ANGIE’S INSIGHT OF THE WEEK: I’ve been listening to a lot of TED talks lately. And one thing that’s common amongst most of the speakers is that they’ve used their education and experience to bring about real change in the world. Positive change. And as usual, this got me thinking…
One particular TED talk struck me. It was given by Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. Here’s a man who was born in one of the poorest communities in Korea, who managed to emigrate to the US with his family and then grew up to study medicine and anthropology and then go on to head up one of the largest commercial banks in the world.
And while all of that is completely amazing in itself, I am more impressed with something else he said…
“We were studying medicine and at the same time getting our PhD’s in anthropology. And we began to ask some pretty fundamental questions. For people who have the great privilege of studying medicine and anthropology — I had come from parents who were refugees. Paul [my study partner] grew up literally in a bus in a swamp in Florida. He liked to call himself “white trash.” And so we had this opportunity and we said, what is it that we need to do? Given our ridiculously elaborate educations, what is the nature of our responsibility to the world? And we decided that we needed to start an organization. It’s called Partners in Health.”
I have long wanted to make a positive impact in the world. I guess that’s partly why I started my own business. In my small way, I wanted to impact entrepreneurs’ lives in a positive way. Jim Yong Kim’s speech has reminded me that I shouldn’t stop here. I want to do more and am now actively looking for more ways to bring about more far-reaching positive change.
I guess there’s no coincidence that one of the most recommended ways to increase our own happiness is to take up volunteer work, to give to charities, to help others in some way. We all know how good it feels when we give someone a gift, especially if it’s the gift of our time, effort and attention. Turning our attention away from our own (sometimes silly) problems to help others can put things in perspective.
There’s a lot to be said for altruism in this day and age. And I think altruism (unselfish concern for others’ needs) is what is eventually going to save us all.
So what do you see is the nature of YOUR responsibility to the world? How do you try to give back, as a way of perhaps expressing gratitude for what you have, or maybe just for the sake of giving?
Angeline Zaghloul is an expert in business strategy, client management and business processes, and is the Managing Director of Peer Business Consulting, a Sydney-based consultancy providing strategy and operations advice to startups and SMEs. Angeline also publishes a regular blog which provides research, advice and tips on key issues facing businesses.