Without question, making your voice heard is important to the social and moral “health” of America. I’d hate to imagine where we’d be as a country (even as a world) without the right to speak and assemble freely. And yet, as people around the country “occupy” this and “occupy” that, I can’t help but wonder what could be accomplished if much of the negativity I’ve seen was instead leveraged in more productive and positive ways. Imagine how much good could be done if, rather than complaining, those same energies were focused on finding solutions—if, instead of spreading blame and painting a simplistic, “black and white,” “good guys versus bad guys” picture of the world, the “occupiers” were to look in the mirror instead and ask, “How can I make a difference?”

Undoubtedly, some would conclude the best way for them to make a difference would be to remain an “occupier”—and that’s OK if that’s what they feel is their true calling. Still others—many others, I hope!—would realize their best opportunity to make a difference would lie back at home, with their families, their friends, their communities.

There’s an old maxim (Ha, name of my favorite magazine!), dating from biblical times and popularized more recently by Charles Dickens: “Charity begins at home.” The idea is that we can affect the most change, exert the most influence, and be the best people we can be by first “giving” at home or in our communities before focusing on the needs of others. From such a strong foundation, it’s safe to reason, greater numbers of people would be in positions to do more and more in their communities, and so forth, in ever-expanding circles.

Regular readers of this blog know that I participate in various charity walks, rides, and events. For the most part, these are all local activities with local organizers and local teams/participants, often tied to regional or national organizations. Granted, I could just write a check and “mail it in,” but my bank account holds only so much disposable income and I like to know where my money is going, how it will be used, and the impact it will have. Time, on the other hand, is something I can always prioritize.

Unlike money, where much of what gets spent each month is pre-determined by financial obligations such as food, housing, transportation, and taxes; with time—especially personal time—for the most part I have great leeway in choosing how I spend it. Plus there’s something inherently more rewarding to me when I combine “giving” with “actions” that are more substantial than the mere swipe of a pen. Walking, biking, bowling, and golfing for charity (among other activities) give me opportunities to be an active member of my community, to connect with other like-minded individuals, and to share a sense of camaraderie.

Just imagine if everyone reading this blog was to make it a goal for the coming week to do one good thing for another—whether a family member, friend, neighbor, or someone you don’t even know.  And what if, instead of expecting to get paid back or recognized in some way for your efforts, you simply asked the recipient of your good intentions to “pay it forward” by doing something nice for someone else?

Now, I’m not naïve enough to think this would cure all ills or change the world over night, but it’s a place to start—a way each one of us can begin to make an immediate difference (after all, we’re all in this “barrel of monkeyz” together).

Henry Drummond, a noted 19th century Scottish writer and lecturer, wrote “You will find, as you look back on your life, that the moments that stand out are the moments when you have done things for others.”

  • In what ways are you already giving back at home, at church, in your schools and communities?
  • What can you do to “pay it forward” today?

Share it here. Barrel of Monkeyz readers want to know!


Recommended Reading

  • A few years back, Mitch Albom wrote the best-selling short novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, about how people affect each other’s lives whether they realize it at the time or not. If you haven’t read it (or seen the movie), I highly recommend it. It’s a quick read and a fascinating exploration of how we make a difference in the lives of others each and every day.
  • Another great read is Tribes by speaker and best-selling author Seth Godin. This former “Book of the Year” looks at the nature of leaders and followers, and how change can be best affected by a group of people connected to each other, to a leader, and to an idea.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society MS Bike Ride, Oct 22-23

I am supporting a team headed by Kimberly Roush of All-Star Executive Coaching (www.allstarexecutivecoaching.com). You can make donations at this link, http://www.nationalmssociety.org/donate/index.aspx.