Television, radio, books, magazines, newspapers, billboards, seminars, the Internet (sites and blogs) … everywhere you look you’re hearing about change! All the Presidential candidates are preaching change from coast to coast, but do you really think you’re going to see it?
On one hand, I see examples of change every single day. I can’t and won’t argue that point. In fact, I’ve shared many of those changes in this very blog and will continue to do so.
On the other hand, there are many areas in which change has been, for a very long time, predicted, preached and promised but obviously not practiced.
For instance, as we pass the $4-a-gallon gas milestone, we’re hearing a great deal about the importance of energy independence … almost as though this might be an entirely new concept. However, let’s take a glance back a few years and see how other great leaders viewed the subject of energy independence. Remember, these are the words of some of the most powerful leaders on the face of the earth.
Richard Nixon in 1974 said:
“We will lay the foundation for our future capacity to meet America’s energy needs from America’s own resources.” (We didn’t.)
Gerald Ford in 1975 said:
“We cannot afford continued delays. We cannot afford prolonged vulnerability to foreign producers. We must act.” (We didn’t.)
Jimmy Carter in 1979 said:
“We are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process, rebuild the unity and confidence of America.” (We didn’t.)
Ronald Reagan in 1962 said:
“Energy independence is the best preparation America can make for the future.” (We didn’t.)
George H. W. Bush in 1990 said:
“The Congress should enact measures to increase domestic energy production and energy conservation — in order to reduce dependence on foreign oil.” (They didn’t.)
Bill Clinton in 1998 said:
“We have it in our power to act right here, right now. I propose $6 billion in tax cuts and research and development to encourage innovation, renewable energy, fuel-efficient cars, and energy-efficient homes.” (We didn’t.)
George W. Bush in 2007 said:
“We have got to do something about our dependence on oil — for two reasons. It provides an economic and national security risk and makes it harder to be wise stewards of the environment.” (We didn’t — for either reason.)
Those are fantastic sound bites from seven previous leaders, and you know McCain and Obama are making even stronger statements in light of current economic conditions and the fact that they know they must say something in order to get elected.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of a sound bite our next President adds to this list of ritual rhetoric. Of course, don’t forget every member of Congress who echoed empty promises to usher in a meaningful energy policy. If we had a barrel of oil for every broken promise made by a Washington politician — we’d be energy-independent!
This is another prime example of a Knowing-Doing Gap … this one may never be closed. Our leaders know we should be taking action to establish energy independence. They even know how to do it as we have a variety of viable options. They know what the consequences will be for us if we don’t take action soon. Yet they do nothing but talk. This happens to be one Knowing-Doing Gap which must be closed — and soon!
As you review the statements above you must admit that there’s been very little change in this area over the last 34 years … regardless of which political party was in charge.
Now take a look at this newspaper editorial that depicts why stress levels escalate.
“The world is too big for us. Too much is going on, too many crimes, too much violence and chaos. Try as you will, you get behind in the race, in spite of yourself. It’s an incessant strain to keep pace … and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world changes so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature cannot endure much more!”
Again, not everything is impacted by change. This editorial appeared in the Atlantic Journal on June 16th, 1833 … 175 years ago! One might think it was written yesterday … demonstrating that while many things change — some things simply don’t!
Education, experience, intelligence, budget, research, innovation — all are meaningless unless properly applied to the challenge at hand. We have the resources. However, for some reason we have yet to utilize them and, as a result, are witnessing increasingly negative consequences. One must wonder what it’s going to take before our nation’s leadership initiates action to close this critical Knowing-Doing Gap.
Sadly, these Knowing-Doing Gaps also exist in our organizations, businesses, and communities across the nation. At the moment there seems to be a great deal of knowing and very little doing in far too many areas of our society. It’s going to take individual action at many levels to initiate a collective turnaround of this devastating trend. Why not be one of those individuals?