the eye of their hurricane, you may also find the key to disarming them.
What follows is a "lean-in" approach that President Obama might try. It may be just what he needs to effectively deal with all the critics around him. That is because it utilizes one thing that most people are defenseless against. And that is, an earnest, no excuses, taking-full-responsibility, unsolicited apology.
It taps into the fact that most people don't want to be unforgiving and end up embittered; they want to give people who have disappointed them another chance. That is as long as those people own up to what they did or failed to do, take full responsibility for it and offer specific corrective solutions moving forward to indicate that they learned from their mistakes. It certainly didn't hurt JFK when he took the hit after the Bay of Pigs.
It demonstrates what I refer to as "assertive humility."
Here is what I'd recommend President Obama might say:
"My fellow Americans and beyond, I'm speaking to all of you. Republican, Democrat, Independent, young and old, rich and poor, the homeless, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, all other races, immigrants, all religions, our courageous armed forces, our friends and allies because...
I owe all of you an apology.
You elected me in 2008 because I represented change and I promised to lead a rising tide that would lift all hopes. I wasn't an outsider, but I was a fresh and idealistic choice that you entrusted to break through the logjams and gridlocks and special interests that had diminished if not depleted whatever good feelings you felt about America and your future. I gladly took that on, believing, as I still do, that goodness and doing the right thing can and will eventually triumph over greed, negativity and even evil. I believe that because if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning.
I also know that at the time you elected me President, you opened up your skepticism and even your cynicism and offered me a window of trust to wish me well and God speed in bringing you the change and hope that you had been aching for, for so long.
Well as you've been witness to, it hasn't been all that easy to have my ideals and idealism win the day or quite honestly even make much progress in a number of areas. I could point fingers in all directions, but there is already too much of that going on, so at this time I would like to point the finger squarely at me. On my watch, I didn't achieve many of the things I promised. And for whatever way I've let any of you down, I apologize.
However, with a year left in my presidency, you and I have an opportunity. I don't have to focus on re-election. Now of course naysayers will say, "Oh now he's going to be focused on his legacy," but I am not going to be deterred, derailed or even distracted by dyed in the wool unforgiving people. The bitterness they feel and bring to their lives is punishment enough of them.
In the remaining year of my being President of all of the United States I AND you have much bigger fish to fry.
If I don't leave America better than I found it - and I'm not going to use this time to mention the positive change in the stock market when so many people in the middle class and below are worse off, nor am I going to boast about getting Osama Bin Laden when terrorist and other threats surround us. And I repeat, if I in my own estimate and my own conscience don't leave America better than I found it, regardless of what history will say about me, I will live with having disappointed you for the rest of my life. That is something I don't want for you and I don't want for me.
Therefore I need your help and I am asking for your help, because I can't do this without you.
What I am asking from you is for us to create a vision of success for November, 2016 when I leave office, that would cause all Americans and all peoples of the world beyond our borders to say, 'Can you believe that America is actually beginning to get its act together?' Of course we will together need to figure out what that actually means. Furthermore people will say, 'Can you believe that true hope vs. mere words is beginning to spread through America and through our friends and allies around the world because of us?' And finally, here's the biggie, 'Can you believe that America created a continuity plan in what their leadership was committed to accomplishing that transcended party politics and that is actually being continued by the leadership that took over in November, 2016?'
To borrow some words from Dr. King, we can all get to the mountaintop, and I may not be there as your leader when it happens, but the only way we can do it is together.
And I am asking for your help so that we can begin to get there together.
God bless all of you and God bless the United States of America, God bless our friends and allies and God bless even our enemies so that they can learn and know love and possibly replace their hatred with it."

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