Small Steps Change the World

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Whether it’s a desire to see a greater effort toward energy conservation, improving literacy or eradicating a crippling epidemic, all it takes to get the movement going is a big vision and a tiny step.  The resistance I  consistently hear from  clients and friends is that they want to do something that makes a difference in the world but feel powerless as one person to make a dent in whatever the issue is. Frequently, a great idea is as far as it gets because they may have a grand vision for social change but are paralyzed by a feeling of overwhelm. True, one person can not change the world without a dedicated tribe of supporters and some of the changes may take more than our lifetime to come about. It’s common sense that nothing will get accomplished if someone doesn’t start it, and that if a lot of people do a little thing, it becomes a bigger thing than the sum of the parts.  Let’s look at the example of polio. If one man hadn’t had the determination to keep trying until he developed a vaccine, many of us would not be walking today. And even though no one person can wipe out millions of cases world wide,  each of us has the power to vaccinate one child for the price of a postage stamp. If we each asked 5 friends for a donation of less than a dollar, and each of them asked 5 friends, we’d have the power to save million of children. The Rotary foundation has done that through the efforts of one person at a time giving what they can in time or resources. They’ve helped the World Health organization eradicate polio from all but 3 countries in the world and those efforts all started with one man taking the first step.

Let’s say for example, your dream is to see inner city kids have more opportunity for culture and the arts. No, you alone can’t get around to every child in every city in the country let alone the world but you can take one hour a month and share what you know with one group of kids. If you ask 5 friends, and they ask 5 friends suddenly, your efforts are blossoming. I know this is all very basic stuff and you’re probably thinking I’m oversimplifying the concept and you’re right. I am. Because the only way out of overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness is to start with one small step. Then find an ally. She finds an ally and you have a tribe. Your tribe finds another tribe and your effort grows.

If you’re feeling discouraged because your dream feels too big a task, stop thinking of it as your job to change the world and just try to impact one life. Read a story to one child alone in a hospital. Visit one old lady who has no friends or family. Blog about it. Tell your friends. Invite someone to join you next time. It all seems simple when you break it down like this and the more little baby steps you take, the more attention you will draw to your efforts and the more people will jump on your trail ride. You have enormous power and you just need to do one thing. Just be that change.

How are you handling the challenge of getting started when your dream feels too big to tackle? What have you done to break the idea down into manageable pieces?  Do you have a dream so big that it overwhelms you but so powerful you know you can’t deny it? Let’s hear your  vision, your challenge and and see how we can start to make it happen.

You can make a difference but only if you get started.

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