Reckless partisanship is playing with fire

Partisanship is like handling fire. It can provide illumination or destruction depending on how it is managed. Right now, in America, it’s blazing out of control and threatening to consume our democracy.

partisanship, political debate and discord, Garland McWatters quote

But there is an escape

A fire needs three ingredients: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Eliminate any one of these, and the fire goes out. We control fires by regulating the balance of these three ingredients.

A partisan takes a side. Nothing inherently wrong with that. We need people to represent different points of view to help us balance our own thinking and to help us find solutions to difficult problems. That’s illuminating.

When out of control, the heat of passion ignites the fuel of content (words and positions) in an oxygen rich environment of “us versus them– If you aren’t with us, you’re against us–winning is all that matters.” That’s destructive.

A leader is a firefighter

Such a leader can manage the fire, but not if they are adding to the fuel or fanning the flames.

Unfortunately, our political discourse right now is fueled by the rhetoric of extremism couched in half-truths and outright lies, fueled by the passion of contempt and hatred toward the opposition, in an environment where partisans are lined up shouting, “Burn, baby, burn,” at each other.

It’s time to isolate the political pyromaniacs and deprive them of the heat and oxygen they need to destroy everything in their path.

We need INPowering leaders who can cool the passions, moderate the message from inflammatory diatribes to reasoned discourse, and regulate the environment by creating breathing space for conversation and dialogue instead of screaming across partisan divides.

These partisan movements run on the fuel of “B.S.” We must hold all sides, even our own, accountable for the truth in context of their message. If you must lie and twist the facts to make your point, then you don’t have a point.

We must dig a fire line around our passions so they don’t race out of control, igniting what would otherwise not be in jeopardy.

We must create an environment where opposing points of view can be discussed with cool heads and compassionate hearts.

True leadership rises above partisanship. It illuminates.

Be that kind of leader, if you desire to be
Garland McWatters, leadership development, leadership training, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Oklahoma

032: Jennifer Anderson – transforming the staffing industry [Podcast]

032: Jennifer Anderson – transforming the staffing industry [Podcast]

Jennifer Anderson with Bob Funk Sr., founder of Express Employment Professionals

Transforming the staffing industry

by Garland McWatters with Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Express Employment Professionals, is proud of the company’s record setting year in 2015 when it placed over 500,000 people in jobs world wide.

Bob Funk, Sr. co-founded Express Employment Professionals in 1983, and has grown it to an international organization with franchises in Canada and South Africa. He had a transformational idea at the time about the way staffing was done which now has changed the industry.

In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, I interview Jennifer about her association with Bob Funk as well as her experience starting at Express as a temporary administrative assistant and being continually promoted into higher levels of responsibility to her current responsibilities as a vice president.

Related links

Express Employment Professionals leadership

ExpressPros Job genius

031: Robyn Elliott–The Chickasaw Nation as a transformational force [Podcast]

031: Robyn Elliott–The Chickasaw Nation as a transformational force [Podcast]

Robyn Elliot with Gov. Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation

The Chickasaw Nation, a transformational force

by Garland McWatters with Robyn Elliott

Robyn Elliott speaks on behalf of the Chickasaw Nation as the Secretary of Communications & Community Development. She was recognized from 2007-2009 by the Journal Record in Oklahoma City as one of 50 women making a difference in Oklahoma. She is a member of Leadership Oklahoma (class XVIII).

In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, Robyn discusses the heritage of the Chickasaw Nation as an example of a transformational culture that is having a profound and lasting impact on the character and economic development of Oklahoma.

Robyn points not only to the economic assets, such as the WinStar Casino on I-35 near the Red River, but to the myriad of ways the Chickasaw Nation supports the personal and professional development of its people.

Related links

The Chickasaw Nation overview

Office of Gov. Bill Anoatubby 

The Chickasaw Nation history

The Chickasaw Nation culture

Te Ata movie trailer

WinStar World Casino

McSwain Theatre, Ada


Leaders lead from a larger context

Leaders lead from a larger context

The why is every bit as important as the what. Maybe more so. Leaders are able to make sense of facts in the larger context in which the facts exist. If they fail to do this, they fail to lead.

Earth from space

My little corner of the world is not the whole world. Although my life is 100-percent of my experience, my life is not the only life, no matter how much I feel like it is.

The way I see events is not the only way to view them. My perspective is not the whole picture. If I’m ever to see the bigger picture I must see it from other points of view. I cannot grasp the entirety of the world from my favorite easy-chair, or in the echo chamber of my closest friends.

To ask a leader to solve my problems without regard for the impact that solution will have on others is folly and myopic, not to mention egocentric. But that’s what we seem to want. Fix my problems for me, and screw the rest of you.

Politics has come down to fragmenting the system into ideological niches from which politicians accumulate enough shards to win an election. Screw the rest of you. That’s not leading. This madness must stop now.

There is a larger why in which my what lives.

I have learned that to find my life, I must lose my life for the sake of something larger than myself.

While I am a teeny-tiny part of a larger whole, what I do affects the whole. I act, and I affect those whom I touch directly, who in turn react to my actions and touch others, who do the same, and so forth.

I ripple.

Leaders see the larger whole and take action that considers both my individual situation and the health of the whole system. Without the system, we all suffer, or even perish.

When I understand this relationship of my corner of the world to the whole world, I can act more rationally and compassionately. I can look around in my immediate vicinity and ask, “What can I do to make things better for myself and others?”

After all, I ripple.

When I take the responsibility to do my part every day
to lose myself in the larger community
I find myself more
Garland McWatters, leadership development, leadership training, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Oklahoma



029: Robin Smith–You don’t have to be an expert to lead [Podcast]

029: Robin Smith–You don’t have to be an expert to lead [Podcast]

You don't have to be an expert to start leading

by Garland McWatters with Robin Smith

Robin Smith, CEO of chanced upon an idea that she is using to tap into the “gig economy” and build an international business.

On this episode of The Spirit of Leading, she explains how it all came about and how and why she believes you don’t have to be an expert at something to be an expert at using it to become an industry pacesetter. operates out of Oklahoma City and employs about 100 full time staff and over 26,000 part time “lookers.” finds, trains, and deploys individuals to go look at items her customers want to investigate before taking further action on them.

Robin explains how her personal story helped her find the resolve to do what it takes to make an impressive success.

Related links

Learn more about the “gig economy” here.