“The world needs new leadership, but the new leadership is about working together.”
This past weekend was the last day of camp. I sat in the front row like a proud mother listening to 175 children that were not truly my own, talking about love and kindness and acceptance. Never have I been more proud. The lessons these 6th, 7th and 8th graders taught every parent in the room about their experience at camp were awe-inspiring. If ever this message was needed…it is now.
I am privileged to serve over 3,000 students a year, as the Executive Director of a non-profit leadership organization, which also runs a summer program. We have two full-time employees and hundreds of high school and college students volunteering that serve as camp counselors and mentors. Students teaching students, to listen to one another, to respect and learn from different opinions and how to work together towards resolution. Ultimately teaching them how to lead.
Every night as I watch the news and see the continuing political discord rearing its ugly head, I can’t help believe that our children will be better than we were, they will learn, listen, come together to lead us all. These children are our hope…just as one of our students said, “It is an eyeopener to learn that you can do something to change the world…”
One person can make an enormous difference in the world.
One person-actually, one idea-can start a war or end one or subvert an entire power structure.
One discovery can cure a disease or spawn a new technology to benefit or annihilate the human race.
You as ONE individual can change millions of lives.
Do not limit your vision and do not ever compromise your dreams or ideals.”
Perhaps a big thought for a Monday, post Father’s Day but a great way to begin the week. The Power of One continues to be a driving force in my life, as I seek these incredible people out. On Wednesday, you will meet Norah Miller, one woman on a mission to change the face of homelessness in her community….a woman using her power to help those in need.
It is the Norah’s of the world, that fuel my belief, each of us does contain the Power of One. The real question we should be asking ourselves, is how are we going to use that power?
“We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.”
Henry Ward Beecher
This weekend we will celebrate Father’s Day and each year I ponder on my Dad. Instead, this year I asked my oldest son to reflect on Father’s Day….
I am here to tell you that Father’s Day is one of the most underrated holidays of them all. It comes but once a year and traditionally entails a card, a phone call, or breakfast followed by leaving your dad alone for the remainder of the day. Dads do so much for all of us and expect virtually nothing in return. A quick Google search of the term Father’s Day shows results for all of the last-minute gifts to get dad. Father’s Day always seems like a “last minute” holiday in comparison to the rest. This year, do something different, yes, I am writing to tell you to actually hang out with your dad. Hang out with him all day… if he allows it.
I cannot remember a single time in my life when my dad was not there to support me, bail me out of trouble, or help me out only to say “we’re not going to tell mom about this”. Your dad has done a lot for you, so consider today like his birthday and celebrate him. Knowing my dad, your dad too probably doesn’t “want you to spend the money” on a gift– just make sure you do something nice for him. Most importantly, make sure that something is something he actually wants to do.
Dad’s don’t want more stuff, they’re probably too busy paying for all of yours. At the end of the day it’s about appreciating them, letting them know you acknowledge the sacrifices they have made for you and letting them know they are loved. I hope my dad knows what a great job he has done showing us the way and just how much we love him.
“Those who improve with age, embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding and lack of purpose with self-actualization.”
Yesterday, another year passed,candles were blown out and wishes made. Not a big birthday but definitely one that pushed me over the hill, I suppose. Each passing year is additional time for reflection about where we have been and where we still want to go? I feel grateful that both lists are still long.
So as I enter into this new age today, I am embracing my continued personal growth, my quest for wisdom and to living my purpose. What is a birthday if you can’t blow out candles and make a wish?
“And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.”
Robin Williams from the film “Jack”
As graduation season begins to wind down, all of the words of wisdom that we have listened to these past weeks, continue to dance in my head. My hope is that some of the inspiration that has been shared with us will ignite or inspire us to act.
Each of us has or had dreams of doing something spectacular with our lives….we all have dreams. It is taking that dream and taking the first tiny step towards it that begins the process.
We can all make our lives spectacular, and it starts with one tiny step.
“Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.”
Graduation season is in the air and with it come all of the inspiring pearls of wisdom that go along with the celebration. It is oh so easy to give advice and it is oh so difficult to use it. Every time I speak to a non-profit founder I hear passion, purpose, joy and gratitude in their voices, regardless of where they live or their cause.
The reason is that they have not set out to do something remarkable, they just paid attention to the signs, one thing lead to another, the knew they needed to do this one thing and then they reached out to inspire others to help them achieve that goal….which ultimately became a non-profit and something remarkable.
Each of us makes daily choices with our time. How will you use yours to do something that inspires passion, purpose, joy and gratitude? ” Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.”
The common thread between all of these extraordinary individuals? Gratitude. Each one is grateful to have either survived their journey and inspired to help their fellow veterans. Or they are like you and I, ordinary Americans, filled with gratitude for the country we are blessed to live in and the freedoms which we have. They have used that gratitude to fuel their work to serve and honor our veterans.
So today, I will take a page from Carolyn and Rob’s book of gratitude, as I reflect on those who sacraficed to serve us. I am filled with gratitude for these heroes who gave their lives for something bigger than themselves…..
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
A few weeks back I wrote about persistence, a common thread in all the amazing people I interview for Charity Matters. Most of these individuals, were dealt a bad hand in life and yet, how they chose to play it, is what makes them so inspiring. They not only refused to be defined by that hand, but rather they persisted in re-defining that experience into something life changing for others.
The other day I stumbled onto a major road block for a project that I have been working on and frankly, I was pretty frustrated and unsure which way to step next. I was driving through the tunnels on the 110 freeway when I looked up to see the sign…literally….which days before read RESIST and someone had now reworked it to read PERSIST.
In that moment, I knew that I would trudge on ahead, undeterred, fearless and committed to making a dream a reality, exactly like the 1.5 million people who have changed out world by taking their bad hand and turning it into a non-profit.
“When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.”
Years ago when a group of friends and I set out to create a nonprofit to provide chaplains at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, we did so with the singular goal that if we just helped one child then we would have been successful. Our motto was and is, “One spirit, one soul, one child at a time.” The goal was huge and yet small and realistic.
There were so many things that made our goal achievable and yet there was one characteristic that was critical to our success and that was perseverance. We refused to give up until we had accomplished our goal. A trait I am confident that every nonprofit founder would agree is necessary to create change.
This week Charity Matters has another milestone and because I am a big believer in celebrating each step along the journey, we will celebrate this one on Thursday. In looking back, it is clear that perseverance, tenacity and simply putting one step in front of another…is what moves us forward. Sometimes slowly, but eventually we get there and that is worth acknowledging.
“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
Booker T. Washington
This past weekend I went to Arizona to visit my aunt who just turned 80. She is a pistol, looks 60ish, still works, has four grown children, a handful of grandchildren, a boyfriend she adores and is full of life. On our drive home, my dad, my sister and I discussed that my aunt would probably live forever because her zest for life is simply contagious and she is so happy.
The topic of happiness got me thinking, so as I reflected upon my weekend and we all begin a new week, I thought I would channel my aunt and that this might just make you smile and perhaps even happy….
As we begin this new week, think about what makes you happy and make sure to spend some time doing more of whatever that is…..
“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”
A question that I am often is asked is, “What do you think is the most important thing to give to a cause you care about?”
My answer: Your time and attention.
Truly these are your greatest gifts. In our insane world, with information coming at us all at a rapid pace, it is easy to ignore what or who is in front of you. It is much harder to put down your device and give the gift of your undivided attention.
When we focus what truly matters to us, it is that gift of attention that is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
I am constantly inspired of how goodness creates more goodness.
The past eight weeks I have been in the privileged position of working with thousands of middle school students to teach them about service. This year our organization talked to our students about an amazing non-profit called Cell Phone for Soldiers, that was started by two teenagers in 2004……you all will hear their story on Wednesday.
What was magical, was sharing a real life story about two kids who made a difference and how quickly, their story inspired thousands to do the same. Goodness does create goodness and thousands of candles can be lit from a single flame.