It was 2008. In June Senator Barrack Obama became the Democratic presidential candidate. On November 4th he was elected President with 338 electoral votes. In March the government began to intervene in the U.S. financial system crisis. In May Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had the right to challenge their detention in federal court.
The Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Memphis Tigers to win the NCAA Basketball Championship. Randy Pausch released The Last Lecture, creating a nationwide conversation. John Grisham’s book, The Appeal, was released as was Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.
Charlton Heston, Bobby Fischer, William Buckley, Paul Newman, Tim Russert, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Suzanne Pleshette, and Cyd Charisse were among notable individuals who passed on.
By 2008 a small group of Orange County men had been meeting for several months reaching back into 2007. In its beginnings the group was convened at the invitation of Jeff Black and included Dave Elliott, Greg Arbues, Jeff Abbott, Bill Sanderson, myself and one other OC professional who had to step aside from participation because of a career change. By 2008 Denny Bellesi became part of the group. Since that time the group has met on the second Friday morning of each month.
Jeff did not have an agenda when we gathered the first few meetings. After several months, it became clear that the group would not operate with an agenda of shared action, but rather something unique would emerge. As Bill Sanderson has said on several occasions over the last few years about this monthly meeting…it is the only meeting he attends monthly where there is no agenda, no action plan of deliverables, yet always filled with unscripted meaning and outcome that brings influence for good to many, many people throughout Orange County.
Imagine you, my reader, reflecting upon your own experiences with a small group that you may have been involved with…perhaps a Vistage Group, a men’s or women’s group or a tight bond of friends that gather regularly and purposefully to connect.
What makes a group bonded while it moves month to month and year to year as a living entity? I believe it is found in the shared history that the group creates. Gathering for meaningful conversation does require vulnerability. It invites conversations of both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Such groups constantly paint on a landscape that connects the personal and the professional self. Such groups constantly carry forward into each meeting the residue of goodwill and blessing that comes from knowing what trusted relationships feel like.
Meeting monthly with this group of men has become a special gift to my life. It was the first time in my life that I had experienced such a bond. What I have found in the experience was surprising, as I believe it has been for the other men. What that means is…we have uncovered the shared worth of who we are to ourselves and to each other!
It was during 2008 our group made a big discovery together that would set into motion its influence for good. We discovered that we did not gather to create and initiate a shared agenda of action.
Instead, we discovered we gathered to explore mutual influence built on a principle…influence is organic not linear…as Sandra Day O’Connor concisely states in the weavings of individual threads from one to another creates something.
The men in this small group each bring their thread of good. They know they are bonded by the mutual strength of the individual threads that connect and interact.
At any particular meeting we may talk about one or more of those individual threads. In doing so, it is obvious that the bond of trust that shapes the group does strengthen each individual thread…in its own time…and way… for expression and action.
Does this group have fun in its monthly weaving of mutual influence? Absolutely! Does it listen openly and hear stories of expectancy and sorrow? Regularly! Does it welcome new ideas? Always. Does each meeting end with optimism? Continuously! Does the group honor its commitment of mutual friendship? At its core!
These men…Dave, Jeff, Greg, Jeff, Bill and Denny are Difference Makers in my life. They have come my way for me to learn a valued lesson: The life threads of others is what makes the canvass of Life stunning and strong!
These men are symbol and substance of the Good that comes to us and through us as we make ourselves available to one another for grander purposes than getting for ourselves alone.
It is the weaving of the threads that ultimately shapes the influence for good at home, at work and in the community.
Appreciating you on the ethical edge!