How Could America Make a U-Turn?

The January 6 Commission has rattled most of our country.

We are the most prosperous country on the face of the earth. And yet, our collective behavior has led to a form of spiritual bankruptcy that threatens all of us. Unfortunately, we cloak ourselves in this notion that “they” are the problem rather than acknowledging all of us are responsible.

One side demonizes the other for heartlessness while the opposing team laughs about their opponents as being helpless. Our politicians are worse. Until we lost John F Kennedy, the President guided the country. From the Civil War to the introduction of our post-war abundance, our Presidents told us what to do and what our country needed, and they delivered the message with unshakable optimism. But during the 60s, we changed political campaigns by elevating the use of focus groups. The consequences have been devastating. The growth of focus groups made it easier for politicians to give us the promises we wanted to hear. We hoped they were true.

Promises push hope, which rarely inspires action. We believe that someone or something is going to take care of our problem. We wait. But true leadership would define what we need to do to get the most out of a brand new workplace. This is what makes optimism so much more appropriate than hope. We take on the kind of action that we believe will improve our lives. We learn we grow, and we thrive.

But with each election cycle, Americans have become more cynical than ever before. Instead of our leaders owning their mediocrity, they tell us to blame “them.”

We live during the most significant restructuring of work in history. Advancing technology offers American workers more freedom to do what they want for a living, live where they want, and develop greater peace between their personal and professional lives.

But that potential is meaningless without guidance. The result of neglecting our country’s spectacular talent pool is that about half of our workers live in persistent underemployment. Without leadership and intelligent messaging, we don’t look at technology as a way to leverage our power, we use it to escape. In so doing, we cut ourselves from the richest part of our lives.

I would be outraged.

The most chilling moments in the Commission findings came from two working women.

Karen Edwards was a relatively new and fresh-faced Capitol Police officer. She characterized January 6 as “carnage.” As the mob rushed forward, her first memory was of the names and insults they hurled at her. She fell and her head hit the railing on the way down. Karen’s brain injury tore apart her life, yet she continues to get death threats for simply telling her story.

Shaye Moss was one of Georgia’s most dedicated poll workers. Her mother and grandmother viewed voting as a sacred part of being American. She was a second-generation poll worker and often brought her mother, Ruby, to help during a long night of counting. Everything changed when her manager asked her to come into his office. He looked horrified. Then, he showed her a security video. They had been getting ready to go home that night. But the floor manager changed her mind and asked everyone to continue the count. The video showed Shaye pulling the ballot box out from under the table. Her mother gave her a breath mint. But they had just been accused of stealing the election. The box was filled with fake ballots, and the mint became a thumb drive.

Death threats were immediate. The FBI moved Shaye and Ruby from their homes. But, a mob showed up at her grandmother’s house, pushed their way in as she opened the door, and threatened the elderly woman until law enforcement could arrive.

Many have referred to Watergate as a comparison to the Insurrection. But that event was confined to Washington, DC. January 6 came from every area of our country. As a result, we have more insight from studying a disaster that brought destruction and disruption to everyone in our country.

In 1920, alcoholism was so rampant that it impacted one-third of our families. One man was so intoxicated that he exploded as he blew out a candle. Women revolted, campaigned for forced abstinence, and won. Over the next 12 years, the United States government tripled in size. To police its citizens, over a hundred thousand new rookies joined law enforcement. Prohibition gave birth to organized crime and waves of violence that shook our nation. Corruption in government rapidly grew as racketeers paid off political leaders to protect their activity. Today, we call them “lobbyists.”

A neighborhood pharmacy in Cleveland called Walgreen’s devised a plan to work with doctors who prescribed “medicinal alcohol.” By the end of 1933, Walgreen’s was the largest pharmacy chain in the world. Today, its vast inventory of booze and drugs is the source of enormous profits. But it’s easy to forget that with the aisles of snacks, cosmetics, and seasonal gifts designed to offend the recipient.

After being labeled a “catastrophic failure,” Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933. More people died from violence than booze. Hundreds of thousands of people were dead or blinded by the government poisoning alcohol. We had a law enforcement team trained to break into our homes and the malicious FBI Director in a cocktail dress, J. Edgar Hoover.

But just over a year later, a spiritual and behavioral solution took place that would save millions of lives, including mine.

Two men named Bill W and Bob found each other. Both had suffered from long-term alcoholism that destroyed almost everything that mattered to them. Both had found a way to become and stay sober through non-religious spiritual principles, collective support, and mentorship. Today, at least two million Americans rely on this group for ongoing sobriety. Unfortunately, there is no organized leadership, nor is there fundraising, and the rules are so simple that almost anyone can remember them.

