All Together Now: Passion, Experience, Story

The people of Pernambuco, Brazil, were up against a death or life situation.

And death was winning.

Each year, hundreds of members of their community were dying senselessly.

Not because of poor medical care

But because they couldn’t get the replacement organs they needed to survive.

According to Brazilian law, it’s up to the family.

They decide whether the organs of their loved ones will be donated after their death. But making this decision is not easy in such painful moments.

As a result of people’s fear, medical institutions have large rates of refusals.

Passion overcomes fear

But the people of Pernambuco have a shared passion that is more powerful than their fear.

“Every Brazilian is born with football in the soul,” is what people say to explain it.

The depth and power of this passion is impossible for North Americans to comprehend. But it is the heart and soul of life in Pernambuco. It pervades everything people do.

Jorge Peixoto knows it well

He is the vice president of Sport Club Recife, one of the top soccer teams in the country.

He actually believed that he could turn that passion into a movement. And that that movement could change the situation.

The club decided it “must look beyond the 11 players on the field and use its power for bigger things,” says Peixoto,

Immortality through football

So it asked the people of Permambuco to become “immortal fans.” Immortal fans donate their organs so that their love for the club will live on in someone else’s body.

They created an experience around people’s passion. And connected with the people of Pernambuco through stories.

A shared experience

A video is screened at every match in the club’s Ilha do Retiro stadium, a venue that seats 35,000.

“I promise that your eyes will keep on watching Sport Club Recife,” says a man waiting for a cornea transplant.

“I promise that your heart will keep on beating for Sport Club Recife,” says a woman hoping for a new heart.

A passion platform

People can apply online for the Sport Donor card. It’s the size of a credit card, with the words printed over the outline of a heart with a fiery red backdrop.

But it’s really a platform for the experience.

The card makes people discuss the matter with their parents or spouse. If they die, they will know that they would have liked to be a donor.

Enter the first follower

Sport Recife’s most famous fan is 69-year-old Ivaldo Firmino dos Santos. He embraced the idea immediately.

You see, he had received a heart transplant 12 years earlier.

Ivaldo waited five months and 14 days for a new heart.

He remembers the moment the phone call came. “On 1 March 2002 at 19:13, the doctor called and said he had a heart for me.”

So he now celebrates two birthdays. The second is on the day when he received his new heart. ”I still go to all the Sport Recife matches and my heart can handle all that feeling!” he brags.

He shares the stories

Ivaldo now tries to persuade fellow fans to sign up for the card. When they do he has another message for them.

“I tell them: ‘Hey, man! When you are at home having some whisky with your family, tell everyone that you are an organ donor.’

It’s not just about signing up.

“You have to spread the news”

“I tell them that when you die, you want to donate everything. Or else you’ll come back and pull their leg in their sleep!”

Thanks to this passion that grew into a movement, 66,000 people now have donor cards.

But even more important, the waiting list for organ transplants was reduced to zero in the first year.

“We used to perform from five to seven heart transplants a year, but last year we achieved 28. It was an incredible increase,” says Fernando Figueira. Fernando is director of heart transplants at Pernambuco’s Institute of Integrated Medicine.

Keeping the focus on their passions

Passion is the only prerequisite of a movement. That’s because passion is the driving force for action.

When we consistently connect emotionally with people something magical happens.

We thread their passion into the tribe experiences we create and the stories we tell.

It builds the movement

What happens when we connect people to their passions?

We create room for others to insert themselves into our cause.

It gives us the opportunity to create shared experiences that drive action. With these shared experiences, a tribe grows and a movement spreads.

But it’s not your movement

The tribe doesn’t belong to the leader.

So you don’t get to tell tribe members what to do. You don’t get to use them for your own aims.

If you’re fortunate, there’s a tribe that will listen to you. And consider what you say.

If you’re lucky

They’ll interpret your words and actions in a way they believe will help them move the movement forward.

And if you invest in them, they’ll show you what they want and what they need.

You can gain empathy for them, understand their narrative, and serve them.

Leaders do three things to serve the tribe

Movement leaders bring three key actions that move the tribe and movement forward:

  1. We make connections through empathy.
  2. We create experiences.
  3. We tell stories.

We make connections through empathy

Connecting is not a buzzword. Connecting is the root of all movements planted for good.

That’s because human beings, by nature, are lonely. They want to be seen and known. They want to be understood.

People want to be part of something

Leaders make those emotional connections by showing empathy for them and their passion.

They look at people based on what they dream of. What they believe in and want. Not on how they look. Or where they live.

In other words, they don’t use demographics to define the tribe. They use people’s worldview.

What’s a worldview?

