“Let us begin.”
-John F. Kennedy
Picture this. You’ve just taken the stage at the 2017 TED Conference in Vancouver, BC. The audience is filled with thought leaders who are sitting on the edge of their seats, eager to hear what you have to say.
In addition, you know what you’re about to share may be heard by the millions of people around the world who view TED talk replays.
This is your opportunity to share your thoughts on a topic that is extremely near and dear to your heart, to influence the future, to perhaps start a movement.
[If you’re starting to hyperventilate at the thought of public speaking to this magnitude, for the sake of this exercise stop and pretend you have no fear of public speaking whatsoever and you are totally and completely comfortable up on that stage!]
Okay, back to TED, where past talk topics have included the power of vulnerability, the wonders of our universe and oceans, improving the justice system, doing good while making a profit, grammar, sportsmanship, climate change, and so many more.
[Check out the complete selection here. Warning: TED Talks can be addictive!]
So, there you are, ready to rock ‘n roll with the TED audience. What do you want to say? What message do you most want to share with the world? How do you want to influence the future?
Or, imagine you’ve just been elected President of the United States, and you’re working on your inaugural speech. What do you want to say to your audience? What makes you want to grab the collective lapels of the world and say hey, we can make this better, and this is how!
Memorable past speeches from the inaugural podium have a pattern – a call to improve the world – through service and unity, and helping those more vulnerable than ourselves, striving to make the world a kinder place, and taking on complex problems and opportunities in a thoughtful way, knowing there’s not often a quick or easy fix.
What would you ask of your listeners? What’s the problem or opportunity you’d like to see the world take on in order to make the world (or your town or neighborhood or school or business) a better place now and for generations to come?
Then consider this: Is there a way you can channel that wish, that passion for change, into whatever work you do, whether paid or volunteer?
How can you live your life in such a way that you gradually affect the problem that most concerns you?
What one small step can you take today?
Figuring this all out may be simple and clear for some and more complex for others.
But I think the last of the above questions is perhaps the most powerful.
What one small step can each of us take today to create the better world of our dreams?
If we can each answer that question, if we can think globally and act locally, as the bumper sticker says, and do that every day, the ripple effect will be enormous.
As John F. Kennedy said after laying out his ambitious agenda for improving our world together:
“All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days, nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”
So, what do you really want to say and demonstrate – to the world, to your community, to yourself?
If we can get clear on that and go for it, what wonderful lives we all can lead and what a difference we all can make!