Back in Episode 70, I talked about the importance of water. And the impact water has on our well being is staggering…and it’s not just for fitness freaks! Most health experts recommend starting your day with water. So, whether you add a bit of lemon, a dash of cinnamon, or try to burn your throat with cayenne, it seems everyone has a recipe to get your day started right with this wonder elixir.
As you probably know, we moved to the Phoenix area recently. Trust me, the significance of water has taken on a much greater meaning for me! People die each year here as a result of dehydration, so it is on everyone’s mind and still, not everyone takes good care of themselves in this area. So, if you need a primer on the importance of water, then go take a listen to that episode.
I also mention the work of charity: water. Scott Harrison founded this incredible organization to bring clean drinking water to parts of the world that need it.
Amazingly, I was able to see Scott speak in Phoenix recently at the Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership 1-Day Event. If you don’t know Scott’s story, check it out for yourself. His new book Thirst just released and 100% of the proceeds go right back to charity:water. I’m going to give you the condensed version because my intention here is to inspire and challenge you.
Scott wound up a caregiver for his mother at a very young age due to carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. It almost killed his mother, but she lived and had a terribly difficult life as a result. I’m doing it an injustice with this brief description. I can’t begin to describe how hard it was on her and the family. Scott is an only child. He took care of his mom while his dad worked to provide for the family. I suppose over the years that took a toll. He wanted out and as soon as he was 19, so he went to New York City.
The Dream Is A Nightmare
He went to become a star. As a keyboard player in a local high-school band, they were going to make it big. As happens to many bands, it fell apart. He was left to pursue Plan B. That plan had all of the trappings of what appeared to be a wild success to his young brain. By the time he was 29, he was making more than $200k a year as one of the hottest club promoters in New York City and had the women, booze, drugs, cars, etc… to prove how successful…and shallow…he had become.
He came from nothing and made himself something; however, the something he became was not able to satisfy. He despised who he had become. So, he left it all. I mean everything. He sold all that he had and began looking for a place to serve. Remember, he’s famous. He’s well known and mostly for all the wrong reasons. When he decides that he wants to live a life opposite of the one he’s living, it’s extremely difficult to get anyone to believe him. All the big charity names you can think of – they didn’t want near him. His reputation preceded him and they weren’t interested.
But he wasn’t going to be denied. He continued to look and wound up agreeing to pay a charity to let him join them! Isn’t that hilarious? I mean how serious do you have to be to pay to volunteer?!
The Cost To Live A Meaningful Life
Similarly, it’s entirely possible that to bring meaning to your life, to satisfy the purpose of your life, you might have to take a dramatic course correction and the cost will likely be high. This was the place Scott found himself. So Scott joined Mercy Ships and his first visit was to Liberia. To say he was shocked was an understatement. I want you to pick up the book, so I’m not going to tell you a lot more about his personal story.
Instead, what I want to get to is the monumental challenge that he undertook. As he served around the world, he sees a simple, fundamental need was going unmet. A large portion of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water. He witnessed people drinking from green swamps. Certainly, they were drinking from water sources that you wouldn’t let your animals near.
52% of disease is caused by a lack of clean water and sanitation. One in 10 people, (more than 600 million people) are drinking bad water. And when I say bad, I mean disease-laden, death in liquid form, bad. When you see the pictures and you hear the stories, you will understand how horrific the effect is on these people, these families, and these communities. So Scott decided to change that.
Finding Your Mission
He decided that he would spend the rest of life making sure that everyone has clean water to drink. That’s a big mission. Jim Rohn once said “Ask yourself, ‘How long am I going to work to make my dreams come true?’ I suggest you answer, ‘As long as it takes’.”
Drilling a water well is affordable by first-world standards. You can drill a new well for $10k. What’s difficult is most of these locales can’t afford the $1M in capital that is required to buy a drill rig. Likewise, they can’t afford the engineers or the hydrologists. The problem is obvious; the answer is obvious. In contast, getting the funds is not.
