Do People Remember Your Story?

| by Shannon Williams

Mission statements are important. They help define who we are as an organization and give us boundaries in which we can operate. However, most mission statements are not memorable. Take this one for example . . .

To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

That sounds noble enough, but it doesn’t captivate me. It doesn’t draw me in and make me want to learn more. If you think about it, this mission statement could apply to many different organizations. It happens to belong to the Boys & Girls Club. With all due respect to the Boys & Girls Club, the first thing I think of when I think of them is not their mission statement, but instead a story I heard from one of their members  . . .

LeVelle Moton is the head basketball coach of North Carolina Central University, but he grew up as a Boys & Girls Club kid. I can’t do his story justice, but here is how I recall hearing it at one of their annual breakfast events. . .

He said that as a boy he received free lunch at school. In those days he had a ticket that he showed each day to get his lunch. As a youngster, he did not understand that he had the ticket because he was poor. He just knew it got him lunch.

We all know kids can be cruel—eventually classmates let him know that his ticket was his low-income Scarlett Letter. Upon this revelation, he was confused, embarrassed, and as I recall, his self-esteem took a hit.

Fortunately for LeVelle, he found a refuge from the cruelty of his peers and the challenges of his circumstances at The Boys & Girls Club.

At the Boys & Girls Club LeVelle learned that no matter who paid for his lunch, he was a kid with great potential. He was good, smart, capable—the counselors at the Boys & Girls Club believed in him, invested in him, and helped him find a path that would ultimately lead him to the success he enjoys as a Division I men’s basketball coach today.

LeVelle ended his story by pulling the tattered, old lunch ticket out of his wallet. He explained that he still carries it every day of a reminder of who he is and where he has come from.

Now, that is a memorable story! Stories are what connect people to our organizations not mission statements. So, what is your story? Join our conversation.

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