Many will remember the pitch from my Gray Area Thinking ® training that we’re all hard-wired for empathy and that “99 percent” of humans are good and want to do the right thing. I go on to say that most are also afraid—they either don’t know what the right thing is or fear doing it because of concern about unknown consequences. Thus, many don’t engage at all despite their good hearts.

A story out of Dallas , Texas proves this point foursquare.

The Dr. Billy Earl Dade Middle School, located in a low-income Dallas neighborhood and with most students on free meal assistance, made plans to host a “Breakfast with Dads” event to foster greater mentorship between boys and their fathers or father figures. When it became clear that some boys wouldn’t participate due to a lack of fathers or adult male family members, one of the event planners, Kristina Dove, put out a call on Facebook for 50 male volunteers to serve as stand-in father figures.

Within hours, Kristina received affirmative responses from nearly 150 men. “Wow,” she thought and figured that was that.

However, social media and a local newspaper picked up the appeal. Before Kristina knew it, she had a total of 240 men registering for the event.

That number then grew to more than 300. And then to more than 400.

When the day of the event arrived, nearly 600 men showed up at the school to be stand-in mentors for 150 boys.

As one observer, Stephanie Drenka, a Dallas photographer, wrote, “I will never forget witnessing the young students surrounded by supportive community members. There were so many volunteers, that at times I saw young men huddled in the center of 4-5 mentors. The look of awe—even disbelief—in students’ eyes as they made their way through the crowd of ‘Dads’ was astonishing.”

Imagine how special this made the boys feel!

The “Dads” were asked to bring a necktie to gift to the student; the group activity was to show the boys how to tie a Windsor knot. At the end of the event, some boys walked away with four or five neckties from their multiple mentors.

The takeaway: we all want to do the right thing and when shown what’s needed and how to do it, we often will show up with great delight. Our task as leaders is to light the pathway for others to follow. We can do that if we’re mindful, imaginative and persistent.

Way to go Dallas! You rock! Now, spread the word and light the path for others.

(Photo by Stephanie Drenka)