I didn’t send this out on Monday like usual, I bet you thought I forgot. I’ve sent this newsletter every single week for 417 consecutive weeks (9 yrs). I’d never forget to do that. This particular message was really timelier to send today, here’s why.
Disclaimer: I lost friends who worked in the world trade centers on 9/11. It was the most horrific national tragedy we may ever know. I share our nation’s grief and extend my condolences to everyone who has lost a friend or loved one on 9/11. This post is in no way meant to offend anyone, rather it’s meant to be a voice of positive change.
364 days of the year we wake up to the same old news and the usual status updates on Facebook and Twitter. And on September 11th they look dramatically different. An all day loop of media features about 9/11 and tons of people change their profile picture to the Twin Towers with #NeverForget.
Then on September 12th guess what, almost everyone forgets. Many will revert back to spending the next 364 days complaining about how long they have to wait in line at airport security or the inconvenience of having to take off their shoes to go through the TSA checkpoint. Sadly, never forget is quickly forgotten and profile pics go back to being head shots. This year marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11 so maybe it will be different but I doubt it.
It isn’t just the #NeverForget of 9/11 that people forget a day later. It’s also most workplace initiatives that quickly get forgotten. Why? Because your people need a model to see not just a motto to say.
Sadly we’ve become a nation of slogans and hashtags and it’s replaced actual activism with “slacktivism”. I’ve never seen a hashtag solve oppression, a meme that ended world hunger or a selfie that cured cancer.
We need to put the “human” back in humanity.
Inspirational posters with the caption “MOTIVATION” don’t actually motivate people and clever mission statements posted on a wall never set anyone on a mission. But do you know what does? Leaders who model the mission through their actions every day. When you’re a model to see, you unlock the hidden energy in your organization because your example resonates on a deeper level than #Words. To quote my friend Steve Shenbaum “we need to take the picture off the wall and bring it to life”.
Being a model to see and leading by example was my intention in founding Blue Ribbon Walk which will take place in 17 states on Saturday and Sunday 9/10-11. Walk not talk, rubber meeting road, action not words. In 2009 Congress declared 9/11 aka Patriot Day be recognized as a national day of service. They even built a website as a resource of different ways you can serve your community via your actions. I scoured the site and couldn’t find anything about posting memes, hashtags or selfies.
The Power of Being A Model To See
Perhaps you’ve heard of a little company called Nike. They went from $877 million in revenue in 1988 to $9.2 billion in 1998. Nike CEO Phil Knight attributes this growth to three simple words: JUST DO IT. With this motto he claims they went from 18% market share to 43% in a decade.
With all due respect to Mr. Knight, I think he’s dead wrong. I would say, it wasn’t the motto that took their market share from 18% to 43%. It was the model (or campaign) where you actually saw people JUST DO IT and encourage you to just do it. I don’t mean popular commercials with household names like: Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan and John McEnroe, I mean the Average Joes like Walt Stack…
It seems we’ve stopped doing it. Now we just watch it, talk about it or worse yet #HashTagIt to give the appearance of doing something. Case in point, 80% of the sneakers sold in the US are never used for the activities for which they are designed.
But my Nike boots are made for walking and that’s just what I’ll do this weekend. Please lead by example on 9/11 this year. You can join me, I’m walking 50 miles in police boots and a 20 lb tactical vest to raise $10k to help families of officers killed in the line of duty through an organization called Concerns of Police Survivors. Or go to serve.gov and choose an organization to help in your local community.