My father always told me there is power in numbers.
Typically he was referring to my work. Of course I believe that, having seen it throughout my life but largely wrote it off because of that “P” word at the end. When I thought of power, I considered it a dirty five-letter word that fuels the big guys on Wall Street; the ruthless “command and control” style leadership that dominated the earlier part of the century. No-thank-you.
While that association to the “P” word may be a reality in some cases, in others, power used for good, is about collaboration, inclusivity, and connectedness to drive change. Times are a-changin’ and the idea of power is shifting away from the one person/one institution dominance to more of the community powered, purpose-driven impact.
Power Through Community and Connectedness
Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN Inc., commented, “I’ve always had a philosophy that position doesn’t define power. Impact defines power. What impact are you making on people? What impact are you making on business? What impact are you making on the value of your company? Power comes from your ability to do that. Power comes from the relationships you build. Are you truly creating value and having an impact?”
Let’s look at America’s sweetheart tech company, Apple as an example. Apple, today, is among the most admired, progressive and powerful companies in our modern world. According to Simon Sinek, Apple’s success largely can be attributed to their purpose-driven, “start with why” first approach. He explained that Apple’s marketing positioning stems from the inside (purpose), out (computers). “With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
The entire philosophy and approach started with one guy in a garage who had an idea coupled with a whole lot of passion and drive, but it certainly didn’t come to fruition with one guy alone. Steve Jobs, renowned as one of the most visionary leaders of our time, created a community to help bring his vision to life and revolutionize technology as we know it.
Steve Jobs said, “My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
It all boils down to community. If I were Merriam-Webster, I would define community as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. If I were speaking in layman’s terms, I would say community is as simple as passionate people uniting to work towards something together. As was the case with Steve Jobs, community starts with just one person.
Community Starts With One
If you already have the passion and want to make an impact, how can you take it up a notch and be the one to start a community? Here are three ideas:
1. Surround yourself with the right people
The ones who have interests and dreams like you do, who believe in you, motivate you and inspire you to be the best possible version of yourself. Nutritionists tell us: “You are what you eat.” One could also argue, you are the people you surround yourself with. Choose wisely.
2. Give trust, to get trust
Believe in people, empower them and cultivate an environment where mistakes are safe, and growth is encouraged. Trust is maintained when our confidence in someone is consistently realized. Give that opportunity to others first in order to then receive it yourself.
3. Be actively engaged
Whether online or in person, community is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor. Touch points are vast, and there are always opportunities to connect, share and listen. Consistent active engagement models expected behavior, keeps ideas flowing and promotes relationships that unite people around common objectives.
When passionate people come together, great things happen. This is the very essence of community. And while there is strength in connectedness and unity, it all starts with one, one single person. Just like Steve Jobs, you too could be the one to mobilize your own community to make an impact on our world. All you have to do is start.
As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
If that’s power in numbers, then I guess Dad knows best.