On a crisp cold day, sitting on an aged wooden bench under an enormously imposing and remarkably colorful dome, one thought slapped me in the face: It always starts with one!
THE SETTING …
After a speech for a group of technology CEOs in Montreal around transformation and change, I squeezed a couple of days of R&R (rest and relaxation for the newer generation) to explore the city.
First stop after a late morning start was the Notre-Dame Basilica. An almost two-hundred-year-old gothic style church erected on the ruins of a smaller place of worship frequented in - by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve.
The enchanting music gushing out of 7,000 pipes of a magical 32-foot pipe organ immediately forced my mind in an exploratory frame of reference … in a purposefully curious mindset. The tour guide’s narration of the history of the place and its origins pushed me into a learning mode... It always starts with one!
THE STORY …
Here is how the story goes … days before Christmas, Montreal was devastated by a massive flood and people, fearful of the imminent and approaching demise, were questioning their faith. The small community of Montreal was seriously contemplating permanent migration. When the winds were screaming and the storm liberating horror under the cover of the night one man delivered the needed courage. Officer Maisonneuve, sprinted above the altar, forcefully dismantled the wooden cross and ran out. Burdening the heavy cross on his back he parted the scared crowd. He raced towards the St. Lawrence River while the old beast was violently spewing its guts and mercilessly flooding the city. Paul courageously fought his way to the shores of the old river and with all his might planted the cross on the river bed. He promised to god and to servants that if the city is saved, he would carry that cross on his shoulders and make the sign of the lord erect on top of the Montreal mountains.
Days later, the flooding ended. On the day of the feast of Epiphany (January 6th) Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the devoted French military officer, delivered on his promise and planted the wooden cross on top of what would later be called Mount Royal. Close to four centuries later a massive steel cross remains erected signifying the courage and the promise.
One individual, with strong convictions and without godly powers provided the courage and kept the dream of Montreal alive. He paved the path so that others can experience faith, face fear and push through the struggles of the journey.
Joan of Arc, one person, gave courage to a nation to demolish domination, pursue a hundred-year dream and achieve French independence. Martin Luther King, one individual, cleared the path for a race and a nation to dream of equality. One individual, Martin Cooper, brokered the marriage of communications and mobility and conceived the cell phone. Steve Jobs, one man, dreamed of millions to have the opportunity to access the global wealth of information through a device that fits in your pocket. One man, Thomas Edison, who believed that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration scored a 1093 US patents and offered us light. JFK promised the moon and a nation was inspired and Neil Armstrong daringly delivered on that promise as he took the small step for man and the giant step for mankind. It always starts with one … and to succeed it always needs the many!
It starts with the one who believes in a better version of tomorrow, has the tenacity to pursue that dream and the talent to help others envision and believe it.
THE BIGGER AHA!
Mrs. Jones Washington is the teacher who planted the seeds and ignited the fire in your son’s and daughter’s belly in the 2nd, 3rd, or… grade. The coach helped the black the white, the Christian, the Jew, and the Muslim to excel at T-ball, soccer or gymnastics and showed them how to compete, to lead, to win and to be part of the team. Progress always starts with one!
AND YES, there are the Ayatollahs, the Hitler’s, and the black, white or yellow supremacists who also grasp the power of one. The drug pushers, the scam artists, the manipulators and all those who are filled with greed and hunger for power. Downfalls, also, always start with one!
THE OBSERVATION, THE QUESTION & THE CHOICE…
The Observation: It always starts with one ... the objective and the dream is less important than the dreamer and his or her ideas and resolve. What matters is one person’s ability to lead, to push through adversity, to be bullhead and focused while humble and flexible.
The Question: Do you have the courage to be the one who starts? … To teach a youngster a thing or two or to dream of the next big thing or to champion a cause and stand against the flood of injustice. To start progress, innovation, and creativity ... the journey always starts with one. Are you that one?
The Choice: Lastly, to be a starter is a choice, the direction of towards demise or prosperity is also a choice. Living in a constantly changing and evolving world and our collective journey in life is NOT a choice. However, leaving change to chance is! …Be the one who starts.