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Read this, next time you want to give up on making a difference

Thursday, August 29, 2013 by Marianne Elliott

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The world’s problems are big. And complex. And some days it feels like nothing we can do will make enough difference to be worth the effort.

Next time you are ready to give up on making a difference in the world, I want you to remember these five things.

1. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.

Aesop said it first and it’s just as true today. Remember the last time someone made room to let you get into a lane at the last minute, and smiled as she did it. Remember how that felt? That feeling, if enough of us had it often enough, could change the world. When in doubt, be kind.

2. Big changes begin with small steps.

I’ve seen it over and over again in my own life and in my teaching, and now specialists in behaviour change are saying it too: effective, long term change is often undermined by starting big. Forget the grand gesture or great leap. Look for the little things you could do. When you are not sure where to start, start small. 

3. Someone, somewhere needs to hear your story.

Ever thought you were the only person in the world who was as sad/lost/lonely/confused as you? That’s how someone else feeling right now. They need to hear from you. Shine bright like a diamond, my friend, and tell your story.

4. The people you admire feel just as vulnerable and afraid as you do.

I promise. The only difference is that they learned how to carry on and act despite their fear. They learned not to believe the voice telling them they weren’t ready. Your fear is not a good reason not to act. To feel fear is human. To act anyway is what makes a hero.

5. We are all in this together.

So you don’t feel like you have, know or are enough to save the world alone? The good news is, you don’t have to. The better news is: together, we have everything we need to make this planet the kind of place you really want to live in. Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t go it alone. Join the team.  

Want to save this for later?

Here are two ways you can make sure you have these reminders on hand when you need them.

  • You could bookmark this page, save it as ‘To read when I feel like giving up’.
  • Or, and this is wildly cool, you could use the site to send yourself an email in six months (or whenever you think you might be flagging and in need of a boost) with link to this page.

However you do it, keep these reminders on hand. Because when you feel like giving up, I want to be there to cheer you on again.

March 2014 Update — Over the next several weeks I’ll be looking back at a number of courage-themed blog posts (like this one) from my archives in preparation for the next round of 30 Days of Courage.

I want you to know how important your voice and your participation is for the future of our planet — and to I want you to have the courage you need to tell your story and play your part. In fact, that’s why I created 30 Days of Courage — a month-long program from women (and men) who have an inkling of the work they need to do in the world, and who need some space, guidance and encouragement to get clear and brave enough to do it.

The next round of 30 Days of Courage will begin on 24 March — and registration is now open!


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6 Responses to "Read this, next time you want to give up on making a difference"

  1. Annie says:

    Thanks so much Marianne….as we get OTM launched in Aus this is a perfect read…..could we read at our opening next week in Sydney…luv -Annie

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  2. […] Robin Thicke be a lesson to you. ​Next time you want to give up on making a difference – read this.​ Oh man, oh man FutureMe is so cool! (Thank you, Marianne, for the heads up!) Oooooh, so […]

  3. Art Rosch says:

    I love this post, Marianne. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. That is somehow heartening to me because my life feels somewhat restricted at the moment. I live in an RV campground with a population that’s economically mixed. There are the very poor and there are people in million dollar RVs. The poor ones need a lot of help. Boundaries must be carefully maintained, however, or we would have no privacy at all.

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  4. I absolutely resonated with this post. If only we would all take the time to be a voice of kindness in the world then the results would be amazing. I especially love number 5 because sometimes being kind can feel rather lonely and throw us into a place of vulnerability but it is in that place that we discover our deepest strengths. Consider me “on the team”, even if I am just sitting on the sub benches at present!

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  5. […] Read this, next time you want to give up on making a difference. […]

  6. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this post! A nice bit of motivation for my day.

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