Is all of this my responsibility to organize?” I asked Megan Ronnenberg, a field organizer for Barack Obama’s campaign, while pointing to the map before me.
She was looking down at me, smiling. “Only the shaded area,” she said.
Seeing that I was still unsure, Megan gave me a huge, encouraging smile again. She even rubbed my back a little bit. “I wouldn’t have given this to you if I didn’t think you could do it. Really, you’ll be great.”
I felt slightly surer of myself. I started fumbling through the Precinct Captain Training Manual, and its first page reminded me why I was compelled to volunteer. On the first page, there was this quote: “We need you to stand with us, and work with us, and help us prove that, together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” –Barack Obama
Five months after the Election of 2008, Obama’s words – the words that caused me to become a precinct captain and believe that anything was possible – are still with me. In fact, they have even found their way into my core beliefs. I believe that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things when working together. I believe in the power of synergy, the idea of a group of people working toward a common goal.
While my belief in synergy is new, I’ve known the word’s definition for quite some time. I learned it almost three years ago at a leadership institute I attended. At that time, to me, synergy was only an idea, but in years since, I’ve come to see synergy as something much more powerful. I’ve come to see synergy as a mechanism for change, progress and productivity.
One of the experiences that formed my belief began in August when I became a field intern with Barack Obama’s Iowa Campaign for Change. In only the early stages of my involvement, I realized that if there was one perfect example of synergy, the campaign would have to be it.
Almost everyday, I made phone calls in the local office or went door-knocking in strange neighborhoods, attempting to persuade as many people as I could to vote for Obama. Both phone banking and canvassing were exhausting and frustrating. I found that it was difficult to stay focused after likely voters hung up on me and turned me away at their doorsteps, yet I never seriously thought of quitting. This was because I knew that volunteers all over the country were matching my efforts. One hundred phone calls made after school couldn’t win the election, but 100 million could, and 100 million did.
Since the campaign, I haven’t tested synergy on a large scale, but I have seen it work in everyday situations – when producing an issue of the school newspaper, for example, or when collecting canned food with friends. I also know that, when I’m ready, and others are ready, to resume working toward the change we seek, synergy will be on our side. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things….