This past weekend many players throughout the National Football League decided to respond to President Donald Trump’s tweet regarding his opinion of NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem at NFL games. This post is not a political statement, nor is it to be considered an approval or disapproval of our President’s tweet, or the response of the NFL. Rather, it is simply a look at the response from the NFL players and leaders, viewed from a leadership perspective. My desire is that everyone will take a moment to reflect on their own leadership style and learn how to really lead during times of conflict instead of reacting in like manner to those who have hurt us.
Their Response Did Not Address the Source of the Conflict
As I understand it, the problem was a criticism directed at the NFL owners and players by President Trump. One leadership principle that we would do well to remember is that we need to address the problem directly in order to bring about a resolution. The taking of a knee during the national anthem does nothing to address the source of the problem – President Trump’s comment. As leaders, our response should always be in proportion to the problem. If the NFL players, team owners, and league representatives felt attacked by the comments, they should address President Trump directly. Instead, they chose to make the issue a bigger problem, which leads to the second mistake…
Their Response Brought Others Into the Conflict
Had the NFL responded appropriately to the President’s comments by talking with him directly regarding their concerns about what he said, others would not have been brought into this controversy and our nation and social media would not be in an uproar today. The protests of the President’s comment brought the entire nation into the controversy which should have remained between the parties concerned. Instead, the NFL’s response attacked our nation’s flag and all those who have served and/or given their lives to protect the freedom that we enjoy today.
Their Response Attacked Others Not Involved in the Conflict
The new phenomenon of NFL players and others taking a knee does not serve to protest a point. Rather, it attacks a portion of our nation’s citizens who were never involved in the original conflict to begin with. In essence, the taking of a knee really does nothing more than attack an innocent party in the original conflict. It serves to continue the hurting of others in our nation. This is a great time to be reminded of the quote “Hurting people hurt people!” Instead of attacking innocent parties in the conflict, why not express leadership and address the problem head on?
The truth of the matter is that every day conflicts occur in our lives. People say things, or post things on social media they would never say to the person’s face. That serves no other purpose than to bring hurt and condemnation on others. The pain is real and real emotions rise to the surface. It is at those times that real leaders show their true strength! So, how should we respond when others hurt us? In my favorite book, Jesus gives us quite a few instructions for what to do when others hurt us. Here are a few of them:
- Look past the pain to see the real problem at hand (turn the other cheek). Insults cannot hurt us unless we allow them to, and hurting others back is not the answer. Real leaders need to learn to look past the conflict and discern the real issue at hand. What an example that could have been set to the younger generation if they saw their NFL idols overlook the comments and not retaliate, rather than continue to add gas to the fire of the conflict.
- Forgive others who hurt us. Taking a knee only continues to remind others that we have been hurt and we’re upset about it. Forgiving others shows that love can overcome even the deepest hurts in our lives. What an example could be shown to all those who have been hurt in life if they had seen that forgiveness is more important than “rights.”
- Talk to the person who hurt you first. Do your best to work things out without bringing others into the conflict.
- If you cannot work it out between you, then bring a neutral party along to help mediate the conflict.
- If no resolution is possible, agree to disagree and move on beyond the conflict. Refer again to the second point above – forgive! Then, move past it.
I’ve always wondered what could happen if we didn’t give an audience to our problems. How long would they go on? Would the person causing the conflict just give up because no one would be listening to them? In Charlottesville, VA, would violence have erupted if there we no anti-protesters or any media coverage? Would the tweets continue if we just ignored them instead of making them the headline news each day? Would you move past your problems quicker and without as much damage if we followed the principles listed above?
I am constantly reminding myself and others that the choices I make today will determine the results that I get tomorrow. When I choose to follow the principles of leadership today, my tomorrow is so much brighter. So, the next time you find yourself in a conflict choose how you will respond – but, CHOOSE WISELY!