a selfish plan to change the world

"Every so often, the broken parts of our beautiful world find their way into our lives, and we get to choose whether to let the chaos in and turn it into a cosmos -- a place of peace and grace -- or let it pass us by."

~  Justin Dillon, author of A Selfish Plan to Change the World

About a month ago, my friend Ginny Wolfe, formerly of the ONE Campaign, messaged me.  "Hey," she said, "a friend of mine, who has been a good friend to ONE, just released his new book, A Selfish Plan to Change the World.  Justin Dillon -- actually, you might know him -- is the creative mind behind SlaveryFootprint.org.  Anyway, I was wondering if you'd be open to reading it, and saying something about it."

"Sure, I'll give it a read," I responded.  "If you send it to me, I'll take it with me on my vacation, and if I like it, I'll mention it."  So she immediately mailed it to me, and as promised, I read it on the beach while we were in St. Martin.  

Wow. Yeah, I want to mention it.

I read this book without much of an expectation either way; but by the end of the book, I realized that I had read a blueprint of how I want my next 50 years to be.  Justin, who was originally a touring musician, tells the story about how he used what he was currently doing (and what he loved to do) to help address the "riot" inside of him.

"Your riot is a place inside of you where you stand up and say that something is wrong.  It's where you turn your indignation into action.  Simply put, finding your riot is how you find your purpose."

~  Justin Dillon

Reading his book reminded me of that lesson I learned from Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, the one that I keep repeating here on Chookooloonks:  the gifts we have aren't ones that we own outright; rather, we are trustees of these gifts, and we are called upon to use these gifts to help each other while we're here on Earth.  According to Justin, the way we figure out how we're supposed to use those gifts is by identifying our riot -- and then applying our gifts and our skills to help change the world.  And beautifully, his book is sort of a blueprint:  a way to hold your hand as you try to figure it out.

For example, it turns out Justin's riot is slavery and human trafficking (which led him to create Made In a Free World, software that helps companies ensure that the materials they source aren't products of human trafficking).  For the members of the band U2, their discovered their riot is extreme poverty, and so The One Campaign was born.  And he tells many other stories of many other people, both famous and not, who identified their riots and changed their worlds, as well.  But here's what I loved most about this book:  changing the world doesn't mean you have to be, as Justin puts it, "a malaria-infected social worker" in a remote part of the world (unless, of course, that's your jam).  In fact, he says, you're most effective when you are changing the world by doing the thing that lights you up.  Using your skills and your gifts and your passions, it turns out, is the secret sauce to making good happen.

After I finished the book, I spent the rest of my holiday thinking about what my riot is -- the thing that I truly believe is wrong with the world, the thing that enrages me, every time I think about it.  And the thing that I keep coming back to is bigotry.  I actually go blind with fury when I read about acts of racism, or anti-religious sentiment, or ageism or sexual or gender intolerance ... any type of intolerance or exclusivity, really.  This is something I obliquely mention in my mission statement, but is gradually becoming the centre of what it is I want to stand for:  fighting bigotry.  And this newly named purpose is going to require a lot of work from me.  But I figure I have a passion and gift for photography, a passion and gift for storytelling, and I'm a lawyer with tons of leadership experience in corporate America -- surely, with all these tools in my toolbox, I can make something great happen, right? It's time to put all of this stuff into action.


All this to say that if your purpose is something you think about, then run, do not walk to buy this book.  It's truly soul-shifting.  And imagine if all of us found our riots, and made an attempt to try?  

The world might become as beautiful as we know it has the power to be.


In the meantime, let's do something fun -- I'd love to hear more about you.  What's your riot?  Leave a comment below, and I'll pick one at random to win a copy of Justin's book, wherever in the world you may be.  (To be clear, Justin didn't ask me to do this -- I just this minute decided to buy a copy to give away here, I love this book that much.)  You have until midnight Friday night to leave a comment, I'll announce the winner by updating this post Saturday morning, August 5th.  

Thanks, friends.  I can't wait to read how you would all love to change the world.


UPDATED TO ADD:  Thanks for all your comments, friends!  I loved, loved loved reading what you're passionate about.  The winner, using a random number generator, is the third commenter, Angela Romza, who said, "I may not have a lot in wealth but what I have I often share with other children who are less fortunate then myself."  Congrats, Angela!  I'll contact you directly to get your snail mail information.

Here's to all our riots, friends.  May we all change the world.