Good is a huge part of my world. Seriously. I think about good, the concept, all the time. I talk about good. I work to do good. I strive to help others join in. Why? Because I share in the belief that the world would be better if good took over.
It’s really that simple. What isn’t so simple is how I got to this point of clarity.
I like to tell people that I graduated from college in the Gordon Gekko “greed is good” era, a time when we were all going to land big jobs and drive dolphin gray BMWs around a world just waiting for us to be in charge. Looking back, I wonder why that would ever be our goal. And how we could be so driven by ego. It’s that youth thing, being “wasted on the young.” I like to think that we weren’t really that way, that we were being swayed by what we saw on the big screen or maybe grasping for something to believe during an era that didn’t really have a movement to unite us. In the end, whether it was caused by a recession (or two) or perhaps the wisdom gained through age and experience, it became clear that we were not a lost cause. It became clear that we did understand that success could be had by helping the world, not dominating it.
As a member of the often ignored, previously rather apathetic Generation X, I’m glad to see that shift. Today, we work alongside Boomers and Millennials, many of us united in our desired to make a positive imprint on the world. I see this focus on purpose in life and work around me every day at Blackbaud, where 84% of my colleagues said it truly mattered to them — when accepting their jobs — that we work with the worldwide philanthropic community. It’s a place that believes in good and helping good take over.
The best news is that good is all over the place, showing up in so many forms.
It’s within nonprofits, working to catch those who are falling through the cracks. It’s in individuals, innovating on their own out of sheer inspiration. It’s in academic research, uncovering new advancements that will help human kind. It’s in government (yep, I said it), working to serve the public. And it’s in businesses, both big and small, seeking to engage with and enhance the communities they serve and where their people live and work. I argue that, if you simply look around wearing the right lenses, you WILL see it around you, among you, asking to be watered, growing from sometimes the most desolate of places. Some might accuse me of wearing rose-colored glasses, hoping to see the positive where the clearly negative resides. But I assure you I’m no Pollyanna. I’m simply old enough now to see that even the worst of tragedies, the direst of situations, can spur innovation, opportunity, strength and hope. They can spur good.
Examples? There are so many that I’ve seen just this summer, the most important being from the families of the victims of the tragedy here in my hometown of Charleston. Their message of hope is one that cannot and should not be ignored. It’s the well I will go back to as I deal with the many, far more trivial things that will happen in my own life.
There are other examples that I have discovered this summer on my travels in corporate social responsibility, stories born of inspiration, imagination and a desire to drive social change. I know I find them inspiring and full of promise and I’m thankful to Zeev Klein, the master convener behind the Social Innovation Summit and Derrick Feldman, who brings us both MCON and the Millennial Impact Report, of Achieve Guidance for helping me really see the goodness growing all around us. Some favorites:
- Daniel Lee, Levi Strauss Foundation – Former divinity school student now advancing social change in HIV/AIDS
- Jack Andraka, teen inventor – Developed an inexpensive test to detect pancreatic cancer (of course that’s what all teens do over the summer, right?)
- Cheryl Hughes, Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table initiative – getting people across Chicago together for dinner to have their voices heard and to collectively identify and drive opportunities for innovation
- apopo: we train rats to save lives – Yes, you read that right, this social-action organization (run by an Ashoka Fellow) trains rats to identify landmines and detect Tuberculosis.
- Carrie Hammer, designer – champions “role models not runway models” in her socially focused “designed to fit” women’s clothing business
So join me, why don’t you, in that pursuit of all things good. Do whatever is right for you. Help good take over.