What Is Your Why
There has to be a “why” for going to the effort to make the dream a reality. Scott’s why is simple: water changes EVERYTHING! When kids have clean water, not only does their health immediately improve, so does their learning and economic condition. Every $1 invested in bringing clean water to a community brings $4-$12 in economic returns. That’s pretty significant!
Hear Their Concerns
As you can imagine, there are many doubters. 42% of Americans don’t trust charities. 70% believe charities waste their donors’ funds. So Scott setup charity:water to put 100% of the donations received into projects. I’m not sure if that is registering with you. 100% means there was no money to pay Scott, no money to pay a staff, no admin or general and administrative cost bucket. All of it went to serve the community. It’s harrowing and you will want to read the book to find out how they narrowly avoided shutting down.
You might face an equal challenge to bring your dream to life. Here are a few things Scott said that I think will help you with your dream:
Guilt Is Not A Good Motivator
This doesn’t work. Can you recall an ad that makes you feel guilty? Maybe it’s an ad for an agency that does great work. They stop animal abuse, feed starving children, treat horrific disease. But ads that make you feel guilty can make you turn away, not press in. Scott said that the best brands NEVER use guilt or shame. Think about Nike’s approach to fitness. Do they spend a lot of time shaming? Do you see them run ads that degrade or denigrate? Just the opposite. They tell the viewer “Greatness is inside you.” They tell you “Just Do It” because they believe you can do it.
Participation As Celebration
When was the last time you celebrated achievement? Moving one step, no matter how small, towards the goal, is worth rejoicing! Spend time celebrating and you make everyone’s perspective shift a little. What gets the attention on report cards? A’s or the C’s and D’s? Check yourself: sometimes we overlook the A when a D is present. Don’t let that happen. Impossible tasks don’t happen without momentum. Accomplishment generates momentum.
You know the saying: if your dream is so small that you can accomplish it by yourself, you aren’t dreaming big enough. Hopefully, your dream scares you a little. As a result, it makes you feel a little insecure or makes you question your capability. Now you’re dreaming! It has to be bigger than you and you have to be able to keep coming back to your why so you can all press on when it gets hard.
Become A Master Storyteller
In order for the dream to get traction, you are going to have to do more than simply tell others about it. Consequently, you have to do this in a way that makes them want to be a part. Innovation takes all different forms. You might not realize it, but you can innovate in telling a story. You see people use their birthday as an opportunity to tell others about a favorite cause. Asking for donations instead of gifts is an example of innovative storytelling.
Virtual reality caught Scott’s attention. So, at a fundraising banquet one night, they put a VR headset on each attendee. They show them what it feels like to be there, with the community, when the drill hits water. As you can imagine, everyone is going crazy and dancing!
At another event, they put an iPad at the seat of each attendee. At exactly the right moment, each attendee got to use that iPad to see and hear the first-hand account of a person who was in need of clean drinking water. Neither of these might be right for telling others about your seemingly impossible dream, but you must find a compelling way to tell your story.
Make The Dream Theirs
This was one of the most insightful things Scott said that day. You aren’t the hero in the story. It’s not “my” story; it’s “our” story. The most powerful movements result when others adopt the dream as their own. So, help them see how the dream can be theirs too. Scott began to realize how critical it was for local people in the communities they were helping to get involved. They needed local representatives to own the projects. He said that you are inviting people to the table of compassion, generosity and saving lives. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?
You might think that after 12 years and more than $330M dollars invested in thousands of wells that the mission is becoming a reality. You probably think that most of the world must surely have access to clean drinking water by now. Actually, you would be mistaken. Scott said that even after helping more than 8M people to access clean water, only 1/78th of the problem has been touched. There are still 663 million people in need. But that does not deter Scott.
Don’t Give Up
As you look at the size of your task and it looks as impossible as ever, remember your why and recall the progress. You are closer than you were. Certainly, it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done and totally worth it! I’ll leave you with the quote that Scott left with us:
“Do not be afraid of work that has no end.” Avot de Rabbi Nattan
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