You can group people by the color of their eyes or shape of their nose. It’s also possible to group them by the stories they tell themselves.

Cognitive linguist George Lakoff calls these clumps worldviews.

A worldview is a shortcut. It’s the lens each of us uses when we see the world. It’s our assumptions and biases. And, yes, it’s our stereotypes about the world around us.


Loyal Fox News viewers have a worldview. So do fox hunters. So do the people who show up for midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Leaders and worldviews

Everyone deserves to be treated as an individual. With dignity and respect for their choices.

Leaders connect with them by defining their worldview. By understanding their passion. And what they value. And the change they want to make in the world.

And then leaders invite people who share that worldview to join them.

We create experiences

Each click on a website. Each response to an interactive platform. Each time someone goes to an event.

Each of these actions is part of the tribe experience.

Bit by bit

They build emotional connections with tribe members.

Each moves us forward together.

As leaders we can offer these experiences with intent. And with thought, and planning, and design. Doing them with purpose.

We tell stories

Stories that resonate with the tribe’s worldview. Stories that hold up over time.

Stories that are true. Because we made them true with our actions and shared experiences.

Stories of why

Stories that define our purpose. Our why.

Stories that tell the tribe how “people like us, do things like this.”

But, wait, there’s a problem

And it’s the leader’s problem.

It happens when we go off in one direction on an experience we design and another direction on a story we tell.

It happens when we lose a sharp focus on the key elements of the tribe’s worldview. Our empathy blurs a little.

So the tribe suffers

Pulled in too many directions by each misguided would-be, could-be opportunity.

Buffeted by every possible concern of every possible constituency.

Floating aimlessly from one flavor-of-the-month to another.

Jolted by every news cycle.

Confusion sucks

It scatters the tribe’s efforts and diffuses the movement’s actions.

Soon the tribe becomes confused about who we are. And what change we seek. And how we effect that change.

The tribe isn’t clear about, “People like us, do things like this” anymore.

The solution is consistency

It’s about focusing those three leadership activities on the same essentials.

And we can do that by applying the Unity Principle to all three of our leadership activities.

Introducing The Unity Principle

The unity principle focuses us on what’s essential to the tribe.

It shows us how to be consistent.

It gives us precise strategic directions. All focused on the three activities we do to move the tribe and their movement forward.

We make connections through empathy

To be empathic, we must focus on understanding three areas of the tribe’s worldview:

  • How our tribe sees “the world that is”. How does it work? What’s wrong with the way it works?
  • The tribe’s vision of “the world that can be.” How should things work? What does a better future look like?
  • What needs to “change” to go from the world that is to the world that can be?

When we understand our tribe’s view of these three things, we will gain emotional empathy for them. An empathy that will do four things for us.

First it will enable deep, emotional connections with tribe members.

Second, it will give consistency to the experiences we build and the stories we tell.

And third, it that will keep the tribe, and our efforts, focused on what matters most to them.

Empathy is about passion and three mindsets


The friction caused by these three mindsets is what drives tribes to action.

It lies at the heart of their purpose. It is what connects them to one another. It is what connects them to the movement’s cause.

We can develop empathy that connects people by doing two things.

First, by focusing our understanding of their worldview on those three areas.

Then, by consistently executing that insight when we create experiences and tell stories.

We create experiences

Each experience we develop for the tribe should be driven by the change the tribe seeks.

If we’ve done our job in the empathy stage, we will deeply understand their worldview. Then it’s just a matter of picking up the change area of the chart.

Each experience must focus on how the experience enables the change.

The experience is the expression of the change. The purpose of the experience is to make that change.

“The world that is” section helps us understand the context of the experience. It gives us direction about the state of mind of people going into the experience.

“The world that can be” section tells us what the experience should promise the people who take part.

We tell stories

Great stories are narratives.

And to be a narrative they contain change. A change that characters or circumstances undergo from the beginning of the story to its end.

In that regard, the Unity Principle helps us structure our stories.

It ensures that they are consistent with the tribe’s worldview. Consistent with the way we connect through empathy with them. And consistent with the change that they seek.


“The world that is’ section shows us how the story should start. It describes the world with its problem. It hints about what needs to change.

The “change” section helps us describe who and what changed and how. The obstacles they overcame.

It gives the story consistency with the tribe’s worldview and the experiences they have felt.

“The world that can be” section is used to talk about how things are after the change. It describes a better world and what that means to the tribe.

Of course, consistency comes at a price

It requires discipline.

It means we have to stay on track. To avoid detours. Not go off in other directions. Even when those directions look so enticing.

Of course, that means being brave.

But as they say, “The future, as always, belong to the brave.”

At least that’s my opinion. What’s your take?