4 Hard-Learned Lessons about Inspiring a Movement

Photo by  Ashley Knedler   

Photo by Ashley Knedler 

“I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.”

-Maya Angelou

It was 90 days ago.

That’s all it has been since the launch of our new book Putting Soul Into Business: How the Benefit Corporation is Transforming American Business for Good.” And while we are pleased with getting it written and into the hands of good organizations and good people, we know our real work has just begun.

Writing a well-researched and thought-provoking manuscript is one thing. Leading a movement in your community and state is another.

But we both knew this is what we signed up for because it’s what runs deep in our collective DNAs. It is what we must do. It is our “calling.”

While we are still in the early miles of our marathon in getting the word out about the how transformative the benefit corporation movement can be to a business let alone people and planet, I thought I would share some vital lessons we have learned that are necessary if you wonder about doing something similar.

1.       Know without a doubt that this your passion

This really is an answer that is black and white to you. You feel it in your bones, in your cells and in your heart. If you aren’t unwavering in the passion for your mission, you should not take it on. There will be too many challenges, too many set-backs, too many “what am I doing here?” moments that will knock you down and you won’t have the energy or spirit to get back up.

2.       Communicate what you stand for clearly and precisely

You should know by heart the answer when someone asks you about your mission. It should roll off your tongue as if it’s been there since leaving the hospital on the day you were born. It should be crystal-clear in the mind of the receiver. Here’s what we stand for: We believe businesses play a critical role in shaping the health of our planet and our community. We help forward-thinking companies develop practices that positively impact people, planet and profit.

3.       Align yourself with the right people and organizations

So much time can be wasted diving down rabbit holes looking for supportive people and organizations. We have spent a lot of meetings (time and money) learning that who we thought would be helpful in pushing our movement forward were not that at all. Work extra hard to get aligned and connected with those few who believe in your mission. Ask for intros. Be persistent. And always be humble.

4.       Embrace change

You might have developed a well-thought-out map. You think your compass is infallible. But the road can quickly zig when you thought it would zag. Challenges will arise as you pursue your mission. Don’t be so fixated on the route you must follow as long as you’re moving toward your intended destination.

So, there you have our initial 4 lessons about what we learned so far. We will continue to share other tidbits with you about our mission to do something for the greater good. As I said at the beginning, we are just in the early miles of this marathon. Certainly, more lessons (hard-learned or otherwise) await us.

But regardless of what they may be, we have no doubt of being motivated to continue the journey. For proof, just see our lesson #1 above.

To get our new book, "Putting Soul Into Business: How the Benefit Corporation is Transforming American Business for Good," simply click here.



Tom Hering