Feeling Empowered and Making a Difference

March 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If you have ever thought you were too small to make a difference, you’ve never tried to sleep with a mosquito in the room.

This is one of my favourite quotes as it demonstrates through our own sleepless experiences while camping or in your own bedroom, the impact that a lone mosquito can have. This can be translated into the many examples of individuals who have harnessed their daily thoughts and actions to affect positive change within their spheres of influence. Rather than being caught in a cycle of ‘what can I possibly do’ or blaming others for challenges or lack of action, many individuals connect with their potential in the various areas of their lives and those of others.

We are constantly telling and hearing stories of the events of daily life. As Jessica Jackely speaks about in the attached TED Talk, these stories really matter. They influence greatly the feelings of individual empowerment and the difference that we are able to make in our own lives and those of others. We are constantly interpreting the world and making choices, either consciously or unconsciously, about who we are and the connection that we have with others and the world around us. The connection or disconnection that we experience will then affect the daily thoughts and actions that can move us closer or further away from our individual and collective goals and potential.

The example given by Jessica Jackely is her journey through decisions around giving and poverty. Her connection to feelings of disempowerment while making a difference in this area were established early on in life. Until she reflected on experiences that made it real for her, listening to an inspiring example of micro finance from Muhammad Yunus and resetting her way of thinking around the challenges that existed, she was unable to find authentic ways to engage in this area. This I believe is not a unique story, more one that is a shared journey by all of us within the global village. Growing our awareness and appreciation of  the role that we can all play in engaging with and honouring our own story and the stories of others leads us closer to creating a global village of informed connected and empowered individuals who believe deeply in their own potential and that of others. This is part of an ongoing conversation that Explore Discover Act would like to engage in, reflecting on our vision and how our programs and interactions can support this.

Kiva is a fantastic example of retelling the story of poverty. Being able to empower the giver who loans small amounts of capital, as well as the receiver who over time pays this money back, is a wonderful way of positively influencing the dialogue around this issue. Having seen first hand, during my time living in Africa as well as in our own communities, the pride that an individual or group experiences when they are able to be assisted with a hand up (skills training, micro finance, education, etc.) rather than a hand out, results in the positive ripple effect flowing through the family and their community. Interdependence can be established, an authentic sharing of passions, gifts and talents to more accurately reflect the connection that we share as human beings.

Watching this talk I am reminded of the power of empowerment when authentically engaging with life. The honesty, compassion and love required when telling our own story and listening to the stories of others. The scale of change that is possible when we promote connection and interdependence. How important our daily thoughts and actions are, that have been developed through the many influences that we have had. The difference we are all able to make!

What are you reminded of when you reflect on this quote or TED Talk?


The Human Experience

March 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I love most about my work is that it is all about connecting with people. It is a privilege to on a daily basis be able to work with individuals and groups that open themselves up to be challenged and inspired through varied educational experiences. Whether it is within the school classroom or playground, walking through the bush, problem solving as a group during an initiative challenge, finding out more about the world that we live in, or climbing to the top of the mobile wall, each time I get to witness those moments that an individual demonstrates through their thoughts and actions that feeling of connection to self, others and the world around us, it is a glimpse into their journey of potential.

I posted on the Explore Discover Act Facebook page the other day a link to Brene Brown’s TED Talk from a few years ago. I have watched that talk on ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ many times since first seeing it a few years back, each time being reminded how human we all are. There are many times that we sit back and see others do things that we tell ourselves we could never do, trying to stay away from the spotlight so that we are not forced to deal with our own insecurities. This being quiet is sometimes confronted head on, resulting in reactions that can vary from staying silent and hiding to violent outbursts, verbal and/or physical. Yesterday being the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence is a reminder that we see in schools, workplaces, communities and homes the result of this disconnect that individuals create to be able to repeatedly behave in a way that is harmful and misuses power towards another individual or group.

Having just watched Brene Brown latest TED Talk from a few weeks back I am again reminded of the vulnerability that I try to foster within the groups that I work with. Creating an environment where individuals enjoy the adventure of exploring, trying and possibly failing is part of the journey, discovering, being real and vulnerable in front of others builds stronger connection, and acting, using those stronger connections to assist in achieving our goals, is of vital importance. Life itself is experiential, learning by doing, transferring this learning into making a positive difference in our lives and those of others depends on the reflection we are willing to undertake and the courage to apply this in our daily thoughts and actions. This is a continuous journey and one that requires honest dialogue along the way as we navigate lifes successes and challenges.

Take time each day to consider how your daily thoughts and actions are moving you towards your goals. Reflect on what limiting beliefs and definitions of success might be keeping you from participating fully in elements of your life. This investment of time throughout the human experience will be well worth it, I am constantly amazed and inspired by the sights and sounds of individuals and groups achieving what they thought was unachievable. I hope you enjoy this talk and reflect on what is real for you.





Call to Action

March 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This week has been an extraordinary one with the Invisible Children KONY 2012 Campaign going viral. There were news reports each day of the tens of millions of people who had viewed the video and discussions, both amongst school students, workmates, friends and family and also online about who is this man Kony and interest in and scrutiny of the Invisible Children organisation. Many people have expressed strong views about the various issues but I believe that all can agree that each of us as humans, regardless of where we live, deserve the right of safety and security in our lives. There are obviously many areas of our world where this is not the case and we should continue to work as a global village to build awareness and positive action towards this goal.

Having lived in Uganda in 2004/05 and revisited last year, I have witnessed first hand and heard the impact that Joseph Kony and the LRA has had in various areas of the country and neighbouring countries in the region. I was shocked when living in Kampala as I began to realise the full extent of the war that was being waged over many years in Uganda, and the lack of mainstream awareness in the rest of the world to the atrocities that continued to occur. Speaking to Ugandans, reading books about what had happened and meeting the Invisible Children guys while they were in Uganda filming seemed to not represent the peaceful existence that I was experiencing in the capital and travelling around East Africa compared to the lives of those in the North. Watching the Invisible Children Rough Cut Film, all those years ago and more recently, continues to be a powerful reminder that our shared humanity is at stake when we allow certain issues to remain silent.

Last year I visited Gulu, the Northern Ugandan town, and met with the Invisible Children staff at their office to hear about life since Kony being driven out of Uganda and the continued rehabilitation of those affected by the long war that ravaged that part of the country. I came away from that visit and others in the Northern town of Soroti hopeful that there would be continued healing in the region, through the amazing resilience of the people and the combined efforts of all the organisations empowering individuals and families through education, income generation, health, entrepreneurship, etc. Many in the developed world can take for granted the opportunities and services that exist for individuals in communities that we live in, compared to those within countries like Uganda. This is where a video that sparks the discussion that we have seen this week can be so powerful, opening a dialogue that can build greater awareness and appreciation for connection between our global village of seven billion human beings.

I hope that individuals are able to watch the video and make decisions for themselves about how they can use this information to be more informed, connected and empowered within their daily thoughts and actions. Finding authentic ways to make a positive difference in your own life, the life of others and the world around us is a continued journey.

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