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Years ago psychologist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Carl Rogers was speaking to a group of college students.
“Who among you,” he said, “are going to be the great engineers?”
“Who among you are going to be the great artists?”
“The great CEOs, the great scientists, and the great authors?”
None of the students raised their hand.
“If not you,” Rogers continued, “then who?”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently in light of the collective failings that have led to the slow poisoning of our state’s water supply. (And, yes, the image you see above is real.)
Sure the politicians and regulatory agencies dropped the ball, but so did we.
Everyday citizens who went about our days unaware and uninvested in the health of our air, water, and soil until it reeked of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.
If you think the word alone is scary, try standing beside a steaming shower of it wondering whether to bathe your children.
To be honest, there’s a part of me that wanted to be in denial about these issues because looking meant I might actually have to do something and, like you, I’m very busy.
Busy being an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife, and a student – and so maybe I’m not exactly saving the world but, hey, I buy Haitian jewelry as Christmas presents and give money to UNICEF. That’s enough, right?
Because, slowly but surely, I’m getting the hit.
The wake-up call.
The persistent voice that keeps reminding me that “other” people’s problems are no longer “other” people’s problems.
Whether it’s breathing China’s smog in Los Angeles, eating toxic chemicals, or – surprise! – discovering you’ve been drinking them for years, there comes a point where you just have to say “enough is enough.”
If there is any “good” to be found in the challenges of our time, it’s that they don’t come without the opportunity to give birth to something within us that has been gestating for far too long.
And once you “get it”, believe me, you don’t think the way you did before.
You don’t act the way you did before.
Most of all, you’re not waiting to become your perfectly-actualized self to step up.
You’re just sick and tired of worshiping the problem and ready to be part of the solution.
Sometimes it takes this outrage to remind us that we not only have a choice in whether to play deep or shallow in life, but that life tends to reciprocate by giving us deep or shallow experiences in return.
So I’m putting it out there that, yes, I’m ready to play deeper.
I have no idea what that looks like yet, only that I’m going to trust the same intuition that keeps gently but persistently reminding me to use this as a chance to be of service.
I hope you’ll join me.
Because, if not you, then who.
PS – In an effort to walk my talk here, I’m giving away 10 full Ready To Lead: Mindful Wisdom @ Work scholarships to 10 deserving women. All you have to do to enter is tell me why it should be you. Please note: I’m not looking for people who can afford the course but don’t want to pay. I’m looking for women who are eager to learn the skills needed to get back on their feet. If that’s you, just send me an email and share your story.