The best things that happen to us often happen as a result of making a simple decision when we face a challenge that is beyond our control.
That decision is simply to recognize that although our situation may seem hopeless, we are never powerless.
I have come to realize that the opposite of feeling hopeless is not to simply feel hopeful. Hope is relying on something outside of yourself that is still beyond your control. Although it helps us to dream of something different, we can’t co-create our world or future with hope alone. Hope is an ideal to hold out when we want something to happen.
However, choosing the next step that is within your power to take is how change actually begins to happen.
Taking action is the antidote for feeling hopeless.
When the idea for Brave Soles came to me, I had no idea what it would take. I simply knew that I was tired of two things:
- I was tired of being caught in a cycle of feeling helpless to change things in my own situation
- I was also tired of seeing how much destruction was being done to people and planet, yet feeling powerless to change things.
The day I decided to change my life and start Brave Soles wasn’t the day that we opened up our online store and started telling the world we were ready for business.
Nor was it the day that I got the first pair of samples back from the guys at the workshop.
It wasn’t even the day I walked into that workshop in the first place with an idea.
It was the day I pulled out a Post It pad of notes and starting creating a business idea on my kitchen wall in my little apartment. I had a name (Brave Soles) and I had a relentless pull inside of me to start to just let my imagination roam with what was possible.
And then I began to plot our what my next best step would be to make it come to pass.
Two years later, it's still how I make decisions, day by day, hour by hour.
When I made that model on my kitchen wall, it was not an ideal time to start something new (to say the least!):
- A nine-year unresolved immigration crisis with my daughter
- A single mom with no consistent income, falling further and further behind every month
- A vague idea that involved a garbage dump, tires and this pressing vision of creating something that honoured people and planet
- No significant background with retail other than working in a couple of stores in high school
However, there was something else that I couldn’t stop repeating to myself, over and over again.
“No matter how hopeless you feel, you are never powerless.”
For years, I had toured and spoken from stages around the world to young adults, reminding them that they could choose who they wanted to be. Through my own humanitarian journey, my life became interwoven with the communities of people I worked and connected with at garbage dumps.
My life was bringing me towards the need to make a decision for myself and the future I wanted for my daughter and our world.
Everything that I had believed to be true had become the crucible in my own life.
I now had to choose who I wanted to be.
I had to decide that I was not powerless.
And neither are you.
Elie Wiesel, the author of “Night” and a survivor of the horrors of the Holocaust, once said,
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
I could no longer live with being indifferent toward my own situation and of the world in which we all share.
Small hinges can open big doors, for ourselves and for our world. Especially when those hinges are moving that which we love.
Brave Soles, like countless ideas that come to visit each of us, was simply waiting for me to realize that the opposite of my hopelessness was not to simply become more hopeful. Instead, it was the power to choose, step by step, what I wanted to do and become.
This is really all that it takes to start something.
For every challenge we face, there is a solution waiting to be found - and it reveals itself to us, little by little when we are simply willing to take the next step.
What’s the next step you can choose to find your solution?
This reminded me of what another friend once told me. He said that it is easy to believe that God can move mountains, say a prayer and sit back and wait for him to do it. It’s much harder to believe that God wants to move the mountain one shovel full at a time and you need to pick up a shovel to start moving it for him.
I love what you are doing, making a difference where you are with what you can do. Then challenging everyone to do what they can where they are to make a difference where they are.
Keep moving one shovel at a time and as others join in the impact is multiplied.
Mattias Andreae, an old friend