I am amazed by the sheer amount of people that are alive in this moment. Over 7.5 billion people is impossible to imagine. It is extraordinary, and overwhelming and humbling.
Out of that 7.5 billion, how many people will know me? Dunbar’s number suggests that we don’t really have the capacity to have more than 150 meaningful relationships.
Out of that 150, how many will really do life with me? Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with.
So, not many.
How many will remember me?
Of the people who lived 100 years ago, (less than 2 billion of them), I have heard of, maybe, a handful. A dozen at most, and probably the same names that you may know. The rest of them, well they might have influenced how I live but I don’t know their names or their story.
So, logic would suggest that in 100 years no one will remember me, and no one will remember you. (Sorry).
I will fade.
However, what I do will have a lasting effect. Every act will create an impact.
Specifically, generous acts multiply. They grow over time as they encourage others to be generous and create ripple effects to people that you will never know in places that you will never travel to. Generosity will not fade. It will last forever.
Leave a legacy. Be generous.
I come across them regularly, on the road, in the
supermarket, walking on the footpath. People who behave in such a way that I
can only assume that they are stupid. Sometimes I call them ‘jokers’, other
times I have more colourful names for them, but in my mind they are categorised
as ‘stupid people’.
I am sure you would know some people like this. People who
don’t seem to understand your priorities or seem to care about your sense of
urgency. They could be just about anyone, and as it turns out they are usually
anyone who is not me.
I think my eldest son was about 7 or 8 when I first heard
him call someone a ‘joker’ from the back seat of the car. I am so glad that he
didn’t use something more colourful. This was a rude shock – when you hear your
own judgement parroted back to you it can be startling. And how long until that
word gets used to describe me? Are other people using that word to describe me?
Am I someone else’s ‘stupid person’?
It is the easiest thing in the world to judge people, to
create a story in our mind about how they are just stupid for not seeing the
world as I see it and behave in a way that I would behave. It is the easiest
thing in the world to be completely self-centred.
What I have discovered is that everything that everyone does
makes sense to them, even if it is just at a subconscious level. They may not
even be able to articulate why they do something but at some level their
behaviour aligns with their values, or their world view.
If you don’t understand why someone does something then your path to understanding is through curiosity, asking more questions and making less judgements. That is generosity in relationships.
If you have stupid people in your life, then perhaps you’re not
asking the right questions.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Remember that question? I feel like it was a constant companion when I was little. This question of future possibilities. It was usually answered with ‘a policeman’, or ‘an astronaut’ or ‘a fire engine’. You know, the standard things kids want to be.
I don’t ever remember being asked, what do you want to do when you grow up? It was always what do you want to be? It’s a little thing, but it speaks volumes about how our thinking changes as we grow.
‘Be’ elicits thoughts of a calling, of becoming something and creating something.
‘Do’ is just about doing things and actions.
I believe that we all have a desire to be something, to fulfil our calling, the reason why we are here on this planet. More often than not, I have discovered that peoples calling is about other people. Caring for them, helping them, finding fulfilment in watching others grow and develop and reach their full potential.
There is no doubt that we ‘do’ things in the process, but the doing serves the calling, not the other way around.
So what do you want to be when you grow up? There is something within each and every one of us which cries out to help other people – but whether we listen to that is up to us.
What do you consider to be the worlds greatest resource. There is much debate about the value of certain items – would it be oil, gold, iron ore, lithium perhaps, what about water, air and sunshine? Ice cream? All seem to be pretty important, some more than others but which is the greatest resource available to us?
I don’t think it’s any of these. For me, it has to be people. We are told that there are now nearly 8 billion people on the planet. That is almost 8 billion resources, but more than that, individuals that carry with them such great value and incredible capacity. With 10% of the global population still living in extreme poverty then that is at least 10% that are not being able to reach their full, God given potential. When that happens, not only do the individuals miss out, but the rest of the world misses out on their creativity, ideas and ingenuity.
There is a question that haunts me.
“What if the cure to cancer was trapped in the mind of a child who hasn’t received an education yet?”
To me that talks about potential, of what is possible yet not accessible because not everyone is able to make their contribution. The sad thing is that there is so much that we can do to facilitate that and it starts with small actions. Little things that will go a long way to empowering those living in poverty.
We have some difficult issues as a world, but if we could get the most out of every person, I have no doubt we could overcome all of them.