What Corporate Leaders Can Learn From College Football

Enthusiasm and energy will be on full display this Saturday as the #6 TCU Horned Frogs football team hosts the #7 Kansas State Wildcats at 6:30 pm EDT on Fox.  During halftime, TCU will celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Frogs for the Cure,” which began in 2005 when TCU athletics partnered with Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth to sponsor the first ever pink-out halftime presentation at a university football game.

Frogs for the Cure began the national trend to honor survivors that is now commonplace on collegiate and professional athletic fields during Breast Cancer Awareness month. The group’s mission is to promote awareness, provide education, raise funds ($250,000 in this decade) and support survivors and their families.  Under the dedicated and tireless leadership of Ann Louden, Chancellor’s Associate for Strategic Partnerships and a cancer survivor, Frogs for the Cure’s planning committee has grown to more than 300 volunteers including students, staff and faculty, community leaders, and members of the medical community who come together to organize year-round activities.

The highlight of each year’s Frogs for the Cure halftime show is the special music video that plays on the stadium’s jumbo screens. First created in 2010, the video combines inspirational music and footage of hundreds of survivors and supporters. With each subsequent year, the music video has gotten more elaborate. A natural connector, Ann Louden uses the video to bring together local cancer survivors with students from co-curricular groups and athletic teams on campus, TCU faculty and staff members, alumni, and local government leaders including Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. Even Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, took part one year. In recent years, thousands of people have participated in the videos.

To mark the 10-year anniversary of Frogs for the Cure, the 2014 music video featured Josh Groban’s recording of “Brave” and included scenes shot on TCU’s campus, as well as in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. Laura Bush endorsed the video and it was debuted at a concert by Bernadette Peters.  Survivors who take part in the filming or go onto the football field for the halftime show report that it is a life-affirming experience that helps them heal.  (Check out the video and share it to help TCU raise funds for breast cancer research).

What TCU created is extraordinary and has a powerful positive effect on campus and in the greater Fort Worth community.

“Meeting survivors and listening to Josh Groban’s inspiring song brought me closer to my friends, my peers, and my community, allowing me to feel like I was contributing to a school-wide effort to find the cure” stated Tori Irons, a junior business major from Austin, Texas.

Frogs for the Cure is an excellent example of how to tap into the power of purpose that increases the enthusiasm and energy among a group of people.  When the people in an organization come together to serve a cause greater than themselves, they experience what researchers have described as “helpers’ high.” In this state the brain’s reward system is stimulated, resulting in the release of the neurotransmitters oxytocin and vasopressin that make people feel more enthusiastic, energetic, connected and committed to the group.

Here are three ways your organization can unleash the enthusiasm and energy of employees by tapping into the power of purpose.

1. Find a cause for your company to support.

Ideally, find a local cause to support like TCU did with Susan G. Komen® Greater Fort Worth. If your organization has a broad geographic footprint, find a cause that fits well with your geographic presence or consider starting a charitable organization. For example, McDonalds Corporation’s created Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities, an organization that helps nine million families with children going through medical treatment in 67 countries and regions of the world.

2. Volunteer as a team building exercise

Set aside a time for your team to come together and volunteer to help out at a local charitable organization. When your team experiences helpers’ high, it will boost collaboration and cooperation.

3. Give employees time off to volunteer at a local charitable organization      

As employees accrue time working for your organization, give them the option to take paid time off to volunteer at a local charity. Try to align the employee’s skills with the needs of the charitable organization.  For example, if they need marketing help, send a team of marketing experts from your organization.

When organizations give back, employees experience greater enthusiasm and energy. It is a win-win for employees, businesses and the communities in which they reside.

More From Michael Lee Stallard:

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