Postcard from Asheville, NC
I've been reading Seth Godin's wonderful book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. In it, he suggests that rather than marketing directly to people, companies and organizations should encourage consumers to market to each other. The connection between people is far more powerful than television sales or even word-of-mouth marketing.
Godin's premise is based upon a basic truth: within most of us is a desire to be a member of a group or "tribe." Godin suggests that members of a tribe want six things:
- To Make a Difference
- To Be Noticed
- To Matter
- To Be Missed
You are my tribe, and I hope we can stay connected, not only through this eNewsletter but through several social networking sites. If we have not connected yet, would you connect with me?
This month, we'll look at "lessons from a sick friend."
My oldest brother's heart stopped beating at 10:57 a.m. on July 21, 2005. Months later, one of my dearest friend's heart started beating erratically. She thought she was going to die. In the ambulance on the way to the emergency room she prayed for surrender while trying to understand why this was happening to her at forty-nine. She survived and is still sorting through the experience. Now, one of my dear friends has been diagnosed with lymphoma. One day he had a severe backache, and the next he was in the hospital undergoing a relentless series of tests.
I feel helpless. He's in New York; I am in Asheville, North Carolina. I talk to him when he has the strength to call. He doesn't want me to come to New York. Not yet. Still, I want to go right now. If I am honest, it's more for me than for him. I need to see him to believe this is really happening. But for now, all I can do is wait.
I am not alone; I'm one of his many close friends who are waiting. I knew he had a lot of friends. I used to tease him that his Rolodex was the size of a car tire, but I had no idea how many of those people felt as close to him as I do. My friend has a unique way of making each of us feel special.
Mother Teresa once said, "The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small." No one understands this better than my friend. His family circle is a wide one.
Illness, divorce, death, and other life losses can break us open. Personas shattered, we find ourselves as vulnerable as a newborn chicks. Looking around us, we see pain and suffering. If our compassion is awakened, connection cannot be far behind.
I am learning that nothing matters more in life than connection. It won't be the title, fancy car, or money in the bank that defines my days; it will be those I loved and those who loved me. As I write this, my eyes fill with tears. I missed this lesson for most of my life. I've been too preoccupied with work, with my constant doing, to forge such strong connections, and connections are the juice of life.
I am beginning to embrace a universal truth: we are all one. Piero Ferrucci in his book The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life shares the beautiful Jewish story of a good king who is dying. Before his weeping subjects, he calls for an arrow and asks the weakest of them to break it. A frail man steps forward and does so with ease. The king then asks for the strongest of them to break a bundle of arrows bound together. Despite all the strongest man's efforts, he cannot do it. The king says to his subjects, "As my inheritance, I bequeath to you the union among you all. Be united with one another. This oneness will give you great strength, which alone you would never be able to attain."
In this age of individualism perhaps we are missing the gift of our inheritance: our unity. When we recognize we are all one—when we focus on relationships—we lead stronger, kinder, and more fulfilled lives.
Tip of the Week
Portia Nelson (1920-2001) was a singer, songwriter, actress, painter, photographer, and author. Among her many accomplishments, she appeared on Broadway in numerous productions, hosted the radio program Sunday in New York, appeared in films like The Sound of Music, Dr. Doolittle, and The Trouble with Angels, as well as in the television soap opera All My Children.