Reflecting on a Mentor, Leader and Social Innovator
Submitted by Geoff, 4 Jun 2012
Doug Taylor reflects on Steve Lawrence’s impact as a mentor, leader and social innovator
The first time I encountered Steve was at the Social Entrepreneurs Conference in 2000. He stood out as someone who spoke passionately about the urgency for finding new ways to improve people’s lives. The last time I spoke to Steve was on the phone the night before he died. We had talked about what he wanted to see done for the Social Innovation Fund that we have created in his name. It was classic Steve, despite his failing health and capacity, he was single minded and had no shortage of advice on what we (you) needed to do, how to do it (many great ideas) and by when (yesterday would be just fine thanks very much).
Everything Steve did was important to him because it was his life’s work. Since cancer progressively took him away from us we have over time come to realise that whilst we no longer have Steve to inspire and harangue us we do have the legacy of his work that will stand timelessly like a magnificent work of art. This work of art is not something that hangs on the wall of a dusty gallery but it lives, for it is through his colleagues and friends that he has painted this canvass and created his life’s work.
Steve’s life’s work reflects his personality and deeply held beliefs. His beliefs centred on:
- the importance of supporting communities, but also working with a community of people collaboratively to create change
- the inherent worth and potential of those who struggle with poverty, but also a belief that people should not just be passive beneficiaries of services but people who have the ability to improve their lives and communities
- the value of business and enterprise as a means for social enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation.
In many ways there is nothing new about any of this but Steve’s magic was in the way he could draw out the potential of each of these groups to build a better world. Where some people looked and saw nothing Steve would look and see an abundance of opportunity and potential.