Tipping Hats to Evolving Thoughts

January 8, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

The accusation of “flip-flopping” has become common fare for politicians and pundits. These contradictions with previous statements are framed as cracks in confidence or a gaming of the public wherein popular notions are adopted and cast off as popularity wavers. At what point did changing one’s mind become a fault? How does an evolution in thinking suggest poor leadership or an inability to lead? Is not an ideal leader one who continues to expand his or her perspective as material is presented? The greatest hazard to American leadership is an expectation that a leader’s perspective be locked in and unchanging.

“Flip-flopping” may not have been invented by the media, but its continued presence in political debate is certainly connected with media’s use of it. Accusing a politician of being a “flip-flopper” provides pundits with a humorous opportunity to consult the treasure trove of video archive. Today’s media environment is one of endless archival footage. One person’s every comment and appearance is not only archived and readily available, but also indexed for easy access and utilization. Today’s political candidate must bear witness to a collection of flubs and statements.

Expecting an individual to have unwavering opinions is dangerous. One’s flip-flop demonstrates an evolution in thinking and is a testament to learning. We are best served by an expectation that opinions will expand in complexity as more information is gathered and digested. The best leader is one who responds to the crisis in the moment. Existing “in the now” is all that we can ask of our leaders. Be aware and develop as material comes in. Be wary of old opinions and always be open to new ideas. These are not unreasonable expectations; instead they are reasonable measures of the human being and complicated tasks of leaderships.

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