When I was growing up, “The Monster at the End of this Book”, a Sesame Street book starring Grover, was my absolute FAVORITE! Many of you probably remember it, either from reading it as a child or reading it to your children later in life. In fact, it was a Christmas gift to each of my older children a few years ago. I bring it up now because it really proves a very important point that all of us in the Organization Management industry should keep in mind.
Grover PLEADED with us…he BEGGED us…not to turn a single page because, as the title indicates, there is a MONSTER at the end of the book! But what did we do? WE TURNED ANOTHER PAGE!!!!! Why did we do that? Clearly we had been warned about the monster, and yet we turned the page. Grover was telling us how scared he was of the monster and that WE should be afraid as well, but we kept turning pages. Grover tied the pages together, built brick walls to stop us, but we kept turning pages.
I suspect we did it because we were curious about what would happen next. It was HILARIOUS to watch Grover get so upset and exasperated every time we broke through his best efforts to turn yet another page, coming ever closer to that monster he kept warning us about. And I suspect that’s why you opened the email that led you to this post…you were curious about what would happen if you DID open it…if you disobeyed the direct plea to leave it alone.
The lesson is simple. We can’t just tell people what we want them to do, we have to tell them WHY. Telling them that a monster might appear isn’t good enough…we have to SHOW THEM the monster. That’s why it’s so important to tell our stories well. I’m a FIRM believer that your entire staff should be present at your Board meetings. Telling them what they should or shouldn’t be doing is nice, but they have to see the end of the book…they have to understand how we came to the decision. They need to see the monster…the Board of Directors who deliberated and voted on something they believed strongly in. We can’t just tell our members that we were instrumental in bringing jobs to town. We have to show them what those jobs mean in real dollars to every member of the community, whether they own a business or belong to our organization or not. We have to show them the monster…the image of what our town or our industry would look like if we weren’t fighting for their rights every day behind the scenes.
That’s it. Get better at telling your stories. Show your constituents the monster at the beginning and how you’re keeping that monster at bay, and they’ll follow you. Encourage them to “poke the bear”…to go against the grain just to see what happens…to keep turning pages…and you’re bound to come to the end of the book…
It’s your turn! What stories are YOU going to tell? How will you tell them better tomorrow than you did yesterday? What monsters lie at the end of YOUR book?
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