What could we achieve with no money and no resources? Here’s some food for thought.
My friend Dave, CEO of a large company, took a series of classes to enhance his leadership abilities as part of an intensive leadership effectiveness program. Participants traveled to different cities for each class. One of Dave’s classes was on a Saturday, and at 9:00pm that night he and his classmates received their final assignment which was to feed 90 homeless people who would be expecting a breakfast in excellence at 9am the next morning. Not only did Dave and his colleagues have limited time, but also the instructors absolutely prohibited them from using any personal means such as cash, credit cards, or phones. So, they had exactly 12 hours and no money or resources!
Everyone was shocked. They had nothing to spend and limited ability to communicate. Ninety hungry people were showing up the next morning expecting a delicious breakfast. The assignment was to go out and create it from nothing. Then, the instructors left, and the difficulty of the assignment began to really sink in. The twenty-four classmates circled together, and the general feeling was, “How do we do something like this?” No one in the room had ever done anything like this before. It was 9pm on a Saturday night.They were tired from a long day in class.What could they do? They were in a strange city and didn’t know anybody.
Someone asked: “If we did create a breakfast, what would we need?” The group responded that first, they would need dishes and utensils to cook and serve. Then, they would need food like bacon, eggs, bread, fruit, milk, butter etc. Third they felt they needed decorations to make it fun. So, they divided into three teams, and each had an assignment. None of the teams knew what to do. At least now, they had more clarity.There were eight people on each team. Dave was on the team responsible for the food. So, his group had to get bacon, eggs, bread and more for 90 people, and they had no resources.
Fortunately, they were in a city where most of the stores are open all night. They went to supermarkets. Most turned them away. Some were even rude. However, a few gave them good food. But, the team was all on board because this was an important task to help others, they felt they had been given a fair assignment, and there was an anticipated sense of wellbeing if they accomplished this feat. They went all over the place and eventually got the bacon, eggs, and bread…even 12 pies from a bakery.They were amazed they had acquired all of the food they needed in just a few hours. When they finished around 2am, Dave’s team had no idea what the other two teams had done.They decided they had to have faith that the other groups had the same energy and creativity and had produced the same results.
Dave and his group showed up at the breakfast location the next morning. The other teams showed up on time as well.In the end, they fed the ninety people and had a blast doing it! They had balloons, bubbles, streamers, and plenty of food left over. They actually had to figure out where to donate the excess. They fed ninety people from nothing…..nothing, according to Dave, but clear intention. Dave and his colleagues exhibited energized teamwork and created exceptional results in the face of no money – the most extreme budget cut of all. In the end, everybody’s energy was boosted to achieve and exceed a big, bold goal.
When Dave’s company was recently sold and we were celebrating, I asked him if there were any secrets for success that he could share with me. He asserted that all leaders can boost their people’s energy to achieve bold goals by clarifying intention, engaging everybody, and putting collective energy in motion. Then, he reminded me of the above story and stated, “Clear intention is the magic ingredient in the breakfast of champions!”