2023 August 8 It doesn't take many people to start something big

Aug 08, 2023

Hi, this is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, the podcast and the website about re-imagining your life. Thanks for joining me tonight to talk about how little groups, even a group of one, can make a big positive difference. So let's get started. If you like what you hear tonight, please leave a like, tell your friends, send me a message. 


A lot of times we often hear people say, or maybe we even say it ourselves, that someone should do something about something. But it's usually immediately followed by some variant of an excuse. I would if I had more time, money, power, political friends.


The list of justifications are nearly endless as to why we can't do those things. But why do we act like that? I think one big reason is because, in our own personal lives, we tend not to envision the outcome that we want and work backwards. So we think of some huge vision, but it's just overwhelming.


We've talked before about the advantage of starting at the end and then working backwards. Then as you come across the problems, you break them down one at a time and you realize that what seemed like a really huge task is really a bunch of manageable, smaller tasks. 


Think of some huge outcome. Look at it from the viewpoint of being at the very beginning of the task, and you're immediately overwhelmed because it is a huge thing. You think of some of the people you see on the world stage, and they're making worldwide changes. Do you think they just got up one morning and went from zero to making worldwide changes?


No. They got up and they figured, what's the next thing I have to do to accomplish that? They did that, and then asked What's the next step after that? It's people who do things in a stepwise fashion and don't try and envision the entire outcome all at once that can work through without being overwhelmed because the task they're working against is just a very manageable task that's leading to the ultimate goal.


An example here is at the church. We're having a church picnic soon, and I was at the volunteer meeting recently. One of the most interesting things to me is that many of the volunteers are either elderly women or very elderly men. The core group is actually only about six or 10 people with probably about a median age of about 80.


Including the other volunteer workers like myself who are just coming in to do nondescript jobs, there's still probably only about 20 people. But yet that small group of six or 10 people have planned, organized, gotten donations for, purchased food, made legal arrangements, and much, much more for the other, nearly 300 expected people.


It doesn't take a lot of people to have a big positive influence. But you might say, Well, that's fine for a picnic. What about something important? So first off, I happen to think picnics and group gatherings and such are all pretty important stuff. In reality, social gatherings are important and they don't just happen.


They take a lot of planning to make it seem effortless. But more seriously, I was traveling a few years back. I happened to be in Chicago for two events and I heard on the radio about an 80 year old woman who had just gotten a big recognition award. She was tired of seeing her neighborhood getting worse and worse, and even though she was mostly apartment bound because she was in a wheelchair, she still called neighbors and organized people to form a neighborhood help group.


Their purpose was simply to be a presence in the neighborhood so that the other people there knew that there were people who cared, and they would take action. They also provided activities for kids at risk and help with schoolwork. They basically just gave the community a community spirit. She got a community service award for helping stop the decline in a fairly large part of the city.


She was a very well-known person at that point. However, she'd only been doing this for a couple years, and she was one older woman in a wheelchair, needed help to get out of her building, but she wasn't afraid to talk to anyone who would listen, and most importantly give them hope, direction, and a plan for success.


Even one person can be a significant element of positive change. The same is true in politics, especially at the local levels. I know so many people that complain about what their community is doing. Yet they couldn't tell you when the next meeting was for the governing body or what the rules were for presenting.


I used to go to the town board meetings quite often, and there are about 10 regular people who always showed up every month. Some had a specific agenda, some just wanted to ensure the local government stayed open and transparent. There was one older woman. She'd get up and talk pretty much every single month, and the only thing she would do was very simple. She'd simply list off the things that the board said last month they were going to have done by this month. The meeting we're at. She noted that the work didn't appear to have been completed and how long it had been open for. Well dear members of the board, last month you said you would have that resolved by this month.


She wasn't asking when it would happen. She would just note these things, but this allowed the local reporters to then go and pester the elected officials and say that they had these continuing open items.


It was actually a very important duty that she was doing. She made the board accountable for their actions each and every month, which changed the whole feeling of the board meeting, because they knew that she, and then the papers, would hold them accountable for the things that otherwise they could just say and everyone would forget.


Small groups, even individuals, can have a huge positive change. So the next time you or someone else says, Someone should do something about that, you know what the productive next steps are. Immediately envision and describe the desired outcome to get buy-in, either from yourself or from others, and then before anyone including you can object, throw out a likely next step, suggest something. This is really important. You want to stop the negative thinking before it can even sprout and take root. 


Just immediately propose an action, propose what the next steps are going to be. People love to sit around and complain, even when they're not willing to discuss it further. It's just open complaining.


But very often, people are looking for a leader. Someone who will show them a path forward. If they see that, they're more than willing to help out. I saw that a lot actually. Who's going to take that next step? You. That's right. You can be the leader. You don't have to be somebody amazing. You just have to be somebody who's willing to take action. You just have to have confidence in yourself to move forward and take that next step.


All it takes is one person with a vision and a plan. Once others see and understand it, then they will have the confidence. They know they can go ahead and take the next step and make a huge change in their environment. You can be that one person for something that matters to you.


You can be that agent of positive change. So your homework (always optional) is to think of one thing you'd like to change. It can be big or small, important or not, but it does have to be important to you. Then plan how, if it were to come up in conversation, you could move it from pointless complaining to an actionable plan. Introduce a plan into the conversation.


You have to think about how you would move that into an action. What do you want to do? How can you divvy up some tasks so everybody feels engaged? That's super important because if everyone thinks you're just sitting there handing out tasks, nobody's going to be very interested. (Because, when did you become boss of the world?) But you are leader, and a leader doesn't just assign tasks. A leader provides guidance, provides hope, provides a path forward.


Now people are involved. Now they're engaged .They see a path forward and it's a good idea. Now they're a group doing something and it all started because you as one person took an action. Go as far with it as you want in your mind. Talk it over with a friend, and then the two of you can get excited about it. You can also hone the plan and think about something that's important to you, something you want to change, how you can go about changing it, and then what the next steps would be. You'll feel a lot better about it, and you'll also get something done that you really want to do. 


That's it for the evening. Of course, the, link to different organizations who do volunteer work or to help in the Ukraine. UKR7.com.  The World Central Kitchen is also there. WCK.org. They are heavily involved anywhere there are people who are recovering from disasters. 


Remember, as we talk about often, one of the very best ways to care for yourself is to care for others, because it really takes your focus from looking inside to looking outside yourself, and how it affects the whole world, and how you can be a positive agent for change in that respect.


As always, try and help somebody. As I often say, there's a lot of places with disasters going on. There's a coup right now in Niger. There are things going on all around.


We're very fortunate in the United States and in North America, and much of Europe, that we have a lot of fundamental peace and safety, and we forget sometimes that a lot of people do not. If you can help someone else move their life forward, it's always a nice thing to do and it'll help you feel better about yourself and energize you about life.


As always, thank you for stopping by. If you found something interesting or useful, please pass it along, and please hit that like button. If not, please drop me a comment as to what you'd like to hear about. Have a great week. Remember to live the life that you dream of, because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone. See you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. Thank you.


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