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.