You’re here to save the world.
That’s quite a responsibility, isn’t it? Are you up for it?
Man, I hope so.
Truthfully, it took me a long time to accept this responsibility, but I’m ready for it now.
In order for me to become ready, I needed to learn a life-altering lesson from a complete stranger first.
I’ve always believed that all of us are teachers in our own special way, and there is not a teacher alive who would not give anything to have the kind of impact on his/her students that this complete stranger had on me.
My hope is that he’ll do the same for you too.
If the lesson is successful, you’ll be ready to accept your incredibly critical role as a “world-changer.”
And as a “world-changer,” part of the gig is realizing that you’re here to save the world.
I know that it sounds overwhelming, but don’t worry–you’ve got this.
Either way, one thing is for sure:
There is no one else besides you who can do it.
The Encounter With an Unlikely Teacher
My mom would always tell me that people enter our lives either for “a season, a reason, or lifetime.”
This particular man entered my life for a very real reason.
During a three-week period a few years ago, I passed by this man each morning as I hurried to my office to start another workday.
Usually, I would notice him sitting on the sidewalk dressed in rag-like clothes or rummaging through a nearby dumpster for food or empty bottles as I walked past him each morning.
Regardless of this man’s situation, he would frequently smile at me when our eyes connected. Without fail, every time our eyes met, the drama that was waiting for me at the office didn’t seem all that serious when I saw him smile in light of his less-than-ideal circumstances.
I mean, let’s be real–how many of us could consistently muster up a smile if we were forced to dig through dumpsters for food?
There was a valuable lesson in his ability to keep a smile on his face, but believe it or not, that wasn’t even his most important lesson for me.
Little did I know that on one nondescript morning, the real teaching was about to begin.
As I passed by this man on that average morning, I noticed something very different about him.
His smile was gone.
Instead of simply looking unkempt, he looked sick. I knew that something was seriously wrong with this man. I don’t know how to describe it, but I could just feel it.
After passing by this man without saying a word for close to three weeks, he weakly looked at me and broke our mutual silence for the first time.
“Do you have any spare change, sir?”
I reached in my pocket and gave him the remaining two bills in my wallet. It was only then that my curiosity got the best of me.
“Hey man, are you okay?”
He feebly smiled and said that he was fine. Although I didn’t believe him, I smiled back and offered a bit of unsolicited encouragement as I headed to the office for another busy workday.
“Good thing that you’re here in West LA (Los Angeles) because there are a lot of people who can help you if you really need it.”
That’s when this man purposefully locked his gaze with mine and stared at me in focused silence for 5 seconds or so.
His apparent weakness was replaced with a deep conviction that spoke clearly through his deep brown eyes. Even though each second of our shared silence felt like an eternity to me, I couldn’t turn away. It was clear that this man had something very important to say to me.
I was right.
What he said next is still burned into my consciousness to this day. It is no understatement to say that his words changed my life.
“I’ve been here in the same spot for weeks, and no one has helped me besides you. I hate to tell you this young man, but there is no one else.”
The Greatest Myth of All
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” -Sir Robert Swan
As I sat alone in my office on that morning a few years ago, I was shaken. That man’s words haunted me.
There is no one else.
This isn’t about whether or not I should have helped that man, or if he should have helped himself. The point of his lesson is so much deeper than that.
All I knew was that for three weeks, I walked past a man who I could have easily helped more than I did, but I chose not to do it because I figured that someone else would do it for me.
So many times in our lives, we count on someone else to step up and do the dirty work. We hope with fingers and toes crossed that someone else will do the right thing so we won’t have to do it ourselves.
Being completely real with all of you, for most of my adult life, I was hoping that someone else would create a “positivity movement,” so that I could be a part of it and help to make the world a nicer, happier, and better place for all of us.
After years (yes, literally years) of waiting for this positivity guy/gal to magically show up in my life, I finally reflected back to the man on the sidewalk’s brilliant words and asked myself a very important question:
What if there is no one else?
