We Don't Need More Gandhis - We Need More People Acting on Their Ideas

In Most Good, Least Harm, I share stories of individuals who’ve created positive change through volunteerism, philanthropy, innovation, entrepreneurship, and activism. When I lead MOGO workshops, I invite participants to consider the ideas of a few individuals who’ve made a difference for others and to imagine their own ideas. We all have them. Unfortunately, they may lie below the surface, seemingly inaccessible. Perhaps as children we were told our ideas were impractical, or we were humored, cute creators of finger paintings and crayon drawings, instead of encouraged to be real visionaries.

I remember a pivotal moment in my childhood when an adult took my ideas seriously. My best friend, Robin, her brother, Tory, and I, would often play together as children. Robin and Tory’s father was Victor Kiam, entrepreneur and businessman. Victor became well known as the man who liked Remington shavers so much that he bought the company (Remember those commercials? “Shaves as close as a blade or your money back.”). But, before Remington, Victor ran other businesses. Robin, Tory and I liked to create skits and commercials, and Victor encouraged us to come up with ideas for a commercial for his company. He wasn’t just indulging us. He was serious. I truly believed that if we came up with something really good, he’d truly consider using it. I felt empowered and appreciated. I knew my ideas mattered.

My own father was also a businessman. And he was one of the best, kindest, loving men I’ve ever known. I adored him, and twenty-four years after his early death, I still miss him terribly. When I was little, he sometimes took me to work with him. He was the vice president of a textile company, and it was so much fun to hang out in the art room where artists designed the fabrics. I got to paint to my heart’s content, and I was often very excited to show my dad my work. I asked if he’d ever consider using my art. I was indulged and humored, but the truth was I knew that my art would never make it onto a pillowcase. Now, my father wasn’t the president of his company as Victor was, so he may not have been able to offer his daughter the possibility of such an achievement, but there was something deeply disappointing in knowing that there was no chance, no matter how good my work, that it would be welcomed in this world of commerce.

How many of us have come to believe we have no real ideas or products of merit, nothing within us to lead, to create real change? I recently gave a MOGO talk, and afterward a woman told me that she felt a bit depressed afterward. “We can’t all be like you,” she expressed. “I’m not Gandhi.”

Well, I’m sure no Gandhi either, but that’s not what the world needs. We don’t need more Gandhis; we need more people who believe in their capacity to bring their creativity to light and manifest their ideas. We need more people who, as children, were given the gift of knowing that their ideas – if good – could be made real.

You have dozens of ideas, maybe below the surface just waiting for a bit of excavation. Dig in. What ideas do you have? Make them real. Make just one of them real. It matters that you do.

~ Zoe

Image courtesy of six million dollar dan via Creative Commons.
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