How Relationships Can Change the World
The year is 1955. Post-World-War-II life has seen huge booms across the country: suburbs are popping up outside of every major city, and babies are being born at a record-pace. There is an exciting charge in the air…the United States has a ribbon of crackling energy weaving through every aspect of American life. Change is coming. Everyone knows it; everyone feels it.
The Civil Rights movement is ramping up, and last year, in 1954, the court ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education), further heralding the bugles of change.
It is March now, and Ella Fitzgerald, a songstress with a deep, rich voice and a penchant for jazz and scat singing, has been rising through the performing ranks. People have been reacting to her, embracing her new type of singing. But the Mocambo night club has just slammed a door in her face, declining her as a performer in their club.
Their reasoning: She’s an overweight black woman with no sex appeal who sings jazz—something they feel no one wants to hear or see.
But that ribbon of change that has been winding itself through America has pulled Marilyn Monroe into this story. She has personally called the Mocambo and informed them that if they would put Fitzgerald on the stage, she would personally attend every single night of the performance and sit in the front row, bringing an entourage of her famous friends with her.
They agreed, Marilyn upheld her word, and after her run at the Mocambo, Ella Fitzgerald later said, “After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She (Marilyn) was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”
This was a situation where one woman didn’t know the other, but she knew that she could step in and use her influence and privilege for good. She chose to make that connection and create that relationship, and the resulting positive changes rippled out into the world.
Relationships can change everything.
In this remarkable study of malpractice lawsuits in surgery from 2002, the findings are clear: “Interpersonal aspects of care, such as the communication behaviors of physicians, are often cited as central to patients’ decisions to initiate malpractice litigation.” Yes, you read that correctly. If the surgeon has a positive relationship with their patient, the patient is much less likely to sue if something goes awry on the operating table. That’s a stunning example of the power of relationships!
Relationships surround us. They are in our homes, in public, while we are shopping, while we are at work. Each and every one of them has the power to positively affect the world in myriad ways, if only we are willing to become agents of change.
Marilyn Monroe was willing. She saw how she could change someone’s life for the better, she believed in the cause, and she rose to the challenge. Amid all of the other things she was doing at the time in her busy schedule, she paused, accepted that mantle as her own, and wore it proudly in the front seats of the Mocambo night after night while Ella Fitzgerald poured her heart out on stage. It was a historic moment that luckily was captured by the shutter of a camera and has been lauded by activists ever since.
Here at BRM Institute, we’re also hearing the drums of change beating. We feel it in the air… change is coming!
Relationship-centric organizations are more effective in every way across the board. Employees are happier, ideas flow, and information silos are dismantled and distributed for the good of all, allowing wisdom and the experiences of others to be shared and learned from by everyone. This advances a culture where staff members feel safe expressing their ideas, and some of those ideas might be things that will change the world!
We are hard at work evolving our core principles and theorems, flexing our ability to change in order to rise to this occasion.
So, going with this running theory that real power rests in the many relationships surrounding you, let us ask you…
What are you doing to change the world?
For more inspiration regarding relationship building, please attend BRMConnect. We are dismantling age-old practices that no longer work, debunking ineffective management theory, and announcing exciting changes that will change the world.
Change is coming…and we’re here for it.
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