Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Crowd or A Community?

The difference is simple. A crowd consists of a group of individuals who are all in one place. They all have a place to go and will push, pull, shove, yell, or sneak past other individuals in order to get where they need to go. The individuals in a crowd spend more time running into each other or wandering aimlessly than getting to their destination. Like a crowd, a community consists of a group of individuals who are all in one place. They too have a place to go. However, these individuals look to each other and realize that only by working together can they reach their destination.

This is a wonderful analogy that works well beyond the marketing space or its literal meaning (although appropriate in either case). As wonderful as it is, I have to confess - these words aren't mine. They were spoken by a young man with an insprirational story - Doug Ulman. Doug is President/CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. After beating cancer three times before he was 21, Doug has worked every day since to defy this terrible disease. A leader in every sense, Doug was asked to participate in a discussion during an evening of music, cocktails, and inspriational stories for the Tony Griffen Foundation - which has another truly remarkable story (hint: Coast to Coast, over 4500 miles, on a bike). What I found so profound was that this group of individuals, of all different backgrounds, and brought together by a common experience, personal or otherwise, have recognized the power of community and have reacted in a truly remarkable and provocative way to deliver change and inspire others to act. Even though they were touched by tragedy, they allowed themselves to submit to the passion that was burning within them. It may not have been the rational way to react. It may not have been what was expected by friends or family. In many cases, it turned the world as they knew it upside down. But they committed to act and delivered on this commitment. As a result they have stretched the boundaries of human possibility and become true global citizens. The ability to allow themselves to adhere to their passion, versus what would be expected, is what seperates those with remarkable stories from the rest of us.

It is lessons like these that resonate most with me. The ability to not only determine your passion, but embrace it without pretence, takes unimaginable courage.