"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ok don't laugh, but my Mom used to say something similar to me. Perhaps she got it from MLK? Or perhaps she got it from her father, Al Ansara, who was an extremely proud, hard working gentleman who worked almost every day of his life until he passed at 93. Either way, it's something I'm especially in tune with because I consider myself a very proud person and was implored growing up by my Mom and my Dad on the maxim: "if you're gonna take time to do something, do it right".
Pride. Pride is a very, very strong motivator. Without pride, our social fabric and industriousness is diminished. Think of a world where we move slower, where we aren't willing and able to take the extra step, where we don't take action when we see another in need. Where we don't get off the couch. Think of a world where we care less. Or not at all. Not a fun visual.
What about pride in the internet industry? How are we doing on that topic today? There are so many good people in our digital industry, and so many bright people too; and there are so many good things happening in our world, yet I know there is room for more pride.
Where might you see it? You'd see it everywhere: you'd see more action being taken. True proactive action. You'd see more individual responsibility. You'd see more accountability, and certainly more integrity. You'd hear more people using the phone, refusing to hide behind email (and thus avoiding even more ambiguity and bad communication in our business day). You'd see more bosses talking graciously and honestly with those they manage, offering real direction and guidance. You'd hear less posturing and conjecture, and more sincere dialogue about challenges and how collaboration could be driven to solve them. You'd probably also see and hear less 'ego' and 'self-promotion'. You'd see more human interaction and more care and concern for each other, despite your title, despite your rank, despite of course, your gender, age or ethnic background.
This is not an impossible ideal to strive towards, it can start right now with a simple conversation - not an email - between you and someone important to you. We can pull it off. We've pulled off a ton of good stuff so far!
I read a short article recently in Sports Illustrated about a young girl named Charlotte Brown who became the first-known legally blind athlete to compete at the state track and field meet in Texas. (She's from Emory, TX.)
I sat dumbfounded while reading this article about her achievement in mid May when she cleared 11' 0" in the pole vault event to finish 4th at the meet. Have you ever tried to pole vault? It takes an IMMENSE amount of strength, confidence, athleticism, and GUTS. I mean c'mon...you run with a heavy pole extended in your arms down a runway, plant the pole in the PERFECT spot at the perfect time, then lean back and let the energy thrust you UP and over a bar that's up higher than what most of us would want to dive off at our country swimming hole. Charlotte can't see the box where the pole gets planted, she can't see the bar, or the landing pit. But by counting her steps and using a high-frequency beeping device that alerts her when she's near the box, she makes a literal leap of faith.
Her personal best was 6 inches taller than what she cleared at the TX state meet in May but of course, that's not the story here. The story is her guts, courage and faith. She comments, "I think our fears are illusions, they're not really real. We just think they are."
LOVE LOVE LOVE this girl.
I have carried a torn page from SI on this story in my wallet for a month since I read it and still haven't found the courage to try something similar...perhaps the situation will present itself, however, and I'll think of Charlotte and use her energy to empower me. You too, I hope.