Sometimes life sneaks up on you. You think you’re just doing one thing, only to find it’s bigger, grander than you ever imagined. What are matter-of-fact moments to us are huge in the eyes of those watching.
Parents see that all the time. Our kids show us remarkable behaviors, and when we comment on those behaviors they tell us, “I’m just doing what you always did.” We had no idea they were watching so intently. We had no idea we were influencing anything. We were just doing what needed to be done.
I talk here every once in a while about the Diaper Banks Dimitri and I founded – the first-ever diaper bank here in Tucson, and its sister diaper bank in the Phoenix area. We built the diaper banks for one reason: we saw the need, we knew how to do it, and no one else was doing it.
Tonight we are in Chicago as part of a small group that has been convened for a diaper summit of sorts – 10 diaper banks from around the country, getting together to share opportunities and issues. We had no idea when we arrived that every one of them would greet us as if they already knew us, thanking us for the inspiration we gave them, for the groundwork we laid. We had no idea we would hear the words, “I feel like I’m meeting a rock star!”
We were just doing what needed to be done. We had no idea.
Throughout the day, people talked about the overwhelming need for disposable diapers – a must for leaving a child at daycare, a must for an elderly parent, a must for a disabled teenager. They talked about the need for national legislative advocacy, to have diapers included in WIC and in Medicare. They talked about raising awareness of the reality of living in poverty – eliminating stigmas and myths and creating real understanding of what poverty really is, really feels like. And they talked about what it might take to create communities that one day will not need diaper banks.
It is inspiring to realize that this amazing legacy – it’s OUR legacy! An issue, a campaign, a nationwide movement. We had no idea.
People often ask us, “What made you decide to give up 5 years of your life to do this?” Our answer is always the same. There was no decision. No thinking feeling human being can see such a need and walk away and do nothing. We didn’t know it would take 5 years away from our business. We didn’t know we would be in a room with 20 people, each coming to us, one by one, thanking us for the inspiration we gave them.
We had no idea.
Which makes me wonder: What in your life are you not realizing you are influencing? For starters, your family absolutely – but who else is being influenced by what you do, what you say, how you be in the world?
In the 60’s, filled with youth’s unique blend of anger & idealism, we chanted, “The whole world is watching.” In this interconnected world, more and more people really are watching, all the time – more than we could ever imagine. Each and every one of us has no idea the influence our actions may have.
We really are creating the future. Tonight I ran into that face to face, and it startled me, amazed me, overwhelmed me. We are creating the future with every single thing we do.