I’m here to tell you that someone else is a myth. It may be the greatest myth of all–especially if you have any real interest in living an exceptional life and helping others to do the same.
Someone else isn’t going to do the dirty work. Someone else isn’t going to do our push-ups for us. Someone else isn’t going to stand up to the sociopathic office bully who is currently making your work life a living hell. Someone else isn’t going to ensure that kids in Africa will have clean drinking water. Someone else isn’t going to pull you out of your toxic relationship. Someone else isn’t going to magically make this world a better place for all of us.
Simply put, someone else isn’t coming. Ever.
There is only one person who is here and able to show up every single day to make this world a better place for you and others.
And yes, you know exactly who that person is too.
Saving the World is Your Job
Making this world a better place in your own unique way is your responsibility. And truthfully, the previous sentence is true whether you want this responsibility or not.
So, since you are a world-changer, I’m going to ask you this:
What gifts are you keeping from the world because you think that you’re not ready to share them?
Please know that in the not-so-distant past, I believed that I wasn’t qualified in the slightest bit to create a blog about positivity, but here I am writing it and here you are reading it.
I wouldn’t have believed that either was possible a few years ago.
Maybe you’re reading this blog post and you currently have a dream of making this world a better place by helping others too.
Perhaps your dream is to help victims of spousal abuse, or to mentor disadvantaged kids, or to rescue neglected animals, or to ensure that everyone on this earth knows the difference between “your” and “you’re” once and for all (side note: if you’re willing to take on this challenge, I’ll love you forever), or to share your art/writing/talents with the world, or something else that is unspeakably awesome.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter what it is.
If it is your dream to do something that might seem out of reach, please don’t talk yourself out of it because there is someone else out there with more connections, more money, more knowledge, and more credibility who could share your gifts far better than you think you could do it yourself.
It took me years to realize this, but that imaginary “someone else” doesn’t exist.
But do you know who does exist?
The people out there who need your help. They’re very real, and they need you now.
They need the encouragement that only you can provide.
They need the unique insights and experiences that only you can share with them.
They need a hug that only you can give.
They need to enjoy the talents that only you possess.
They need the passion that only you have.
Each day that goes by where you keep your gifts to yourself due to fear, insecurity, or lack of belief in yourself is another day where you’re not fully doing your part to make this world a better place.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Every world-changer from Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. started as a “nobody” who believed in their gifts more than their anonymity.
And because of that, they changed the world.
While that’s very true, you don’t have to become a household name to become a world-changer.
Just the commitment to help others by being the best parent you can be, the best employee you can be, the best neighbor you can be, the best friend that you can be are all ways to positively change (and save) the world.
No matter how we slice it, this is for certain: If we all relied on “someone else” to do these things, it would be impossible to make this world a more positive place.
That’s because there is no one else who can do it.
It has to be you.
No More Waiting
I have not seen “the man on the sidewalk” since our only conversation. Years later, I am left with only his words to reflect on.
There is no one else.
Maybe I could have helped that man more than I did, but as you already know, I relied on a person who doesn’t exist to do it for me.
I relied on someone else.
When it comes to living our best lives and helping others to do the same, the lesson that “the man on the sidewalk” taught me is now crystal clear:
Waiting for the perfect time to start, waiting for the ideal circumstances, or worst of all, waiting for “someone else” to do it for us, are all a complete waste of time.
The time to act is now and the person to make it happen is you.
I believe in teamwork more than anyone, but the other dangerous extreme is relying on other people to do the things that we are very capable of doing for ourselves.
Lastly, a few words of thanks for the special man who I will likely never know or see again:
I owe you big time for helping me to learn this incredibly valuable life lesson.
There was no one else who could have done this for me in the way that you did.
It had to be you.
Are you ready to accept your role as a “world-changer?” What are the special gifts that you’re keeping from the world? What is your unique way of making the world a more positive place? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!