As families around the country grapple with the devastation that the Corona Virus has left in its path, former Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver and Founder of Society X, Dez Bryant, fed 500 families at a suburban Dallas park.
The timing of Bryant’s generosity couldn’t be better for Dallas-area families who, like families everywhere, have been faced with unprecedented challenges during COVID-19. With unemployment rates soaring to an all-time high across the country, many families are struggling just to put food on the table.
Bryant put out a tweet on Saturday to announce the event. The next day families from all over Dallas showed up at the park to pick up their meal. Not only did he feed lots of needy families, it was evident that Bryant had put on a clinic for leaders everywhere on how to use both their hearts and minds during a crisis.
Let’s break this down further to see why.
1) Show empathy towards those impacted
One thing about Dez that becomes very apparent once you get to know him is that he has always stayed true to his humble past. He grew up under extreme poverty conditions. His mother had him at 14, and she did what she had to do to keep them from being homeless and living in the streets.
“I personally know how it feels to be unsure of where your next meal is coming from, and I understand that there are so many families with limited resources. This hits home for me, so it was important to help and be of relief to some of the families in need,” said Bryant during our phone conversation.
Bryant’s approach to dealing with his community’s woes is one that includes a genuinely brilliant display of empathy that shows his human side. Despite being a mega-star athlete and celebrity, Dez has a way about him that puts people at ease. His ability to connect with people was on display during the meal giveaway as he effortlessly mingled with the families that came to see him and collect their meals.
2) Bring Dez Bryant’s positive energy
During a crisis is the time that true leaders step up and lead. You can’t do that if you’re not making yourself visible. Just simply being present and making yourself available shows you care. If the company is in a bad situation due to a crisis, either internal or external, hiding from it won’t help solve the problem at all.
Bryant is big on injecting energy into everything he does. He believes that positive energy, laughter, and having a good time can shift an unfavorable outlook into a positive one for people in just about any situation.
If leaders show signs of negative energy during a crisis, the team will follow them down the rabbit hole of negativity. No matter how bad things get, leaders must never get negative in front of their team.
3) Have some fun
Leaders need to remember that to keep people’s spirits up, it’s essential to have a little fun, even during a pandemic. Let’s face it: Those Zoom calls can get a bit dull after a while. So could you make them not all about business?
Allow people to have some fun to take their minds off the bad news that is in their faces 24 hours a day by the mainstream media and social media. It’s essential to create situations that allow people to take their minds off it, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
Bryant’s lesson for leaders during a crisis is simple, but one that should be taken to heart.
“Giving back to the community has always been one of my top priorities. I’m blessed to be in a position that affords me the opportunity to be a leader and help others. And that’s what it’s always been about for me. Particularly during this time, we are witnessing many families going through a struggle, whether that’s financially or emotionally. It’s so important to give people a moment to relax, smile, and come together to just enjoy life’s simple pleasures like having a home-cooked meal with your family in the park.”
The pictures on social media from the event showed people having a great time with huge smiles on their faces. One such person was Dallas Christian College student Abram Navarrette. After seeing his tweet about the event, I reached out to him to find out what being there and getting the chance to meet Dez Bryant in person meant to him. “Honestly, it was great. But what made it extra special was the time he took with each fan to talk with them,” said Navarrette via Twitter. “My uncle, who’s an artist, has been having a rough time. We took a drawing of his to the park, and Dez read it. He even commented on how much he agrees with the words in the drawing. So it’s not only the fact that he fed a lot of families, it’s actual time talking and caring for the community when people need it the most. Dez is a class act.”
— abram navarrette (see pinned tweet) (@abnav123) May 25, 2020
Dez Bryant wants you to remember it’s ok to take your mind off COVID-19 and have some fun, even during the world’s worst pandemic in our lifetimes.