What does 9/11 have in common with lagging business innovation? What does it have in common with murder and suicide rates (and not just by the bombers)? That was way more than I expected to hear from poet and memoirist Allison Hedge Coke at the mentorship training session this week hosted by the Dallas Writers Garret and Dallas Central Ministries. Allison, an award-winning writer of Native American ancestry and a former prisoner and homeless runaway, began mentoring at-risk teenagers while still a teen herself. She visited Dallas during the fall break from her work as an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Under Allison's direction, Writers Garret members, along with Garret founder Thea Temple, employees of DCM, and students and mentors from Paul Quinn College searched for connections between those being mentored and themselves as potential mentors. So why writing as a path to mentorship? Doesn't mentoring usually focus on life skills? As DMC worker Michael asked, is there a path between imagination and reality?
Allison's answer: Often, yes, because of the transformative nature of imagination. The highest reason for suicide, she said, and possibly a reason for murder as well, is the lack of an ability to see the temporary nature of circumstances -- that is, of a failure of imagination. And it's failure of imagination which, according to CFOs at a recent AT&T Center think tank Thea attended, is the number one issue for the future of American business. And the connection with 9/11? Also, according to those same leaders, a tragedy stemming ultimately and horribly from a failure to imagine possibilities and consequences.