To accomplish the miraculous
you must attempt the ridiculous.
Before you attempt the ridiculous
you must announce it to the world.
If you don’t have the courage to announce it,
you must at least whisper it in the dark.
Because it must be spoken.
You’ve got to hear yourself say it.
And then you’ve got to take action.
Are you sufficiently ridiculous to do this?
You’ve never heard of Columbus, Indiana. Not Ohio. Indiana.
And you’ve not likely heard of J. Irwin Miller. But perhaps you’ve heard of Cummins. The Cummins diesel engine? Cummins is headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, a town of about 40,000 people.
I’ll begin at the beginning.
Nine months and ten minutes after America’s soldiers came home from World War II, the Baby Boom began. The first of those children started school in 1953.
J. Irwin Miller was the CEO of Cummins at the time. When Miller saw the plans for the sadly uninspired school buildings the government was planning to build, he said something that many people considered ridiculous:
Every one of us lives and moves all his life within the limitations, sight, and influence of architecture – at home, at school, at church and at work. The influence of architecture with which we are surrounded in our youth affects our lives, our standards, our tastes when we are grown, just as the influence of the parents and teachers with which we are surrounded in our youth affects us as adults.
American architecture has never had more creative, imaginative practitioners than it has today. Each of the best of today’s architects can contribute something of lasting value to Columbus.”
Miller then set up a foundation that would pay all the architectural fees for any public building to be built in Columbus, Indiana. You could hire the finest architects on the planet and Cummins would cheerfully pay them on your behalf. The only condition was that you had to build the building those architects drew for you.
The first building to be designed with a Cummins grant was Schmitt Elementary School. This was quickly followed by the McDowell Adult Education Center, Northside Middle School and Parkside Elementary School. Each of these buildings is a spectacular work of art.
Today, more than 50 of the world’s most beautiful buildings can be found in this little town of 40,000 people. It’s known among architects as “The Athens of the Prairie.”
The American Institute of Architects ranks Columbus, Indiana, as the 6th most important city in America for architectural innovation and design, right behind New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, DC.
J. Irwin Miller is my kind of ridiculous. I stand and cheer for people like him. He could have followed the crowd and supported one of the big national charities but he didn’t. He chose something that mattered to him, personally. And whether or not people agreed with him or even understood what he was hoping to do, well, none of that seemed to matter to him.
But can’t you hear the suggestions?
Why not do this in a larger city so that more people can enjoy the beauty?”
“Why not spread your gift across several struggling towns as a way to restore their local pride?”
“Why not do something to ease human suffering instead of just making the scenery prettier?”
Have you ever noticed that most suggestions are really just complaints wearing a cheap disguise?
I never met J. Irwin Miller, but I’d like to believe that he gave these people a big, beaming smile as he said, “That’s a fabulous idea and you should definitely do it! Yes, you should do what you feel is right, just as I’m doing what I feel is right.”
What do you feel is right?
Have you said it out loud?
Have you taken any action, or are you still just talking?
When you’re ready to take action, I know of a place where you’ll find encouragement and insight and valuable advice learned the hard way by other people like yourself, people who have chosen to do more than just make suggestions.
Come. Introduce yourself to the rest of the tribe and tell us about the difference you plan to make, whether it’s in business, in art, or in the world.
Roy H. Williams
Robbie Burns said it 230 years ago and the wizard proved it again just last week, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” Last week you received 2 Monday Morning Memos. The first memo was dated a full week into the future and the second memo was correctly dated for Feb. 2, 2015. A lot of people assumed the second memo was just a repeat of the first one, so they didn’t open it. And not a single person we know of made the connection that the one sent a week ahead into the future was about the ability of the written word to transcend Time, the fourth dimension. Wizzo even went so far as to hint, “The written word is a message in a bottle flung through Time…” Heh, heh, heh. It’s sad when the wizard tries to be clever. It’s like watching Charlie Brown try to kick the football. – Indy
“Hi! How you been?” You know this person, you just can’t remember their name. And there was something else… something important… that you just can’t quite remember. Listening is a skill like any other. And skills are easy to learn when you have a Grand Master to teach you. Listen and learn as Roving Reporter Rotbart quizzes the Lady of Listening, Marian Thier, at MondayMorningRadio.com. Marian helps companies make great listening part of their DNA. Listen and learn. There’s money in it.