A Vision Makes A Difference
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Joel’s newsletter on A Vision Makes A Difference, August 5, 2009
An ezine about Creative thinking, Coaching, and Making a difference
I recently saw a story on PBS about a woman, Eleni Gabre-Madhin, whose vision makes a difference in her native Ethiopia. Following the famine there in 1985, she made a decision to do something to make sure this does not occur again. It was about 20 years later when she finally fulfilled her vision by starting the first Ethiopian commodities exchange.
Until then, buying and trading food was inefficient, quality control was poor, contracts often went into default, and pricing was irregular. That's the main reason that over a million people in the northern part of the country starved to death during the famine, while the south had a surplus of food. There was no efficient way to move the food to where it was needed. This is where one person's vision makes a difference. The year-old Ethiopia Commodities Exchange (ECX), in contrast, is an efficient, well-run, quality controlled system of free market exchange. Creating such a system was a huge challenge in a country accustomed to age-old methods of farming and trading, and there are still several major problems and issues to deal with, but it is already an unprecedented success, seeing how the exchange has grown over its first year.
Although many people and organizations were involved in the establishment of the exchange, it was the vision of one individual that saw it through from beginning to the final stages. Without this vision the ECX would never have been realized. Today her vision makes a difference by transforming agricultural trade throughout Ethiopia, and may eventually have a greater impact by serving as an example to other African nations.
I was inspired by Eleni's story for several reasons:
* She saw the need in the world and made it her mission to address it.
* She had the insight to see what the real problem was (food distribution, not lack of food production).
* She applied her strengths and resources (e.g. knowledge of economics)
* She applied a working concept (commodity exchanges) in a new area where it had never been done before.
* She has amazing energy and a "let's do it" attitude to face challenges as they come up and to move forward.
* Her vision guided her throughout the process.
* She has the ability to work with all kinds of people (from farmers to government officials) and unite them in her vision.
* Her example shows that ordinary people, like you and me, really can make an impact where it's needed.
What is your vision for making a difference in the world, or in your community? Perhaps you have a vision but don't know how to get started. Or maybe you're not sure what your vision is, but have a feeling that there might be a bigger purpose in store for you. Or maybe you need something to hit you and cause you to sit up and say, "That's it! That's what I want to do in my life."
When you have a vision and follow it, whether a large scale project like as Eleni's, or something more modest, it can give a new dimension of meaning to your life. Sure, it may be a major undertaking, but the process can be very rewarding. I'm not suggesting that everyone should do something to make a difference out there; what I do mean is that you'll know when and if you're ready. It will feel right to you. You'll know how big or small a project you want to take on. And then, by all means, go for it!
If you feel that there's something you want to do, but are not sure what it is, or how to go about it, I would love to work with you as your coach. Please contact me, Joel Remde at email@example.com, 973-635-1048.
Do you have an idea of something you'd like to do someday to make a difference in the world or the community? Or perhaps something that you're already doing? I would like to include it in an upcoming issue of Perspectives. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you prefer to be anonymous, let me know).
Creative thinking tip
Don't always believe the "experts". Yes, they have a lot of useful knowledge, but in the end it's your choice as to what to believe and what information to act on. It's important to think for yourself and decide what works for you.
I'm sure you've heard stories in which a crippled person is told by doctors they will never walk again, and through determination and persistence this person proves the doctors wrong. Perhaps you've seen a list of past predictions made by so-called experts that have been made to look ridiculous by advances in technology and society. (I don't know how many of these predictions are accurate, but I'm sure some of them are, and they're fun to read!)
I've even found myself saying things that I later wish I hadn't. "I don't think I'll ever need a cellphone. Why do I need Internet on my laptop?" Now I feel foolish for even thinking as I did!
If everyone believed the experts, a lot of excellent ideas would never come into being. Of course it takes work to make them happen, but if you don't believe it's possible, then you won't even try. Creative thinkers take into consideration what experts say, but don't let themselves be limited by that. After all, experts are basing their statements on what's already known, and creative thinking is about delving into the unknown.
So now that you don't have to believe all the expert advice, you're free to think anything you want! I'm not saying that you should never believe experts. They have a lot of valuable knowledge. But it's not the final word. Trust yourself and what you believe is possible.
Quote of the week
"If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome; if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe the military, nothing is safe." - Lord Salisbury
This interesting quote means to me that knowing too much isn't always a good thing. If you're an expert in an area, you tend to look at everything from a certain point of view. You can't help but see the risks and weaknesses. And therefore you're more likely to play it safe. It may be true that there are a lot more dangers out there than the average person is aware of. But knowing them all may actually prevent us from enjoying life. It's like refusing to fly in a plane or ride in a car because you've heard of accidents happening in the past. There's something to be said for moving forward with trust instead of being held back by fear.
This newsletter is written by Joel Remde, to receive this newsletter via email contact email@example.com
. I welcome your comments and feedback; that will help me learn what you’re interested in and also make this a better newsletter.
Learn more about The Creative Thinking Coach at www.coachjoel.com
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