Making A Difference Takes Many Forms

Did you watch TEDxKC in person this summer? Neither did I! However, I just watched a two hour television version of it on PBS and was blown away by the fascinating people who spoke on a wide range of topics about doing the unexpected and sometimes seemingly impossible. I was moved by the air flyer who wears a special flying suit (wing suit) with a parachute that he releases at some point after jumping off mountains or the Kansas City Liberty Memorial. He had had an awareness one day that it wasn’t about the special skills that he has, it’s about using the unique skills and doing something to help someone else. The viewers were asked, what skill(s) do you have (and we ALL have them) that you can use to help others? Hm-m, I found myself considering that.

Or how about the African American electrical engineer who started the “Black Girls Code” non-profit so that her “geeky daughter” and other girls of color could be turned on to computer coding? An incredibly small number of girls and women in general and of color specifically have an opportunity to have well paying careers in this field doing something they love. As this mother said, she never intended to be a non-profit entrepreneur yet she saw something that needed to be done and she stepped in to start an organization to provide what was missing.

This TEDxKC program reminded me that over ten years ago, I felt compelled to attend a national conference highlighting speakers from all over the world who were making a difference. They were social, educational, artistic, technical and environmental, among other types of activists. I loved the “Hope Magazine” that sponsored the conference and would read the magazine from cover to cover since it allowed me to stay positive. It helped offset my feeling of despair that resulted from hearing, watching and reading about the “horrors of the world” as constantly reported on TV, radio and in magazines.

Feeling confused about my strong desire to attend the conference since I had never been any type of activist, I went none-the-less. I felt so inspired by the presenters! I also felt very out of place there. Yet I soaked up their stories. After two days of hearing their stories and the differences they were making in their hometowns, cities and countries, I noticed some unexpected common threads.

I always thought that people who started non-profits or other helping organizations were born activists and always knew that they were. What I found was that almost every person presenting had no experience as an activist and never thought they would be one until something happened to them or to someone they loved. One example was a young urban African American man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was shot by feuding gang members (of which he was not a member) and ended up a paraplegic. Instead of being bitter, he found a passion in working with gangs to teach new skills and attitudes regarding conflict resolution to bring about peace in the inner city.

Another belief I had was that people who started organizations had a clear vision of what they wanted to do and knew how to go about doing it. What I found was that almost always the people felt very strongly that something had to be done and that they didn’t have the slightest idea about how to make it happen. Typically they’d think of a first step to take and they’d take it. It would either work or it wouldn’t and from that experience they would see a next step to take until something worked and it built upon itself. They didn’t know how it would turn out and usually it would end up looking quite different from what they initially imagined.

Another common thread was that they had to believe in themselves because almost everyone would tell them their ideas wouldn’t work, that it couldn’t be done. They had to believe in themselves and not look to others for approval since it usually wasn’t there.

The final common thread was that they had to be the motivating engine to make things happen. And to be successful they had to share their passions and their beliefs with many, many people to find the ones who wanted to join them in making their dream come true. They learned that they couldn’t do it alone.

Upon returning home from this conference, I considered what I had personally gotten from the experience. After much pondering I ultimately realized that my passion and my purpose is to guide people to live authentic lives and to be true to themselves. I certainly didn’t know when I felt scared yet still took the leap to start my business, that I would be making a difference with so many clients as a life coach and loving it!

Do you have a dream tucked away tugging at your sleeve to pay attention to it? Are you not sure what you’d want to do yet you desire to make a difference? The lesson I have learned is that the most important thing is to take the first step. Don’t paralyze yourself with negative “What Ifs.” Get into action. It may or may not be the right action, but you’ll be able to figure out your next step.

Trust yourself.

Take your first step!


Lorrie’s Learnings is a monthly e-article which shares my awarenesses, learnings, contemplations and anything else that comes to the mind of this life coach! Let me know the articles that give you new perspectives/thoughts/feelings, confirm what you’ve been thinking or move you into action. To receive Lorrie’s Learnings straight to your email inbox, click here!