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Marc Middleton

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Growing Bolder: Like Me, Only Better

Posted: 03/18/11 01:13 PM ET

The power of community is amazing. The power of technology to facilitate and grow community is awesome. Combine the two, and you get an amazingly awesome tool with the power to transform lives.

Not long ago, if you were disabled, suffered from a disease or had a physical, emotional or mental issue of any kind, chances are you didn't know anyone else facing the same challenge. There were no role models in your immediate community to show by example what was possible. As a result, the loss of a leg led to a sedentary life in a wheelchair. A cancer diagnosis led to a slow decline and eventual death. A 60th birthday meant it was too late to reinvent yourself.

One of the greatest benefits of technology in general, and community in particular, is that they have the power to connect us with others who are like us. They connect people who share abilities and disabilities, but achieve different outcomes.

The result is the empowering realization that this person is "like me, only better." Not a better person or a more worthwhile person, just someone who is better at handling setbacks, better at adapting to unfortunate circumstances, better at taking risks, better at overcoming fear and better at ignoring naysayers.

The single example of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things demonstrates what's possible and, more importantly, how it's achieved. Today, this single example can scale in a way that benefits others around the world. You no longer need a blind person from your neighborhood to climb Mount Everest, or a 90-year-old from next door to enroll in college to understand that both are possible. Inspiration now finds you wherever you live, through social media channels and online communities.

Niche communities now exist online for nearly every passion, problem, interest and ailment imaginable. You name it, and there is a community built around it. It's the long tail of human existence. Of course, the best in each of these groups usually become the most visible and -- unknowingly or even unwillingly -- the guides who cut the paths that others follow. Why? Because they are like me, only better.

So don't think you're alone. You're not. There is a community of people just like you. Find it, join it and seek out those who are successfully doing what you want to do. Find out why they're like you, only better.

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There's a revolution underway, and it's good news for everybody of every age! It's never too late to achieve your dreams. It's never too late to give back to your community and leave a meaningful legacy. It's not about age, it's about attitude. Join the revolution. Confront ageism, and fight the stereotypes of age. Watch "Growing Bolder" on PBS stations coast to coast and connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 
 
 

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