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Align Your Beliefs and Behavior

by Rand Golletz

Note From Rand

The NFL season starts next week. In the past, I’ve picked the MVP, Division winners and Super Bowl teams and winner. In 2013, I picked the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl. The year that Aaron Rodgers was selected as the MVP, I had picked him as the winner. I picked the Seahawks to repeat the year after they won the Super Bowl. They played in the game but lost to the Patriots on a last minute interception. My picks for this season:

MVP: Russell Wilson
NFC East: Washington Redskins
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
NFC South: New Orleans Saints
NFC winner: Seattle Seahawks

AFC East: New England Patriots
AFC West: Oakland Raiders
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

This month’s column is philosophical in nature. It promotes the value of making decisions and taking action based upon a well thought out belief system. I apply it to my political philosophy, but that’s not the point. The REAL point is that every person ought to be guided by an inner voice that consistently reflects his beliefs and informs his actions and decisions. I hope you enjoy it and find it challenging.

Align Your Beliefs and Behavior

Most people assume I’m a Republican. I’m a former CEO, former CMO, and now a business coach and consultant – you get the idea! The fact is, I have NEVER been a Republican. I was once a Democrat. Then I became an Independent, and for the last several years, I’ve been a registered Libertarian. When I tell my friends that, especially those who I haven’t seen in several years, their eyes roll back. The assumptions that they and many people have about Libertarians is that we’re either selfish “me first” people, right-wing reactionaries, or stay-at-home vegetative types who just want to be left alone! I’m actually none of those things, but I do contain small pieces of EACH of those things.

The diversity of our ranks and beliefs, however, speaks volumes about us. We agree on a few key things and disagree about plenty. Most of us believe strongly in individual freedom, a small, Constitutionally-based Federal Government, individual responsibility and accountability, and low taxes. Most of us also migrated to libertarianism after some reflection and self-examination. That’s what incited and then propelled my journey. When I began comparing my personal beliefs and philosophies with my voting history, it created dissonance.

Here’s my story:

When I began voting in the 1970s, I was a staunch Democrat. My view of life was idealistic rather than tragic (“tragic” as in the context of Greek tragedies), and my belief was that government could be a force for good. Over time, as I assessed the results of government actions, such as various permutations of “wars on drugs,” interference in the operation of the free marketplace, ineffective efforts to mitigate poverty, etc., I became convinced that legislative solutions, more often than not, were “throw money at it and hope for the best,” and that the follow-through by agencies charged with execution was generally ineffective. (It’s important to remember here that I speak MY truth, not THE truth. I’m not writing to challenge your perspective – only to challenge you to HAVE one!)

In 1980, after what I considered to be the disastrous Presidency of Jimmy Carter, I took my first leap into non-traditional voting waters by casting my ballot for John Anderson, the Independent candidate for President. His views seemed less governed by any party dogma than by his own conscience, and I liked that. From 1984 through 2008, my Presidential voting record would have given a few clues as to my overall philosophy, which was beginning to congeal (more about that later): Reagan, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Bush, nobody.

About 15 years ago, I began to develop my own philosophy; not a political philosophy, but rather how I aspired to live my life, and what I believed ABOUT life. Some of its current elements follow:

• I own my life. I am responsible for my actions and accountable for my results. PERIOD!

• I believe in “acceptance” (giving in to reality). I DO NOT believe in “resignation” (giving up on possibility).

• I believe that personal growth is our primary, life-long mission.

• I believe in self-management and course correction. Wisdom is not an automatic by-product of experience. Here’s the formula: Wisdom = experience x reflection x relentless honesty x accountability (accepting consequences with no blame, no finger-pointing, no excuses, no whining, no justifications or rationalizations) x behavioral change.

• Our natural tendency – one that we must reject – is to surround ourselves with people who affirm who we already are, rather than those who inspire us to reach higher and do better. In order to grow, we must surround ourselves with the kind of people that we want to be, not those who mirror our own character defects.

• Real friends put truth telling above peacekeeping. They place the welfare of their friends above the survival of comfortable friendships.

• I believe that without discipline, aspiration is hallucination.

Here is the formula that most people employ to rationalize (to themselves) their own dysfunctional behavior: Doing the wrong thing and a good excuse = doing the right thing. I believe that when we suffer discomfort from dissonance, we must use it to instigate action and growth rather than inertia or excuses. Personal responsibility must always trump convenience.

I have more elements, but you get the idea. My objective is to have a belief system and then to conduct regular “self-audits” to ask myself, “How am I doing?”

I have failed that test many times. Instead of making excuses, I ask, “What have I learned?” and “Can I commit do DOING better and to BEING better?” I’ve also learned, from the teachings and examples of others, that I can still be kind to myself and accept my flaws without letting myself “off the hook” and being resigned to their permanence.

Concurrent with this journey, I refined my view of the role I believed government should play in my life. That view was based on my assumptions about our government.

• Unconstrained government will naturally grow in a metastatic way.

• Federal, state and local legislatures and government agencies often address the same issues in an overlapping, expensive and bureaucratic way (Somebody explain to me why we need departments of education at every level!!).

• Local answers to issues and problems are almost always more effective than nation-wide answers. (I feel the same way about the solutions to issues and problems in corporations).

• Competition among states is a good thing. The only thing better than competition is MORE competition. Remote, federal solutions to most local problems are misguided.

• In order to accomplish SOMETHING when they cannot accomplish RELEVANT things, legislatures (at every level) will often pass legislation whose costs far outweigh their benefits.

• Cause and effect are never linear, time-bound, and absolute. As a result, solutions to problems often create other problems. Even when solutions are effective, they rarely comport with election cycles. So the election (and more importantly, re-election) of government officials can almost never be tied to their results, except over a very long period of time.

Most government agencies reward their employees for “inputs” (“tenure” being a notable example) rather than “outputs” (results). The natural consequence of that is an inward focus. That is not a good thing.

There’s a lot more, but you get the idea.

When I lined up my personal beliefs, how I want to live, and my views about government against my views and voting record more than a decade ago, I decided that I was a hypocrite. I always voted for one of the two political party candidates and almost always opted for the person who I felt would do the least harm. No more!

My admonition to you: Develop your own philosophy. Live your life, to the degree possible, consistent with that philosophy. When you feel dissonance, undertake self-examination and make changes to your actions rather than invoking excuses, rationalizations or justifications. Own your life.

When it comes to your political persuasion, don’t react to what’s out there and available. Be true to yourself, your beliefs and your values. Assess your affiliations and candidates based on their actions, not on their speeches. Talk is cheap.

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