In 2009 Simon Sinek spoke a wonderful 18 minute Ted Talk segment entitled "How Great Leaders Inspire Action". As of this writing Simon's talk has enjoyed 10,216,984 views on the Ted site and countless more on other sites where it is now posted. What he tells us is that great leaders and organizations start with their "WHY" and then build out their how and what and when. This is an excellent inspirational concept that led to his book entitled "Start With Why". http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html
Some six years before Simon Sinek's groundbreaking work Paula King, John Rust and a handful of concerned Putnam Contains' were at work cultivating their own "why" which would become Power of Putnam. For those interested in becoming a part of this movement it is good to first understand our "why" . . . why we are here, why we do this.
The "why" was pretty clear for Paula and John and after ten years of growth our why is still clear to us. In 2003 a methamphetamine epidemic was ravaging many lives. We had seen all kinds of drug challenges but nothing like this. Children by the hundreds were coming out of deadly toxic homes and straight into state custody and foster care. Removed from contaminated homes these kids were not allowed to take anything with them . . . no teddy bear, no book, not even the clothes they were wearing. Many meth addicted parents were not even trying to get their kids back. The next hit of meth seemed way more important. The foster care system in Tennessee was buckling under the load. Our WHY was (and still is) that we are people who cannot stand by and watch the toll drugs and underage drinking are taking on the lives of our children and families and not try to do something about it. People are hurting and dying. That drives us to act. The first project was creation of care packages for these "meth" children. Instead of nothing they would immediately have books, and clothes and snacks and coloring books and some toys and yes a teddy bear they could hold onto through the process.
Ten years of growth have given us many new tools as well as many new challenges. At the center of it all our why remains that we simply can't know what we know and not work to bring change. Our current epidemic is prescription narcotic addiction. This one in many ways is even worse than meth. We know meth is a killer. Pain killers seem safe. After all they are approved by the FDA and distributed by doctors, and they kill pain right? Nobody wants any pain. But the truth is narcotic pain killers kill people too, good well meaning people, moms and dads, teachers and students, our neighbors. Narcotic overdoses have now flown past car crashes as a cause of death in Tennessee. Narcotic addiction is every bit as real as meth addiction and can come just as quickly.
Meth addiction comes from the bad choice to use an illegal drug. Narcotic addiction can begin much more subtly and innocently with the need to deal with some kind of pain, directions from a doctor and medicine from a pharmacy. Both end in loss of health, family, careers, all too often life itself. Power of Putnam's why is that we can't know this and watch this happen and not do our best to change it. If you share this why please come join us. Hit that "get involved" link up at the top right now. Together we CAN make a difference. If you are already with Power of Putnam bring a friend. To end on a positive note we are making progress. Our efforts are being recognized as frontline best practices. I look forward to sharing more about this in my next post. Join us!