Aside from being an incredible leader and voice for civil rights, Martin Luther King may be the best example of how to inspire followers that we have ever known. We are all in a position to have to inspire followers whether you’re a parent, teacher, politician or small business owner. The bottom line is we are all trying our best to move people. To inspire action. To get people to follow.
I believe entrepreneurs and small business owners have a special role in this regard and have a great deal to learn from MLK. Being in business today is first and foremost about being found and creating followers. They’re called ‘followers’ on social networks for a reason. I used MLK as an example at my platform presentation last week at ImagingUSA. Funny, it didn’t occur to me how soon it would be to the day we honor him. But I can’t help but think about what I said last week. I posed the following question, “How did Martin Luther King get 250,000 to show up to hear him give a speech in Washington, DC before facebook and twitter were even invented to spread the word”?
Most of the people in Washington, DC that day would never see him or barely be close enough to even hear him. Why did they show up? The reason a quarter of a million people showed up is because they wanted to demonstrate that they believed what he believed. He shared his dreams. “I have a dream”, was the speech. And crowds of people showed up to proclaim that they shared that dream. A dream that people would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Where freedom would ring and we’d all be free at last. Decades later, Martin Luther King still has hundreds of thousands of followers who still believe what he believed. I am just one of them.
What I take most from his life is the ability to inspire others to follow. I believe it is what we are called to do as creative entrepreneurs and socially conscious small business owners. We must live and work in integrity and be examples of trust and honesty. It is our duty to build relationships in the neighborhoods we serve. It is our calling to give back to the world and communities we derive our livelihood from. We must share our dreams and values with those we intend on serving and if they believe what we believe, if they value what we value, the people we are meant to serve will show up. Just like they did for Martin Luther King. Then in business, there’s no more us and them, business and client. There’s just “we”. We work together with a common objective, create amazing value and I believe we can change the world one business transaction at a time. Building relationships. Establishing trust. Instilling honesty. Creating beauty.
It may be a big dream, but I am sharing it today, on this day of dreamers. That we, as small business owners, as servant entrepreneurs, change the world one transaction and one client at a time. If you believe what I believe, will you join me?