What happened to “We?”

“They have to __________________.” 

“They need to __________________.” 

One of the many things I have learned about being a leader is to NEVER exclude yourself from the group.  This means, as a leader, I need to use the pronoun, “we.”  Or, the pronoun “us.” 

However, I am noticing more and more leaders using the pronoun, “they.”  And no, not as a “gender-neutral” pronoun.

The most recent example of a leader using the word “they” is at the June 27, 2019 Democratic debate, when I heard Bernie Sanders say, “The will need to pay more.” “They,” of course, are those who are wealthy.  Being wealthy, I guess, is looked upon as “evil” or “wrong.”  Seems to be some sort of penalty for being wealthy?

What bothers me about Bernie Sanders phrase, “they will need to pay more,” is – giving Bernie Sanders the benefit of the doubt – Bernie Sanders does not say, “Beginning with me and my wife, WE will to pay more.”  Where is the disconnect? Isn’t Bernie Sanders rich? He doesn’t see himself as one of the “them?”  

I am a high school band director.  Been one since July 3, 1989.  I have been taught that when the “my” high school band sounds “bad” it is MY fault.  So, I say, “Including me / my teaching, we did a terrible job.”  I do not say, “You (students) did a terrible job.”  Now, here is something to think about, “We did a terrible job,” I did not play the instrument.  Why do I then say, “We did a terrible job” when I wasn’t actually part of the performance? 

Because my students are ME!  I am responsible for their performance.  Their performance begins and ends with me.  Everything rises and falls under my leadership.

What happened to our leaders?  Why are they not using “we” or the phrases, “Beginning with me…”? 

Answer: our leaders are not a part of the communities.  This is a subtle message to us.

Another example from me, “Mr. Everts!  The band sucks!” says one of my high school band students.

My standard response to that statement (AND THAT STATEMENT RARELY HAPPENS BECAUSE MY STUDENTS / BANDS DO NOT SUCK; they do at the beginning of the process of learning music) is, “So, I guess Jimmy (high school band member), you suck, too?  I mean you are in the band.  You are part of the “suck,” as well. 

Oh my goodness… Blows “Jimmy’s” mind! 

Upset, he responds, “No.  I don’t suck, Mr. Everts.  The band sucks.  I know what I am doing.”

“So, here is where you are part of the “suck” Jimmy.  You are not doing anything to help the band NOT suck.  You are being selfish.  So, here is what I want YOU to say Jimmy, “Beginning with me (Jimmy), we suck and we need to improve and this is what I (Jimmy) am going to do to help us NOT suck.”

My students need to learn that any group they are in, they are part of the progress / process / end result. 

Why are many of our politicians missing that? 

Answer: our politicians are not impacted by their decisions.  Bernie Sanders will not lose a meal due to tax hikes.  Bernie Sanders will not lose a house due to tax hikes.  Bernie Sanders will not be impacted by his decision.  Bernie Sanders makes laws that do not cause him to sacrifice in comparison to the “average” American citizen and neither do any of the 20+ candidates for the Democratic Party or any candidate from the Republicans.

For Gosh Sake … California “Law Makers” just gave themselves a 4% raise as tens-of-thousands in California are homeless / suffering from drugs.  

I would “love” to see our politicians show us how / what they gave up by their decision.  Health care?  Really?  Not one of them is suffering with healthcare, nor would they.  They are not “paying the price.”

I would like you to be wary of politicians / leaders who do not say, “Beginning with me _______.”  Be wary of politicians / leaders who do not say, “Starting with me, I am going to ___________.”  Be wary of politicians / leaders who, when talking about legislation, do say, “They” / “Them”. 

Be wary of politicians who are not going to experience what his / her constituents is going to experience.  That person will not have any sense of what their constituents face due to their actions. 

Words matter.  You want to be a leader?  As Jocko Willink eludes to in his EXTREME OWNERSHIP (great book), the leader is responsible for EVERYTHING.  That is rough.  But, he is correct. We (leaders) are responsible for everything and if we play that out to the very end, “we” is “me” (leader).  I will never remove myself from any group that is going to follow my leadership.  I know it is “we” and the next level of leadership would be, “I know it is ME.”