The right to vote is significant because it allows each of us to participate in deciding what the future we will live in will be like. The accumulation of votes decides who will represent us and, often, how the issues that define our society are determined. While some may argue that a single vote doesn’t count for much, each vote does impact the outcome.
Voting was being used to determine political leaders in ancient Greece as early as 500 BC. Interestingly, the Greeks had a negative election where people voted to exile a candidate. Voters wrote their choice on broken pieces of pots, ostraka in Greek, and from this name comes our present word to ostracize.
Voting in the modern world is usually “approval” voting. This means casting votes for who we approve of to be a leader. However, the impact is functionally the same. The vote determines who will lead, and who leads impacts the potential for our future as a society. Interestingly, a similar function is in operation in each of our personal, daily lives.
During the Global Leadership Summit, James Clear, who authored Atomic Habits, said this about everything we do: “Every action is a vote for the type of person you will become.” Think about that for a moment. When we act, we are casting a vote for what will lead in our life and therefore what potential our future has.
Potential is an important word. It is easy to become overwhelmed by our current position. I would really like to lose some weight, but it can be daunting to start. I need to focus on my trajectory and not my position. What will make a difference is to start now making small choices that are in alignment with my desire to lose weight.
To create a trajectory that leads to our desired future, we need to create better habits. Clear suggests a simple pattern. We need an obvious cue to initiate the behavior. We need to make the new habit attractive so we will crave it. We need to make it easy to make the right choice. We need to make doing the right thing satisfying so we will feel rewarded when we do.
Interestingly, we can use the opposite pattern to help us reject actions that would lead us away from our desired trajectory. If we want to stop doing something, we need to make it invisible so we are more likely to forget it. We need to make it unattractive so we will not desire it. We need to make it difficult to do. We need to make it unsatisfying when we do it.
As leaders, we can use this same pattern to help our team form better habits that lead to our desired future. By focusing on our mission and values in every aspect of our community, we make them obvious. By illuminating our vision so everyone can see where we are going, we make it attractive. By leading with integrity and transparency in a no-blame culture, we make it easier. By creating ways that team members win together when we achieve our goals, we make them satisfying.
We each have the right to vote for the leaders of our choice. We also have the power to vote with our actions for the person we will become. As leaders, we can lead our teams to act in ways that will put us on a trajectory to the culture we desire. Voting is a right, but it is also a weighty responsibility. Voting with our actions is how we determine our future, and it is the Bison Way.