I was honored to speak recently at an event for area nonprofit organizations sponsored by our Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit Council and the United Way of the Northern Shenandoah Valley. I want to share a story I shared with this group that has been, for me, an incredibly vivid image to illustrate the power of combining strengths and talents collaboratively instead of working competitively.
It came from the 1989 movie A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story. You may be able to find it HERE on Amazon Prime. Mary Thomas, the mother of Detroit Piston’s great basketball player Isaiah Thomas, was a single mother raising her nine children in a Chicago neighborhood plagued by gangsters, drugs, and violence. In a moving scene, she gathered her children around her and emotionally told them they had to stick together, watch out for each other, and remember the values she had taught them.
To make her point, she held up a single wooden kitchen match and snapped it in two. I am paraphrasing her words, but she said, “This is what happens when we try to face this world on our own. It will crack and break us.”
Then she put ten of those matches in her hand, one for each member of their family. She tried to break the bundle, but it held strong. “This is how strong we can be,” she said, “when we stick together.
That scene has played out so many times in my mind when I’m tempted to “go it alone” or not ask for help. We humans are hard-wired for connection.
We should never forget that we’re stronger together.