I was sitting at an upscale burger place in Atlanta a few months back with my daughter. An African-American family sat down at the table beside us – a mom, a dad, two college-age boys, and a grandmother. The tables were big pine farm style tables. We were all sitting within inches of each other.
My daughter and I chatted with the family a bit about the excellent burgers and the beautiful day. Then just as we were about to dive into the burgers, I happened to look up and a see on the restaurant wall, a large photo of the red rolling hills of Georgia.
All of a sudden it struck me . . . the red hills of Georgia, a farm table.
Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.”
I thought, oh my god, this amazing thing that he dreamed about actually happened. It didn’t just metaphorically happen, it really happened.
My daughter and I are literally sitting at the table of brotherhood chatting away with this nice family, on a sunny Saturday in Georgia. And the most amazing thing about this is, it’s no big deal!
I’ve always felt a personal connection to MLK’s famous speech. I’m from Washington DC. King’s speech took place about a week before I was born. My mother was sitting about a mile away, very pregnant with me.
Flash forward fifty years later, and I have become part of the dream.
That incident made me reflect upon the power of words. What if we knew that our words could come true, how much bigger might we dream?
What if I stood at the same spot where King gave his speech and spoke my dream into the Universe?
I had to do it.
So last week I took a group of colleagues to the Lincoln Memorial and stood on the exact spot where King gave his speech. It was early morning; the sun was just coming up, glistening off the reflecting pool. Lincoln was sitting behind us, the Washington monument was in front of us.
I’d told my colleagues about the burger joint, and how the dream had come true. I stood on the spot, which is now engraved and said, “Big bold words spoken on this spot have a history of coming true.”
Then it was time to speak our dreams. One by one we stood on the spot with the others standing behind us, and spoke our dream out into the world.
One colleague said, “I dream that one day poetry will be a part of business.” Another wanted to change the way businesses treat their customers. They weren’t civil rights dreams. But as business consultants, we all wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.
I said, “I have a dream that one day companies will no longer be content to merely make money, they will also want to make a difference. I dream that leaders all over the world will seize the moment and bring passion into the workplace. I have a dream that one day, every organization will have a Noble Purpose, and that we will all be able to do work that makes us proud.
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