For years now, I have had the pleasure of interviewing and getting to know women who are leading change in the world. These are women who are either on the cutting edge as a thought leader, giving selflessly of their time, energy, and wisdom through their work, and volunteering and teaching others while some are authors and speakers and others are sharing their wealth through philanthropy. All of this is what I call Creating Legacy.
We are normally drawn to become passionate or involved in a cause because we either notice something that we get angry about and we feel something needs to be done about it, or we notice something that moves us in a positive way and feel attracted to support that cause with our time, energy, and money.
Today, I want to talk about my personal experience of stopping something that triggered me in a negative way, thus, becoming a change agent. With all the negative things going on in the world, it is so easy to become disempowered and feel like we can’t make a difference.
I believe we have all had those moments of frustration, believing we can’t make a difference, so why bother? Today, I want to share three simple steps you can follow to become an agent of change.
Several times a week, I ride my bike through our nature trails, and as soon as I leave our neighborhood and jump on the bike path, I ride right along a gorgeous, heavily wooded park filled with wildlife. I can actually ride through a series of parks and nature trails for about 30 miles. The first park I travel through is called Dodge Park, and it was left to our community many years ago by Matilda Dodge Wilson. Part of her legacy is the beautiful land she left in her trust to be enjoyed by the community. There are actually several of these Dodge Parks around the state.
However, the government was planning to put a freeway through her gorgeous park. After years of battle, the environmentalists were able to stop the highway, but the land was now up for grabs, and developers got hold of it with the idea of turning her beautiful park into condos.
This is when my friend, Kathleen Brown (AKA the Tree Witch), stepped up and decided the developers were not going to destroy what she called her “cathedral of trees.” Kathleen asked me to join her, and so we began collecting signatures, called the media, contacted our state representatives, and after a lot of hard work and some magic from our fabulous township Commissioner, Tom Zoner, the park is now saved.
What if Kathleen hadn’t taken the LEAP? These situations often require what I call a leap. This involves stepping out of your comfort zone. I know we were both wondering if we were crazy to take this issue on, but it didn’t stop us. I thought about what we did, and it really was a process that you can duplicate, too:
- Step 1: When something grabs your attention, step forward. Step forward and examine how important this is to you and why. In the case of our Dodge Park, I’ve always been an environmentalist. In fact, I worked for one of the organizations that stopped the freeway from going through when I was in college. So now, I was living next to this beautiful park that some developer was planning to clear cut it and build condos. No Way! It might feel scary at first, but this is when the magic begins and the Universe begins steps to help you. Begin to watch for synchronistic events.
- Step 2: Start small. Take baby steps like Kathleen and I did with the park. We simply started a petition. Once we had the signatures, we had power. Then we went to the adjacent gun club and asked them, “How would you like a huge condo development next door, complaining about the noise every weekend?” Now we had not only our list, but their entire list of club members. This really gave us momentum.
- Step 3: Get support. Reach out to your friends and their friends by asking for help. In our case, I reached out to my friend at Fox News who lived in the community right next door to the park. We also reached out to our local state representatives and invited them to a meeting with the gun club, and then of course, we created a media event.
Everything worked out perfectly, and our county commissioner purchased the land back for our township. Today, we have a wonderful park for concerts, soccer, nature trails, and of course, Kathleen’s beautiful “cathedral of trees”.
I still pinch myself every time I drive through the park and am drenched in nature that was almost lost. You, too, CAN make a difference!
Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Life and Legacy Coach™, host of the Smart Women Talk Radio™, founder of the Smart women Companies with over 1 million subscribers globally, inspirational speaker and author of several books. She began her financial planning career in 1987 and became a Certified Financial Planner, professional™. In 2003, Katana created Smart Women’s Coaching® to offer financial coaching and educational workshops for women in transition who are dealing with caregiving, death of a loved one, divorce, retirement or looking to create or grow a business. She is the founder of the nonprofit, Smart Women’s Empowerment, a global online resource center featuring expert bloggers and interviews, free resources and a new free online course called, Unlock Your Financial Power: The Key to Health, Wealth and Happiness.