I guess I have often been a believer in the power of one. And last week I found myself listening to a podcast that brought this up and got me thinking about it. What is the power of one? I realised it just meant so many things in a simple sentence.
Be the difference you want to see in the world
As I was asked for my favourite quote recently, this was the one I blurted out. I am glad I did not give it much thought, because I may have been stuck in the perfect quote search. What do I want to stand by, what will people think, does this capture enough? Phew, so many questions. But indeed this quote (in theory credited to Gandhi) represents in essence the power of one. Change (good or bad) starts somewhere. That is true for the dictator that gets his country to follow his war quests, or for the lone marcher that arises crowds with plain words. The power of one is not a call for loneliness or even a call for arrogance. It is a call that one is where it all begins, and without it, nothing happens. One has the ability to start projects, calls, letters, dances, movements, wars. One has the ability to bring many.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now
The power of one is not a call for thoughts or wishes. It is a call to action. It demonstrates that it is in each of us to strike action and get going. Entrepreneurship is an example of this, as reminded by my recent podcast guest Inês, as she explained her many (really many) ventures. The most difficult step is the first one, but once you have taken it, the car is moving and it is much easier to keep going. The power of one is present in the mind of entrepreneurs that dream big solutions and are not haunted by the thought:
In fact, they are energised by the potential that no one else is addressing what they believe is a big problem, and have even more strength to yield their power of one at it.
A Little Gesture A Great Help
I know, the power of one was asking for an association with the name I chose for my charity. Let’s face it, when I first created it, I did not know I would still be writing about it 18 years later. But the original idea was no doubt a product of the power of one. First, when faced with an orphanage of 30 children, I was not stuck in the thought:
In fact, that did not matter. I quickly moved to the fact that I could garner the power of one for 30 of my family and friends. The ask was just that. If they’d put in their power of one, I would put mine to transform our collective power into something bigger.
Little did I know, but the message remains. It is thanks to the single power of the many that chose to join us that we can act.
Perhaps more importantly, it is also the importance of the power of one child making it that allows us to go forward without being hindered by those that don’t make it. We focus on what we can, learn from what we can’t.
One person at a time
When I started writing this blog on a regular basis, there was a question on the why. I started on the basis I loved writing and one day wanted to write a book, so might as well start my practice. Another win was that sheding light on shame or difficult situations – the Gremlins, per Brene Brown – is what it takes to make it look much smaller or give it perspective. So writing was also a bit like therapy!
Interestingly, the topics I would more easily get attracted to were not really the ones planned. There was a lot of shared experience of questions I got asked so often. About these gremlins. And that is when I knew what would keep me going. On top of the love of writing, I found out I was yielding the power to impact one life at a time. When I least expected, someone would reach out and mention how something I wrote made a difference and had a meaning to them. Then I knew, I was able to impact one life at a time.
The real power of one
The power of one is all these things for me – the ability, the willingness to action, and also the belief that each person on the other side matters. But let’s not forget that the power of one is most often than not about others. About our ability to impact someone else’s life, about our ability to rally someone to help, about our power of one to become the power of many.
When it feels lonely or overwhelming, remember you are not alone, you own your power. And more will do to.