Labor needs to start thinking of ‘why’ rather than ‘what’

I recently viewed this TED talk by Simon Sinek titled “How great leaders inspire action”

I can’t say I found his insight to be revolutionary or even new but it certainly has merit. The core message I took from this talk, and a finding that is backed by research is that emotion overrides cognition when it comes to determining human behaviour. It was only a short cognitive step to conclude that this was an area that Labor fails at and it costs them dearly.

Intent matters. Selecting which politician we want to represent us is a matter of determining which politician has values that are aligned with our own. As a member of the Australian public, I do not have the resources, nor inclination, to interpret every detail of every policy that the Australian government produces. What I look for, and what I believe most voters look for, is the intent of the policies being proposed. It seems illogical but a small amount of introspection reveals that the same policy announced by different politicians with different values will evoke different responses. As Simon Sinek says, “it is not ‘what’ they are doing but rather ‘why’ they are doing it that counts.

As to my description of Labor’s aptitude in this area, let me detail an example to clarify. Throughout much of 2012, Julia Gillard backed poker machine reform. I personally was inspired that she was willing to take so much heat from established interests for the interests of the people, namely gambling addicts and their families. Here I had given Julia the benefit of doubt and concluded her ‘why’ was for social good. However, in late 2012 she reversed her support in a contemptuous manner. Labor went forward with a few face saving initiatives and threw in enough lump sums of money to the clubs and pubs to silence their criticism. Now it was clear the ‘why’ for poker reform was no longer for good of the people but rather for other reasons, the most obvious being to placate Andrew Wilkie. Not only was the ‘why’ far less palatable to my own values but there had been a betrayal of the values originally portrayed. This of course is only one example of many.

In essence, this is just a variation of terms that most politic commentators are aware of. In general the Australian public votes for those politicians who represent their values and those whose principles are inline with our own. Labor now needs to portray the ideals of the party such as social equity rather than the current portrayal of individual gain. In short, Labor members need to have a good long think about ‘why’ they are doing what they are doing.
Cheers, Dale


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