When Life Throws a Punch, Stand Up and Press Forward | Straight Talk

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By David Bray, Executive Director PCI & IHMC at People-Centered Internet

This article is by Featured Blogger David Bray from his LinkedIn page. Republished with the author’s permission.

As I write this, I’m at 35,000 feet heading to Atlanta to give a talk at an annual Department of Defense conference on Monday with 2,000+ participants. I'll be giving a 30-minute keynote after the Director of National Intelligence. My topic will be #ChangeAgents in our Exponential Era.

We need positive #ChangeAgents now more than ever. #ChangeAgents as non-partisan leaders who provide compassion, love, and assistance to individuals they don't know -- yet they do so because that's the only thing that will move us all forward after life throws a punch to our gut, our heads, or our heart. Below are my personal views on this important topic. 

Positive #ChangeAgents to Help Us All Press Forward

Anyone can be a positive change agent, in any sector and in any organization, as long as they are willing to “illuminate the way” and manage friction of stepping outside the status quo. Anyone can be a positive #ChangeAgent, we do not have to wait to receive formal authority to do so.

Geographical borders increasingly matter less, as a flow of commerce, information, ideas, and people across borders accelerate in velocity and volume. For those of us in the United States, this means the promise of having a single job for life is no longer likely for those of us living in this “exponential era” of global change; we all are going to have multiple jobs and multiple careers.

We will have to regularly train and gain new skills since going to high school or college alone is insufficient for our rapidly changing world – and we need to be prepared for a world in which there is increasing volatility in the skills needed by world markets.

For several of us, these new realities prompt anger, since the “American Dream” promised that if we worked hard at our jobs we wouldn’t need to worry about changing jobs, or doing more training to gain new skills needed by the world, or be concerned whether the company we were working for would still exist a year or two from now.

My Personal Experience When Life Throws a Punch

Less than two months ago life punched my wife in the gut, chest, and face simultaneously. It was intense, visceral, and left us shocked.

Without going into too many details, Diane and I have been looking to adopt domestically for about three years. Along the way there had been some “almost matches” yet none so close, and so seemingly good a match, as the one that occurred in late May 2016. We flew domestically out to a part of the United States expecting to return with an adopted infant.

Unfortunately, this did not happen. There were complications with the adoption that according to the medical professionals required the infant be placed with a large family with many existing siblings and cousins. For Diane and I this would have been our first child. Even though we could provide a loving and compassionate home, the infant wouldn’t have had the large extended family the doctors recommended.

So after spending two weeks holding, feeding, reading to, and loving the infant, we returned without an adopted child to begin our journey once more. Life threw us a punch. While we gain some consolation that the child has been placed with a large loving family, we wish the infant could have been the one we adopted. After three years of waiting to adopt, we must continue our wait.

Life is the ultimate shadowboxer, and trying to punch back it in anger won’t resolve anything. Frustration, fear, or other negative emotions won’t improve the situation. Only love, time, and the willingness to open our hearts to try and adopt again will help move us forward.

Leadership Is Love to Improve the Lives of Others

Regarding the more global challenges of our rapidly changing world, for several of us, these rapid changes mean more instability in job markets, instability in the value of our education, instability in the companies we work for, and general turbulence in our societies. Such changes impact us personally and impact our families.

We can’t put technology back in the box or ask global change slow down. In which different countries can pursue different economic strategies, we must think both about our strategy for improving and stabilizing things here in the United States as well as the rest of the world.

Globally we humans are all increasingly interconnected.

This includes currently serving as a non-partisan Senior Executive with the United States public service. In this role, I search for and deliver positive results first and foremost – absent of any politics.

This also means that since 2000, I’ve served different political parties, to include serving as a non-partisan Executive Director for a National Commission that includes six Congressionally-appointed Commissioners from each side of the political aisle. I responded to 9/11 and anthrax in a non-partisan capacity, volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan in 2009 in a non-partisan capacity, and served the FCC in a non-partisan capacity with five different Commissioners from both sides of the political aisle.

Championing Positive #ChangeAgents Without Politics

Most of the United States’ public doesn’t know that non-partisan Senior Executives exist -- or believe that we are dusty bureaucrats focused on maintain a status quo.

In contrast, most my colleagues who became non-partisan Senior Executives in the last decade are here precisely because we want to deliver results and  champion positive #ChangeAgents for the United States. Believe me, there are much easier jobs to take on if you don't want to strive to make a positive difference.

We want to help bring about change, for the betterment of We The People together. We exist to move forward even when life throws punches, because moving forward is the only thing that will bring about positive improvements. In these roles, we can’t and won’t discuss politics. We are focused solely on delivering results, overcoming impossible odds, and #GettingStuffDone such that public service can rise to the challenges of our exponential era.

Onwards and Upwards Together

We all have felt a punch some time in our lives. And we all have faced the question -- what do we do next? My steadfast recommendation: stand back up and press forward.

Our turbulent era has introduced some punches that impacts us personally, professionally, and as societies. While anger and dismay are understandable, they will not remedy or improve the situation.

Only positive #ChangeAgents who choose to lead with love – specifically love to assist others – will help us through this turbulent time. Love to help someone who’s not a family member or someone we know – love to help someone solely because that person is a part of what makes “us” We The People of the United States and the world.

Even if we disagree or have different perspectives with a person, positive #ChangeAgent leaders who truly care still provide love, compassion, and assistance regardless of these differences. 

This includes leadership as love embodied in public service – to include improved partnerships with members of the public concerned on a particular issue, public-private partnerships that exist to help the public, and those government professionals here to serve the public.

On a personal level, after life punched us, my wife Diane and I are doing just this -- standing back up, dusting ourselves off, and moving forward with striving to adopt again.

Similarly, on a professional level, as a non-partisan Senior Executive, I’ll continue to seek opportunities to embody leadership as love, to turn around situations where life threw a punch and the only way forward is to listen to others, understand their circumstances, and seek to provide public service that moves We the People forward together.

Onwards and upwards together.

Originally published on LinkedIn