Category Archives: Live

You must be the change you wish to see in the world

During this season, as we celebrate Christmas, we are inundated with requests for charity.

When I think of charity I have some rather deeply personal views on this topic.  I am challenged by what charity means to me and what I do or don’t do about it.  We all have our own motivations for being charitable.  These may range from religious or spiritual beliefs held dear and close to heart, a general sense of benevolence, or a desire to make a difference in this world.

Charitable actions come in many different shapes, forms and varieties.  To some charity is generous financial contributions to organizations undertaking charitable work.   Others contribute to the community by preparing nutritious meals for those facing hunger when they, themselves, are living with limited means.  It could be the gift of time teaching a class for students in need of additional tuition.  Then there is the senior citizen I know who sits all year knitting wool beanies, despite her arthritis, for orphans in need of winter woollies.

I am humbled by the many examples of charity around me that I encounter on a daily basis.  I am blessed and inspired by people in my life who, I believe, are the epitome of what it means to be charitable.  You don’t talk charity, you live it daily in your lives.  You seek nothing in return.  You do not look for your name on a plaque placed prominently on [insert any donated object here].  You do not go about selective charitable donations to get a tax refund.  Charity is not a once off event on your calendar.  When you feed a hungry family you do so without fuss and bother, without alerting the media to your efforts.  Day in and day out, 365 days a year, you are tirelessly and selflessly giving of yourselves to others.

Personally, I understand charity to being committed to the continuous giving of oneself, in a meaningful way, to aid and assist others without expecting anything in return.

Okay, great, so I have developed my own understanding.  But having such a noble and lofty understanding is worthless without my own, personal, call to action.  Words without action are a waste of breath.  Until I get up, out of my comfort zone, and actively do something about my personal call to action I am wasting my time writing this article, not to mention wasting your time reading this.

So, I ponder more on this topic, and think of the words of Mahatma Gandhi:  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.  It all starts with me.  If I don’t want to see hunger in the world, for example, why am I not making an extra sandwich, when preparing my daily lunch, for the hungry person I pass on my way to work each morning?  Small example, but food for thought [no pun intended].

As I write this I am reminded of the article I wrote – Just for Today.  As I continuously seek to be a lifelong learner I need to challenge how I choose to live my life in order to grow and move forward as an individual.  So I challenge my status quo.  I have now added charity to my “Just for today” daily motivational.  As I step out into this unchartered territory I do not yet quite know how this is going to play out.  I know this, without taking the first step I’m never going to get anywhere, never move forward, never make a difference, and most certainly will never contribute to the change I wish to see in the world.

I dedicate this article to all the wonderfully inspirational people in my life who, without knowing it, challenge me to my core on this rather personal, and for some, sensitive topic.


Be the change you wish to see in the world

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

 

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

An ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao-Tzu, known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, and founder of philosophical Taoism, wrote these wise words:  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

What exactly does this mean to me as a New Year has dawned?  As I look at what lies ahead in the New Year, as I set my goals and ambitions, I feel overwhelmed with the mountains I anticipate climbing.

I sit down and ponder on all I wish to achieve, all the projects and milestones set for me at my place of work.  I think about my personal goals.  All of which appear, at the start, to be insurmountable.  Then I remind myself of what Lao-Tzu said.  Everything we wish to achieve in life begins with the first step.

That first step is the beginning of action.  Without action we will never start moving towards our goals.  It doesn’t matter how small the task or goal is, we have to take action.  If we wish to drink a glass of water we must take action – walking to the tap is the start, is taking the first step.

Often I fall into the trap of analysis-paralysis.  I become so overwhelmed with what lies ahead that I hesitate to take that first step.  I’m afraid of the journey and what it may hold.  But without taking that first step I will not start to move forward.  Without taking that first step I will miss the opportunity to grow, to accomplish goals, to turn my dreams into tangible reality.

So what do I do?

I’ve come to the conclusion that by procrastinating that first step I immediately stop my growth, halt my action and doom myself to failure.  What do I fear more – failure or the journey?  I am terrified of failure thus my only alternative is to overcome my fear of the journey.

How do I overcome this fear?

Before I take the first step I need to know where my destination is.  I write this down in a detailed and descriptive manner.  It is not enough to say to myself I want to be successful this year.  I need to describe how exactly I’m going measure what I consider “successful” to be.  Once I have clearly defined my destination I need to plot the route I’m going to take in order to arrive at my destination.  Unfortunately Google maps isn’t much help, nor is my standard GPS.  I need to discover my own internal GPS.  As I look at my destination I need to identify my waypoints, my landmarks, to help me navigate to my destination.  These are the smaller goals and tasks I need to accomplish in order to arrive at my final destination.  These landmarks make my journey less frightening and more manageable.  As I identify my waypoints I am able to plot a more specific route to take in order to get to each marker on my journey.  By breaking down my final goal into smaller chunks the final destination appears to be more attainable.

The end result is a clear map to follow on my journey.  This aids me in not losing my way and getting lost on the journey.  Should I stray from the path I have a map to refer back to so I can get back on track, gain perspective, and take the next step forward in the right direction.

Having said all of the above, my journey must still begin with that first, single step.  I muster up the courage and take that step but firmly have my destination set before me.

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

Luck, Preparation and Opportunity

There is an old saying, attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca:  “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  I wrote a few weeks back about how I have prepared my whole life for today.  Of late I’ve given more thought to this and how we prepare ourselves for when opportunity comes knocking at our door.

Recently I was in a presentation a colleague of mine was giving to a group of young professionals.  He summed up the main theme of the presentation using the phrase:  “Hunt or Die.”  Either we are going out and actively finding our food or sitting in our cave and slowly starving to death.

My colleague went on to relate a story, a parable if you wish, about two farmers in a drought.  One farmer went out and prepared his fields in anticipation of rain.  The other farmer sat back, did nothing, and simply waited for the rain.  When the rains came which farmer reaped a harvest?  Naturally the farmer who had prepared for the arrival of the rain.  This farmer had prepared his fields in the absence of evidence that rain would fall.  In fact, he had no guarantee the rain would ever come, but he prepared nonetheless.

This struck a chord in me.

In my life I have come across, essentially, two types of people –  those who actively seek out opportunities to grow, to study, to better prepare themselves for that day when a new opportunity comes knocking at their door, even though that opportunity has not yet presented itself.  The other type sits back, loathe to study, to stretch their minds, to gain more experience, lamenting that there are no opportunities immediately available.

We can’t see into the future.  We can’t predict when the next opportunity will come knocking at our door.  However, we can choose what we do in the interim.   It doesn’t matter if we are dreaming of the perfect job or the perfect relationship.  What matters is how we are preparing for it today.

As the Girl Guide motto says:  “Be prepared.”

luck preparation opportunity

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura