While attending World Domination Summit today, Scott Harrison, the ceo and founder of charity: water, said this quote. Originally stated by Avot de Rabbi Natan, it struck me as an important message across the board.
In his context, he was talking about doing charity work that works on a problem that may never be fully eradicated. If he’s able to bring water to every person on earth, there will always be another problem to solve after that.
“Once everyone has fresh drinking water, it’s not like I’m going to go get a job at a bank.” – Scott Harrison
I think too often we focus on the next stage of life or imagining ourselves after the work is done. Seeing ourselves as having been changed or somehow different once we’ve reached the end of the work. Our life’s work really has no end, at least until we die. That’s the only true end I know.
While we’ll complete various things over our lifetimes, really the growth can continue onward forever.
In addition, I think there is a general fear around attempting to tackle a problem with no end. We want to strive for completion, for impact, and to finish the work that we do in a substantial way.
The truth is, the most impactful work likely has no end. According to Scott, 662 million people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Over the last 10 years, his organization has helped about 7 million people gain access to fresh water through community wells and other strategies.
So in 10 years, his organization has raised over a quarter of a billion dollars and helped 1/100th of the people in need across the globe. It seems like such a small dent, but the impact is significant for so many people.
This situation reminds me of the story of the young boy walking down the beach, digging up starfish as he went. There were thousands of them, stranded all over the beach but he’d pick up one at a time and throw them back into the water.
Eventually, someone noticed what the boy was doing, looked over, and said, “Don’t you realize that you can’t help all of these starfish? You’re not really making much difference, there are thousands of them stranded here!” and as the boy throws yet another starfish into the ocean he responds, “It made a difference to that one.”
This is why we need people to step up and do work that potentially has no end, as intimidating as it can be. We can make a difference in the lives of individuals across the globe by doing important work.
I’m feeling particularly inspired, seeing the link between The Hope Effect and Charity:Water and the opportunity to create change through those organizations. As Break the Twitch grows, I’d like to explore my own giving opportunities to see what causes I want to work on bettering the world with.
I would greatly regret living my life without seizing the opportunity to make a meaningful impact when I’ve been given so much in this life already.