If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve likely struggled with the decision of whether you should mix politics and business lately… Maybe you’ve felt cut into pieces in terms of how to wear your political heart on your sleeve. Maybe you’ve stayed mum to keep the peace, you’ve been afraid to lose clients and business.
Here are four reasons I call baloney:
1. The Truth. You can’t keep quiet on your truth and expect to feel authentic or good about yourself. You have to be able to sleep at night, to live with your decisions, to go toe-to-toe with what’s in your heart, whatever that happens to be. AS with any emotion, if you are stifling it, it’s going to come out sideways. Terror struck me as the election unfolded. This marked the first time I had stayed up (nearly all night, and cried, to boot). I had spent the majority of the evening comforting my two gay children who began to see their dreams of hard-won progress in the fight for equality, evaporate into smoke. I was exhausted as the night crept into day… I was shaking and fearful and there was no way that my business would supersede my stance. I put it out there and only lost five friends. Bye, Felicia! Face your fear. It is going to come down to the wire regardless, and you will be forced to choose what’s in your heart…or you will live on the run, holding your secret close to the vest…like a political outlaw.
2. Map where your money goes. The hubbs and I stopped by Hobby Lobby the other day, just to see what all the ruckus had been about and you know what? That’s a killer frickin’ store…KILLER. I fell in love with all the gnome-sized cabinets, the distressed wood and drawer pulls. The clever, artsy signs. And we milled about, but we didn’t buy a damn thing… Because I can’t in good conscience support a company against legal abortion. Does that mean I’m pro-life, pro-labor, pro-child, pro-abortion. Yes. Clear as mud? Good. Because that’s my right, too…just as it is yours. And these multi-hued rights are one of the reasons I love living here. That right also means I can pick and choose whichever business I want to…or don’t want to support. I will not contribute to those businesses intent of backpedaling into the days of “Be seen…not heard.” That’s just me. You, do you.
3. The point of being an entrepreneur is to robustly embrace your life. All parts of it. You are an entrepreneur because you are not a square-peg-round-hole type of guy/gal. You are an entrepreneur because you love the off-the-beaten path; you love free enterprise. You love competition. Because you are passionate. Don’t be a milk toast political sap! And don’t allow people to presume to know you…or to add you to political groups! My 100 percent is peaceably-motivated. I’m shutting up and listening to people’s fears so I can better understand how we got here. I am not shouting people into submission to emerge none the wiser. And I am fiercely loyal to that. I’m shutting down the broad-brush approach of labeling people we have never met. I’m absorbing deeper truths and realizing we can still stand together to protect human rights. And as fervently as I apply that position to my life, I do the same with my business. All. In. Period. I’m learning as I am teaching. But I understand, not everyone is there. Not everyone wants to voice their horror because they are marginalized and so I will do it for them…I will do the best I can to hang tough for them until things can change, because I am privileged and it is my job to stand up now. I believe they call this the middle?
4. Exposing issues through work. It’s possible. You might not change anyone’s opinion, but through sharing your story and listening to another’s, we learn compassion. And compassion equals unity. Shouting and angry diatribes (although emotion is justified) will NEVER open up a person’s ears or heart. In fact, it achieves the opposite and evokes bristling and umbrage. You will have offended before you could sensibly get your argument out. YES…we shouldn’t have to argue for human rights. Absolutely one MILLION percent right. But the point is…we do…and throwing a tantrum will only exclude you from the conversation of progress. We need accept there are some opinions we will never change, but we have to work together anyway and heal the divide based on commonalities. Sharing your experiences evokes empathy even in a person who may never walk one stride in your shoes…this is how we walk together. This is how we go high.
Its an old adage, but a good one: “What will be, will be.” In life, friends, family, business. If you have to force your role at work, in your family, with your friends, it is not going to gel EVER and I am not saying this to tell you there is no chance at success (if you work at it), but to impart, that over time, the truth will come out…whether you want it to or not.
The sooner you embrace it, the sooner you will find yourself farther ahead professionally, realizing the dream you envisioned and with an authenticity you can live with.
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