By: Marc Winn
Do you have a private jet and an unlimited credit card that you can give me?
Or - do you know somebody who has?
Why do I mischievously ask this question? Three reasons:
Firstly, because it is such a crazy request that it might just be mad enough to work.
Secondly, I have the time and ability to make really effective use of these resources, to deliver a huge legacy for someone in return.
Thirdly, my time, energy and resources are far better used in serving humanity today than building resources to serve humanity at some point in the future.
Acquiring these resources is not the entire purpose of my post, though. It is a provocation and a reflection of something I am seeing more in the world. It highlights a big issue for me.
In my work trying to make the small Channel Island of Guernsey the best place to live on earth by 2020, I am meeting a lot of other people who are making an impact, yet are underserved by the communities they live in.
I call these people Social Catalysts, and they exist within every community. They give huge amounts of time and dedication to improving where we live, without asking anything in return. They are the people who switch off their televisions, get out there, and spend their time, energy and resources on solving the problems they see in their communities. As I travel the world, I see more and more of them. I see lots of them in my community, as I focus on moving my own life towards this role.
What the majority of them have in common is the struggle to find revenue streams that can enable them to dedicate most of their time to serving others. They also lack the resources to improve their skills and the connections to make more impact than they currently achieve. And more disturbingly, they often lack the resources to live in good health.
Like many other societies in the West, our welfare system in the Channel Islands supports many people who do not contribute to the community at all. Yet there is very little financial support for those who do. Personally, I am not sure that sends the right message about contribution. The tragedy is that people who spend their entire lives helping and serving others tend to be in greater financial strife than those doing nothing for themselves or their community. A serious systemic issue is holding back our ability to solve our own problems.
Another issue is that we give to charities, rather than supporting people who give their own time and expertise to those charities. Of course, charities have value - but I have met many an innovative person stuck in a charity, surviving on a small income from that charity and constrained by their limited role, when funding and developing the individual could enable them to work several levels higher, and develop the next levels of impact , making a bigger difference in the world.
Thankfully, this idea is starting to gain traction. The support and development of Impact Leadership is a high-leverage approach to increasing impact. If you look at organisations such as Ashoka, Acumen, Leaders Quest, Pioneers for Change and The Thiel Fellowship, you start to see the emergence of a model that can be effectively used in every community.
Hopefully, we will start to realise that sponsoring high-impact individuals to thrive in communities is a hugely effective way to deliver long-term impact. Then we will have the change we want to see in the world.
My wish is for the role of the Social Catalyst to be recognised and rewarded by the communities they serve. I would much rather see taxpayers' resources and philanthropy shifted in that direction than where those resources are being spent now. To my mind, it would make a bigger difference.
So who are the top changemakers in your community?
What are you doing to help them thrive and to increase their impact?
If you want to build a better world - it starts with them.
P.S. Remember - if you do have - or know of anyone with - a private jet and unlimited credit card, then be sure to send them my way. I have a very interesting proposition for them...
About Marc Winn
Marc is one of the co-founders of The Dandelion Project which has an aim to make Guernsey the best place to live on earth by 2020. It is a grassroots movement to inspire a nation to disrupt its own bureaucracy. He is also the Curator of TEDxStPeterPort which asked the question in March on how to make the best place to live on earth.
He is also working on a pilot school project to reimagine the upper limits of child education.
Marc has been coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs since 2008. Before that he was an outwardly successful but inwardly unhappy internet entrepreneur. He is married to Valerie and has a 3 year old son called cheeky Charlie.