For a long time, my father refused to use email. There
were two reasons, neither of which involved being a Luddite.
First, he never really saw how email could give him benefits that letters and
phone calls already provided. Also typing was hard for him. My father used a
slow, two-finger, hunt and curse system, made more uncomfortable by his Dupuytren’s contracture.
That’s a disease that contracts the muscles of the palm, pulling the fingers
inward. The disease and discomfort became irrelevant when he found a compelling
reason to use email.
Dad had several friends from his college and Lutheran seminary days and they,
with their wives formed what they called “The Gutwasser Society.” There’s a
wonderful double meaning there.
“Gutwasser,” in German, means “good water” and the group drank more than
their share of beer. Also, Johannes Gutwasser was one of the first Lutheran
pastors sent to the New World. He lasted about six weeks. They thought that was
a pretty good example of how the Church picked people for various assignments.
Anyway, the members of the Gutwasser Society had a round robin letter that
they passed around for several decades, so they could keep up with each other.
Today, they would probably use Facebook, but it wasn’t available when my father
was alive. He and his friends began using email to stay in touch, which became
more and more important as many of them could no longer travel.
No argument persuaded them. Typing was still hard for my father and every
email session was a trial. It didn’t suddenly become easier. What changed was
emotional. My father had a strong, emotional reason to use email and so he did.
For change to happen, you need more than reasons. You need the power of
When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
that day in 1963, he understood that perfectly. That’s why he didn’t offer a
proposal and a five point plan. He didn’t support his remarks with the best
academic research available. He shared a dream.
It was a powerful one. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was almost a decade in the
past then. The dream had been shared with and shaped by many along the way. It
radiates out from that day to us.
Facts don’t do that. Only dreams have the power to inspire people to
Boss’s Bottom Line
If you want people to change, remember that they will need a reason that
resonates deep inside. Facts and arguments and slick communications will not do
Tomorrow, May 8, 2012, my friend Whitney Johnson’s book, Dare, Dream, Do, goes on sale. Please check it out.