Two years ago my life took a quite unexpected turn. I can remember the exact moment, sitting on the front steps of my apartment listening to an old friend explain his goal to help people in recovery from substance abuse. Little did I know this mission would soon expand to include helping the world live more inspired.
Rob and I were friends in high school in Washington, DC but drifted apart in college as friends tend to do. Three years ago I moved back to DC and our friendship was rekindled but it was clear that Rob was struggling with drug addiction, something he had developed in college and which was growing steadily more dangerous. I was aware of his problem and still regret that I did not step up and give him the help he needed. Fortunately I would have another chance when Rob made the life changing decision to enter treatment a year later.
After he got out of treatment a friend he had made began sending him a recovery themed text message every morning at the same time. The message was a small action he could take that day to work on his recovery and begin living positively. The transition from treatment to life outside can be difficult. His friends couldn't identify with what he was going through and he needed that reminder that there was a larger community of recovering addicts that he belonged to. He would get his message every morning on the way to work and forward it to people he had met in recovery. Soon he was sending it to fifty people and if he was late or missed a day they were sure to let him know.
Around this time he began sending the same message to me. I am not in recovery but I loved the routine of getting the message and found that it had a dramatic affect on my day. One night while sitting on my steps Rob told me about an idea he had: change the world one text message at a time. He had a vision of building a service that could help people struggling with the same issues he had struggled with. His passion for this idea was undeniable and I agreed on the spot to be a part of it, with no idea of what that commitment would entail.
Over the next year we put our plan into action. I was teaching fifth grade in DC at the time and Rob was unhappily selling mortgages. We would meet every day after work at American University (our 'office' was in the student union). We knew little about business and even less about the software this type of service would require but we taught ourselves what we needed to know and with some help along the way we built a site called www.ILiveInspired.com and finally launched it last summer.
As we put our plan into action we realized that inspiration was not limited to those in recovery and we began to contact authors who write for other communities. We feel very strongly that inspiration must lead to action and we also knew that everyone can use a bit of inspiration every day. As we were developing our software we began looking for inspirational authors who we could partner with. Rob had become a fan of a book called 52 Weeks of Esteemable Acts by a woman named Francine Ward. Her belief was exactly in line with ours: that we create self-esteem by doing esteemable actions. We emailed her, told her our story and she granted us a meeting. She was speaking in New York and agreed to let us drive her to her hotel afterward. We would have about fifteen minutes. As we told her our plan to change the world one text message at a time she grew more and more interested. Instead of dropping her off she invited us to dinner. By the end of the meal we had an agreement with our first author and I Live Inspired was officially a reality.
Soon we had "channels" for new parents, teachers, people going through cancer treatment, and many more. Our only requirement was that the messages be action oriented because we strongly believed that without action there is no inspiration. Our journey had brought us to where we were because of a series of inspired actions: Rob entering treatment, his friend sending him that first unsolicited message, Rob forwarding the message to me, Francine Ward taking a leap of faith and agreeing to help, and so on.
By October the site was live and we were working full time on it. Rob was actively working at his recovery and we were both becoming more and more interested in the idea of putting inspiration into action to achieve goals. One morning we came up with an idea: meet the Dalai Lama and seek his permission to send out his teachings through our service. We both recognized the Dalai Lama as one of the world's most inspirational figures and felt that we owed it to ourselves to live out our mission and attempt something very few outside of us thought was possible. We came up with a plan to walk from a tiny town in Indiana called Hope to Bloomington where the Dalai Lama was scheduled to give three days of teachings. It was a 100-mile walk which we dubbed "7 days and 7 nights for 7 minutes with the Dalai Lama."
The walk was an incredible experience. We were met with tremendous hospitality in every small town we went and continuously came in contact with inspired people who helped us out for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. We arrived in Bloomington on the sixth night, in the rain and stumbled up to the Buddhist Cultural Center where we were immediately welcomed in, fed and dried.
We attended the teachings in a large auditorium and heard the Dalai Lama speak about compassion and love for all people and we felt inspired to just be in his presence. On the second day our new friends at the cultural center let us know that it was a long shot but they felt that we may get our meeting. That afternoon we were whisked away by security into a room and there he was. We would be one of only two groups to have a private audience.
It was an amazing experience, one of the most exciting of our lives. During the meeting we told him that we wanted to spread his message of compassion and he corrected us by saying it was all humanity's message. We shared a few stories of the walk and even got a big laugh out of him when I told him we visited a small town called Buddha. After talking with some of his people it was agreed upon we would add teachings from the Dalai Lama to our content and use the proceeds to support the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington because they had been so hospitable to us when we needed it most.
Rob's life was turned around by the inspired actions of others and he in turn changed lives around him. I veered off the path I was on only to find myself on a road of self discovery I never thought I would walk down. As we continue with our service and our mission of inspiring the world we have a clearer understanding of the interconnectedness ties us all together and the ripple effect of one inspired action.
Story courtesy of www.iliveinspired.com
Submitted by Anonymous
We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories