Adam Steele was very pleased by how his previous blue highways hero message was received and cascaded down through the organization. He decided to continue this messaging since he had learned that messages are more effective when they become a regular part of a person’s life. This message was about Jerry, a truck driver who he shared dinner with at a truck stop. The message that Adam shared about Jerry follows:
Jerry owned his own truck and carried food products from the Midwest states to cities on both coasts. As an independent driver, he could set his own delivery schedule. Throughout his travels, he would often be dismayed at the forgotten places in America that had not prospered. Many of these communities were “food deserts”. There was no retail grocery store for miles. The only source of food was a local food bank.
Jerry wanted to help. He worked with his client food companies to see if they would donate food for the communities he saw on his travels. It didn’t take long to fill up his truck with food that would otherwise go unsold. Then he took two weeks of vacation to make food deliveries to food banks. He decided to stay a few days in each community to get to know the people who came to the food bank. Their stories were heart breaking, and Jerry was overwhelmed with their gratitude for the food he brought.
On his way home, Jerry stopped at a truck stop. He met up with fellow food haulers and shared his story. The next thing he knew, other truckers decided to join him. It didn’t take long for truck drivers across America to join with Jerry in providing food for those in need.
Jerry’s caring initiative was an inspiration to others. He had no platform or organization behind him. It was just an idea. Jerry now knew that inspiring others didn’t require a position of authority or a “pulpit” to speak from. He could be effective in inspiring others to care out of the genuineness of their character.
Jerry’s idea spread throughout the trucking community by word of mouth. Many of those who were inspired by Jerry’s caring never actually met him. It was the genuine nature of what Jerry did that inspired them.
Jerry didn’t have to be charismatic to inspire others. What he did was simply tell the stories of those he helped. And those who followed Jerry soon had their own stories to tell.
Adam ended the message with a personal note:
“Inspiring others isn’t something that is done in front of a mass audience. We inspire when we convey our message by our acts and our concern for others. Mass audiences are effective in stoking fears and arousing passions, but the only way to reach a person’s heart is by a personal connection to them. What can each of us do to inspire others?”
* * *
“It’s precisely the people who are considered the least likely leaders who end up inspiring others the most. Everyday people and everyday acts of courage eventually change everything.”
– Ai-jen Poo (labor activist and co-director of Caring Across)