Do you ever find yourself overly focusing on key groups?
I do this even when I don’t mean to.
It’s the school communicator’s way, I guess.
To have our radar on.
To have our antennae primed.
All so we can be extra sensitive to –
this year’s class of high school graduates,
this roster of incoming kindergartners,
this segment of school election voters,
and of course, the direction outlined by our school board.
(Just to name a few…)
For sure, we wouldn’t be very good at what we do if we pursued our communication goals without FIRST fully identifying each of our “intended audiences.”
And for the most part, doing this well consistently yields the intended results.
But every once in a while, I think our ability to “audience define” and categorize groups causes us to miss something.
And I don’t want this to happen on Memorial Day 2017.
Now maybe it’s just me.
(Cindy says it always is… so you’re safe.)
But when I see hundreds of flags and flowers at the cemetery, I’ll typically think the ultimate sacrifice made by the men and women who served in our armed forces was some kind of gigantic “group activity.”
Our World War II heroes did this.
Our Vietnam heroes did that.
And Gulf War heroes did both this and that.
Each group stood tall and sacrificed on our behalf.
And thus has been my goofy “group think,” and apparently, I’ve been nurturing it for quite a while.
Because I’m now ashamed to admit to you that whenever I’m at an observance and I see there’s a long list of names on the program about to be read aloud slowly and respectfully, I’ll always sigh inwardly, “Oh brother, how long is this going to take?”
Not any more.
What poked me in the gut and straight to the heart was a little excerpt in Mark Schaefer’s book KNOWN.
I won’t get into any of the personal branding tips in the book today, but I found KNOWN a fascinating read because Schaefer presents so many short real-world communication life lessons from real-world everyday people.
One of these stories came from a woman who grew up in India as a young girl, where her parents worked alongside Mother Teresa for a time.
The woman recalls how when she was 8 years old, she was allowed to accompany Mother Teresa as she cared for the hurting, the shunned, and impoverished.
It was an overwhelming experience.
The “groups” of people in need were huge!
Mother Teresa noticed the young girl’s feelings of realistic despair and asked about it.
The girl responded by asking Mother Teresa a question of her own; if she – Mother Teresa – ever felt totally overwhelmed and hopeless by the choice to be in the midst of these masses of people and all of their pain everyday.
It only took the woman one paragraph in Schaefer’s book to describe the lesson Mother Teresa taught her: Every Raindrop Matters.
This is an amazing perspective, don’tcha think?
And please… I’m not trying to be preachy or anything.
I just know that – for me – I’ll never look at a group of gravestones or that long list of the names on a Memorial Day program the same way again.
And hopefully, even in my school PR work, I’ll remember Mother Teresa’s bottom line.
Every Raindrop Matters.
You matter, too – and thanks for letting me share this today.
I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day with the people who matter the most to you.
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