Still a little bit backwards as I try to catch up after this flu. Week 41 (from last week) will be posted shortly.
Tuesday evening, I had the privilege to speak to an audience at my local Toastmasters meeting. It’s not something that I do often enough, I still fear public speaking. But when there are messages I’m passionate about delivering, I can somehow get past the anxiety.
After nearly a year of membership, I decided it was time — time to openly present Nils’ and my message about 52 Weeks of Impact.
My seven-minute speech was well-received. I’m elated to have received comments like “Very inspiring”, ”I want to know your website”, “Moving. Makes one want to do these things too”, “I’ll also have a look at how I can be a drop in the ocean.” These all made my churning, nervous-stomach acids worth it. And, I feel I made an Impact.
Amongst the comments was also, “very passionate and enthusiastic, but more sacrifice will be necessary than the mentioned ideas.”
And, I have to cry “Foul!”
Those who are passionate about making an Impact, and changing the world, must make a mind switch. Back in college, we suffered for the good. We declared others wrong for what they did or didn’t do. Or, criticized because their efforts were inadequate. From that, I learned that whips of humiliation and chains of guilt will surely force a single action, but a fleeting one. As long as we look at Impact as sacrifice, we’ll never succeed.
I suppose I could say, “Oh God, I have to tromp into town and buy a gift for this sick kid. The line at the post office will be miles long. It’s hot (or cold), but must bear it all to do the right thing.” I could view an Impact effort and present it as a sacrifice and a burden. Does that make my effort somehow more legitimate? Does that motivate anyone to action?
Doing things with joy is so much more sustainable. When we willingly take action, see the need and feel the desire, we’re not only likely to repeat it, but we may add a bigger drop into the Mighty Ocean. These small things that Nils and I do each week have, in fact, spurred our enthusiasm for a larger action next year (if all goes well). It’s unlikely that we’d be taking on something bigger had we not started with digestible efforts.
Don’t sacrifice for “the greater good”, take joy in it. By doing so, you might find yourself addicted. Heck, together, we can create a Tsunami of Good. But I’d rather do it with a smile on my face.
This was my speech:
A Drop in the Ocean
How many people read the newspaper or watch the news regularly?
It can get pretty depressing, can’t it?
- Earlier this year, we saw the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Hundreds of thousands dead. A million people homeless.
- In the spring, we had the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – causing unknown long-terms effects on our environment.
- Summer brought floods to Pakistan, leaving at current count over 21 million people impacted – countless numbers in the future.
- And more recently, nearly 200 million gallons of toxic sludge was released into our sacred Danube. The effects still to be determined.
What’s a person like you or me to do? The number of tragedies is enormous, the potential impact on our lives unimaginable. And it can make you feel very, very small.
Like a drop in the ocean.
And it’s true. We are all mere drops in what can seem an ocean of pain.
But that doesn’t mean that we each cannot have an Impact.
My husband and I, over the past 41 weeks, have striven to prove this. And, we are neither superman nor superwoman.
We can all have positive impact even with jobs, lives, responsibilities and relationships.
Through 41 weeks, we’ve chosen small, digestible things we can do in our neighborhood, community, the city, or on a global scale.
- One week, we cleaned out closets of clothing that no longer fit and dropped off at Caritas’ Gruft, the homeless shelter on Mariahilfer Strasse. What was most remarkable when we went to visit was that the people there weren’t alien beings. In fact, many looked frighteningly similar to us “normal people.”
- For several weeks, we changed light bulbs and installed simple remote systems in our flat in order to conserve energy. With the bonus of saving on our electricity bills.
Two small drops in the ocean.
“Dear Corinne and Nils, Inside you will find a card made by Jonathan. The minute he received the gift he wanted to write you a thank you.” Here is the card that her son made for us! [show card] “Jonathan loves his book and the pirate ship that he made. He has both of them on display in his room. He loves to look at his ship while he is laying down. I personally want to express my gratitude. It is so nice to see Jonathan get so excited when he received mail. His days are pretty much the same. Thus the mail adds a nice flavor to the day. It is so thoughtful and generous of you to care enough to send this to Jonathan … “
The cost of bringing joy to this sick child? Maybe 7 Euros including postage and 15 minutes of my time at the post office.
- When I was in the States, I worked with a Labrador rescue group to transport abused and abandoned dogs to happy new homes and families.
Two small drops in the ocean.
- For an insignificant fee, we’re adoptive off-site “parents” of a young orangutan in Indonesia. An orphan because human greed destroyed his forest home.
- While having coffee in the morning, we click-to-donate. For every click I make on my computer, a sponsoring company gives food or money to a charity helping animal conservation, ensuring human rights, feeding children.
- And, another week, we gave blood at the Red Cross, and try to do so on a regular basis.
Two small drops.
Yes, these are small things. They make a tiny drop of difference. And while yes, we’re all mere drops …
Many small drops make a Mighty Ocean.
- Imagine how many lives we, in this room, could save if we all gave blood regularly?
- How many homeless people could be clothed with our “cast-off” clothing?
- How much joy, to how many children with one card each?
- And, how many happy orangutans might there be?
I invite you to visit our website at http://www.52weeksofimpact.org. You might get some ideas or perhaps be inspired to take on your own efforts.
Come be a part of the Mighty Ocean.
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