“Announcing his decision from the White House Rose Garden, Mr Trump said the Paris accord was an example of an international deal that hurt the US economy, and that he was fulfilling his “America First” campaign pledge to help American workers,” says the Financial Times

The world media and twitter is in a furor, but remaining true to his campaign pledge and manifesto is not the worst thing a politician can do, many will say it’s commendable, I agree. We should not criticise Mr Trump, for following through with his mandated pledge. After all, Mr Trump was elected as part of a democratic process. His pledge to withdraw the US from climate deals was widely and loudly shouted, it’s what Mr Trump campaigned for and it’s what America voted for as part of his Make America Great Again. So the fact that Trump has now withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement should not come as a surprise, he is doing what he promised to do. Keeping promises in politics is rare.

There are, however, two areas, where Mr Trump is getting things woefully wrong and is deserving of criticism, and here the mainstream media is missing the point. The first is his view that America needs to be made great again; and, the second is his restrictive and inadequate view on achieving greatness.

Let’s consider the first. Research shows that for the most part when measured against nearly any indicator you care to, Americans live lives better than anyone, anywhere at any time in human history. Here’s the thing Mr Trump; America does not need to be made great again, America is already great. But you can Make America Greater. Adding “er” and removing the word ‘again’, would make a world of difference, Mr Trump.  Needless to say America is working off an incredibly high and impressive base.  Past successes that have brought us to where we are today should be celebrated, not doing so robs America of its ability to be inspired by past achievements and offer hope during an period when society desperately needs people to courageously venture into the future. The drive should be for greater, not great again. 

The second area that needs to be criticised is Mr Trump’s restrictive policy.  My research into leadership quests reveals that the most successful leaders – the ones who have changed the course of history and made their world greater – are the ones who embark on meaningful quests to improve the lives of people they touch and influence. Quester leaders (e.g. Nelson Mandela, Elon Musk etc.) look at the world they influence and say “what is broken” and “is there a better way.” Nothing wrong here and this is what Mr Trump would say he is doing. But Mr Trump is missing a subtle and fundamentally important ingredient. Leaders on quests, achieve remarkable things because they strive to make better the world  they influence, not just a portion of it. You will never achieve full potential if you only focus on improving a part of the world you influence.

Most people love pizza, so let me use pizza as an analogy here, because it’s easy to get. Take the pizza base – representing the your world of influence – if you only focus putting all the ingredients on a quarter or say a half of the pizza base, you get a great half pizza with lots of yummy toppings but you also get a dried out burnt inedible other half. Collectively you end up with a rubbish pizza, far less satisfying than if the greatness had been spread across. America’s reach is far and wide, but Mr Trump’s policy is to focus on only his slice of the “pizza” and although his slice is a big slice the remaining bit and the collective whole is in danger of suffering as a result, and so will his half of the pizza. Rather, Mr Trump should be looking at the world and saying where is it broken and how can we make the world the US touches and influences a better place and by doing so make America even greater. According to The Economists, past presidents agree that America’s power should be used as a force for good in the world.

But it is not just Trump’s America that is guilty of limited and restrictive view of the world they influence. The UK’s Brexit is another example of only caring for oneself and not the broader communities you touch and influence. This is the rein of despots, not questers taking the world to higher levels, and whilst Mr Trump’s approach may work for the few it will not benefit the majority. In the long-run more dissent, anger and aggression will spill out from the world’s fringes. For many in the developed world it has become easier and more comforting to stick our heads in the sand and do the minimum, convince ourselves that incremental improvement is safe and that we have done enough. After all we are developed, we are done and it’s up to the developing others to contribute now. But society is not done developing, we are far from living happy sustainable lives. There is still an incredible amount to do to make the world a better place.

And, here is the opportunity for quester leaders.  Many of America’s and other countries great businesses, big and small can make remarkable contributions and there are already signs of greatness emerging from the void Trump has created by leaving the Paris Climate Agreement. Financial Times captured the response of many global corporate leaders who now as a result of Mt Trump’s inward looking policies see the opportunity to strengthen their commitment to delivering meaningful benefits and making the world a better place:

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors

Bob Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney: “As a matter of principle, I’ve resigned from the President’s Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.”

Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple: (From an internal email obtained by the FT) “I spoke with President Trump on Tuesday and tried to persuade him to keep the US in the agreement. But it wasn’t enough . . . I want to reassure you that today’s developments will have no impact on Apple’s efforts to protect the environment.”

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook: “Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is bad for the environment, bad for the economy, and it puts our children’s future at risk . . . Stopping climate change is something we can only do as a global community, and we have to act together before it’s too late.”

Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs:

Jeff Immelt, chief executive of GE:

And where Mr Trump’s America leaves gaps we will see other world leaders from China, Europe, Africa and India stepping forward. President of France, Emmanuel Macron has already vowed to ‘make planet great again’

This is why there is nothing wrong with Mr Trump quitting the Paris Climate Agreement. The void he leaves behind will be filled by more passionate, committed and more competent quester leaders who want to take the world to higher levels, challenge the impossible and make a meaningful difference.

As Margaret Mead said:Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” 

I’m excited by Trump’s move, it is going to bond and galvanise quester leaders around the world. The time is ripe, the time is now, for more questers step forward and achieve remarkable things, watch this space.


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