Caring, Curiosity and Action
I don’t know about you, but when I was 9 years old, I wasn’t worried about changing the world. My biggest concerns at that time were how to sneak a love letter into the desk of the boy I had a crush on at the time and how to get my little brother to stop bugging me (I like to think I’ve evolved). Luckily, not all kids are as myopically focused as I was. I’ve learned that people can make a difference at any age, by caring enough to get curious and take action.
When Janine and Aisline, two clever little girls living in one of the most beautiful spots in Costa Rica, were 9-years-old, they wanted to make money to buy the stuff that 9-year-old-girls-in-Costa-Rica liked to buy. Akin to the neighborhood lemonade-stand, they made and sold tchotchkes, saved their colones (Costa Rican currency), and spent it with glee. But the girls were perceptive. They were paying attention to the world around them, and they started noticing that as their town was growing, the rainforest was disappearing. And then they noticed that the Titi monkeys, they so loved, were also disappearing. And wait…it wasn’t just the Titi monkeys…there seemed to be fewer animals in general… There was a problem. The girls cared deeply, got curious and took action. That’s where it started.
Fifteen years ago, when Janine and Aisline stopped spending their money on little-girl-stuff and started socking it away it to “save the rainforest”, they didn’t have the answers. They didn’t know why there were fewer Titi monkeys, they just wanted to help. They cared deeply and wanted to make a difference. And so they have. Their curiosity led to powerful discoveries. It turns out, the reason Titi monkeys were disappearing wasn’t because they didn’t want to be around the people, in the ever-growing town of Quepos. It was because as development increased, so did the number of power-lines. The monkeys, used to traversing the rainforest branch-to-branch, were using what they could to navigate from point A to point B, without realizing that the power-lines could hurt them. By finding the root of the problem, “Kids Saving the Rainforest”, a non-profit founded in 1999 by Janine and Aisline, has dramatically made a difference. Because of their curiosity, power-lines across Costa Rica are starting to be insulated and “Monkey-bridges” erected. Because of their curiosity, their non-profit now draws volunteers and visitors from around the world and they’ve more than doubled the Titi population.
Sometimes the problems we see seem too big to tackle. We’re overwhelmed. It’s easier to focus on the shiny objects in front of us than to spend our energy on things that feel beyond our control. But we are more powerful than we realize. We may not be able to change the world overnight, but we can make an impact. Not all at once. Baby steps. But we have to start somewhere.
What are your problems to be solved? Is your team disengaged? Care enough to get curious. Maybe they don’t feel safe? Maybe they don’t understand the purpose of their work. Dig deeper. Why might they not feel safe? Is it you, their leader? Is it the culture? Have their been massive lay-offs? Care enough to get to the root of the problem. What action can you take to make it a safe environment?
Commit to caring deeply enough that you are propelled into a curiosity that drives constructive action. Get to the root of the problem. For we all have the power to make a difference. No matter how young or how old.