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Power To The People

Updated: Jan 30, 2019


What a time this has been. Earlier this year, I did something I never would have guessed in a million years I would do. I joined a political ballot committee to stop a local cityhood referendum in my community[1]. While I am a registered voter and have consistently voted most of my adult life, and consider myself to be a follower of politics (as long as daily DVR’ing your favorite political news/talk shows in addition to The Bold & The Beautiful counts), I never would have characterized myself as a political person per se.

People often feel disconnected from politics and display a certain apathy towards voting and anything related to the political process. I get that. It is often hard to see the correlation between our daily lives with the people who are elected to run our cities, states, and federal government, or the laws they pass. It is difficult to understand what it means to be a constituent to someone (rather you realize it or not) that is representing you and making decisions about your everyday life from afar, until that decision impacts you personally. I am no different.

As I stated above, I am a voter, I am knowledgeable enough to hold a fluent conversation about politics with most people. However, I was not an active participant in democracy. I was a passive participant. I did my duty, sometimes happily/excitedly and sometimes because it is what you are “supposed to do”. I have likely voted for a referendum without fully understanding what the full impact would be (it sounded good enough, so I hit yes!) – but I still did not fully grasp how critical being truly involved was. As a now forever friend of mine has recently reminded me, democracy is NOT a spectator sport. But I admit, I was more of a spectator. Voting alone is not enough to make democracy work.

So, out of anger, frustration and complete astonishment over this particular cityhood referendum, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and became an active, engaged citizen that was basically raging against the machine because I felt compelled to. For the first time, I didn’t believe the elected officials could just “handle it on their own” nor did I trust the process. I didn’t trust the laws, which seemed to have loop holes everywhere, nor did I trust the “right thing” would prevail in the end without action. I didn’t do this alone, this required teaming with strangers. All people that I had no prior relationships with to fight for a common cause. Listen Linda, that part alone was even MORE frustrating than the actual referendum issue. It was sometimes like an episode of Survivor…. ok not that dramatic…. but yeah sorta. We lost some soldiers along the way and picked up new ones. I quit the committee in my head at least 24 times, and 1 time for real for about 2 days. My husband often complained of the amount of time it was taking away from our family - but encouraged me to hang in there every time I threatened to quit.

I argued debated with all types of individuals on both sides of this referendum on social media platforms 24/7. We faced hurdles, disappointments, and challenges that would have made many decide it wasn’t worth it. But that’s the thing, it was absolutely worth it, and if not us, then who? Yes, we won in the end and however disappointing it would have been to have lost, it would have not changed the experience. We pushed through knowing that we may or may not win because we HAD to. I personally persevered and experienced something that has forever changed me, and I will now be forever connected to this group of resistance fighters!

There are soooo many lessons about leadership that I learned in this process. I can’t get into them all here (that’s what my fabulous workshops are for!), BUT I want to share a couple of them with you now:

1. Leaders know how to play their positions…. they understand how to be a supporting cast member.

2. Leaders understand that you have to stand for something and, in the process, remain TRUE to who you are.

3. Leaders are not afraid of failure. You try anyway. Failure is in the not trying due to fear.

4. Leaders know you have to be informed and prepared. Nobody follows an idiot…. well wait a minute… Effective leaders are prepared with information and knowledge, it gives you credibility.

5. Leaders listen to opposing opinions to understand people’s motivations. This level of listening equips you with the knowledge you need to change hearts and minds.

Yes, this was an experience for the books. A pivotal moment for me personally. Now as I have had time to reflect, my life was enhanced and forever changed. I am a better person and a better leader all because I got mad. Really, really, really mad. Power to the People.

Follow me on Twitter at @mojohnsonspeaks

[1] See AJC Article - https://www.ajc.com/news/local-govt--politics/eagle-landing-residents-deciding-whether-secede-from-stockbridge/33aUn4Wxo0JxABLqSHuTpM/?fbclid=IwAR3ch5BPPgssTqoHGv3ZuBvgIoe-UkrvjxK7i02Dpp-Ub4Ah5ylaNdRxGls

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Monica Johnson

Monica Johnson is a professional speaker dedicated to promoting mental health wellness & empowering and building women leaders.

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