In the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several hundred people from seven or eight countries. I was meeting most of them for the first time. They were from all walks of life. Our conversations were sparked by our shared commitment to making a difference and creating a world that works.

However, in many conversations, I could also sense an undercurrent of frustration. For some people, the frustration was over not being able to facilitate change fast enough, whether in their companies, their families, or their countries. For others, the frustration came from their perceived lack of power within dysfunctional organizational and societal systems, and therefore feeling stuck and not knowing how to move forward. Perhaps you can relate.

As I reflected on those conversations and especially the underlying frustration, I remembered an article that I wrote in March 2017. I thought perhaps it might spark an idea for this week’s article.

However, the further I read, the clearer it became that the early 2017 article was as relevant today as it was then. So I have updated that 2017 article in hopes that you will find it helpful with whatever challenges or frustrations you may be facing now.

Three quotes from very different sources offer focus and direction. The first comes from Mildred Lisette Norman Ryder, an American spiritual teacher, mystic, and peace activist who, in her forties, adopted the name Peace Pilgrim. She began a 28-year pilgrimage for peace in 1953, walking more than 25,000 miles across North America before her death in 1981.

Peace Pilgrim wrote:

Live in the present.
Do the things that need to be done.
Do all the good you can each day.
The future will unfold.

The second comes from a businessman who was one of my first coaching clients. His personal mantra was, “Just do the next right thing.” He fully believed that even in the most serious crisis, if we pause, take a breath, and collect ourselves, we can usually recognize at least one next step – a next right thing. That was his way of expressing Peace Pilgrim’s sentiment.

It’s so easy to get caught up in not knowing what to do or how to do what we want to do, and therefore, doing nothing. Yet with so many of the challenges people are facing now, things are moving quickly and we can’t afford to do nothing. Taking any step will shift the energy in some way. There is always one thing we can do, even if it feels like a tiny step. Several tiny steps combine to create a bigger step. So just do the next good thing that needs to be done at the moment. Then pause and sense what the next good thing is, and do that. If you keep following this pattern, in time, you will start to find a path, and the future will unfold.

The third quote comes in the form of an interpretative translation of Talmudic texts in the teachings of Benedictine Brother David Steindl-Rast:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. Those two lines won’t let go of me.

We are all in this together. We all have a role to play in the ever-unfolding journeys of our families, our companies, our societies, and our countries.

Right now, we’re in a particularly messy period. And in the messiness, there are countless opportunities for walking in integrity and love – countless opportunities for stepping more fully into who we truly are. We are not obligated to fully manifest a world that works during our lifetime, yet if we follow the deepest callings of our hearts, neither are we free to abandon the work.

And so I leave you with a mash-up of a bit of Peace Pilgrim and a bit of the Talmud, with the mantra of from my former client mixed in:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Live in the present.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.
Do the things that need to be done.
Do all the good you can each day.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.
Just do the next right thing.
The future will unfold.

~ ~ ~

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