We need every day heroes. There's never been a better time to tap into the leader within.
I belief that powerful solutions to our world's pressing social problems already exist. I believe that the characteristics embodied by leaders — including their ability to articulate a visionary path to connect their work to solving the systemic causes of a problem, and their talent for integrating data rapidly to make tough choices that drive operational performance — make them well-suited to the challenging work of turning around persistent social problems.
In the non-profit world, I've often heard these leaders called social entrepreneurs. But to me, social entrepreneurs are simply people who saw a problem and had the fortitude to do something about it. Through sheer will-power, they tap into the hero within - the hero they have always known was in there silently whispering to them to step up and do something.
Today we have people, information and technology to address global challenges with innovative solutions that make a lasting impact. We need entrepreneurial approaches to issues such as health, education, access to technology and crisis response. We can fundamentally transform the lives of children, families, and communities.
It's not easy to lead transformation but it's worth it. As a trained social worker in the early 80s, returning home from overseas, I was determined to make a difference - that meant changing a system, spreading a solution, persuading large groups to take a new leap and trust me, but more importantly trust themselves. It meant identifying resources where other people only saw problems, viewing those I was serving as a big part of the solution, not the passive beneficiaries. I had to begin with the assumption that they were competent to unleash resources in themselves. They were.
Two and a half decades later countless lives have been changed. But the work goes on.
And so we are calling on leaders. We've got it in us to lead a real transformation. To make love, not greed, the bottom line. We have the power within us.
We cannot wait for the World Bank to come into our communities and make sweeping changes.
The world bank never went to bed hungry - but our people have. It is hard to calculate the dollar value of giving people hope. When we step up and do our part - however small - for the sake of one - that is exactly what we are offering.
We need heroes.
Let me say something about being heroic. When I left my little village for the USA, that was not heroic. That was survival. When I worked double shifts, day and night while attending graduate school overseas that not heroic. That was a tragic necessity to help my family break the cycle of poverty. But when I returned to Kenya and started an organization in the second largest slum in East Africa to help abused, marginalized women transform their own lives that was heroic.
What you, our local and global community, are doing to make a difference in the lives of the people we touch is heroic. I applaud you all. In empowering our constituents to stand on their feet, and teaching our friends and families the joy of giving, we are being every day heroes. We have it in us to live for a cause greater than ourselves. We have it in us to make a difference.