The Worst of Mother Nature, the Best of Human Nature
I watched with interest the reaction to the devastating storms that ravaged much of the south and areas of Kentucky recently. Predictably, there was no shortage of media coverage and proclamations from elected officials promising all manner of help. But there was also something even more encouraging and inspirational: neighbors, friends and just plain strangers rushing to the scene to help.
As these volunteers dropped what they were doing to go and help people they didn’t even know, there emerged another interesting phenomenon. What mattered most is that people who lost just about everything needed help. What seemed to matter least (at least, in these moments of tragic despair) is just as remarkable.
Seems that no one bothered to ask if the person in need or those there to help were conservative or liberal, red or blue, vaccinated or not. Gender, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs were of no consequence. No one stopped to ask about their views on social issues, climate change, reimaging policing or education. In other words, so many of the issues that divide people were set aside in favor of the basic human need to help and to be helped. Similar examples have followed wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and the events of September 11, 2001. The best of human nature on full display
In his 2016 book "Tribe…On Homecoming and Belonging" best selling author Sebastian Junger argues that people have a naturally strong instinct to belong to a group defined by a clear purpose and understanding. He offers as evidence the early pull of English settlers to join tribal Native American society and more recently, the feeling of disconnectedness felt by returning combat veterans who experienced the strong bond of platoon life. Junger further offers that this may help explain why for so many, adversity can be seen as a blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered with a certain degree of wistful fondness.
Perhaps there is a lesson here for organizational leaders. To what extent can we create an atmosphere defined by a clear purpose and understanding, with little tolerance for those who place individual wishes ahead of those of the group? What would the organization look like, feel like and how would it perform over time if that were the case?
For more information on ways in which you can move your organization’s culture forward, contact me at email@example.com.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.