However, I stopped blogging for a while after a devastating loss.
I think I questioned whether what I was creating was even making a difference to anyone.
It was a bit of a dark night of the soul, to be honest. And dark nights like those are lonely and, well, dark.
But light and truth never leave us; it’s us who forget that they are there sometimes. That’s what happened to me when I sat back down with my discouragement. I realized that there was a reason to keep going.
Let me explain.
Recently, out of the blue, a successful entrepreneur friend sent me a story. He told me that it had radically affected their business and how they work:
A real estate owner in New York was riding up his elevator. At the 47th floor, the elevator started to jerk violently. He stopped to investigate, and to his horror, he discovered a large crack in the wall of the shaft. Alarmed, he called the structural engineer and told him to meet him there at 9:00. However, 9:00 came. Then 9:15. Then 9:30 and still, no engineer. The owner called him back.
The engineer told him that he was there but that he was in the basement. The owner was frustrated and demanded a reason why he was left waiting up there on the 47th floor. The engineer replied, “Sir, you have evidence of the problem on the 47th floor, but the cause of your problem is in the very bottom basement, at your foundation.”
After a thorough investigation, they discovered that a night watchman, who worked for minimum wage and was struggling to survive, had wanted to build a garage at his home. He couldn’t afford it and so, for five years, every night, he had chiselled a brick out of the foundation and taken it home to build his garage.
That watchman’s actions may have seemed small, but they could have been the very thing that toppled a huge building, causing unspeakable loss and catastrophe.
My friend had told that story to a staff team at a location that they knew was struggling to find success. Later, as he spent time with his team, one of the staff members said, “Do you know the name of those stolen bricks? Their name is, ‘I don’t give a damn’”.
Well spoken, I say.
Every action we take is powerful. We are fooling ourselves if we think that we can’t make a difference in the world.
How I came to see social change differently…
When you lose someone, amidst the rolling turmoil of pain and emotions that you can’t even understand, there is one thing that becomes clear. The clarity is that there is nothing you did to cause this pain. In fact, this suffering chose you and there is no way around it.
You become keenly aware of the fragile illusion that you have naively built your assurances on:
- That they will be there tomorrow
- That there will be time to tell them how you feel
- That it’s ok to hold that unresolved emotion or thought for another day
The arrow of loss was sharp and I couldn’t stop it from burrowing deeper and deeper to my core.
However, the one thing that pain did remind me is that, yes, actually, I did give a damn. I loved him as a brother of my heart. I loved knowing that together, we were a part of something that changed lives and made a difference.
I gave a damn because I had the proof that our lives were testimony to the fact that change is possible.
I. Did. Give. A. Damn.
Which brings me to you.
One of the most popular articles I have ever written is about the differences between motivation and inspiration. It gets thousands of hits every month from all over the world.
Realizing this caused me to take notice of something. I began to think about all the questions that I am asked. They come from many places. Readers and podcast listeners, previous volunteers that have joined me around the world and from people who have been quietly following me all these years.
One of the underlying questions they often ask is somehow connected to how they see their place in the world.
They want to know how to marry together the satisfaction of making a difference and their expectations around what that looks like.
It’s actually a question of finding a reason to give a damn about their choices, their values and their influence.
Throughout history, giving a damn has looked like everything from the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade to the women’s suffrage movement.
Currently it looks like everything from the re-abolition of a new slave trade, truth and reconciliation, racial equity and stopping the devastation of foundational elements of our humanity.
Giving a damn is the birthplace of social change.
It doesn’t come from a state of contentment. Rather, it’s borne out of discontent.
Social change happens when there is a strain in the relationship between those who have power and those who do not.
It happens when people start to actually give a damn.
When you decide that you give a damn in life, then you are also deciding that your life is significant enough to make a difference. You are deciding that you are now a voice, a life, a legacy of how social change can look.
Your choices matter.
And, my friend, there is no insignificant choice. From how yo shop, to how you consume, to where you put your entertainment dollars.
Most importantly, they matter in what you will believe about your life every single day.
Can things change ? No, actually they can’t….Unless you and I decide that we are going to change first.
Here at Finding Bravery, we will be looking at how social change happens. I will be introducing you to people, ideas, and most of all, to the inspiration you need to begin to make changes that you can feel good about.
Because the choices you make are a reflection of the value and power of you.
So stay tuned. For the foreseeable future, I am only going to be writing about the questions that I have been asked here on the blog. The ones I get asked, and the ones you submit.
Some of those questions will be about global issues, some of them about you and the situations you may face in your world.
Do you have a question? Comment below or email me and I will get to it.