You cannot serve from a distance. You can only serve that to which you are profoundly connected. Because it taps into and harnesses the power of your empathy, insight, and intention.
Your work has to be rooted in an interest or issue that is deeply seeded in the experiences that most profoundly shaped you, in order to be able to commit wholeheartedly to it. The more honest your intention, the more genuine your attachment to the work, the more effective your efforts, and the more fulfilled your life.
In the archeology of your life - your past actions, relationships, education, and occupations - you need to unearth the artifacts of your abiding interests, because those point to the areas ripe for your greatest contribution.
Examine Your Experiences
"Circumstances" describe the conditions or context that shaped you. These include your home life, friendships, faith, culture, economics, travels, etc. Think about how can you use your circumstances to connect to others who experienced similar circumstances.
Talia Frenkl: Talia turned her experience as a photojournalist for the Red Cross, and a female in a developing country, into a sustainable solution for girls' reproductive rights.
"Setbacks" describe failures, disadvantages, tragedies, and mistakes that played a significant role in your life. When you identify your setbacks, and how they shaped you, think about how you can use the pain from your past to improve someone else's future.
David Dahl: David was released from jail and started Dave’s Killer Bread, to provide second change employment to former felons to prevent recidivism by providing good economic opportunities.
"Successes" describe your advantages, victories, achievements, and lessons. When you identify those, and how they shaped you, think about how you can use the success you achieved to create success for someone else.
Million Dollar Scholar: Derrius spent 13 years of his childhood in foster care and public housing. He had a keen understanding of how poverty, income inequality, and disenfranchisement impact lives. As a first-generation college student, he secured over $1M in college scholarships. He won the scholarship game; his business helps others do the same.
Pay attention to the people, events, and activities that stir up the strongest response in you. Because the meaning we extract from our experiences ultimately shape who we become. The most profound experiences can help you discover and unlock your agency. Your experiences point to the social or environmental change you are uniquely positioned to make.
Your experience shapes you.
The most critical aspect that adds to your unique value is the experiences that have shaped you. But the experience itself is not as important as the meaning you assign to it.
Your experience connects you.
Your audience will connect most authentically with you based on your shared experiences. If they see themselves in your story - if they currently are where you have been - they will hope to learn from you to get to where you currently are or where you're heading.
Your experience directs you.
Your circumstances, successes, and setbacks all play a critical role in pointing you in the direction of our best work. We have all had various experiences that have had a significant effect on who we are. And every changemakers' journey begin with a personal recognition of injustice or suffering.