My dear friend and colleague, Ron Schultz, has recently edited and released a profound book called Creating Good Work, which is a compilation of essays by some of today’s greatest social entrepreneurs.
One of the themes that emerges from reading these amazing individuals is that their success in changing the world transcends their own individuality. They’d be loath to call themselves heroes. And they’d probably not be very comfortable with the appellation of “amazing individual,” either.
In a post for CSRWire, Ron observes that, “If — as Todd Khozein, Carrie Freeman, Michael Karlberg and Ron Garan insist in Creating Good Work — collaboration is our only real hope to attain the kind of reach we are seeking to solve our social challenges, then continuing to focus and proclaim the lone and heroic efforts of individuals goes against the tide.”
He goes on to say,
“We need to consciously begin creating Social Innovation Collaboratives, that have at their core not the veneration of the individual, but the salvation of our society. It is together, as social innovation collaborators, that we can reach our goals.
“And in this reformulation process, we don’t have to exhaust ourselves trying to lift the burdens we face, alone. We aren’t made for that kind of Herculean labor. We simply aren’t as effective alone as we are when we join together as a social unit reaching far into our societies, to shift the often un-shifting with our collective effort.
“So social entrepreneurs: don’t let go of your vision, but do let go of your need to do it alone.
“We don’t need a gazillion social entrepreneurial efforts vying for the same scant resources and accomplishing only a bit of the picture because the focus settles on the idea that ‘I have to do it’ rather than ‘only we can do it together.’
“Social Innovation Collaboratives find funding together, share capacity together, reach deeper and further together, and accomplish more together. More than we can ever hope to accomplish alone.”
Amen to that.
It’s easy for us to mistake Extreme Leadership for Extreme Individual Heroism; however, the greatest leaders that I’ve met over years, never focus the attention on their own greatness, and they most certainly never–never, ever–try to change the world alone.
So how about you? Are you trying to be a hero, or are you trying to change the world?
It seems they’re mutually exclusive aspirations, after all.