The mantra for the organization I work with Plywood People is “We will be known by the problems we solve.”
It’s a very meaningful quote that not only integrates itself into the fabric of everything we do as an organization, but also has become very personal to me as well. One of my favorite parts of getting to work with the organization is having countless conversations where I get to speak encouragement into people who are doing important work. Their passion is contagious and their work is transformational. Amidst all the tasks, the pushback, criticism and questions, often encouragement is lacking. I love getting to be known as someone who listens and offers encouragement.
I don’t know a person alive who doesn’t have a craving to be known. We all want to share our stories, have someone to tell our secrets to. We want others to notice our idiosyncrasies and appreciate them. We want to have people around us who can finish our sentences for us, and provide clarity in situations when we’re doing a poor job of explaining ourselves.
In our work with people around the world, we realized that we not only wanted to be known, but the most innovative people are known by their solutions. These leaders work to effect great change in the places they live and work. We hope to get to highlight these influencers who are making lasting change, and to foster a collective known for how we are addressing social needs.
Being known for the problems we are solving requires a shift in perspective and purpose. It’s not always an easy shift, as it often requires us to put aside our personal desires for the sake of the good of someone else, but we believe the shift is essential. When we can put personal desires aside for the good of others, our work begins to transform those around us. People begin to refer to us by the problem we’re addressing. “The Gift Card Guy” “The Furniture Maker” “The Rockstar who thinks I’m worth loving” “The Carwasher” “The Soccer Coach.” We move beyond a need to be known into a need to solve problems in order to make a better society.
So what about you? What are you known for? What do you WANT to be known for? What problem are you solving?