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Your Moment of Obligation

“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Certain types of experiences tend to help people discover their agency. In their book, Be Bold, Cheryl Dorsey and Lara Galinsky recount the stories of social entrepreneurs who experience a "moment of obligation", which caused them to change course and pursue work of deep personal significance.

This "moment" is an invariable precursor to the social entrepreneur's success. That moment comes from a deeply personal experience, and the changemaker finds themself drawn deeper into the work and unable to return to a previous way of living. It is the beginning ot the Social Entrepreneur's Journey.

  • Early Initiative: Many change-makers recall a time in childhood they were actively encouraged to take initiative, and then played a role in the process.

  • Effective Mentorship: Some remember an adult they were close to in childhood, who was highly ethical, and had a profound influence on their thinking.

  • Close Relations: And others began by taking action to help a single friend or family member, only to discover countless others in similar circumstances.

  • Personal Trauma: Some changemakers have suffered a great loss or trauma, and derive meaning and comfort by working to relieve the pain of others, or to prevent others from having to endure the same pain.

As changemakers recall instances when they spoke up against injustice, and realized they could make a difference. Success taught them to value and act on their own ideas, and these experiences become highly reinforcing.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that a person "should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived."

As everyday changemakers step up in greater numbers to advance change against tough odds, we need to investigate how each of us can prepare to participate in the demands of our time.

Because every changemaker’s journey starts with a personal, and often painful recognition of a pain or injustice. But that is what prompts them to draw on their inner assets; create a better model; test these new methods, and share those solutions at scale. So this is going to help kick off the work that you are uniquely positioned to do.

This is your time to identify that moment.


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