Yesterday, I went to a terrific talk sponsored by the Yes Men (which if you haven’t heard of them, you should definitely check out their satircal spoofs…like here…and here…). The speaker, Carne Ross, author of a newly released book called The Leaderless Revolution, described his vision for the 21st century where change occurred at what he called an individual level, from the bottom up, instead of continuing to rely on leaders (government, business, etc.) to do so from the top down. In his view, of which I am in agreement, it is more than possible and likely imperative that if we want to create positive change, it will likely come from us…we can empower and support each other to shape the world in ways, both big and small, for the better. As he shared his thoughts, one thing in particular jumped out at me. He said that one of the main reasons we don’t believe that the idea of leaderless change is possible is because we fundamentally don’t believe in people and don’t trust others. It was a powerful statement. Especially juxtaposed against the backdrop that such examples of leaderless change occur all the time.
Case in point…
Here’s a story about a family-owned hardware store that had served a small community in the suburbs of Cleveland for the past 72 years was about to go out of business. And then one note, by one community member named Jim Black, spurred friends and strangers to help.
“Let’s show our support for one of our local businesses. I challenge everyone to spend AT LEAST $20 at the hardware on the 21st.”
And of course, something fantastic happened…
Black’s note was forwarded and forwarded and forwarded again. Calls started coming in from folks out of state who wanted to make a purchase over the phone.
And when the day came, so did the shoppers — one by one, with dogs on leashes and children in tow, hour after hour until the hardware was teeming with customers
The store has seen its share of tough times. Road construction on Main Street at the store’s front door some years back crippled business for a time. More recently, the weakened economy and the big boxes have stolen away customers.
On this day, though, those storylines were forgotten.
By 10 a.m. the place was jammed. By 1:30 p.m., the credit card machine was overloaded and had to be reset. “This is so cool,” said owner, Steve Shutts, a mix of joy, wonder and happy exhaustion spread across his face. “I’ve seen people today I haven’t seen in years.”
One compassionate person, one spark spreading to others, spurring a community to take action, resulting in positive impact for everyone involved.
And I’m sure this is not an isolated instance. In fact, a year or two ago, I participated in a similar show of support for a coffee shop in Harlem. But, if you know or hear of other similar stories, please do share because I’d love to hear about them.
Have a Fantastic Friday everyone!