Weekly Challenge: Status Quo

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: Status Quo

I’ve mentioned before about my upbringing. About growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. Foreclosures, food stamps, government welfare, constantly moving- it was all the norm for me. I was the outsider in school; as I got older, I remained the one that nobody noticed. That girl over there, not saying anything? Her? What’s her name again? Yeah, that was me.

I grew up feeling like one of the “little people.” Politics? Way beyond me. Not necessarily being rich, but at least the opportunity to go shopping once in a while? Too far out of reach.

I grew up feeling like nothing would ever change. I would always be on the lower end of the spectrum, always be on government welfare, always separate from the “cool” crowd.

It’s time for change. The status quo is a prison, a chain that binds your hands and feet so you are unable to move forward.

It’s time to break those chains. It’s time to step up, to move out, to make a difference.

Because you can make a difference. You can change the world.

Making a difference has nothing to do with circumstances. It has nothing to do with our place in life, how much money we have, or our social status. It is simply stepping out.

Today, you can make a difference. You can make change. It begins with yourself.

Change the status quo.

 

Advertisements

The $5 Challenge

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: $5

What can you do with five dollars? Buy a cup of coffee? Get a meal at McDonald’s? Maybe a new shirt off the clearance rack?

What can five dollars do? As that Abe Lincoln crosses the counter to the cashier, it seems small. Insignificant. It won’t pay your bills. It will hardly put gas in your car- not enough to be worthwhile.

Helping someone? Reaching out? What can five dollars do? It won’t solve the hunger crisis. It won’t buy a house for a single mom with no home for her kids.

Five dollars can mean a lot. This tiny, insignificant bill can mean the difference between a smile and a frown. It can change a life.

A small meal for the guy at the corner. A few items for the lady behind you at the Dollar Store. A coffee for a tired co-worker. A card to say you’ve missed seeing someone at church.

5 dollars

5 dollars (Photo credit: leff)

What can five dollars do? Five dollars is a lot. You don’t need a million bucks to change the world. Just $5. That’s all.

This week (and if you’re brave, do it every week!), use five dollars JUST on someone else. Don’t skimp- if the tax pushes it over $5, pay it anyway.

Five dollars. Change a life.

Weekly Challenge: Taking Action

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: Taking action
Some of my posts are inspired by daily events. So it is in this case. News travels fast. In the Internet world, it’s even faster. This morning, this world exploded with the stunning, horrifying news: school shooting. 27 dead. Most of them are children, far too young for their lives to be cut so short. Those who made it through- did they really? Their innocence is destroyed; that childish sense of safety, where all the world is their playground, where the bad guy always gets his- that illusion is broken by the chaotic sounds of shots firing.

Most of us, however, lay untouched by these events. We sit shocked, horrified, but in the morning we’ll get up just as we always did. We’ll sleep tonight, wondering how such horror could happen, and we’ll get up in the morning and go to our jobs, our holiday vacations, family times, and party nights. We might go to church on Sunday and stand vigil, meditating in prayer for those who died.

But what has changed? We’ll spend Sunday morning in vigil, and then dismiss to cheer for our respective football teams at the next game. Has it really made a difference?

I want to challenge you today. We’ve all heard the cliche phrases about holding your loved ones close, about living your life fully because tomorrow is not promised.

Today, I want to take that a step further. Tomorrow is not promised- all the more reason to do all that we “would have done.” What’s holding you back, really? There’s always a reason not to. Today, you have more reason to just DO IT.

Mourning over those lost changes nothing. It’s sad, but unless you were there or someone you love was affected, you won’t be. Because until then, it’s just a story. It’s just a story, until it happens to you. And so we sigh over a story, we talk about what must be done, we wonder what we would feel like in the same situation. We argue and debate over how to prevent this in the future (yes, I find myself guilty of the same), and we tsk that such a horrible incident could ever occur in peaceful Connecticut.

We mourn, and we move on, and in the end, it’s just another day in the life, another bad story in the headlines. But stop for a minute- what if it WAS you? Read the personal stories of those affected, listen to the news accounts… and then act. Maybe do something directly- campaign for gun laws, or against them, or raise money for safer schools.

But you don’t even need to go that far. How about reaching out to someone around you, someone who needs it? We are surrounded by people every day, people that we walk by with nary a word. We glance at them, maybe we nod, and we move on, unaffected.

Today- be affected by the stories around you. Make them your stories, and take action.

Weekly Challenge: Making A Difference

Child 1

Child 1 (Photo credit: Tony Trần)

Do you want to make a difference? Most everyone answers yes. Stories of those who have actually gone out and done so are hugely popular.

You want to make a difference. But what have you done to do so? Maybe you drop a dollar in the donation jar at the register. Maybe you give Santa a few bucks as he rings his Salvation Army-issued bell outside the Walmart. Maybe you even signed up for one of those “Adopt a Child” programs.

But what have you done, really?

You fed a child for a day, for a month. Your purchase helped buy schoolbooks for a classroom in Africa. Your donation helped the homeless shelter reach out to another family.

What is all that? What does it mean to make a difference?

