Time for Leaders and for New Thinking
by Michelle Anjirbag | University of Connecticut
How would someone put a giraffe into a refrigerator? I think most of us would want to know why anyone would attempt that before we determine how to do it, but one’s answer to this question and several others reveal much about how people address problem solving. Anderson Consulting (now “Accenture”) uses such questions as part of a questionnaire that tests management potential. The circulating meme is that while the vast majority of professionals who take this quiz fail to answer any of the four questions correctly, preschoolers can often answer several questions.
Thus, it can be concluded that in some sense, management consultants do not have the brains of four-year-olds. Those same four-year-olds could also probably figure out why this fun fact has been in recent circulation. Problem solving does not seem to be among Congress’ strengths. Come to think of it, neither do other tenets of pre-school: sharing, compromise, doing the right thing, and practicing the golden rule. Coming into the next election season, I, for one, can only expect to see much of the same.
It is not that I want to be handed more of the same. I am a graduating senior pursuing a career in higher education. In May, I will either prepare to enter the real world or graduate school knowing that there is a good chance that even the Ph.D. I’m chasing won’t save me from my college loans, and that many milestones that are taken for granted as a part of the American Dream – whatever that means anymore – may not be attainable. My generation, and those that follow, are the generations that will most likely postpone things such as homeownership, marriage, and raising a family as we struggle with debt and social issues.
The idea of retirement that we have watched our parents work towards is not guaranteed for us. We stand to inherit an overly-indebted economy, international unrest that continues to escalate, and increasing social polarization when allotting social resources such as access to aid, education, and medical and health services. We are investing money that we don’t necessarily have, because we were promised a certain future – yet I don’t know anyone who truly feels guaranteed a job just because they hold a degree.
Over the past four years I have lived in the academic cocoon. I have also watched life become very difficult for many people around me. Families flounder when parents lose their jobs, and peers pick and choose where and for what they apply based on funding. Shelters close, soup kitchens turn people away, and schools lose teachers and programs needed to support special-needs students and gifted education.
What saddens me most is that there does not seem to be any recourse, because we as a nation have neither strong leadership, nor leaders who are in touch with the way the majority of Americans live their lives. We have preachers on soapboxes seeing who can scream the loudest. At this point, though I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, I really don’t care which party the next president comes from, or which party holds the majority in either the House or the Senate. What I want to see are people in positions of power who know how to put a giraffe in the refrigerator.
To be more clear, I want to see people in office who care more about solving the problems directly, instead of delving into why they should or shouldn’t be solved, or what might be more important. I want to see people with the gumption to remove the politics from what needs to be viewed as basic problem solving, lest this country stagnates and devolves past the point of no return.
Obama was elected on the platform of change; if he wants a second term he needs to put forth a succinct plan on how he will promote change for the better, as well as how he will unite Washington D.C. to work together for the sake of the people who have employed them: the people of the United States of America. The Republicans say they can do it better; they need to start by ending their ridiculous media circus.
Any elected president from either side of the political spectrum needs to find a way to de-polarize Congress – if preschoolers fight, they are put in some form of time out, or recess is taken away. The next leader needs to find some equivalent of that punishment and act on it. And even if all of that happens, both parties need to end lobbyists’ ridiculous control of Washington. After all, our Declaration of Independence reads “We the people,” not “We the Corporations.”
As life becomes more complicated, we need someone who can step back and view our collective problems from the eyes of the same preschoolers who succeed where so many professionals fail. Believe me, if I could vote for a four-year-old, I think I would. But seeing as one will most likely not grace the ballot, I think I would prefer if all politicians running for any level of public office reacquaint themselves with their inner child. The first way we change how we act is by changing how we think; it is beyond time for our government to do the same.Michelle is a senior at the University of Connecticut. She is pursuing an English major with a creative writing concentration, and an anthropology and native American and indigenous studies double minor. She is also a weekly columnist for UConn's "The Daily Campus" and member of the Editorial Board, as well as a member of the production team as a copy editor and page designer.