Isn't It Time To Stop Griping And Start Doing?

10/04/2010 06:56 am ET | Updated Mar 20, 2015

Last week, I was inspired by Arianna Huffington's new book, Third World America and wrote about shifting from anger and blame to personal engagement and response-ability. Thanks to you, our readers, I am inspired to take this conversation even further.

As usual, comments last week ranged from the appreciative to the kind of glass-is-always-empty attacks that some seem to call engagement. And thank goodness for these critics -- they keep reminding us why this kind of work actually matters.

More to the point, however, are the personal examples people shared about what they have done in response to challenging situations. I'm sure the trolls out there will be all too willing to attack these folks as well, but what the heck. In doing this work for several decades now, I have found any number of one-time critics who have circled back to thank me for the original provocation. So, too, in this way might these very real and very personal examples serve to provoke the complacent into self-motivated action.

Here's an example from Thor who created a career by holding a clear intention and committing to it.


Nice article, I liked how you walked the reader through your thoughts around thought and action. The only additional element I might suggest you add to the mix is intention.

When I was looking for a job 10 years ago I knew that I would have a number of opportunities presented to me for work, however I was focused on the intention of finding a job that involved sustainability. During the 8 months or so that I was looking, I indeed had a number of "traditional" job offers which I ended up rejecting.

However, when I was offered the opportunity to work with my local electric utility on its fledgling "green power" program I immediately jumped at the chance to work with a truly sustainable product, renewable energy. Today, I'm proud to be the leader of a team that runs the nation's leading renewable power program.

I had the thoughts and I took action but it was also my intention that got me where I am today. Thanks!


And thank you, Thor -- a great example of matching intention with personal commitment and involvement. Before you jump to dismiss Thor's example, try the next one on for size.

Here's an incredible example of what one person can do with intention, commitment and resolve, something that made a powerful difference not only to himself, but to his community as well:

A couple of us have been creating sustainable jobs out of a chemically contaminated industrial street in Springfield MA. We started just simply helping those around us.

One day a guy asked if he could gather scrap wire from the back yard and burn the rubber off. He would turn the copper in down the street at metal scrap business. He then asked if he could sleep in one of the old trucks and keep the fire going all night. He then asked if he could take the old truck apart for scrap. We asked he leave us the back frame which is the door we walk into everyday for work. He now owns his own truck and apartment, and still gathers scrap.

Six years ago a guy came with a small load of old building material looking to get space for a store to ReSell old building supplies. ReStore is graduating spring of 2011 into their own 60,000 square foot warehouse.

Last year we had 30 inner city kids working for Summer Youth Project teaching job skills. This summer six came back and we started Green Street Community Gardens.

Rob Thomas

Now before you jump in to cream Rob, perhaps you should know that he has created something called The Gasoline Alley Foundation (, a not-for-profit foundation enabling others to create socially responsible and sustainable businesses as tools for positive social change. From their website:

The Gasoline Alley Foundation believes job creation is the most effective means of both economic and community development. In short, socially responsible business practices are the strongest economic model for sustainability. Consequently, we focus our efforts in socially responsible entrepreneurship education.

And at an even more grass roots level:

I'm no hero, but I did keep visiting local restaurants and coffee shops and kept lawnboy employed when it wasn't really affordable to do so. After two years the businesses I supported are still here and lawnboy went to college with a little more change in his pocket. I was no savior, but I did help and evidently someone else did too.


Lastly, good old Marcus01 added a great summation of the principle being extolled here:

WE need to take responsibility for our lives. We need to band together and form more communities of people helping each other, rather than expecting help to come from outside, because it's not coming, folks. Those days are clearly over. Get used to it, get up, and get moving.


So, please do keep your focus on what you can do to make a difference - for yourself, for your family, for your community. No act is too small and wherever you find yourself is a great place to start. Be easy on yourself and on those around you - no one is going to transform this mess in one fell swoop, but we surely will fall if we don't do what we can.

What do you think? What could you do to become more personally engaged? What small step could you take to help move things forward?

I would love to hear from you about your ideas, about what you have done to work around the challenges you are facing, or about what you have seen a friend or neighbor do that has been effective.

I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at)


If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.

Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at)