So, I ask you, what towering aspirations live in your heart? What are the wicked problems you want to address? Don’t be put off by complexity, circumstance, or the odds. Humanity is a great endeavor that needs all of us. Find the intersection of your passion, your expertise, and work that needs to be done. Go for it!
Some of my favorite work is helping clients with Grand Challenges, large, bold goals that make a contribution to society, addressing some of our most intractable problems. My passion for this work was developed while I worked at the World Bank, 1989-2002. There I met and worked side-by-side with people who took on some of the toughest challenges humanity faces. They were not deterred by previous failures, complicated situations or complex environments. I was inspired by my colleagues.
During my thirteen years at the bank, I developed a healthy respect for measuring impact. It’s never easy. The World Bank is not just about financial success among developing nations around the world, it is also about social success. President Jim Wolfensohn used to say, “I want to measure success by the smiles on children’s faces.”
And even so, smiles cannot just be tallied. Life is not simple, nor is progress. But, it doesn’t mean we throw our hands up in the air and walk away.
It would bring tears to my eyes and open my heart when activists and citizens worked together with non-government agencies, the World Bank, and governments to produce results that really did evidence giant steps forward for our world and the myriads of beautiful people who share life on Earth.
“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.”
– Theodore Isaac Rubin Read