I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
~ Maya Angelou
I haven’t seen the Groupon TV ads that caused such a stink after being aired on the 2011 Super Bowl, but I’m pretty sure I know what the problem was. Not because I’m psychic, but because it’s the only real problem any of us have every minute of our lives: a deep enough answer to the question, “Who am I?”
Individuals, organizations––it’s all the same.
Without a ferocious commitment to, not just explore that question, but also to live in accordance with our ever-deepening answer––some level of disconnection is the only sure result. How many times have you experienced an ad, a film, a piece of architecture, a t-shirt, a song, a world leader’s view of life, you name it, and felt from the core of your being, “Yessssss!”?
When it comes to any form of communication, too often the very best we experience is someone’s mistaken belief that ego-driven cuteness is the same as creativity that prompts the heart to smile with gratitude.
I’d bet “the heart smiling with gratitude” wasn’t one of the criteria the CEO of Groupon gave to the company’s ad team. And that’s a shame, for the heart’s delight is one of the surest ways to get your audience to remember you kindly––something that happens only by connecting with them in a manner that celebrates the innate beauty and possibility of who they (and all of us) really are.
And, since energy doesn’t lie, to do it, we have to mean it.
There’s the rub.
Saving the planet, losing weight, good grades, going to church, killing Osama bin Laden, making the numbers, being “right”, yada-yada.... Many of us have been seduced by the notion that there are things more important than growing our capacity to love––growing our ability to focus every ounce of energy on beauty, harmony, kindness, understanding, joy, forgiveness, playfulness, respect and so forth...i.e., who we really are beneath all our fear, if you ask me.
And, not incidentally, those qualities are a big reason any person or company is able to cultivate that rarest of capabilities––responding well to adversity or opportunity: the key to sustained vitality.
Here’s the thing. Just because the communication of most organizations fails to leave our heart smiling with gratitude doesn’t mean the leaders of those organizations are nitwits or heartless cretins. What it means mostly is that learning to love is the hardest job on earth.