How to Keep Hope Alive: Some Words of Encouragement for Social Entrepreneurs on the Front Lines

Let’s not mince words: in many ways, these are dark times. But I want you to know how to keep hope alive. Right now, the largest migration of human beings is taking place according to the WHO, nearly a billion people, 65 million of whom were forced out of their homes for one reason or another. Growing awareness of long-unresolved disparities in class, race, gender, orientation, income, and other issues have led to a great surge in division and intolerance in many countries, so much so that I could link every word this sentence to articles and citations if I really wanted to and still have many hundreds to spare. Overshadowing it all, reports now show that we have little more than a decade to address global climate change or risk catastrophic, worldwide ecological collapse.

And…you still have a business to run.

What’s the point?

Given all that’s happening, you could be forgiven for waking up some days and wondering “What’s the point?”

However, it’s important for you not to give up hope. More importantly, it’s important for you not to lose your gumption. That’s the word Robert Pirsig used to describe that internal feeling of hope, drive, and enthusiasm that is essential to the day to day success of most social entrepreneurs.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world, even the conditions of the part of the world that your enterprise aims to heal and transform, remember the following, in this order

  1.         The world that you desire needs what you do.

  2.         Take care of yourself so you can do what’s needed.

  3.         There is more good news than what gets reported.

  4.         Humans have overcome similar challenges before and won

You are an essential part of creating a better world.

Make no mistake, you are an essential component of the world that you want to build. That’s why you launched your social enterprise in the first place. You saw the limitations of today’s corporations, governments, and NGOs and decided to find your own path to helping people in need. Your beneficiaries, whoever and wherever they may be, are waiting for you to help them. Your customers, too, want to be a part of the healing while living their own best lives thanks to your products and services. The “why” of your business is bigger than you are, and so, based on where you say you want to go, you always have the choice: will you keep going?  

Take care of yourself first. It matters.

And, if you choose “yes”, then you must start by taking care of yourself, however, that may look for you. General guidelines, as you can expect, are simple and require no special expertise: get sufficient exercise and rest, take breaks and days off, eat well, and connect with your family, partners, and friends as often as you can, the people who lift you up. Many mission-driven entrepreneurs tend to feel guilty for taking days off when there are so many awful things happening elsewhere. However, your rest and rejuvenation are part of the process of transforming the world: you can’t give what you don’t have.

Mental and emotional health is a critical component of your self-care, and key to that is remembering that the news that you see is skewed towards the negative. Whether it’s an inflammatory outrage tweet or the latest “Breaking News” story on a global TV network, today’s news media is geared towards capturing and keeping your attention for the clicks and ratings. They know that fear, danger, and anger sell. They stimulate those responses in the brain to keep you watching, which stimulates anxiety and a tendency to catastrophize.  Consume enough of that, and you’ll start to believe that what you see is representative of the actual world. That’s why the first step is to take a break or reduce your news consumption as part of your self-care habits.

We’ve dedicated a lot of time here at Change Creator for self-development!

For more inspiration, check out this article from Adam to live a happier, more fulfilled life.

There is good news out there and you are a part of it.

When you’ve been disengaged for a little while, the next step is to look for what’s good. It’s easier to find than you might think: sources like The Good News Network, Causeartist, the “Good News” sections on such major outlets like Huffpost and of course, Change Creator provide you with a different side of reality. Nor are these stories only “feel good” or fluff: many of them show the advances people have made against disease, poverty, intolerance, and other challenges that are often presented as insurmountable by mainstream media. This will readjust your worldview in a positive way and help fill up your gumption.

We as humanity have endured, survived and so can you!

One final bit of good news that should help restore your gumption and hope is this: human beings have a track record of successfully confronting major challenges and winning. From inventing agriculture and eradicating hundreds of deadly diseases to landing a man on the moon inside of a decade and coming together to heal the ozone layer, human beings can and will overcome the odds. This is fact, and at the time that we were doing these things, we were just as clueless about the outcome as we are about today’s challenges.

So take heart. These are frightening times, and we don’t know where it’s all headed, but we can choose the desired outcome. We can come together to make it happen. We can try and are trying, and in many more places than we might imagine, succeeding. You’ve already taken the first step towards that brighter world with your social enterprise, and that world needs you. Will you keep going?

Need more inspiration, check these out!

Interview with Jonah Brotman, Co-Founder of Operation Groundswell: Resolve to Be a Better Entrepreneur

This Social Enterprise is Lifting Communities From Poverty to Prosperity

Gary Vaynerchuk Advice: How to Win, Right Now in Business

 

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In 2019, business as usual isn't good enough. With only a decade to mitigate climate change and multiple challenges to basic human rights and needs around the world, businesses and entrepreneurs must integrate their services with doing good. The author of three (soon to be four) books, Jody Aberdeen is also a book ghostwriter for professionals in personal development and business, and storytelling coach for first-time authors. With a combined Honours Degree in History and English from McMaster University with a minor in Political Science, Jody is using his powers of storytelling for good in this world.
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