Have you heard of TOMS shoes? If not, you should.
This amazing company started by Blake Mycoskie has delivered shoes to needy children around the world because of a simple premise. One for one. For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, one will be given to a child in need.
The idea started because of a trip Mycoskie took to Argentina in 2006. He became friends with children who owned no shoes. Aware that soil contamination spreads disease, Blake found his cause. He started TOMS shoes and one year later arrived to deliver 10,000 shoes in Argentina.
I met Blake at a conference I attended in Atlanta, Georgia in 2007. He didn’t present any theological discussions or enter any philosophical debates. As he stood behind a simple table at the TOMS booth, he spoke of kids in need and ways to help. That’s it.
Today, his official title with the company, which has expanded world-wide and sells shoes at my local Whole Foods Store, is Chief Shoe Giver. He attends conferences, speaks before diverse people groups and shares the vision of “One for One”. I’m certain he makes a living at this role, but his purpose remains clear. As his quote on the TOMS website states, “Giving is what fuel us. Giving is our future.”
Having said these things, it surprised me to see that Blake found himself under attack because of a group he addressed. He accepted the invitation to speak before Focus on the Family. While it’s clear FOTF holds to a Christian and political agenda, Blake’s purpose remains continual and pointed. One for One.
The more people who give, from whatever background, the more people receive. The business model sits on center stage as simplicity in action.
Irin Carmon from Jezabel.com called out Blake for addressing Focus on the Family because of their political and faith stances. In an effort to keep the peace, as givers often do, Blake apologized on his blog. This blog moment has received 400+ comments, some questioning Blake’s integrity on the topic.
Am I missing something here? Isn’t the topic helping people?
Why argue about who can hear the message? Why create dispute on this topic in the first place?
The only people who will lose in the end are the children.
Focus on the Family listened and gave. Those on the attack listened and gave. People from assorted walks of life give to the cause of helping because generosity is contagious. People long to become part of something bigger than themselves and make a difference.
We can find ourselves grumbling about who serves alongside us or we can allow an important project to grow. What a concept if the readers of Jezabel.com and the followers of Focus on the Family happen to agree on something. Both enjoy helping others. Amazing!
Instead of letting emotions connected to topics of disagreement become the center, we need to step back sometimes and take in the whole picture. Perhaps even give ourselves an emotional time out. So what if we don’t like someone else or what they stand for. If we value the same mission, we need to put up with and appreciate the heart of others who differ from us.
This attitude applies in business, at home, and within friendships. Beware, fighting for fighting’s sake leaves someone hurt, but we don’t get to decide who it will be.
My choice today:
Take a breath and pause if emotions stir, then decide if an argument is worth engaging.
You can learn more about Blake by liking him on Facebook. If you agree with his vision, give him a note of encouragement, I’m sure he could use it. His book “Start something that matters” comes out in September. TOMS is expanding its “One for One” policy to eyeglasses and books.