National Day of Service

The transformation of Martin Luther King Day into a national day of service hopefully will serve to remind us of the benefit – and obligation – we have to better our communities.

That obligation, it seems to me, extends especially to the temporary “communities” we create when we assemble and engage coalitions to solve some problem or advance some agenda.

As their “founders,” we have a special service responsibility to our coalitions that ought to be fulfilled every day, not just on Jan. 19, one that includes:

  1. Seeking out members who will help make the “best” decisions, not the “right” ones;
  2. Providing coalition members with significant roles in which they can affect substantive decisions;
  3. Making sure they have the resources they need to understand what they’re being asked to do and to evaluate whether it is important and worthwhile;
  4. Supporting their discovery, deliberations and decisions with accurate information and clearly communicated biases and assumptions; and 
  5. Listening and responding to their questions, concerns and recommendations in ways that confirm in their eyes that they were paid attention to, even when things don’t go their way. 
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