Buttermilk + ham sandwich

I took my own advice. Also, "better than the alternative," and 7 other things worth your time.

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Of course, I’ll get to the election in a second. But, first things first, I took my own advice yesterday, and went looking for some “awe.” My daughter and I went to Eagle Rock Reservation in NJ, a 400-acre park not too far from where we live, overlooking New York City. Nice view.


OK, me being me, let’s start with an obscure historical anecdote:

On Election Night in 1948, President Harry Truman went to bed without knowing whether he’d won. He ate a ham sandwich and drank a glass of buttermilk, and asked the Secret Service to wake him if anything big happened.

I find that really impressive. I barely slept last night.

But, this inconclusive, temporarily disputed result is better than the alternative. In fact, that’s the phrase I went with for the Inc.com article that many of you helped me with, where I’d been asked to come up with “perfect words” to say to a team the morning after the election. (Link.)

More than 50 of you offered suggestions, and they were really smart. I’ll include some of them below. As I thought it through, however, I kept thinking about a book I read long ago in a college philosophy class: A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls.

Rawls argued that if you were to design a society from scratch, and you wanted to do it fairly, you should design it without knowing what your role in the society would be.

So, if you were the one deciding how much a CEO should make compared to a janitor, for example, you should do it without knowing whether you were destined to be a CEO or a janitor, yourself.

(I’m probably butchering this, and since I have a diverse, widely read group of dedicated readers, I invite corrections from whichever of you, say, wrote your Ph.D. thesis on Rawls and Immanuel Kant.)

Anyway, the relevant point is that I was examining how a leader should talk to a team about the election, without actually knowing how the election went. It’s hard to do; even harder now I assume, since we still don’t know for sure.

Anyway, I’d like to get to some of your suggestions on what to say. I’m impressed by your equanimity.

And, since everything is about the election today, I think I’ll skip listing news articles that will be outdated by the time you get to read this, and instead share your fellow readers’ advice.

Take care everyone. We’ll know eventually. No out-of-shape fistfights, please.

7 other quotes (from fellow readers) worth your time

  • “The only thing worse than a bad loser is a bad winner. … Don’t ‘win’ and make everyone who didn’t win into an enemy. No matter the outcome, as a country we will survive.” — Keith Buckley

  • “Now that I'm thinking about it, I am telling myself only one thing: You will not know the election results the day after the election. Take a deep breath, and be patient.” —Meghan Palmer (quite prescient, by the way)

  • “In the words of Jeff Bezos (something I believe you wrote about), whatever the outcome, whatever the side you are on, ‘Disagree and commit.’ Let's move on and make it work!” — Dustin McGee

  • “Great questions. My response to this, regardless of who wins, will be “God help us.” … I will be neither happy or unhappy with either outcome as I have no preferred winner. … But, it is my firm belief that it will only be through God’s help and grace that we will emerge healed and healthy on the ‘other side.’” —Name withheld by request

  • “My immediate thought is simply not to say anything. The sheer relief or anguish will be visible without uttering a word.” — Rose Arnone

  • “I think the important thing is to practice empathy. … After the election it's up to us, the citizens, to unify and assure the (for lack of a better term) losing side that just because their candidate didn't win doesn't mean their voices will not be heard. The American people will heal America, not the bureaucratic system.” — Christina Pryka

  • “‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ … I wonder about the economy going forward. But what should we do on the day after Election Day? Move on. Act normally. What should we say? ‘We’ll be okay. We’ve been here before. We’ve survived. We’ll survive again.’ … But you are right – it IS better than the alternative.” — Tommy Jennings

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