I don't have the capacity to actively care about all of the things that are wrong with this world. But, because of the incredible speed at which information is now shared, I know a lot more about it than I would have otherwise. For better or worse. There is such a thing as good cause overload. There are wars in Africa. There are kids without shoes in South America. There are people being sold as slaves throughout Asia. There are a billion people worldwide without access to clean water. There are homeless people sleeping under the awning of the sushi place downstairs from my apartment in New York. There are people that I care about battling diseases and medical conditions that aren't known for having happy endings. There are countless other atrocities and disasters that we all see on the news and in the lives of people we know or even people we don't. The number of worthy causes out there is incredible.
The interconnected information world that we live in has the ability to open our eyes to all of the causes that are begging for our attention and show new ways in which we can participate in making a difference. But there is a certain point where we start becoming numb to the requests and images of those in need. Or worse, we end up in a state of paralysis because we believe we should help all of the people who are asking for our assistance and can't decide where to begin, so we don't.
In an effort to avoid paralysis and numbness, the choice I've made in an effort to make my impact count the most is focusing my giving and my personal participation in specific causes and groups that I have spent a good amount of time getting to know and understanding how my resources can best assist their efforts. I am far from making the meaningful impact that I hope to, but I do believe that by concentrating my efforts in a focused way I can make a more intelligent impact faster.
By focusing on depth rather than breadth, my hope is to achieve the thing that Steve Jobs feared impossible when it came to giving, to get increasingly better at it and actually measure the increase in impact each year just as I would my investment portfolio. It is a work in progress, but thus far it has allowed me to be decisive and intentional in what I say "yes" to and what I have to say "no" to.
Here are a couple of past posts talking a little bit about the groups that I have invested time into getting to know better:
And good luck to all my mustache growing Movember friends. Make sure your whiskers grow quickly so you don't end up pulling a Derek Holland.