I am excited to celebrate another example of the impact dreaming big and taking action daily can bring! Today we celebrate Justin Miller, founder of CARE for AIDS:
He was 19 years old when he began the journey of starting and growing a non-profit that would address one of the largest humanitarian crises of our generation: HIV / AIDS. Five and a half years later when asked to describe the early days he said, “I felt completely inadequate and overwhelmed. I did, however, have a slight advantage because age and experience had not stolen my idealism. So much about eating an elephant is about overcoming fear and taking that first bite. Unfortunately, fear only tends to grow as we get older, experience more failures, seek security and comfort over risk and adventure. We all need to find that inner college student that says, “I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.” At the time, I wasn’t overly concerned with what would happen if I fail. Instead, I saw the potential of what could be if I succeeded.”
When asked about the most challenging part of the process so far, Justin shared that there have been numerous challenges, but the greatest has been overcoming discouragement and distractions. He went on to share, “Not everyone is going to share your same dream, and often, they will be harsh in their criticism. Sometimes you will look up and see what remains of the elephant and be completely discouraged, but you have to remember that you are having an impact nonetheless. There are 25 million people in Africa with HIV, that is a huge elephant. But remember, the journey is more important than the destination. I hope to see the end of AIDS in my lifetime, but if I don’t, that doesn’t mean that my efforts were in vain. All 2,500 families we have helped are living a new story that will affect generations.”
Take a moment and reflect on that. How tempting it can be in the moment to compare each bite we take to the total size of the elephant and feel that it is insignificant. It is the sum of the bites over time that creates a powerful impact – every bite matters! Ask those 2,500 families CARE For AIDS has helped, and they would all agree.
Justin had also mentioned distractions being a challenge. He had incredible insight that is important for us to remember.
“Also, there may even be other opportunities that try to distract you and cause you to lose focus. You might be tempted to try something else that wouldn’t be as hard. There are other needs in Kenya besides HIV/AIDS, but we’ve had to be relentless in staying focused on the one thing that we do best. That has made us most effective. If you are convinced that your vision has merit and is producing the desired impact, you have to have a resolve to continue despite the challenges you WILL face.”
We are going to pick this story back up in our next blog. In the mean time, let’s all be thinking about:
- How can I tap more into my “inner college student” that sees endless possibilities?
- How can I remember that others may criticize my vision, but that definitely doesn’t mean I should quit?
- How can I remember that every bite counts?
- What is currently distracting me from staying focused on doing what I do best?
*for more on CARE for Aids (http://careforaids.org/)