Don’t Ask Yourself What the World Needs

By: Gen Bisson

Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I love this quote. It puts in to perspective one of the most powerful questions we can ask ourselves.

What makes you come alive?

Then, don’t just sit there, what good does that serve you and others? Go live your life. Go dream your dream, do something.

Meeting people who embody these words is inspiring.  The people who can’t do anything else than what they are doing. Being a doctor, driver, teacher, electrician and writer is not what they do, it’s who they are.  The freedom that they exuberate from being so confidently themselves is contagious.

A few years ago I managed a summer camp in England. Before it was time for all of us to pack our bags and head back home, we created a souvenir album commemorating a few of the summers’ highlights. We asked the staff to answer questions. For example: who is the funniest staff member? Who has the best eyes? When I read all the answers I was really touched by what Amber had written. She had put my name for best eyes and in brackets she wrote, “they sparkle.”

I’ve thought back on this many times since, and it has become a personal test of how alive I am feeling. I ask myself if the light in my life is on or off.  You can’t fake it and, well, you shouldn’t have to. Ambers remark made me take a step back and reflect on what I could do to keep this sparkle going. It hasn’t always been there. I’ve done jobs since then that didn’t bring out the best in me. I had small periods of time that I felt flat. I was missing the light.

The same is true with who I spend time and associate myself with. I am much more careful of my surroundings. When you find people that understand you, it brings out your best and adds to that “sparkle.” They’ll be the first ones to remind you of who you are and won’t let you take the easy way out or cut corners. They love you too much to watch you not live life to the fullest.

It’s been 8 months since I took a leap of faith and moved here to the Philippines.  I have absolutely no regrets.

I love this country, I’ve met great friends and I am working with a team of inspired people towards something I truly believe in. The movement we are creating is ambitious, and the projects that we are building in the Philippines have so much potential. All of it is extremely exciting and I know that it would be almost impossible to turn off the enthusiasm that is within all of us on board. When it’s time to hire people here, without a doubt the amount of energy and passion they bring to the table will help me choose the team. You can have qualifications, you can be smart, communicate well and have a fancy education, but if you don’t light up when I talk about our mission as an organization you don’t stand a chance.

As we move forward, I will hang on to the wise quote I mentioned above. It’s important to spark that light in children. We need to offer them opportunities that empower them so much that they won’t be able to turn off that voice in their head, that voice telling them that what they can accomplish has no limits.

When you’ve had the light turned on bright it’s difficult to dim it down.

I invite you today to ask yourself questions that matter.

Maybe it’s a scary one, but it’s even scarier not to answer it.

Now, go do it.