CL Session 2: John Stewart’s call to action


We’re in the living room at my brother in-laws house in Portland, the last night of a fabulous family reunion. It’s just before 11pm and the remaining four of us sit and play the last episode of the Daily Show with John Stewart. It’s been four days since the live broadcast – we’ve been dreading this moment. Together we are brave.

It’s funnier than I thought it would be. I was ready to bawl through the whole thing – but the opening, the parade of correspondents and meeting the staff was great fun. I loved the Wyatt Senac exchange the most.

But then – he invited us one more time to camera three. Closure. What he talked about next has been bouncing around in my head like a free play pinball.

What he said was, “Watch for bullshit”. Then he told us where and how to watch for it but what he came back to was the demand, “Watch for bullshit.”

See, that’s a call to action. That’s a demand on me. Us. It’s a demand he has been making on himself for 16 years and now he makes it of us. ‘Rise up’ he is saying. ‘Don’t cry for me, you are Buddha too. Watch for bullshit’.

I felt seen by John Stewart. We laughed (and cried) at the same things – I felt like we were in a conversation that I was contributing to. But as fantastic as that was – it’s not enough. Once we are in relationship, we must do something, create something – stop something. We need a call to action. We need someone to call a play.

Notice the chain of events here though – create great relationship first, then make a demand. Calling someone to action who doesn’t feel seen by you – will likely have negative results. Making a successful demand is only possible when your audience feels seen and heard, then it becomes a requirement.

As I get better at noticing if I feel seen by others and asking if they feel seen by me – the next step in creating productive relationships is to notice and practice the use of active verbs – calls to action. They don’t need to be perfect, but if they are conscious and in the context of a connected relationship – they work!



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