Note to Hillary Clinton: Never let a crisis go to waste.
Crisis, as I outline in my book, One Less. One More., comes from the Greek krisis, which means decision, trial or test. So, every crisis reveals some truth (a brewing financial crisis, a revealing sickness, a cheating spouse, a weather-related act of God), and your response/reaction to it. So, in crisis, it’s NEVER what happens to you. It’s what you (or a leader, company, celebrity, person) does with the crisis, what you can learn, and how to, ultimately, grow and use it your advantage. For just those moments, when the world is focused in your direction, be prepared to use the opportunity to regain trust, express what you stand for, and demonstrate why you are worth following.
This is why we love redemption stories, where people lose everything, and yet they come back strong, saying, “This ain’t going to beat us!” However, it’s difficult connecting with leaders or candidates who when in trouble, attempts winning appeal as a victim, and blames his or her troubles on everyone and everything else. It doesn’t work. Choose one: victim or a victor.
So, what’s the difference? In politics and leadership it’s always clarity (the opposite of opacity or confusion) of vision and purpose. It’s the difference between a candidate or leader, speaking from their head, saying what they think will get them elected, which feels staged and manipulative, or speaking from their heart, which is compassionate and inclusive. It’s the difference between considering yourself a competitor or a champion.
What do the current 2016 presidential candidates stand for? Now that this round of Republican debates is over, who appears victorious, and why? Clarity of vision. Clarity of purpose. At this stage of the game, it doesn’t matter that Carly Fiorina doesn’t smile much, or that Ben Carson is too relaxed, or that Donald Trump keeps making gaffs. These candidates continue monopolizing the conversation because of their clarity of vision and steadfastly remaining on purpose. For example, Mr. Trump recently came under criticism for not correcting a supporter for calling President Barack Obama a Muslim. Remaining true to form, Mr. Trump responded on Twitter Saturday morning,“Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so!” The Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, also consistently remains on point. Like him or not, Mr. Sanders continues gaining momentum and support because of his clarity of vision and purpose.
Regarding Hilary’s email situation: Again, clarity (or in this case, an absence of clarity) in her communications. What is her position on the email situation? Her actions and communications seem dismissive, as though she’s bothered or disturbed that this is getting in the way of her presidential run. Although Mrs. Clinton’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon was both funny and humanizing, so much of Mrs. Clinton’s communications are calculated and issue specific (from the head), and absent of a greater passionate purpose and vision (from the heart). To win both hearts and minds, Mrs. Clinton needs to express why this run is bigger than just her personal desire to be president, and why, she is a champion for something so important, something so grand, that she won’t — can’t — stop in her quest to lead this nation. Is there anything to this email controversy? At this point, it doesn’t matter. The wheels are in motion, and until the truth is vetted and reported, the elephant remains in the room. Just because Mrs. Clinton and her camp says there’s no there there, doesn’t make it so, or less important. Yet every day potential supporters don’t experience Mrs. Clinton’s burning desire to run this country, and don’t have the opportunity to connect with her on an feeling, emotional, heartfelt level, the greater chance someone else will step in and fill that void.
The world has changed. Shifted really. There is an awakening, a transparency, to clarity. It’s okay if we don’t agree with someone. It’s okay if someone stands for something we don’t believe in. But to win, to be rewarded, to excel, you must be able to articulate a clarity of purpose, your reason for being, and why you stand for something bigger than yourself. Today, we want our companies, leaders, politicians, partners and community to be authentic and clear. No ambiguity. No manipulation. No smoke and mirrors. Clear and transparent.
To win, to overcome a crisis, for people to move in your direction, remember: clarity of vision, clarity of purpose.