what if everybody did

what if everybody did

One reason that some of us don’t take action to make the world a better place is that we believe that nothing we could do could ever make a difference. So sure, some of that is just mathematics, right? If there’s a gazillion people doing some bad thing and I’m the only one doing something different, then it’s like a gazillion against one. Okay. That’s fair.

But another way to look at it is that when any one of us refuses to do what we can, we’re actually just being a weenie. We’re avoiding taking responsibility for what’s wrong and what we can do to make it right. We’re copping out.

In the meantime, all of that not-taking-action is inadvertently, and actually, shaping our lives and the lives of those around us.

Here’s how the authors of The Better World Handbook put it:

Thought Trap #2: “It’s Not My Responsibility” from  The Better World Handbook  by Ellis Jones, Ross Haenfler and Brett Johnson.

Thought Trap #2: “It’s Not My Responsibility” from The Better World Handbook by Ellis Jones, Ross Haenfler and Brett Johnson.

whose job is it?

Sure, it’s not all you. But, it’s kinda you. It’s kinda each and every one of us.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.


So in effect, most of us are waiting for someone else to start (or stop) doing it. Whatever IT is.

I’ll grant you that it’s not easy to be the first one to change. We don’t all characterize ourselves as innovators or visionaries. Many of us feel better when someone else tests out the waters first because the unknown is scary, and inertia and security can be a big force with a lot of appeal.

And we’re all victims of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) sometimes, and we don’t want to be the only one at the party not having fun. You often hear folks say, if I don’t…(fill in the blank)…someone else will.

If I don’t take that flight, drive my car, buy that thing, invest in those sh*tty companies, then someone else will. No one wants to be a sucker and sit around watching others having fun or making boatloads of money when they’re not.

And, how many of us are digging climate change right now? Are we pleased with how much influence corporations have over the government? Are we loving that things are in many ways going to hell in a hand basket?

So…what are YOU doing about it?

The good news is that with as bad as some things are because sooooo many of us are not doing what we could do to change—if all of a sudden we collectively changed our minds and chose a different path…well, holy smokes. We could make an incredible shift in the status quo.

But it takes all of us (or at least a bunch of us.) And, “all of us” starts with ONE OF US.

I read a book when I was a kid called, If Everybody Did. It had illustrations of seemingly innocent things we could do and showed what would happen if not just one child, but EVERY child took that same action.

“Make tracks? This is what would happen if Everybody Did.” Illustration from  If Everybody Did , written and illustrated by Jo Ann Stover.

“Make tracks? This is what would happen if Everybody Did.” Illustration from If Everybody Did, written and illustrated by Jo Ann Stover.

We’ve gotten bigger and quite a bit older, but the principle still applies. If we all voted our conscience, drove less, conserved water, reduced-reused-recycled, smiled at strangers, in our homes, communities, organizations, and governments, then the world would be a whole lot different and a whole lot better pretty dang fast.

how ‘bout if you go first?

Derek Sivers gave this terrific three-minute talk called “How to Start a Movement,” and in it he refers to the crazy shirtless dancing guy who gets up first at the concert to get his boogie on. He’s all alone up there smiling and gyrating until he’s joined by some other slightly nutty dude willing to follow him.

There’s still a lot of vulnerability (and courage) required to be up there NOT following the crowd (who is still sitting down), but those two are having a blast and just doing their thing. And then one by one more people show up…until it’s the weirdos who are still sitting down.

The movement has begun, the change is happening, all because one person, and another, and another is taking action. So…are you going to lead, follow, or join? It doesn’t really matter as long as you and everybody else gets up off their fannies and starts doing the very important job of reaching their potential and making the world a better place for us all.

With help from some surprising footage, Derek Sivers explains how movements really get started. (Hint: it takes two.) “Yes, it was the shirtless guy who started it, but it was the follower who turned the lone nut into a leader.” — Derek Sivers

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