Lightning Rods


“A person’s a person no matter how small.”

–  Ted Geisel (1904 – 1991), aka Dr. Suess, before he got “canceled” which, not ironically, ties in with this post.

Jordan Bohannon, a University of Iowa basketball player, got punched on the PedMall in Iowa City last weekend.  He suffered what was described as a serious head injury in the attack.  A sportscaster yesterday said, essentially, “I’m not surprised, because Jordan’s such a lightning rod.  People either love him or hate him.”

Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP), isn’t really too keen, it would seem, on the decisions being made by his team’s front office.  Brian Gutekunst, the GM of Rodger’s team, The Green Bay Packers, is taking the brunt of the public outcry, except for the part where some people call Rodgers “spoiled, ungrateful, etc.”  Tom Brady, the winningest quarterback of all time in the NFL, is either worshiped or derided by most of the sports media or fans on social media.  Rodgers, Gutekunst, Brady, LeBron James — all “lightning rods.”  Brooks Keopka, Bryson Dechambeau, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods… “lightning rods.”

The last six Presidents of the United States of America have been “lightning rods” for one side or the other.  People are suggesting we take Abraham Lincoln’s name off schools, for Pete’s sake!

Dr. Suess, fer cryin’ out loud, has become a “lightning rod.”

(Yes, for those of you scoring at home, that was a “for Pete’s sake” followed by a “fer cryin’ out loud.”  I have some others, but the DD tries hard to be a family friendly leadership blog…)

I kind of miss the days when the primary concern would be for Bohannon’s health.  I miss the days when true fans would say, “Gee, I hope the Packers and Aaron work this out.”  I really miss the days when the office of President got respect, no matter who was in it (and by the way, all 46 who’ve occupied the office have been someone’s son, husband, dad, brother, nephew…).

Here’s an idea.  Be positive.  Love everybody, always.  In fact, read Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full Of Setbacks and Difficult People.

I’ve never been a Division I athlete, an NFL quarterback or General Manager, an NBA or PGA star.  I’ve never been President of the United States, and never will be.  (I hear the background check is a thing…)  I’ve never been a beloved children’s author.

Therefore, I am unqualified to comment on the performance of those who have.  And even in case I feel like I can or should comment on their performance, I am absolutely not qualified to comment on their character, their worth as a person or any other aspect of the person I don’t know.  A person, after all, is a person — no matter how small.

Some behaviors we ought not to tolerate…from anyone:  Being judgy.  Using a social platform to attack, tear-down or belittle.  Shooting off one’s mouth at the expense of someone who’s not there to defend themselves.  Attacking, verbally or otherwise, someone who is there to defend themselves.

Let’s leave the personal attacks out.  Completely.  Permanently.

Let’s argue policies.  Let’s have dialogue about perspectives and opinions on how to move forward.  Let’s debate politics.  Let’s do those things without name-calling and under-mining the people in the conversation with us.

We’re at a precipice.  In business, in politics, in life.  (He said, conjuring up his grandfather, parents and all generations which came before…)

Choosing to be the light, instead of focusing on the lightning rod is a great way to make a difference.  




  1. Dustin Raney says

    This DD was a breath of fresh air. Well said!!

    • I’ll admit there were seasons where I wasn’t great at this. As a self-described “provocative communicator,” I may have allowed my role as a change agent to take on too much of an edge from time to time. It’s become so pervasive though, that I just wanted to try to pump the brakes for subscribers to / readers of the DD. Thanks for joining the conversation, D!

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