I find social entrepreneurs so inspiring. So many of them (us) have had other careers, and then a light clicked – enabling us to let go of our prescribed futures that no longer fit our ideals and chase what some call idealistic dreams, but what we all consider our true life path.
It makes me smile just knowing how many of us exist in this chase.
Since I’ve started on this journey, many people have come to me struggling to find their own path, questioning their own decisions, and looking for that same passion to guide them.
While I don’t claim to have the answer and often struggle to point people in the right direction I thought I would list a few of the lessons or learning’s from where I started and lessons that I continue to learn and re-learn but help to guide me when I’m unsure of where I should step next.
1. Stop talking. So many people are convinced they want to do good; that they want to provide value to the world and to their communities. And guess what — they keep talking about it! This does nothing for themselves, their communities, or the world. Stop talking so much! The world needs a bit fewer positive words, and much more positive action.
2. Align your heart with your life. If you really truly believe in something enough to do something about it, take a SERIOUS look at your calendar and your bank statement. Where are you spending your money? What are you doing with your time? Time is precious, more so than our money and if you are wasting it away on nights out drinking and watching reality TV shows – how can you fit in your life what it truly is you want to do? There’s no harm in relaxing, but make sure your life priorities match where the majority of your time and money are spent.
[Side story] After finally leaving my job full-time to become “full-time” at Cheti, I feel for the first time in my life that all of my being is aligned. What I think about, what I care about, what I want to do and what I actually do are all aligned with the same goals and vision. You will never find true peace with yourself until you are able to commit to yourself and your vision.
3. Getting “off track” is the best, and most defining part of your life journey. Travel. Quit your job and study something you love. Join a group you never felt like you belonged. Volunteer regularly. Pretend like you’re doing a documentary (or really create one) and interview people you never understood. All of these activities take you out of your bubble and enable you to see things differently. It is when we are finally able to step aside, that we are able to see ourselves and our life from a higher view-point. From up there, you can see yourself clearly and usually gain a clearer understanding of what you want to change and where you want to go.
4. Just ask. I never realized how willing people would be to give, donate, help, support, guide until one day I just quit being so prideful and just ASKED. Now I ask for something every day. I don’t get everything, (wouldn’t that be a nice world?), but I certainly get more than if I never asked at all. So if you’re stuck, ask!
5. Remember, we are all in it together. I mean this in a couple of different ways:
- All of us social do-gooders are in it together – fighting poverty, alleviating hunger, and saving the globe from environmental disasters. We need to stop the fighting, competing, and trying to one-up each other and learn to partner better; grow together, accomplish more, and witness real change.
- All of us in the world are in it together – the globe isn’t getting bigger, there’s just more and more of us people populating, absorbing resources, and populating more. Sounds a bit like a people problem to me. Therefore, there has got to be a people solution to all of our issues. If you’re a person, take accountability and do something about it. We are all in it together.
6. Be not afraid of your weaknesses. This is one of the hardest lessons for me that I continually try to re-teach myself. To acknowledge a weakness takes personal character to begin with, but the next step is to recognize that “it’s okay I’m not great at “x”, how can I work around it?, or ask for help to still reach my goal?”. Example: I initially went to Tanzania to teach English. What did I learn 1.5 weeks in? I realized I can’t teach. So what did I do? I found another way I could apply my strengths to still accomplish the same goal, which was to empower the children and community I loved. By understanding our weaknesses, we can find ways to learn, work-around, or partner to still achieve success.