Thomas Friedman & BP – How Messages Find their Way to the Right Ears

I am a huge fan of Thomas Friedman.  He articulates clearly what I can’t always think for myself.  When I can’t quite clarify my thoughts about global situations, Friedman will say it in a way that makes me sigh, “Yes, that’s it!”

In case you don’t know who Thomas Friedman is, he is a columnist for the New York Times and a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.  His columns appear in the Houston Chronicle where I read them eagerly each week.

Last week, Thomas said that the gulf oil spill is not Obama’s Katrina, but it is his 9/11.  In Thomas’ opinion, the gulf oil spill is an opportunity for Obama to lead us as a nation to help us end our addiction to oil.  Like George W. Bush, during 9/11, Obama is missing the chance to energize the American people to do something important and lasting that is hard to do in normal times – to mobilize the country behind a really big initiative for nation-building.

I am knocked out by Friedman’s assessment!  Yes!  What an opportunity to make something good happen.  Let’s not miss it!

Last week, I also worked with one of my most valued clients who happens to be a leader at BP.  He is a man who cares for his employees, his company, his country and community.  He, like all BP employees right now, is working long hours to handle all that is coming at them.  My client shared with me that Obama had said publically that the government would be keeping it’s foot on the throat of BP.  I could see the pain on my client’s face!  Friedman would have said don’t tell us to hate BP!

I shared a bit of Thomas Friedman’s article with my client. He will have the opportunity to speak before 1,500 BP employees soon when he accepts an award for his team.  What I shared from Friedman’s column was a quote from Tim Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics.  “…being a leader means telling the rest of us what’s our job, what we need to do to make this a transformative moment.”

I encouraged my client to use his speaking platform (appropriately of course) to be this definition of a leader. I encourage Obama and all leaders who have the opportunity to tell us what we can do to make this a transformative moment.

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