Copyright © Luanne Lawrence | All Rights Reserved
121 Middleton Way Sacramento CA 95864 US +1.916.698.2809 Luanne@LMLMarCom.com
Years ago Tina Turner belted the song, “We don’t need another hero.” Funny how that song has occupied my mind over the past several weeks. Protests and social media banter, a permissiveness to promulgate hate – I feel overwhelmed by the aimless anger and fears of America. In the midst of wild and impetuous self-expression, there is also chatter about saviors . Who will come to us and make everything right?
America has a historically rich list of inspirational men and women to look to when hope wans. Each one exhibited greatness and yet at the same time, part of their mystique is unearthed in their flaws. We know that heroes are imperfect, but today the hero pedestal is occupied with individuals, not just flawed, but openly acknowledging guilt for crimes, bigotry, bullying, vanity, greed and corruption. The idea that one person or some small group of people can save us or bring us to better times needs to be tabled. Today, we don’t need more heroes. We need to honor and elevate stories of goodness, collaboration and everyday kindness- the traits that once built America. Cultures are not changed by one person. They are shaped by the actions of many.
I am pleased to see my clients understanding that the storytelling that they need to promote is based on ordinary people who make others feel extraordinary. By not creating monikers like “Everyday Champion,” “Today’s Hero,” or “Tomorrow’s Leader,” they are adopting humbler approaches – telling the honest stories of how someone’s hard work and attitude made the company and/or the product better, more interesting, more useful. We cannot think about courage without also considering honor. We cannot change society if we continue to overlook serious flaws and celebrate bad behavior. As communicators, we can make our contributions in advancing stories of real American values.
Last week a television, in the midst of my usual Sunday NFL binge, a promo touted New England Patriot’s quarterback, Tom Brady, as the “American Hero.” In spite of what we learned in the “Deflate-Gate” scandal, Brady is called an “American Hero.” He is, after all, a winner – now tying Brett Favre for the NFL’s most winning quarterback. And winners are revered.
Winners seem to be able to return to the spotlight after egregious behavior. Pete Rose was banned from induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame and from the sport itself for gambling and was later incarcerated for tax invasion. And, yet, this year - in what is sure to be one of the most memorable World Series in MLB history - he sat next to steroid-guilty Alex Rodriguez on Fox News.
Outside of sports, the Kardashian family has made greed enticing and body altering an expectation of beauty. We have allowed them to shape our reality in spite of their “no boundaries” lifestyles.
If you know anything about television ratings, I suppose no one should have been surprised by the recent presidential election. Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead help make cruelty an acceptable standard. Television shows like Honey Boo-Boo, The Bachelor, Duck Dynasty and yes, the Apprentice, gave us a glimpse of America’s changing values. Television, film and the entertainment industry in general have increasingly promoted crime, disunity, disrespect, tension and violence.
What is needed now is a shift from arrogance and self-centered opinions to humility and awareness of others. We have tools that we can move from social self-promotion to community celebration. Instead of incessant selfies on Instagram, we can catch kindness in action. Instead of ranting on Facebook, we can post expressions of gratitude. We can stop pouring our money into material things and instead engage our time in helping others in need. And, it is hard to believe that I feel I need to say this, we can remember that differences are fabulous and not a reason to discriminate.
Chris Ulmer, the Florida teacher who engages all of his special education students in 10 minutes of compliments daily, helped me think about a new model of American Courage. As marketers, we can be part of the solution toward “Making America Great Again,” by capturing good people doing great things. Chris Ulmer took what he knew was working in his classroom and started a blog that would help other teachers create the same environment he built in his one small classroom. He is not a hero. He is a good teacher employing a best practice in his classroom. By taking good ideas and people who embody American values to the peak of our communications’ platforms, we remind everyone who engages with our organizations that they are part of a bigger engine – one that chugs to a different beat than the national rhetoric of present.
“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;
Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.