By John Hope Bryant, Thunderbird Global Business Dialogue Speaker
One thing that my 19 years as founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE has taught me is that helping folks is not so easy, and that often, “no good deed shall go unpunished.” That said, we should all “do good anyway.”
For confirmation of this, just look at many of my heroes, from Jesus Christ, to the more earthly saints such as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. All of my heroes and sheroes, long since past in the human body and form we relate to, live on today, arguably larger, more brilliantly and more impactful than ever. In my work, I never doubt that it is all worth it. But boy this work can get so very frustrating at times! And this is why my favorite chapter of my bestselling business book, “Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World” (Jossey-Bass) is “Loss Creates Leaders.”
Have we become so cynical as a society that we no longer believe that there are actually people out there who simply want to help, serve, represent and empower people who may not have a full “voice” of their own?
“Be skeptical, but don’t be cynical, because to be cynical is to be without hope.”
— Ambassador Andrew Young
At a time when the world needs leaders and leadership more than ever, some have decided to become experts in what they are against rather than what they are for. No good deed shall go unpunished.
On occasion someone is turned off because I have a “strong view” of the world and our work, or alternatively I am what some might call “charismatic.” Didn’t the founder of Wal-Mart have a strong view of the world as it relates to his work? Didn’t the founder of Microsoft, and Apple and even the National Council of Negro Women, for that matter? And, well, the list goes on and on and on from there.
The point is, you want people who have a strong vision and a track record to back it up, open, of course, to other views, but a strong vision all the same.
I am reminded of something told to me by an otherwise unassuming businessman during a trip to Vienna, Austria for Global Dignity. Right when I thought I had nothing to learn from this man sitting next to me, he told me something that changed my life. He said, “John, the greatest sin in the world is not to do bad. All men will do bad, thus all men will sin. The greatest sin is not to do good when you could.”
Let’s stop focusing on what we think we should “get” from this world, or how “just and fair” we think this world should be, and begin to focus on what we have to “give,” just because we can. I guarantee you that you will feel fantastic when you do, even if the real rewards for such actions are nowhere in sight.
Help us make financial literacy empowerment the new civil rights issue for our generation, a global silver rights empowerment tool for generations to come, and ultimately, “capitalism for all people.” No good deed shall go unpunished, but do good anyway.
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader; founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies; CEO of Inc. Magazine; bestselling business author of “Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World” (Jossey-Bass); and Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama.
Operation HOPE, founded immediately following the Rodney King Riots of 1992 in South Central Los Angeles, born of a dream with one employee and a $61,000 operating budget, today has 5,000 partners from government, community and the private sector, more than 15,000 HOPE Corps volunteers. It is active in more than 70 urban communities in America, and internationally it is active in South Africa, Morocco and, through affiliates, Finland and Norway. Operation HOPE has served more than 1.5 million mostly low-wealth individuals and has directed some $1 billion in private capital to America’s most challenged, underserved and inner-city communities.
Thunderbird Global Business Dialgoue: Redefining Global Leadership, Nov. 10-11, 2011, Thunderbird School of Global Management campus, Glendale, Arizona.