Sometimes, we have it in our heads that in order to make impactful, positive change, we need to have some tangible finished product with a huge grand opening.
This is mostly a fallacy. It rarely exists. Big changes take time. It’s messy.
This concept of go big or go home, all or nothing makes it hard for us to want to get started in the first place. We put pressure on ourselves to have it all figured out. We think we need a roadmap with a clear destination. We think we’ve failed if the roadmap or direction eludes us.
Impact is almost always born out of a longer incubation period, where ideas, groundwork, and many failed attempts bring one closer to the goal of making a meaningful difference.
The thing I’ve realized is that the drip-by-drip, slow-and-steady approach seems to be the best way to get there, wherever “there” is.
Follow the string, pursue that thing that quickens your pulse, listen to the voice inside that tells you: this is where you need to go, be, see.
Sometimes, that voice is just barely audible. A whisper. But bit by bit, as you give it more space in your mind, it becomes amplified.
Trust it. Listen to it.
Don’t ask for it to make you money right away.
Don’t ask for it to be neat and tidy and rational. It probably won’t be.
As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward.”
So, start at the beginning and trust that your intuition will take you where you need to go.
I just had the pleasure of talking to Dr. Scilla Elworthy (a three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, global peace negotiator, and author) for the podcast I am recording, who told me the story of Henri Bora Ladyi, who has been called “Africa’s Schindler.” All he knew was that he wanted to prevent his horrendous experience as a child soldier from repeating itself. He knew that he couldn’t stop the practice of mobilizing children from war from happening, but he knew he could make a big difference for a few children.
Across the world, 250,000 children are estimated to be involved in armed conflict. An ex- child soldier, himself, Henri, listened to the call after having escaped, and risked his life to rescue child soldiers in the Congo. He became an ad-hoc mediator and negotiator, making it his mission to continue to save child soldiers.
At one point, Henri was contacted by militia commanders, with whom he had built a sense of trust. They had too many mouths to feed. Hoping to establish an exchange for supplies they offered to demobilize some of the child soldiers in return for goats. As a result, Henri was able to negotiate an exchange rate of 10 animals for 40 children. With the help of UK charity Peace Direct, he was able to free 100 children.
Now, Henri makes it his mission to continue going back into the bush to trade goats, at a price of $5, for a child he can bring back to their family.
Henri didn’t have a clear roadmap in his head. No one gave him license to do what he did. He was guided by the urgency to take action. He had ingenuity and an innovative mindset. He risked his livelihood for the lives of others and has made an incredible difference to the lives of hundreds of people as a result.
To learn more about Peace Direct and fund projects like Henri’s, check out their website: peacedirect.org
Photo From: www.foreignpolicyblogs.com (Neil Thompson)