I have an agenda. Everyday. I go to bed with one and I wake up to it.
This morning my agenda points me to this writing, a doctor’s appointment, a visit with a friend, and a meeting.
I have agendas within agendas. Today’s agenda is within a weekly agenda, within a monthly agenda, within a yearly agenda, within a life agenda. Doesn’t everybody?
Apparently not. “We want people without agendas.” What does that mean? Fence riders, indecisive types, unbiased leaders, followers, innovators, risk takers? It could mean we want people whose agendas we haven’t discovered yet. Hmmm. Would it be helpful not to know what people believe or desire if you wanted them to join a team for problem solving?
If the candidate supports universal health care, I want to hear about it. I don’t want to discover later that he or she quietly wished to undermine the program. So you see, not only do I make my views known but I wish others to speak up as well. I don’t want to be blind sided by, guess what, hidden agendas.
Tricky word, agendas.
My husband makes a to do list and puts it out where I can see it. I see he plans to start some caladiums in the greenhouse today. I know not to interfere with his plans. I also know he likes to be home at night, not go out too much or have people in. So he has agendas around which I maneuver. It’s helpful to understand people for the sake of cooperation and respect.
People without known agendas are difficult to trust. You wonder what they might do or how to work with them.
I once worked with a man whose agenda was driven by security. Everything had to be tightened down under his control. He feared circumstances might get away from him and he wouldn’t be able to solve the problem. I, on the other hand, wished to take risks, to learn how to do things I’d never before tried. We had to find a way to work together or we weren’t going to accomplish anything. Over time we found avenues of trust. Since our shared arena required access to technologies and passwords, I was careful not to make mistakes that would elevate his suspicious nature. He learned he could use me to experiment with programs he didn’t have time to explore. He couldn’t advertise for innovations, but I could. It wasn’t easy, but it was doable. It had to be.
As a teacher, I learned that arranging people in groups to solve problems requires finesse. A handsome, muscular blonde seventeen year old student experienced a change in attitude when I put him in a group with a feisty dark skinned girl with kinky hair, a girl he had openly disdained for her assertive and saucy stance. The situation was electric with racial and gender bias. Their task was to uncover evidence of bias in some documents we were studying. Before long, he was speaking her language and joining her tune. She had discovered how easy it was to work with him. And here’s the point, they knew their task and they each understood each others’ points of view. Their arguments were lively and productive.
Give me people with agendas. I want all the news out on the table. I already know people don’t agree on everything. Isn’t that a healthy thing? Isn’t that how change happens?