The 1950s was an amazing time of economic prosperity. This was facilitated by a number of factors. The interstate system was built during this decade which opened the door for easier transport of goods and allowed ease of travel for the average person. These things created jobs and the country flourished.

Courtesy Corbis Images

What isn’t credited as much as I feel it should be is what happened during the decade leading up to the 1950s. There was an overwhelming sense of willingness to tolerate personal sacrifice for the greater good. As I look around today and hear the different sound bytes on the news, I can’t help but wonder “What in the world happened to our sense of greater good?”

As a country, we collectively want the economy to be strong, jobs to return and to feel a sense of financial security. We want spending controlled yet so very few are willing to step away from what is perceived as entitlements in order to help facilitate this sorely needed change. No blame casting, just calling things as they are.

Leadership in a company or leadership in a community requires sacrifice to accomplish a goal and greater good. There are times when we don’t get to have things rolling along the way we would prefer to see them, but it is occasionally necessary. We are willing to sacrifice the extra money now to invest in something that will have a greater return down the road. We will even do business slightly under-resourced and make the best of it if it will improve things.

This type of leadership (not in the form of politicians, but as community leaders) is so badly needed in our communities. Do we absolutely HAVE to have everything we gained in the 90s or even over the first 4 or 5 years of the 21st century? Sure they’re nice to have, but is now the time to be that pedantic about getting our way? Asking people to trim back their lifestyles and endure some hardships for the sake of a better future is never easy. The unfortunate reality is easy and necessary don’t always share the same space and it’s time to be responsible enough to understand and accept that.

I have a sneaky suspicion that this could be the least popular post I’ve written to date, but if I’m going to go on about authenticity in leadership I have to write it. I’m not shaking a finger in anyone’s face. More than anything, I’m lecturing myself to keep my head in the right place for what is needed for our country, our communities and our next generation. My political affiliation or ideology is completely irrelevant. I don’t even have kids, but I want to sacrifice my right now so they are in a better place later.

I dare you to research the sacrifice that was so prevalent in the 1940s and see where you can do your part. If we are leaders in our communities by being the example, we may just see the change we’re hoping to see. What are your thoughts?

  • I’m going to make an observation that is based 100% on conjecture, but part of what I think drove the generosity you describe is based in gratitude. Gratitude that our country (and to a larger extent, the world) had put WWII behind them. …That we all pulled together collectively when a huge threat loomed and the monstrosity of genocide reared its head. People put aside their immediate gratification for the more pressing goal of stopping a force that horrified civilized people everywhere.

    I was raised with my Depression-era grandmother who taught me the philosophy of tempering our wants with other people’s needs. As subsequent generations were raised with ever-increasing amounts of wealth and prosperity, those immediate feelings of one-ness and interconnectivity dissipated, and it became easier to withdraw into cocoons of supposed comfort and individualism.

    The truth is, our world is and always has been connected. Our fates are joined. I think that the era of social media and platforms like blogging, facebook and the like will only serve as proof that what affects one affects all.

    Ironically, when we do stop and think about how our actions benefit The Whole, wealth is expanded, as is abundance. The mindset of “I’ve got mine,” and hoarding are scarcity mindsets and serve only to perpetuate lack, greed and devastation. I have faith that we’ll figure it out. Thanks for taking the time to write this post. We’re all in this together. Best, M.

  • Nice observation. I would say there is some credibility to what you’re saying. I do have to ask, “Should our willingness to sacrifice only be predicated on horrific acts of despotic leaders threatening others?” I love what you had to say and am very grateful that you see the need for sacrifice, whatever the motivation. Thanks so much for your contribution!

  • ” *Should* it?” No, but like most things, people don’t usually make change until an extreme of some sort is reached (either individually or collectively). For what it’s worth, I think that people are selfless every day, and in any era. But the pendulum of human behavior is cyclical and swings from empathy/isolationism and back again.

    Thank you for your kind words and I appreciate the forum to share my thoughts. Best, M.