I’m having trouble envisioning how our country can make a U-Turn without an intervention, particularly in our behavior with each other.

We will not find the correct answers by studying dysfunction. Gun violence, an obsolete educational system, desires to burn down the government, and the constant hurl of insults will teach us nothing of value.

We are, in my opinion, at the most significant turning point in our country’s history.

Candidly, there isn’t much in my company’s intellectual capital to offer a U-turn from our collective abyss.

But I can go back to my abyss. When my life crashed into flames, everything I had tried did not work, and I lost all hope. Only courage and honesty gave me the juice to make a U-Turn and open my mind to a solution. But instead of sharing information that isn’t for me to share, I will do my best to tell you what I have learned to move past my own existential dilemma.

Practical Spirituality

To get healthy, I had to find a power greater than myself. Over time, I came to a place of a hard-won spiritual practice that works. No one has the right to define what that means for others. The continual practice has constantly changed and grown into a place where I now believe everyone prays to the same entity. Thank God for you.

True spirituality, for me, has led to quite a few painful but powerful spurts of growth. When I delivered the first Inspired Work Program in 1990, I had a deep inner bias about people that were different than me. But I had a moral obligation to set that aside. Something happened that chipped away at the cynicism and even contempt for people with a differing view than mine.

They worked just as hard as the others. Then, when all the dots connected, the same power stepped forward to change their lives. That ongoing experience brought me to a place where all the ways we beat up each other are over superficial issues.


I have lived in a community with wildly differing politics, professions, incomes, gender preferences, and religions for years. But all of us are there to support something much bigger, our survival, spiritual health, and truthfulness.

Many of us have forgotten the values that have always lived above our political parties.

Was that sentence greeted with cynicism and contempt? It happens. We use those two characteristics to kill off change. Unfortunately, so many people are using it that we now look at the rabbit hole wondering, “Will America survive?”

Individual Accountability and Responsibility

Some of us live through abundance, and others through scarcity. But in the end, we are all responsible for what takes place in the world.

One of the most unsettling and un-American traits is this sense of helplessness.

We always have a role in what happens in our homes, towns, states, and countries. Always.

When I began writing out what had happened during the day, I became aware of how I could do a better job the following day. Then, I started recognizing any damage I caused and changed because I got tired of apologizing.


It has become clear that we are the problem when we complain about something and do nothing. Creative thinking without action is meaningless. It is a trick that only belongs in a mental institution.

At the beginning of each day, I find it helpful to write down the actions I’m going to take that will better the world, help other people, make my life better, or simply take the day off.


We act and don’t allow fear to keep us from the action. Instead of hiding, we take the steps that make our lives better. We support the action that makes us grow.

We look beyond blame and outrage to find a higher purpose.

In this case, the purpose is to save a country that deserves a future.

The Payoff

Take a moment. Review the suggestions. Please write whatever comes to mind.

If you don’t believe you have an answer, please make something up.

Which portions of this narrative inspire your action? Why?

What did you read that brought up cynicism and contempt?

If you let that stop you from listening, what is the payoff?

Which friend or a family member has an outlook you cannot support?

Pick one friend or family member that could work with you on a U-Turn.

How would you get started?

Also, if you are thinking of anyone with a penchant for physical or emotional abuse, leave them alone.

If you want us to hear about it, please send a note or give us a call.

We will publish selected communications with permission.

Come to one of our programs if you want to act but don’t know where to begin.

We are at one of the most significant turning points in the history of our country.

This time, we need all the help we can get and all the energy we can give.


David Harder
David Harder
DAVID founded Inspired Work in 1990, which has helped over 42,000 professionals transform their relationship towards work. Individuals from all walks of life attend Inspired Work’s public programs to launch new careers, new business or to become more successful in their existing role. He views work as a profound opportunity to become more fulfilled, contributive and effective. Mr. Harder’s leadership, employee engagement, executive development and social networking programs are used in a wide variety of organizations including The Walt Disney Company, HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Loyola Marymount University, University of Southern California, The United Church of Religious Science, Morgan Stanley, and many others. Inspired Work’s leadership programs, career development and team building programs produce some of the worlds most outstanding satisfaction numbers in any business: 92.6% out of a hundred. David has appeared on many business and human-interest programs including CNN, KTLA News, KFWB News and Business News Network. David’s book, new book, The Workplace Engagement Solution (Career Press) offers an entire “crack-the-code” approach to engagement.

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