At a conference in Breckenridge in 2013, Dawn Engle commanded the attention of 75 corporate and government leaders.Two minutes into her story she owned a piece of our souls! Now she’s about to inspire you.
Standing at the podium, referring to her own extraordinary experience, she claimed:
the only problem with having a damn fool idea….. is to think it is foolish. And the only thing wrong with wishing you could change the world… is sitting on your butt, instead of getting up and beginning to work.
Her story, including a 2-minute video (below), is a tool to energize your nonprofit colleagues and directors. To tell your kids. And to post on your Facebook page!
With little money, a blue collar background and a comfortable, low-key life, this daughter of a steelworker was content. Founding an international youth movement was not in her personal Game Plan. Nor was becoming involved with Nobel Prize Laureates! At the conference in Breckenridge, with a big smile and plenty of self-deprecating humor, she told us about Ivan, her idealistic colleague at a Denver college. Ivan was not as realistic. Burdened with an audacious idea, Ivan had a tendency to harass. Ivan wanted help. She demurred. Ivan was persistent. He demanded. She refused. The badgering continued.
Finally, (just to shut Ivan up, she now says) Dawn agreed to help start an organization that encourages young people to dream with confidence and to act with conviction, to form networks of community investment and social change – an international organization with 500,000 participants!
It went like this. First step – finally give in to Ivan. Agree to help. Second step – build a board of directors. So she telephoned for an appointment. Somehow got through. They then visited India. Met with the Dalai Lama. Explained Ivan’s idea. Convinced the Dalai Lama to become the first member of the Board.
You see, as Ivan will tell you in the video (below) – winners of the Nobel Peace Prize were the seed of his idea.
He discovered that seed the day he chastised some of his neighborhood’s teenage gang members for carrying guns. In the conversation he was stunned to find out they did not know the name of the US President. He also learned these street kids revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu for bravely standing up against injustice in South Africa. To them, the presidency was irrelevant. Tutu and the Nobel Peace Price were cool…the seed! And a great way to brand an international youth movement.
The Dalai Lama was first. Soon, ten (TEN!) Nobel Peace Prize winners had became active, involved Directors of the new organization. And remain active, involved Directors today. Inspired by these icons of achievement, a half million young people have been engaged in over a million service projects – resulting in changed lives, changed communities and a changing world.They build schools, establish water supplies, volunteer at clinics and much more.
The organization is named PeaceJam. And here, to tell that story in a 2 minute video, are Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff. Two nonprofit leaders who got off their butts, who ARE changing the world. (It delights me to report this additional fact: they also changed their status as professional colleagues. Realistic Dawn and idealistic Ivan were married by PeaceJam Board Member Archbishop Desmond Tutu his church in South Africa.)
Share this story with your own board members and colleagues. Whatever their aspirations, whatever their levels of commitment and performance, they – and your organization – will benefit from knowing about Dawn, Ivan and PeaceJam. Because the only problem with having a damn fool idea….. is to think it is foolish. And because the only thing wrong with wishing you could change the world… is sitting on your butt, instead of getting up and beginning to work.