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small group of people making a difference“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Mead

How are you changing the world today?

How you say something is just as important as what you say.

A simple greeting like “hello” can both be a wonderfully kind way to greet a friend or an indictment of someone not listening and not capable of doing so (think of Biff from Back to the Future, “Hello McFly?!!”)

Another example of the impact your inflection and tone have on your words is with the question: “What more can I do?”

Negative people ask themselves this question frequently regarding the challenges they face in relationships, a failing business, a lousy work environment, a deteriorating relationship, a broken community, a challenged society. These people typically feel there is little that one person can do to actually effect change or to truly make a difference.

People who fit this description timidly ask the question already believing the answer to be: Absolutely nothing.

However, individuals who live in perpetual optimism for today and enormous hope for tomorrow ask themselves the very same question.

But, these people ask it in a completely different manner with a completely different anticipated response.

They want an actionable answer to “What more can I do?” They believe there is reason for hope. They know that one person can change the word and create an enormous ripple effect. And they’re certain that they can be that person.

Historically significant individuals like Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela saw the same despair as everyone else. All great leaders who created movements for good felt the same pain everyone else felt. Individuals who knew the difficulty ahead were aware of the long odds, but knew also that a solution, a victory was certain.

Real triumph takes not only the right question, but the certainty it leads to the right answer. [Tweet this]

After being burned on 100% of my body, I depended on a lot of individuals from all backgrounds and interests asking this very same question: What more can I do?

The inflection with which they chose to answer it changed the course of my life.

My brother answered by risking his own life to save mine. My sisters answered it by supporting me in those first, dire moments waiting for an ambulance. My parents answered by bringing me infectious love. The medical staff by battling medically impossible odds to save me. The volunteers by visiting, giving and supporting. Neighbors and complete strangers from around the world: by writing letters of prayer and encouragement. Dignitaries from the White House and the Vatican by offering support. In each example, these leaders in my life daringly asked and answered the question: What more can I do?

My friends, a month from tomorrow will be the 27th anniversary of the day I was burned.

When the anniversary of tragedies come we have an opportunity to lament what could have been or to celebrate what became. [Tweet this.]

This year, I am asking for your help in celebrating with me.

Please join me in celebrating our first “WHAT MORE CAN I DO? Day!” [ Tweet this.]

This is your opportunity to ask and answer this question as a force for good. As a school perhaps you can adopt a cause where you can make a difference for students. [Watch this video to see an inspiring group of teachers and administrators who celebrated their very own What More Can I Do? Day this year.] As a business perhaps you can provide a day of volunteerism where you encourage your employees to find a cause they believe in and invite their colleagues to participate in supporting their cause.

Independently, or as a couple, perhaps you can adopt a little brother or sister through Big Brothers, Big Sisters; give blood, bring groceries to an elderly neighbor, donate your “going out to dinner money” to a special cause. Perhaps it’s more personal and you’ll answer it regarding a relationship that needs to be resurrected, a hurt that needs to be released, or a personal goal you’ve been putting off, but today is your day. Start that exercise program, join AA, deliver groceries to elderly or step back into your faith.

I am the blessed recipient of many people asking the question, “What more can I do?” I’ve discovered, though, that in answering this question they changed not only my life, but their own. The same gift awaits those who ask this question for others.

The invitation for all great leaders is to think, speak, act and live in such a way that the world is better because of them. So mark January 17th on your calendar as “What more can I do? day.” Spend some time with your organization, your team, your family and yourself answering this special question.Then, get ready to make a difference through your life.

It’s time to wake up to the truth that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Please take a moment to post what you plan to do for What More Can I Do? Day 2014 in the comments below.

0 replies on “How You Answer Matters”

I am going to get out of my selfishness and find all kinds of opportunities. I just don’t look enough. God will certainly allow me to find the ones He has for me.

I plan to donate my time this day mentoring 5th graders who aren’t doing well in school through a program called BOOST. I love helping young kids and do my best to get them to focus on school and realize just how important it is to apply yourself for success!

I coach at the local high school. I think it is important that those age kids understand that htis is important and question themselves “What More Can I Do”

For What More Can I Do Day? I am going to to bring dinner to my elderly neighbor and stay to visit with her while she eats. Thanks for letting us help you celebrate what has become, John!

I remember 27 years ago. We were in Florida and came home to the news. We went right to the hospital and joined a huge group of people waiting and praying. I asked your mother what I could do, and she said she needed moisturizer for her face. I went right to West County and got her her Clinique. It felt so good to be able to do some very small thing in the face of this huge life altering event. There was always a crowd in the hospital waiting room, and there was always food and a cooler full of drinks. And…there was always love and faith and prayers for a little boy and his family. God blessed you all then as he does now.

Thanks Judy – – – really hitting home with the old stories of that time! You ALL answered the question, What more can I do? I am here as a result of ALL of your love and faithfulness. Thanks for it! J

John, we gathered a small group of our employees and we all decided that on What More Can I Do Day, we are going to pick one office employee, and one warehouse employee and we are going to lift them up on that day. We’ve assigned 2 people from the group to pick either the office or the warehouse employee, and decide what it is they think that employee would like done. It’s not necessarily a monetary thing. It’s more of a recognition/support type of action. We are going to do this once a month, not just in January. We’ll pick different employees, and possibly once we get it figured out on how we want to do this, we will probably extend out into the community. My husband and I are very actively involved with the American Cancer Society, because I lost my sister to breast cancer 7 years ago, and my dad to lung cancer just at the end of July. I’ve seen how people in the medical field give so selflessly of themselves to help others. There is a blood bank not 1 minute down the road from Wind-Lock. I’d love to do something for them someday. Maybe take lunch down for the workers, or snacks for the blood donors, or drinks for the drivers. When you put your mind to it, there are so many ways to pay it forward. I was so touched by your story that I heard the other night. You truly are a miracle. Annie said that what I heard was an abbreviated version on your story, so I am going to read your book, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to hear the long version of your story. We’ll keep going with the What More Can I Do day, and you keep on teaching people the Power of One. God Bless – Pam Burkhart

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Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.