It seems like just yesterday when the world awaited the end of the 20th century. We worried about the consequences of Y2K. Would the world stop? Would it be the end of the free world, as we know it? As we moved from the 20th to the 21st century, CEO’s of major airlines scheduled themselves on midnight flights to prove airline safety. Y2K came and went with a whimper.
Officially the first decade of the 21st century comes to a slightly louder close. According to the Gregorian calendar the official definition of a decade is a ten-year period beginning with the year 1. If a decade begins with 1, it would end with the year that ends in 0, for example 1921-1930. This means 2010 is the official end of the first decade of this century, although some celebrated it last year.
9/11 came at the close of the first year of the decade and some mantras were created that have taken on a life of their own:
“If you do this, the terrorists win”,
“If you don’t do this, the terrorists win”,
“_____ would result in the end of the free world as we know it”.
We have casually adopted these phrases into our everyday lexicon. Let’s look back at this final year of the decade and see if the terrorists won.
Leopard and Pink: The End of the Free World
A popular magazine required women recipients of a prestigious award to each wear a black suit for their photo shoot. Men are not given dress requirements from this magazine when they are photographed. When questioned, the publisher responded, “We can't have someone show up in leopard print and another in pink”. That is true, it would be the end of the free world as we know it, and the terrorists would win!
Even as we near the end of the first decade of this new century, there are still two different business codes, dress codes, compensation codes, and you-name-it-codes. While the playing field may be more level, it is not an equal playing field for men and women. The TV show Mad Men
shows women as third class citizens in the 1960’s. Perhaps today’s version should be called Mad Women
. Fifty years after the TV time in Mad Men
, while women’s bras may be less pointed and the promotions more frequent, a publisher worries that women would wear leopard and pink. If a woman did wear leopard and pink for a photo shoot, would it be the end of the free world, as we know it?
Prince Poppycock was a contestant on America’s Got Talent
. Exquisitely dressed, he looks as though Liberace swallowed both Cher and Lady GaGa. Without make-up John Quayle is a “mild-mannered” quiet, plain looking man who sings well. He claims he does not have the confidence to own the stage as John Quayle. When he puts on the façade of Poppycock, he has confidence, lots of confidence. He talks and walks with a swagger. While his case is extreme, what it teaches us is to be aware of what we need in order to communicate confidence.
Poppycock and his legions of fans deserve the stamp, Made in America. If the talent of a Poppycock was not allowed, encouraged, and nurtured, then indeed the terrorists would win.
The Tillman Story
The death of Pat Tillman, NFL star and overall cool guy, is the inspiration for the documentary, The Tillman Story
. First, the government tried to hide his death by friendly fire. Then the government wanted to glamorize his sacrifice and make him the hero that he never wanted to be.
Without his enlistment, and thousands of quiet heroes like him, it may have been the end of the free world, as we know it. His story was just that, the story of one man, not a super human hero. So director Amir Bar-Lev set out to make a movie that would tell the true story of a man and what he valued. Here was a guy, a son, a husband, a brother, and a teammate who wanted to do his part. He wanted to do his part to make sure that the terrorists did not win, that it was not the end of the free world, as we know it, in this decade and in this century.
As a country and as individuals we have one goal each day. It is true every year of every decade. The start of 2011 gives us the opportunity to resurrect this goal and re-live it every day: identify our value, communicate our value, and protect our value.
Our mission is to improve the world, one leader at a time. Leslie G. Ungar, president of Electric Impulse Communications, Inc., coach, speaker, and strategist. Follow 100 Communication Tips in 100 Days blog: www.leadersneedtospeak.com. For more information, please visit www.ElectricImpulse.com.