Most people assume I'm a Republican. I'm a former CEO, former CMO, and now a business coach and consultant - you get the idea! The fact is, I have NEVER been a Republican. I was once a Democrat. Then I became an Independent, and for the last several years I've been a registered Libertarian. When I tell my friends that, especially those who I haven't seen in several years, their eyes roll back. The assumptions that they and many people have about Libertarians is that we're either selfish "me first" people, right-wing reactionaries, or stay-at-home vegetative types who just want to be left alone! I'm actually none of those things, but I do contain small pieces of EACH of those things.

The diversity of our ranks and beliefs, however, speaks volumes about us. We agree on a few key things and disagree about plenty. Most of us believe strongly in individual freedom, a small, Constitutionally-based Federal Government, individual responsibility and accountability, and low taxes. Most of us also migrated to libertarianism after some reflection and self-examination. That's what incited and then propelled my journey. When I began comparing my personal beliefs and philosophies with my voting history, it created dissonance.

Here's my story:

When I began voting in the 1970s, I was a staunch Democrat. My view of life was idealistic rather than tragic ("tragic" as in the context of Greek tragedies), and my belief was that government could be a force for good. Over time, as I assessed the results of government actions, such as various permutations of "wars on drugs," interference in the operation of the free marketplace, efforts to mitigate poverty, etc., I became convinced that legislative solutions, more often than not, were "throw money at it and hope for the best," and that the follow-through by agencies charged with execution was generally ineffective. (It's important to remember here that I speak MY truth, not THE truth. I'm not writing to challenge your perspective - only to challenge you to HAVE one!)

In 1980, after what I considered to be the disastrous Presidency of Jimmy Carter, I took my first leap into non-traditional voting waters by casting my ballot for John Anderson, the Independent candidate for President. His views seemed less governed by any party dogma than by his own conscience, and I liked that. From 1984 through 2008, my Presidential voting record would have given a few clues as to my overall philosophy, which was beginning to congeal (more about that later) - Reagan, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Bush, nobody.

About 15 years ago, I began to develop my own philosophy; not a political philosophy, but rather how I aspired to live my life, and what I believed ABOUT life. Some of its current elements follow:

  • I own my life. I am responsible for my actions and accountable for my results. PERIOD!
  • I believe in "acceptance" (giving in to reality). I DO NOT believe in "resignation" (giving up on possibility).
  • I believe that personal growth is our primary, life-long mission.
  • I believe in self-management and course correction. Wisdom is not an automatic by-product of experience. Here's the formula: Wisdom = experience x reflection x relentless honesty x accountability (accepting consequences with no blame, no finger-pointing, no excuses, no whining, no justifications or rationalizations) x behavioral change.
  • Our natural tendency - one that we must reject - is to surround ourselves with people who affirm who we already are, rather than those who inspire us to reach higher and do better. In order to grow, we must surround ourselves with the kind of people that we want to be, not those who mirror our own character defects.
  • Real friends put truth telling above peacekeeping. They place the welfare of their friends above the survival of comfortable friendships.
  • I believe that without discipline, aspiration is hallucination.
  • The formula that most people employ to rationalize (to themselves) their own dysfunctional behavior is this: Doing the wrong thing and a good excuse = doing the right thing. I believe that when we suffer discomfort from dissonance, we must use it to instigate action and growth rather than inertia or excuses. Personal responsibility must always trump convenience.

There are more but you get the idea. My objective is to have a belief system and then to conduct regular "self-audits" to ask myself: "How am I doing?"

I have failed that test many times. Instead of making excuses, I ask, "What have I learned?" and "Can I commit do DOING better and to BEING better?" I've also learned, from the teachings and examples of others, that I can still be kind to myself and accept my flaws without letting myself "off the hook," and being resigned to their permanence.

Concurrent with this journey, I refined my view of the role I believed government should play in my life. That view was based on my assumptions about our government. Some of THOSE follow:

  • Government will naturally grow in a metastatic way.
  • Federal, state and local legislatures and government agencies often address the same issues in an overlapping, expensive and bureaucratic way (Somebody explain to me why we need departments of education at every level!!).
  • Local answers to issues and problems are almost always more effective than nation-wide answers. (I feel the same way about the solutions to issues and problems in corporations).
  • Competition among states is a good thing.
  • In order to accomplish SOMETHING when they cannot accomplish RELEVANT things, legislatures (at every level) will often pass legislation whose costs far outweigh their benefits.
  • Cause and effect are never linear, time-bound, and absolute. As a result, solutions to problems often create other problems. Even when solutions are effective, they rarely comport with election cycles. So the election (and more importantly, re-election) of government officials can almost never be tied to their results, except over a very long period of time.
  • Most government agencies reward their employees for "inputs" ("tenure" being a notable example) rather than "outputs" (results). The natural consequence of that is an inward focus. That is not a good thing.

Again in this case, there's a lot more!

When I lined up my personal beliefs, how I want to live, and my views about government against my views and voting record a decade ago, I reached the conclusion that I was a hypocrite. I always voted for one of the two political party candidates and almost always opted for the person who I felt would do the least harm. No more!

My admonition to you: Develop your own philosophy. Live your life, to the degree possible, consistent with that philosophy. When you feel dissonance, undertake self-examination and make changes to your actions rather than invoking excuses, rationalizations or justifications. Own your life.

When it comes to your political persuasion, don't react to what's out there and available. Be true to yourself, your beliefs and your values. Assess your affiliations and candidates based on actions, not on speeches.

Copyright 2011 Rand Golletz. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz is the managing partner of Rand Golletz Performance Systems, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit