#POTUS, or the President of the United States of America has the most mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing job on earth. It is no wonder that any occupant of the Oval Office comes in bright-eyed and bushy tailed only to leave looking 25 years older by the end of their term. Politics aside, the ability to orchestrate, manage and direct information is not just the definition of executive function skills, but it happens to be the job of the President. It is a tough job, filled with rigor, criticism and constant attack from all sides, in every way, shape and form.
In this post, I explore the storm that encircles what it means to be POTUS in the context of executive function skills. The constant decision making, the demand on the POTUS’s foresight, problem solving, behavior modulation, and goal-directed persistence are enough to put one hundred people in the psychiatric ward, and yet POTUS’s must do it day in and day out while in the spotlight or in the privacy of their personal lives. A constant balancing act that never goes away until their time in office comes to a screeching halt at the end of their term. To be straightforward, a POTUS is just a human being, but being human in that job is like nothing else, not even being the leader of some other country. Love ’em or dislike ’em, respect should be given to the human doing the job, before politics kick in.
In my microcosm as a private Special Educator and Executive Function Skills Coach, I focus my coaching on four demographics, namely, children and adults with executive function skill deficits, those with ADHD, individuals with autism, and the parents who are on the front line of raising them up. For me to call someone with autism, an autistic person, is a disservice to my professional line of thinking, and chips away at the humanity of the child, or adult on the spectrum with whom I work with. Instead, I remind myself that I am working with a fellow human being, prior to pinning a label on that person. Hence, I do not work with autistic people, I do not work with ADHD people, I do not work with EF skill deficit people, but I work with people who may have such conditions. This is a metacognitive exercise in forcing the mind and heart to recognize and affiliate as a human prior to making a distinction about the person. I find that it DOES change my perspective from the onset, creating a bridge early on by which the rest of my interactions are impacted. Likewise, a POTUS and anybody else for that matter should be humanized as such. Any other way is not fair, and opens the door to a slightly dehumanized perspective on the person.
In the macrocosm that the President lives in most of the time, the unbelievable scrutiny in which he/she has to operate in consistently barrages their person, even as they work in what is termed ‘the bubble.’ It must be tantamount to a dream-like existence where ordinary rules simply do not hold like they hold for the rest of us folks. I cannot even fathom how a POTUS goes to sleep without zonking their head against a wall. They must all have sleep depravity. They have to be ‘on’ 24/7. Their executive function skill management is challenged to the hilt, with everyday bringing new humongous decisions to act upon (or not to act upon) that do affect the course of history.
I think it is healthy to humanize people because in doing so we humanize ourselves. It is not healthy to dehumanize someone due to their neurological condition, their politics, or based on how we feel a certain day. I posit that doing so actually influences our physiology, and changes the quality of any discussion. Using our executive function skills as we go about forming our views, our daily decision-making, and how we treat one another, forms and shapes our mind and brain can include daily benchmarks, or pivot points that we hold ourselves to, rather than letting our ‘knee-jerk’ emotions kick in and over-ride the use of these frontal lobe skills. Respect for people, even if we dislike them, is respect for humanity, and that metacognitive thought process (thinking about my thinking, or how we approach the world with our thought process) is a worthwhile exercise that strengthens not just our physiology and our executive function skills, but also, in very important ways, the fabric that makes a country thrive.