Yesterday the American people participated in record numbers in the greatest act of optimism and hope that the world has seen in a very long time. Around the world we witnessed extended line-ups of people who participated in a strongly-worded, strongly-felt clash of ideas and visions.
And it was so much more than that.
Barack Obama declared that he will listen, especially “when we disagree, I will listen”. Is this not the bravest act?
Many cynics are probably thinking, yes but he hasn’t done anything yet. It will probably end up being business as usual. Nothing will really change.
But even the cynics will not have failed to notice the stirring in their own hearts; that the door is now open. The possibility is there.
This was an election where negativism and personal attacks did not win! When either side resorted to the “tried and true” character assassination approach, it did not have any magnetic power over the people.
Barack Obama understood and responded to a deeper need. Who would have thought just a few years ago that hundreds of thousands of people in the US would be evicted from their homes? That so many were going to lose their lives in Iraq? That the financial system itself would almost collapse? That it would become unacceptable in America to go bankrupt because you need medical treatment?
He touched all of our unspoken desires. To live in the world of the possible, where all good things can happen, where it DOES concern everyone and everyone is truly engaged. It is our job to make the world a better place.
John McCain also understands this! In his concession speech he spoke about Barak Obama: “that he managed to do so (become the next president) by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or so little influence in the election of an American president is something I admire and commend him for achieving. This is an historic election.”
This is what true charisma is all about. Tonight I will be speaking in Berlin and my topic is “Presenting with Charisma.” As of this morning, November 5th, 2008, I have thrown out all my notes and my carefully-crafted slide presentation. Instead I want to speak about what happens when you touch peoples’ hearts and make them see beyond their noses, beyond their current realities. What happens when you make them actually feel, actually believe that good things can happen. That change IS possible.
If leaders had only one important function, it would be to inspire others; to bring out even more than the best we can be, even more than each of us thought was possible, to galvanize us and to bring us together.
Whatever you are doing right this moment, perhaps you are now exquisitely aware of how important you are to everyone you know and everything you do. That is what this is really all about.
This election is an invitation to you to get involved, to be engaged in the things that really matter and to take the lead.
I look forward to hearing from you.