Most of us can’t recall exactly where they were at specific times and on specific dates without the benefit of an appointment book. Throughout my life there have been a number of momentous global events, both good and horribly bad, which are so fixed in collective memory that for as long as I’m alive, I can tell you where I was when that event happened. That would include the great ones like the Beatles performing live on Ed Sullivan, Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon in 1969, and New Year’s 2000, and of course iconic tragedies like the assassinations of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and John Lennon in 1980, and the terrorist attacks of “9/11” (September 11, 2001).
Election Day 2008 will likely be one for the great-moments side of this equation.
I’ll give you mine. At 10:42 p.m. on November 4th, with the “score” 235-195 Obama over McCain, I left Pizzeria Uno on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan, got on my bike, and rode over to Broadway. By the time I reached 96th Street at 10:48, I heard the first shouts of “Obama! Yeah!” With every block I passed, the shouts became more frequent and more boisterous, and reminded me of popcorn starting to pop. At 105th and Broadway, a hundred or so Obama supporters were celebrating outside the Obama Upper West Side headquarters. I stopped to take in this moment. Champagne was poured and drunk openly; strangers stopped to high five and hug each other; a middle-eastern taxi driver stopped his cab at the corner, jumped out to whoop and shout and immediately received a hearty hug from a large black man who was crossing the street.
After ten minutes of soaking it in, I got back on the bike. When I reached Columbia University, I saw thousands of young people celebrating the moment as if the Yankees had won another World Series. Traffic was now being rerouted, but the police let me through, and the crowd cheered me along as I cheered them back. It was electrifying, and something I’ve never seen for an election in my life.
I wanted to make it home in time for the speeches, so I kept going, and arrived just after McCain’s graceful concession speech.
One reason I have chosen to write about the election is how it fits with my motto to “Dream Big, Live Bigger.” A big part of my coaching process is helping people to have big visions and dreams, to make the seemingly impossible into a reality. I congratulate President-Elect Obama and the thousands of dedicated, committed men and women who made the “impossible” happen. Now it’s time to get down to some serious business, and much healing on a global level. We have a lot of challenges, and from those I also see great coaching opportunities with so many people in transition. I look forward to 2009 with real hope for change.