Steven Marshall in Executive Coaching, Management Consulting, Leadership Owner • Steve Marshall & Associates, LLC Sep 24, 2020 · 3 min read · ~100

Where Is the Joy?

Note: Have you noticed how devoid of joy the current leadership in Washington, DC, is? I have, and it's troubling. I have some thoughts on this subject. Enjoy. Previous installments of my weekly blog from 2013 can be found on my website at

I Have to Speak Up

Where Is the Joy?I usually don't use this platform to dwell on politics, but I am motivated to do so now. No, I am not going to slam either side of the the aisle for their shortcomings, but I do want to point out what's missing in the current dialogue - Joy. Rather, I see and hear an abundance of Anger in the manner of how and what people are for and against, i.e., ANTIFA, Snowflakes, Liberals, BLM, LGBTQ, Police, QANON, White Supremacy, and on and on, ad nauseum.

Whatever Happened to Civility and Humility?

In June 2018, I wrote an entire blog on this subject - sadly, it seems more relevant now than then. Why? Aside from the popularity in the the decline in critical thinking and the growth of emotionally-based thinking; ergo, ideology, as evidenced by all of the media engaged in news reporting, we seem to have adopted a bias toward discussion and debate as a zero-sum game where, if one side wins, the other side has to lose just as much as the other has to win! 

"Speak as is if you're right; listen as if you're wrong."

I like to talk to people from various points of view, to keep my own perspective sound; in fact, I keep in mind a phrase from Karl Weick, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Psychology at the University of Michigan, as I head into discussions;

  • How do you speak as if you are right? Your message should be simple, clear, and direct with sufficient courage to act on what you know.
  • How do you listen as if you are wrong? Generally, with humility and some reasonable doubt about what you know (after all, there might be more to know…). This quote from Scott Card sums up the human condition nicely; “This is how humans are: we question all our beliefs, except for the ones we really believe, and those we never think to question.”

Enough of That

Back to the subject matter at hand; where oh where is the joy in daily life in America? Almost non-existent at this point. Sure, the country and everyone in it has been dealt with some severe hammer blows in the form of the pandemic, a declining economy, and all of the ripples that issue forth from those events.

How Do We Reverse This Downward Spiral?

I place the responsibility for change in the hands of those we have elected to lead our country through thick and thin, but is it happening? No! What we have is a bunch of adults in the Senate and Congress bickering like children to come out on top and prove that the opposite side is wrong.

Also, we have a President that is incapable of leading anyone anywhere out of the current maelstrom; all he wants to do is get re-elected and wield absolute power. This is not why this country was formed; instead, it was created as a reaction to a lunatic despot called a king in Britain who was ruling by whim and whatever he felt like doing; there is a reason why his countrymen called him Mad King George!

As a result, in 1776, we created an experiment in what is called a democracy that provides everyone an equal voice in how we live in this country "in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness." I believe we have forgotten that vital phrase within our current political entanglements in defining the future of America.

"Growth With Joy"

In 2014, I was retained by a large medical group in Colorado to assist them in creating their very first strategic plan. In my work, I follow a path of defining the order of planning as agreeing on the Why, the What, and the How, in descending order. I also prefer that clients set a thematic goal at the outset to inspire and motivate them over the following 3 - 5 years. After much discussion, I was initially surprised to hear from a young (and very bright) pediatrician that his suggestion was, "Growth with Joy." Everyone else was taken aback at first, too, but as we all thought about it, it absolutely made sense. What is the point of planning for the future by creating a plan that is bigger than any single person if joy isn't an integral part of that plan?


On November 3rd, please vote for the future of this noble experiment called a democracy that was crafted so carefully and thoughtfully in 1776. The alternative to what I hope is a change in the leadership of this country is ever-increasing madness, despair, divisiveness, anger, and hate. These are the very qualities portrayed by our current dominant political party and President - why would anyone of conscience vote to continue down this dead-end path to self-destruction?

Instead, why not plan for a brighter future that does include some joy?