One of the unexpected takeaways from TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015 was the idea that small actions matter. Erica Greve, Jennifer Knapp, Liz Wiseman, Lucy Flores, and Nicole Hockley all made mentions of this concept in their talks, and it’s worth diving into the many reasons behind why this is so important.
Erica Greve is the Founder and CEO of the anti-human trafficking organization, Unlikely Heroes. In her talk, she gave an overview of the Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping and how she and her team have most recently been working on the ground in Nigeria, providing direct support to the children who escaped. Erica believes that individual voices matter, and she talked about the fact that once the hashtag #bringbackourgirls waned across social media, hope for a safe return for the kidnapping victims began to fade. She urged the audience: “Raise your voice. When you act you start to inspire other people. Turn the whispers into a roar.” She also said that we have to understand that when we use our voice, we can make a difference, and that we have the responsibility to help raise the collective voice for grievances against humanity, and to get involved wherever we can make a difference.
Jennifer Knapp is a folk rock musician whose albums have sold over a million copies. At the height of her career, she did what most would consider unthinkable: she took a seven-year hiatus, looking to reclaim a part of herself that felt lost in her success. In her TEDx talk, she discussed the idea that words count, and urged us not be silent on issues that matter. Specifically she said: “If our words matter, let’s know what we’re saying … our silence implies consent when we see someone hurting and do nothing about it.” In short, being vulnerable, supportive, and open to the ones we love, matters. It’s the little things you say, and the small actions that show you care, which truly make a difference.
Liz Wiseman teaches leadership to executives and emerging leaders around the world. She is the President of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley with such notable clients as Apple, Disney, Facebook, and many more. In her discussion she shared a story about vacationing with her children, and it wasn’t until getting down to her son’s level as he watched some koi fish circle around in a pond that she had an “aha” moment. She thought: “instead of trying to master this new world, perhaps we should approach it with a childlike wonder … how does what we know get in the way of what we don’t know? How much magic do we miss because it’s not on the agenda?” Urging us to all slow down a bit and embrace the magic from time to time is important. It’s a small, but actionable step that has power to greatly impact the way we learn, experience fun, and find success.
Lucy Flores is a former Nevada Assemblywoman and practicing attorney whose life was turned around at a young age, in part due to the support and guidance of a prison warden who took a special interest in her situation. From this experience, Lucy picked up a key tidbit of wisdom when she stated: “always remember that the things that you do and say, can very well be reshuffled into a deck (of cards) for someone else.” In other words, a simple show of kindness on a particularly bad day can make all of the difference in the world. Lucy recalled facing a specific day in court, near the point of giving up on herself, when her warden decided to stick up for her and recommend that she be returned to living with her father. Because of the kind thoughts and actions of her warden, she was able to take the steps she needed to take toward turning her life around. Kindness matters, and in this case, because her warden took a small step of showing her support at a time when she needed it most.
After the tragic death of her son Dylan, who was one of 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Nicole Hockley dedicated herself to working for change so that other families might be spared the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. She has become an important advocate for the need to turn tragedy into transformation through love, and is focused on bringing people together in honest dialogue as well as searching for innovative solutions in the areas of mental health, school safety, community building and gun responsibility. In her talk, she reminded us that “small and meaningful actions can make a difference,” and “small but meaningful actions can create lasting change – doing nothing is not an option.” In the case of stopping gun violence, she said “we need to stop talking about just the gun – we need to focus on identification, intervention.” If you notice something is off, something suspicious, or even recognize that an unstable or suspicious-looking person might need help, take the extra step to investigate or assist, for these little steps add up to impact that truly matters.
In summary, little actions can certainly lead up to some really big changes. How can you make small changes in your life that might create a truly lasting impact, either for yourself, or someone else? Please be sure to catch the full videos from each of these presenters as soon as they become available.