I just read an excerpt from a book called “The Last Lecture”. Mr. Pausch said, “When you use money to fight poverty, it can be of great value, but too often, you’re working at the margins. When you’re putting people on the moon, you’re inspiring all of us to achieve the maximum of human potential, which is how our greatest problems will be solved”.
I think there’s something worth noting there. We need both, but people need to be inspired, to do more, be more and experience more. Not to collect more “things”, and not to be discontent, but to get more life, out of life. To truly live.
And let’s face it; a great inspirational story like Rocky, Braveheart or The Pursuit of Happiness gets us all pumped up. We find ourselves seriously compelled to go work out, free the people or pursue our dream career because we see that there is more out there and that it’s possible to achieve. We are reminded once again that even ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things. We need that.
Why have organizations like Charity:Water and Invisible Children done so well? Because they have inspired us. They’ve taken what were previously insurmountable epidemics and provided us clear, tangible methods for addressing them. And then they show us the fruits of our efforts. That’s a game changer.
Scott Harrison realized that just mastering and sharing the facts about the lack of clean water for the poor is not enough. He needed a better story. So he found a way to inspire us. When you watch a video like this one, you don’t feel sad, you feel inspired. You feel empowered to make a difference.
Invisible Children is tackling the issues of child soldiers in Uganda and Congo, among other worthy issues. This is a horrific epidemic throughout certain areas of Africa. The details are gruesome. But, they chose to inspire us by putting the power of to stop this epidemic in the hands of high schoolers and university students across the US. Their impact is nothing short of profound.
Too often we get so caught up in the immediate needs of people that we forget about the big picture. We’ve spent so much time guilting people into action that we forgot the power of inspiration. Inspired people get things done regardless of circumstances or lack of resources. Guilt fades, especially in the West.
Hollywood has inspired millions of people (myself included) to be more and do more because of the inspirational stories they’ve brought to the silver screen.
When I want someone to do something, I spend about 20% of my time teaching them the methodology and 80% of my time inspiring them. There are few forces greater than a truly inspired individual.
What if we approached development work this way? What if we focused our efforts on inspiring the middle and upper class to take care of their own people? This isn’t a short term solution, nor a substitute for emergency aid. I am merely suggesting an additional and simultaneous methodology.
What is more powerful? Westerners providing aid to Africa, or inspired African’s elevating their own society to the point where they no longer need aid?
* This is the second installment in a series on THE INDUSTRY OF AID.