A Burning Passion to Help Others

This is a personal story from Jack Harich, Thwink.org systems engineer.

Let's assume that like me, you're a dedicated "help the world" problem solver of some type. You might be a researcher, a manager, an employee at an NGO, an activist, or a concerned citizen. You might even be all of these. What they all have in common is a burning passion to help others and not just themselves.

I've had that passion since sometime in the sixth grade. I can remember helping someone who was slow in math. During class I'd finish my problems and then go over to help her. She was the slowest in the class on everything and I felt sorry for her, especially since no one else was helping out. You see, she was mentally retarded. In those days, around 1960, students like that in the US had no separate track due their special needs.

I didn't know all that but just felt the need to help others. This deep drive may also be related to learning the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It may have also come from my dad, shown below helping his sons learn how to build things. That's me, second from the right, pondering something deeply.

Dad and three boys with blocks

Or the deep inner need to learn about the world and helping others may have come from my mom. Here she is taking her four boys for a last ride on a Washington DC trolley car, a week before they closed the last trolley car line down forever.

Mom and four boys with trolley car

That was light years ago. In 2001 my passion evolved into a more ambitious one: helping to solve the global sustainability problem. That problem is so big and so impossibly difficult that the only way to have more that a 1% chance of success is to take a completely different approach. The heart of this is to first develop a new set of tools, the ones needed to crack the problem wide open. Only then, after we have the right tools in our hands, can we take the second step. This would be applying the tools to solve the problem.

It's a matter of ready, aim, fire, instead of the more popular ready, fire. The aiming step is analysis. Deep, correct analysis of difficult problems requires reams of analysis done with the right tools. There is no other way.


Here is the next page in the Self Study Guide Series:

Self-Assessment of Your Organization