Free to Dream..Free to Live..Free to Express..Free to Blossom
I remember one time when I was small, I wanted to take one particular action but I hesitated and I kept saying to my self “but what if this happened..?”, “what if that happened?”, so my older cousin had a story for me: “One young guy needed an iron so he thought of borrowing it from his neighbor. Midway the stairs, he stopped and thought: what if she thought I don’t really need it and that I just want some excuse to flirt with her? Or that I would not return it back?” He took few more steps then stopped again and thought “What if she was arrogant and said NO?” And while he was immersed in this thought cycle, his neighbor came out, smiled at him and said: Good Morning! But instead of returning back her gentle greeting he bursts out: I NO MORE NEED YOU OR YOUR * IRON”.
How often do you encounter those spiritless voices within yourself or in the surrounding that try to set you back whenever you gather your courage and take one step outside your comfort zone you hear “Seriously?! You really think you can do this?”, “Don’t be silly. This is not for you..”. And whenever you want to develop your skills and seek more knowledge you hear “Here we go Mr. Einstein! You really think you are smart enough?!”. Whenever you want to volunteer or make a helping contribution you hear “Ah now you think you can to save the world?! Save your time and efforts..”. And you just want to shout out loudly: SILENCE!
I have one friend, Ahmad Edilbi, who is a creative director and as a response to the dreadful crisis in my homeland, Syria, he started an online social network as a collective model of volunteering and for refugees to help each other. He created a very nice branding that the page started to get hundreds of thousands of Likes in a very short time. He called it Dubarah. Dubarah it has helped more than 3 million refugees all around the globe. So whenever there is a call for some job opportunity or educational scholarship or some important information in any hosting country and whenever there is humanitarian call, one of the volunteers would contact the admin and Dubarah will post it in the most visually appealing and influential way. But with every post he gets some of those discouraging replies. At first he got consumed in back and forth skirmishes. Then he found a smart way to go around this: Preemptive Attack!
So he created two cute visual characters, a lazy crocodile, and a dumb Dinosaur. And in every post he would anticipate what those two discouraged voices would say and add it to the post. Not only this makes the message stronger by adding a sense of humour, and turning the table around those discouraging voices but, most importantly, it will bring those voices up to the level of consciousness so we can see them, feel how silly they are, and laugh at them.
But why two characters? Well, as he puts it, the crocodile is to represent the sarcastic lazy manner that would just ridicule and question skeptically every good thought of an action. It is the voice of “Oh really? Seriously?”. It doesn’t ask us directly to abandon our will. But instead it will just belittle it. He is not harmful but he is just uncaring. Whereas the dinosaur is the one who wants to smash every good intention you have by spreading the countering negative thoughts. It is the voice of “You cannot save the world with your one dollar contribution”.
But there is a third voice, one that my friend didn’t think of but I personally once suffered from it. You know when you feel that you want to help so badly but that the problem seems to be larger than you. You wish that you have million hands to extend but you look at your tiny two hands and feel so numb. And finally you decide to throw up your hands helplessly in the face of tragedy. May be I will choose to represent people of this attitude with a dolphin. It is a cute, social, and well-intentioned creature, but he cannot save everyone on that the drowning boat.
But whether it is a crocodile, a dinosaur, OR a dolphin, the end result is the same: no action has been taken!
So what is the solution? Well, may be for the crocodile, suffice it to bring it to the level of consciousness and laugh at it and its negative influence will evaporate. As for the dinosaur it will require a bit more determination to take antidepressant doses and train one’s self to be positive. The good news is that positivity can be gained and learnt. But what about the dolphin? This is the tricky part. However, social psychologists suggest one solution. Think small. And believe in the old fundraising axiom that says “one is greater than one million”. Because in calamities, one million is statistic, but one is a human story. And even in personal new year’s resolutions: one million is a just a far blurry dream, but one is a feasible step that you can take today towards your personal goals, or towards a better world. Think small. Silence the negative voices. Take action. And have a Happy New Year!
Note: This was my Project #6 in my Toastmasters program in the Dubai Toastmasters Club.