Debi Haden

From the blog

Finding your purpose through contribution

Finding your purpose in life can feel as though it has filled a blank space in your story and can come in many different ways, through work, our personal lives and through the contrubution we make to society.
I received the British Red Cross Durrant Award last week alongside my other Red Cross colleagues who supported at the Grenfell tower fire site last year. The award is given for work above and beyond. Whilst an honour to receive it for the second time it is difficult, because it means we have had to work on something that is often profoundly challenging, however I’m super proud to have been part of this team for the last 16 years.  We are often quietly out on deployments around the world without any need for drama or accolade, because as a team are committed to what we do. We do it without any recompense, but merely for our belief in making our personal contribution. For me, I feel a real sense of purpose through my role as part of this team. I know many people  find their purpose and passion through the contribution they make to the lives of others.
Criticism is often made of charities without really understanding the vast contribution they make to society. Hundreds of people volunteer to support charities in order to make the world a better place, and I’m super proud to stand alongside my Red Cross colleagues to have made, and continue to make, my contribution to the greater good.
We can all make a difference, no matter of small it might seem, whether it’s picking up rubbish off a beach, changing our recycling habits, checking in on an elderly neighbour, giving a few hours a month to support a charity, sponsoring a friend doing a fund raising activity, it is all a valuable contribution.

I’m reminded of this story that was shared when I was training as a coach.

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.

— Adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren C. Eiseley

 You only have to look at the recent events in Thailand to see the amazing difference that can be made when people pull together for a common purpose.

Through my work with the Red Cross I am constantly reminded, how, in the face of crisis, individuals and whole communities come together to make a difference.  In an often chaotic and unstable world it is a welcome reminder to us all that community and compassion can conquer all.

A client recently said to me,  ‘If we only lived our lives with respect much of the challenges of the world would disappear. Respect for ourselves, respect for each other and respect for our planet’, and I couldnt agree more.  If we all undertook just one act of kindness imagine the difference we could make…

What one action could you put in place today to make your contribution?
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