Okay Now Really

We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests…the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!”

President Whitmore in Independence Day

We all have events in life that I have come to call Okay Now Really moments. It’s an acknowledgment of when all other considerations go out the door and you get real.

It could be a situation like the earthquake in the video above. If the video is no longer available, it shows a cashier and a customer in a liquor store going about their business when the quake strikes. The cashier immediately ushers the customer behind the counter, where they both take cover.

The customer instead could have been robbing the store. They could be adversaries in a nasty legal battle. Sworn enemies of different countries. Whatever the case, something else comes along to budge them from their status quo.

When something that dire happens, you help each other out without hesitation. This is not an exercise in moral debate; everything else is set aside. Okay Now Really.

Welcome to Earth

In the movie Independence Day, the arrival of hostile aliens prompted humans around the globe to set aside their differences and fight together. Don’t get sidetracked by any implausibilities of the premise, that’s not the point.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a similar thing happened, at least for a while. We were united in our shock and empathy, bound by universal condemnation of the senseless death of thousands. Then it got political and the unity faded away.

But it did happen, and that bit of silver lining inspired the term “Okay Now Really”. Certain events have a galvanizing and coalescing effect.

College football rivals from the same state might hate each other passionately, but if you criticize their state they’ll gang up on you.

No matter how divided two people are politically, they will agree on their total abhorrence of treason.

Two rabbits fighting over a carrot drop everything to get away when a coyote shows up.

In any situation, the Okay Now Really moment emerges when you zoom out a bit to see common ground.

So what practical use is that?

Once you’re aware that these moments exist for almost anything you might imagine, it gets easier to fast forward in your thinking that there’s one for whatever you’re doing now.

It becomes more likely that you take stock of things and look at it with a wider lens.

We’re fond of saying that there’s more that unites us than what divides us, but it can be frustrating to put that into practice. If there’s a conflict in place, more perspective depends on your counterpart’s willingness to go there with you. That can be hard. It can seem impossible.

Maybe you can help them. Picture what the Okay Now Really metric is for what’s in front of you. Once you can see it, knowing that it exists is half the work.

When it’s something like an earthquake, a power outage, a serious diagnosis, or a riot, it’s immediately clear where the lines are.

What are the lines, what is the Okay Now Really for your situation?

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