Welcome to my regular series entitled "My Light Bulb Moment". This column highlights the "blinding flash of insight" business, cultural and sports leaders have had in their career, and how this changed their lives forever.
Sometimes the gravity of the world's problems can overwhelm us; many of us want to help but don't know how. It's easy to get caught up with the "I can't do anything to make a difference so I won't bother" mantra. But change happens in increments at the individual level, with each of us doing something small but vital that adds up. Look at the movement to women's right to vote in New Zealand, enough people took part -- women and men -- until our societal fabric shifted. We've never looked back.
Rachael Le Mesurier
Rachael Le Mesurier, executive director of Oxfam New Zealand, remembers a pivotal moment when everything changed. "In my early 20s, while at university in the UK, I got involved in a campaign to stop the deportation of a young woman named Afia Begum and her child. Her husband had died in a fire and, despite him having residency, the Home Office had ruled that she had to be deported, away from her UK-based family, to Bangladesh.
"Walking along Brick Lane on the march, I remember a moment when I thought -- I could have been born into her world, into the powerlessness of her position, it could have been me. It was just luck that I ended up in a Pakeha middle-class family, with two passports. I realised how much injustice is underpinned by inequalities in income, wealth, gender, legal status, race, education, health, safety and access to legal protection -- wherever we are born."
This revelation led Rachael into an international career in social justice, working to improve people's lives all around the world.
Light Bulb Moment -- You CAN make a difference
"We don't have to accept the injustices we see all around us," believes Rachael. "There are a wide range of ways we can make a better world for our children and grandchildren, whether they are born here in New Zealand or to the daughter of Afia Begum."
You can have a real positive impact on the world if you choose to. "Donations, volunteering, supporting a campaign, working for a justice-focused organisation or leaving a bequest -- are all helping build a better world."
Be the change
I speak and write a lot about how small regular and positive change can make a big difference over the long-term in your business and personal life. Over the next week, however, I would ask you to think about how you can support someone else in the world, helping them and their family have a better life.
• If you have had a blinding moment of insight (a light bulb moment), please email me as I would love to hear about it.
Tom is an award winning business speaker, best-selling international author of The 1 per cent Principle and Selling Yourself to Employers, and MD of both CV.CO.NZ and Oneper centGuy.com. Email Tom at tom@Oneper centGuy.com