Maybe it isn’t even about them. It could be about many things, depending on who you talk to. Bettering the lives of others, helping the less fortunate, saving the world…

It’s about YOU. You, the one donating your hard-earned cash. You, spending a little extra time with someone. You, giving some sort of inconsequential gift to someone who has less.

Do you see? Those are what makes the difference. It isn’t feeding the children in Africa; it’s not building houses in Mexico; it’s not even standing for hours dishing out warmed-over soup in a homeless shelter.

Those matter, but not everyone can do it. But there are other things…

It’s the brief smile you give a child, the extra ten seconds you wait to hold the door for someone. Spend an extra five or ten dollars and pay for the one behind you in the coffee line. Strike a conversation with someone while waiting for the bus. Carry groceries out to the car for an older lady.

It’s those smaller acts that change the world. Because when it comes down to it, it becomes about you. Those acts don’t change others as much as, eventually, it changes yourself. And by changing yourself, you can reach so many others.

It has to start somewhere. Start it in the grocery line.

Weekly Challenge: Thinking Beyond

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: Thinking Beyond

Earlier this week, I posted a video about insane business ideas. They were ideas that were radical, odd, and very unconventional. Seriously, a website just for dating? Nothing new there, but what about one just for those already in a relationship? Have you considered potty-training your cat so you don’t have to clean the litter box?

These are just some of the ideas in the video. They are vBeyond The Journey July 2011ery different ideas, but they all have one thing in common. They are original. They are unique.

Too many people are afraid to think outside the box. It’s so comfortable to fit in with what you know. You have a defined skill set, a mold of qualifications that classify you for a specific job.

But what about beyond that? In your job, in your company, in your life. Your family, the things you do together. For fun, for work, for a hobby.

Live radically. Live eccentrically. And you might be surprised and what you may find.

Weekly Challenge: Dangerous Labels

I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.
Today’s challenge: Labels

Labels are everywhere.  It seems that everyone is a part of a label, a particular “group” that defines who they are. Some are harmless. Sports fans and writers enjoy the particular topic their label refers to. In this case, the label is simply an expression of their interests.

But what about those labels that come to define a person? That’s when it gets tricky. When labels become a definition rather than an expression, then they become stereotypical. And that spells danger. Stereotypes = isolation or even hatred.

Do you label people with stereotypes? No? Well, let’s check. I’m going to be bold and jump right into it with a hot topic- Muslims. What do you consider when you think of a Muslim? For many, especially in America, it’s the image of the blanket-wearing, gun-toting terrorist whose sole purpose in life is to blow people up.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s all over the place- I see it all the time on Facebook. But that’s a label. Not all Muslims are trying to run the Jews to the sea or take over America. Not all those who observe Ramadan or spend their holy days in a mosque instead of a church are plotting the destruction of American troops.

I saw two women in the grocery store recently, both dressed in “traditional” Muslim outfits (which, ironically, in itself is a misconception. But that’s another story). I have a hard time thinking that these women are going home to terrorists husbands.

That’s where the problem lies. Not all people are the same, no matter what banner they flock to. Muslim, Christian, or whatever other label you want- they all have extremes. Christians are famous for the brutalities during the crusades. Does that mean I want to force a “convert or die” mentality simply because I attend church? Certainly not.

And so it is with them. Yes, I’m addressing a hot issue right now. Religion is one of those topics people shy away from. But you know what? Some things just need to be said.

So there’s my challengeinstead of seeing a label, rather consider the individual behind the label. You just might be surprised at the person you’ll meet. They just might turn out to be very much like you.

Mocking Dreams

We all have dreams. Little, mixed-up pieces of mismatching puzzle, thrown together in a blender called Life, churned with bits of job, sports, and sudsy dish soap. These pieces get all blended together until they come out with sharp, jagged ends that rip into your soul until, tired of the tears, you bury them beneath a layer of solid work schedules, where they remain reinforced with steel bills that remind you you’ll never have the capital.

But here’s the thing. You don’t need it. You don’t need the gobs of money and whatever else just to start that dream. It doesn’t have to be shiny and gilded, shnazzed with the latest pizazz and glitter. It doesn’t have to be the best technology or need the best sign. It just needs YOU.

YOU are what makes a business. You are what gets it going, gets it off the ground. All you need is a start. All you need is a stepping out and the courage to fly.

“It’s not possible. I don’t have….” Fill in the blank of what you don’t have. Money. Material. Supplies. Okay, maybe you don’t. But you know what you do have? Time. Resources.

See, there’s things you can do to get it started. Even once you do have $10,000 in your pocket, what will you do with it? And there it is- before you start, you need an idea. You need a plan.

That’s what this time is for. Research. Learn. Find out all you can about running a business and how to make it succeed. Take a bookkeeping class, learn about tax records and auditing. Begin networking and building your contacts.

By the time all this is done, you’ll be ready. Start building, just one step at a time. One nail, one hammer, and build your city of your dreams.

It isn’t overnight. And to be honest- you’ll never reach that plane. It will always be out of reach, little more than a glimmer on the horizon, mocking you.

Your dreams mock you. Are you going to let them win? Or are you going to get up and take them by force, make them YOURS? That’s for you to decide.