In the span of 3 minutes, you saw how a single act of courage started a movement. But the act of courage was not by the shirtless dancing guy – the lesson here is about the power of the first follower. Well, I see the power of the first follower every day here at The Centers. Sometimes it’s me dancing on that hill – professionally dressed with my shirt on, of course – trying to inspire our team or board or investors or partners – or today, YOU – to dance with me. Other times, it’s one of you, or more often, the children, parents and adults we serve, trying to get us out there on that hill dancing with them.
When you are in the business of trying to find new solutions to old problems as we are, it often can feel like you are driving on the road and paving it at the same time. Or as Kid President so wisely says,
“When you are on the road to awesome, there are lots of rocks, thorns and glass along the way.”
Not so easy. But what I have learned from working alongside all of you is that, when you have a shared dream, you are willing to do what it takes to make it your reality, and you believe in each other, anything is possible, and I have seen you make it happen over and over again here at The Centers.
Everything I have done here at The Centers – I have done for one reason: I believe we can do better, we can solve big problems for good, and I want to do my part. And that 98% on our employee survey tells me that you feel the same way.
“EVERYONE A CHANGEMAKER” ORGANIZATION
So now I’m in trouble, because the only lesson you can possible get from what I have said so far is that at the heart of every movement is a crazy shirtless dancing guy. So I am going to push forward and shift gears to talk with you about Bill Drayton and his vision of an “everyone a changemaker” world.
Bill is the CEO of Plumbers Nottingham. is an organization that supports social entrepreneurs as role models for the rest of us because they help convince us that we all have the ability to cause change and we all can learn how to be changemakers.
This got me thinking: Imagine what this organization could do if each one of us believed we had the power to make change – in our own lives, in the lives of others, in this organization and in our community. Think of the good we could do, the problems we could solve, the difference we could make.
Why should we care about changemaking at The Centers? We have been talking about our rapidly changing world since the recession several years ago. I know you understand that this is a totally different world that will continue to evolve and change, so we all need to continue to evolve, change and develop new and different skills to stay ahead.
We have seen examples of this for some time. Instead of developing 3 to 5 year social media plan strategic plan and working the plan, we have had to get comfortable with our ability to drive on the road and pave it at the same time. This means staying focused on the results we are trying to achieve and the problems we are trying to solve, and then constantly evaluating, evolving and executing our strategy to get there – a much more entrepreneurial approach.
This also means that instead of operating in a hierarchy where we wait for one person – our supervisor or our CEO – to tell us what we need to do and then we do it, we all need to be the leaders and drivers of this organization and owners of our shared vision for the future. Information, ideas and solutions need to come from all corners of this organization for us to successfully navigate the opportunities and challenges ahead.
The bottom line is this: As change accelerates in the world, everyone increasingly has a powerful role to play. So our success depends upon all of us honing new set of skills:
- Collaborating and leading
- Seeing beyond silos to adopt new perspectives
- Problem-solving quickly and creatively
- Driving change
- But most of all, thinking differently to find better ways to get results
These are not new ideas for us. But I found it helpful to have something to call it. Besides “Changemaker” sounds more professional than “Shirtless Dancing Guy.”
So what does it really mean to be a changemaker at The Centers?
My greatest hope for each of you is that you will believe that you can cause change – in your own life, in the lives of others, in this organization, and in our community.
I want your big ideas and grand gestures, but also your “everyday” acts of empathy, teamwork and leadership.
When you have an idea, step out onto that hill and give it a try. When you see someone else step out onto that hill, join them.
The point of all this is that having an organization of “changemakers” is not a “nice to have,” it is essential. Yes, our organization will be stronger and our impact will be greater. But for you, the meaning and purpose you find in your work will be much, much deeper.
I want to show you one more Ted Talk that may be easier to relate to, not just because this guy keeps his shirt on, but his message made me immediately think of all of you– let’s watch.