How did we get ourselves into this mess?!
Have you ever wondered how we end up in situations we never anticipated? Take my tribe for example. One tiny Native American community who stumbled our way into a highly unlikely, extraordinary situation a little more than twenty years ago. Just thinking about it, we were…
One of the smallest Indian tribes in North America.
A tribe who owned and operated what was once heralded as the world’s largest casino.
A community depending on casino revenue soaring beyond one billion dollars each year.
Tribal members who rocketed to unimaginable wealth, prosperity and potential.
…and we all assumed we would live like this for the rest of our lives.
What could possibly go wrong?
Oh, just a few billion different things. Two billion dollars of debt, for instance. A debt fueled by decades of poor decisions and devastatingly poor spending habits that destroyed my tribe’s credit and ultimately propelled us to the brink of bankruptcy.
Of course, there were decisions made over many years that shaped our community and re-aligned the outcome of our future. But for the purposes of this article, I’m not going to focus on specific decisions or actions. Instead, I’m going to highlight: MINDSETS.
Getting to the root of the problems
Just as every action brings about a specific reaction, our mindsets are the very roots of all our actions. Our innermost thoughts and presumptions about ourselves and others are the things that trigger various behaviors and actions, specifically those that drove us to the extreme belt-tightening lifestyle transitions we find ourselves in now.
Exploring the depth of one’s mindsets is not something for the faint of heart. It’s pretty easy to get defensive and even downright offended when we are faced with hard-hitting, self examining questions. But if we are serious about changing for the better, it’s a necessary process we need to take seriously for our own good. It takes a great deal of humility, wisdom and strength to honestly self-reflect, analyzing the recesses of our hearts in ways that reveal to us who we are as human beings, why we behave the way we do, and why we made certain decisions that trigger negative outcomes.
Of course, the extent of one’s mindsets can be very overwhelming, so I’ll simply share a few rhetorical questions for each of us to think about and consider. It’s important to note that not all of the following questions will apply to all tribal members or blog readers, but most of us can relate to a few of these if we are simply willing to think about the way we think about things. Our ability to learn from mistakes, change old habits, break free from the entanglement of inherited mindsets and clear up confusion is directly connected to our willingness to self-reflect, make necessary changes, and ultimately “be the change” we wish to see in our community.
- Did I ever choose to engage in secret, manipulative behavior so that my lust for wealth and self-importance was satisfied at the expense of everyone else?
- Is loyalty toward skin color more important to me than the content of someone’s character?
- Have I ever thought or exclaimed: “I don’t need to change my ways, but instead, everyone should adjust to me”?
- Did I ever believe: “I deserve this”, and if so, why?
- Are the opinions of others more important to me than my internal convictions of right vs. wrong?
- Have I ever placed a higher value on the abilities and potential of non-tribal executives and consultants instead of that of my own people?
- Have I ever chosen to overindulge my hunger for attention, euphoria and excess with the fleeting frivolities of partying, shopping, hoarding, alcohol, gambling, sexual promiscuity, prescription drugs, street drugs, ____(fill in your preferred vice here)___?
- To what extent have I indulged in these frivolities as a source of comfort when things did not go the way I wanted them to?
- Have I ever convinced myself all my needs are met, leaving no room for my Creator who allowed me the opportunity to prosper in the first place?
- Have I ever avoided seeking God for relationship, wisdom and protection in exchange for necromancy (the art of calling upon the dead); seeking wisdom, protection and communication from dead loved ones and ancestors instead?
- Have I convinced myself that calling upon the dead is an essential part of Pequot culture?
- Has “culture” become my God?
- Have I ever decided my ways are better than God’s ways?