"WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?"
Do you have dreams? Do you have goals? Do you have a REALLY great idea?
These are the questions my wife and I were asking ourselves as we sat in our living room 3 years ago.
It's a story about your dreams.
your personal life your organization and for the world
And how technology can help you do it.
But those ideas are fragile.
They are SO. EASILY. SQUASHED.
But if you grab them And you grow them You CAN release them into the world.
The answers are simpler than you think.
Dreams for your personal life
Let's go back to that conversation my wife and I had in the living room.
so by "Living Room," I mean "anywhere you can't touch the kitchen" except for my office, which was up a ladder, in a crawl space
So there we were, sitting in our "Living Room," asking ourselves those questions:
WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH OUR LIVES? What are our dreams? Are we living them out?
OUR dream was to use our skills to make the world a better place
OUR dream was to be working with an organization that grabbed our hearts -- called Free Burma Rangers in Southeast Asia
We saw small ways we could contribute to what they were doing My wife works in medicine, so she wanted to train medics I'm a programmer, so I could do computer stuff.
So don't fall for the lie that we almost fell for:
Do not beleive what we almost beleived:
That we were trapped by the lives WE HAD CREATED FOR OURSELVES.
Do you ever feel that way?
Like you can't do what you want with your life... because of WHAT YOU'VE DECIDED TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE?!
And whatever it is that you think is standing between you and your dream...
It is time to list those things out and get some answers
Here's what was on our list.
The 5 things that stood between us and living our dream out were:
My wife had 5 years of school left
We had to pay rent
I needed to work, which really meant:
* Getting on the Internet
* Answering the phone
** Checking the mail
Here's the powerful thing about writing those 5 things down:
Now we KNEW
the only thing between us and our dreams
was 5 small answers:
Year off Take a year off school. It'll be there when we get back Craigslist ad will let us sublet our apartment, and rent is cheaper overseas anyway. Internet is everywhere. In fact, it was better where we wanted to go. Earth Class Mail is a service that will scan your mail and e-mail it to you. Skype and Google Voice will give me a US phone number anywhere in the world They'd let me make calls that went through the Pacific Ocean but were CLEARER and CHEAPER than calling next door on a cellphone in the US
The dream we had could have been squashed,
but instead, it grew and changed our lives.
Make a list Get the answers
Dreams for your organization
We start working with Free Burma Rangers
as it turns out, they have dreams too! A lot of them!
They'd been working for 15 years towards the dream of
love, truth, and reconciliation in Burma.
they train Burmese ethnic minorities to care for their people.
These are people who get away from the war zones, they get away... but have the strength of character to say: "I want to go back, I want to help my people."
They see 20,000 patients a year in the jungle
and had recorded 15 years worth of human rights abuses.
They had thousands of human rights abuse reports
And 100's of thousands of medical reports
Do you ever feel like you work for papers,
or you work for computers, and not the other way around?
Like technology made us this promise of simplicity and solving life's problems, but really we just spend our lives in front of computers and want to throw them out the window every time they crash?
Technology should work for you, not the other way around. We have to insist that people be put first. Not computers. Not an IT department.
So we made a list
of what stood between them and their dream:
15-years of paperwork had to fit into their new system. all of their medical reports all of their reports of human rights abuses Had to be fast to create Myself and another programmer could volunteer for 6 months, and only on nights and weekends. Had to be simple to use First-time computers users would be putting information in Had to be simple to manage There was no gaurantee programmers would be around to help after those first 6-months, Had to be free... or close to it. Budget was zero dollars.
But now that we had a list, we could get answers.
We looked at SO MANY SYSTEMS.
But as it turns out, WordPress could do all these things.
But it puts people first. It is easy to use.
And for the last 2 years, FBR has been running
AND Human rights abuse reports
Because it's easy to use. And it hurts as a programmer to say this, but usability trumps sophistication EVERY TIME.
Now, when they are asked:
“how do you KNOW there is forced labor, rape, and murder happening in the jungles of Burma?”
Now, when doctors want to know:
How can we improve the care given by our medics? They don't have to sift thorugh piles of paper.
They see, there's a lot more green in the pie chart for this medic
than the pie chart for all the others
That means this medic diagnosis Urinary Tract Infections
a lot more frequently on average than other medics do.
Now we can ask questions we could never ask
when we had to dig through papers
"Why is that"?
Does he know what a Urinary Tract Infection looks like?
Does he need better training? Is he working near a polluted river or some other environmental hazard?
When we get answers to questions like these...
What dreams do you have in your organization?
Make a list.
And insist that computers work for you, not the other way around.
Dreams for the world
We all have lots of ideas every day.
But every now and then,
But just like
ideas for your life,
and ideas for your organization,
ideas for the world are SO EASILY SQUASHED
There is boundary after boundary after boundary between:
the moment that idea goes through your mind to when you first speak it to when you put it into action and maybe, just maybe, that action will CHANGE THE WORLD in a big way
I don't know about you,
but when people share world changing ideas with me,
* You're just a nobody, what can you do?
I feel that way!
I feel like,
because I'm a nobody I won't acheive anything.
Before you choose to beleive that,
Let me tell you something about the people who work with Free Burma Rangers
most of them are what's called an IDP –– an Internally Displaced Person.
If you are an Internally Displaced Person, that means:
( Sigh )
wouldn't you FEEL like a __nobody__.
But they are NOT nobody.
They are OPPRESSED, but they DO NOT give up.
They write down what is happening to them They write down their dreams for reconciliation
And you know what?
Three months ago,
when these people's own government began using air strikes against them for the first time,
That they were TOO SMALL to make a DIFFERENCE.
They took a video
They hiked it out of the jungle And they put it on their blog
At first, the Burmese government said to the press, "we don't know anything about these bombings"
That some nobody put on their blog was on the front page of the
It was there for less than 1 day.
Before the story changed.
The Burmese government had to say, "okay, we did do that".
and it was backed up
by the United States
and the United Kingdom
and the United Nations
"this is wrong. you need to stop." and they did.
Make a list. Find the answers. Make technology work for you. Thank you.