Little Steps. Lasting Change.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Krebs, CC License

Often the first step in making a difference in this world begins with finding the courage to give life to a voice; to both hear and be heard.

Far too often, we sit idly on the sidelines of life, wishing for things to be ‘different’. Sometimes we buy into the belief that it’s someone else’s job to fix what’s broken or believe we are too small to make a difference. Yet nothing could be further from the truth! Each of us has within us a gift, talent, purpose or passion to share with the world. Each of us has within us a voice, that when raised in defense of what we believe in; when united with others who share our core values; can create a ripple effect far bigger that has the potential to create real and lasting change.

I’m curious to know…

What change do you wish to see in the world? What causes are you most passionate about? What small step can you take today to get involved? Remember: big change begins with little steps, and global impact starts with local engagement.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re passionate about women’s economic empowerment and the impact it has made in your own life, consider sharing your story with EmpowerWomen.org’s #iamwoman campaign or register on the platform to connect, engage and learn with others from around the world. There’s a plethora of resources and multiple ways to get involved! If you have a heart for the personal development side of women and girls’ empowerment and believe in the value of developing future leaders from the inside out, check out the Global Girls Project and consider lending your own voice and story to the project. Collectively, we believe in the power of stories to inspire, engage, educate and advance big ideas and we’d love to hear from you!]

Photo Credit: Rebbeca Krebs

Can You Be Bought?

In a world where success is so often defined by the external and expedient; where fear trumps love and a mindset of survival often trumps integrity,

Can you be bought? Are your values for sale to the highest bidder?

Living in alignment with our core values need not be a high drama proposition, but a series of small choices we make every day.

I’m curious to know…

When it comes to honoring your core values, in what ways have you been tempted to compromise, settle or sell out? Do you pursue endeavors to feed false pride or to pursue deep purpose? What small step can you take today to begin to walk your talk in a more authentic way?

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 Bite-Sized Bits:

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The first & most important difference we can make in this world is to live a life in which our outer choices reflect our inner values.

Owning Our Imperfection

LeadbyExampleRemember the old adage, “do as I say, not as I do?” For those of us who have ever struggled with perfectionism, proving and/or a need for approval from others, it can be easier to project a prescriptive formula for living your best life, than to allow others to see us for who we truly are: imperfect, flawed and failing forward (just like everyone else). Yet it is often the transparency of the journey itself, however flawed, that provides inspiration and encouragement to others as we continue to step out, fall down, stand up, and keep moving forward, a little wiser that we once were before.

While the world is filled with self-proclaimed ‘experts’ who are quick to tell us the five things we must do or the ten things that will result in certain failure, sometimes what we really need is a little honesty along the way — guidance from those mentors and role models who are as willing to acknowledge their shortcomings and failures as much as the lessons and hard-(l)earned wisdom gained along the way. Sometimes what we need is a little honesty with ourselves, too, remembering that failure is an inevitable part of the journey towards personal success — not something to be shamefully buried behind the false mask of perfection, but acknowledged and perhaps even invited as a present opportunity for growth and future invitation to serve others in a deeper, more authentic way.

I’m curious to know…

Do you carefully protect your image as a way of presenting a perfect self to the world or do you allow others to see your flaws and imperfections? How might your own struggles, setbacks, and comebacks serve as inspiration and encouragement to others? When it comes to your own mentors and role models, do you (or they) place them(selves) on the pedestal of perfection, or do they inspire and encourage from a place of honest acknowledgement of both their strengths and struggles? As you move towards a place of deeper alignment with your authentic self, how do you choose to balance the need for both transparency and privacy in paving a path forward for others?

The Possibilities of Hope

Over the past few months, I’ve been busy interviewing a wonderful group of young women — survivors of human trafficking who have each successfully transitioned out of ‘the life’ and are making positive strides towards a purpose-filled future.

In each of our conversations I asked them not only about their dreams, but what hope means to them and the role it has and continues to play in helping them navigate their own path forward. Their answers varied, though significantly, each of them held steadfast to the belief that their life would not change by waiting passively to be ‘rescued’, but rather, would require a willingness to actively take ownership of their own choices, moment-by-moment, day-by-day.

I have not walked in their shoes, though I admire their courage, resiliency and willingness to be accountable for their own choices and outcomes. As I reflected on our conversations, it got me thinking some more about hope and the role it plays in helping each of us move through times struggle, loss, transition or uncertainty.

The concept of ‘hope’ is often misunderstood and expressed as some platitude or affirmation that is supposed to magically transform our lives. But hope is more than passive, wishful thinking. At it’s core, hope is about possibility thinking — an active way of seeing, being and doing.

It’s understanding that while life can be difficult, filled with trials and tribulations that test us along the way, it is always changing. Where we are today, no matter how challenging the circumstances, will most assuredly be different that where we are tomorrow, next week or next year.

Hope Says

More than passively relying on extrinsic events to change our circumstance, hope is not only moving forward in faith and believing in the possibility for a better outcome when we are in a season of sorrow or difficulty, but having enough courage and confidence in the value of our dreams and vision for the future that we are willing to commit ourselves to doing the intrinsic work necessary to realize a different outcome. Whether from a Christian or secular perspective, it’s faith in action — taking steps to advance ourselves forward, while staying open to new possibilities along the way — an idea that in and of itself, gives me hope!

I’m curious to know…

What does hope mean to you? What is the relationship in your own life between faith and hope? How can taking responsibility for your own choices and outcomes enable you to shift from a mindset of ‘hopelessness’ to hopeful, even under the most difficult of circumstances?

Wednesday Wisdom

 
Possibility Thinking

Resting on Laurels

It Matters Less What We've Achieved in the PastIn a world that measures ‘success’ by milestones of achievement, it is tempting to lean into our past accomplishments as a measure of our self-worth and ability, focusing on what we’ve done (for ourselves), rather than what we can do (for others), especially during times of struggle or transition. While the process of achievement itself can be a labor of love, when we identify with and cling too tightly to an outdated past, we risk losing ourselves in the process.

Consider the 1988 motion picture, Everybody’s All American, directed by Taylor Hackford and based on the 1981 novel by longtime Sports Illustrated contributor, Frank Deford. In the movie, Dennis Quaid plays the leading role as Gavin Grey, a 1950s star athlete known by the moniker “The Grey Ghost,” who plays football at Louisiana State University, later joining the Washington Redskins, though no longer as the beloved and worshipped college star idol he once was back home. Over time, age and injuries ultimately result in Gavin being traded, benched, and finally forced into retirement, where he spends his withdrawal from professional sports depressed and dejected, reminiscing about his famed athletic youth. Stuck in past, his sense of self-worth tied to his earlier acclaim, it is a sad, yet all too familiar tale, though one that is not relegated to past sports figures alone.

I’m curious…

Have you ever found yourself stuck in your ego and/or stuck in your past? Have you every found yourself clinging to an out-dated self or script that no longer serves you in the present? Do you have enough faith to move forward when the door closes behind you?

Whatever your future dreams or endeavors; regardless of where you’ve been in the past or what you’ve accomplished, the key to getting un-stuck, out of your ego, and into your heart, is to start from where you are in the present; to open yourself to learning, act from a spirit of service, create, take risks, disrupt and discover. Ultimately, it requires having enough Faith in life itself to let the door to your past close to create space for new dreams and possibilities.