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  • Otto Reinisch

A Kansas Farmer: The Power of Hope and Everyday Heroes

Updated: May 5

Gov. Andrew Cuomo inspired us when, during his press conference, he read a hand-written letter from a Kansas farmer. Enclosed was an extra N65 mask to be shared with a healthcare worker on the frontline of New York’s COVID-19 response. This was especially poignant because the farmer’s wife was vulnerable to infection due to serious medical conditions.


What can we learn from this? Here are two lessons about leadership and the power of story to inspire from your constituents acts of courage, compassion, and sacrifice that provide hope to others.


1. Leaders Inspire Hope

Every story is told within a larger narrative. The most effective stories challenge larger narratives that cast doubt about your organization’s work, its mission, or its clients. Against a backdrop of worry and fear, Gov. Cuomo lifted our sights by giving us a glimpse of “humanity at its best”. Hope was alive, he told us, and it can be found anywhere. Even in us.


In the midst of this crisis, share stories of hope. However, be honest and transparent about your challenges, creating space in your story for donors, volunteers, and staff to make a difference. Give them opportunities to make a difference by providing hope for others. This is the essence of leadership.

2. “Anyone Can Be a Hero”

Gov. Cuomo reminds us that “everyday heroes” are all around us. When you make constituents the heroes of your next story [instead of you, your organization, or its programs], you encourage donors, staff, volunteers, and clients by reminding them they have the power to change the world. Your organization is the means for them to accomplish their heroic work but they are the heroes.

What Will YOUR Story Say?

As the eyes of history look back on the COVID-19 crisis, what stories will be told about your leadership? Will future generations share stories of courage in the face of adversity? Or, will they be tales of cautious self-preservation when, instead, the battle called for sacrifice?

Today, be the leader who inspires hope by lifting up everyday heroes. Stories of your own leadership will be told about how you made a difference in the world by encouraging people to show “humanity at its best”, not just today, but for generations to come.

Personal Note of Thanks

This week’s blog was inspired by a friend, Mike Gecan, and his April 18 editorial published in the New York Daily News, How change happens: A coronavirus education in how real people matter. I encourage you to read Mike’s editorial in its entirety. Here’s an excerpt about leadership and the power of everyday heroes to change the world.

"The lessons of history, often hidden or overlooked, show that far more power and initiative are in the hands of local leaders than many care to acknowledge. And that’s why, at this moment, it’s critical that stories of meaningful change, change designed by us and for us and owned by many, not just a precious few, be remembered and retold." – Mike Gecan, Senior Adviser, Metro Industrial Areas Foundation

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