A Sure Fire Way To Stop Feeling Stupid

It always seems impossible until it is done. -Nelson Mandela

Imagine that you just survived a massive earthquake that left everything around you, even your home, in rubble. What would you search for and rescue? Someone that you care about? Your children?1

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake left Port Au Prince in rubble killing as many as 160,000 and destroying many more homes.2 Parents, of course, searched out their children and cared for them.

For hundreds of orphans who had been adopted by American families and were waiting to move to the U.S., there were no parents to search for them. The limited resources that were available before the earthquake were in rubble too. No shelter. Little food or water. Older orphans who were not injured chased aid trucks. Orphan infants suffered more.3

The adoption-father of one of the children called attorney Beth Klein for help. Klein wanted to help but she didn’t have the money (or any other resources) to undertake a project of this magnitude. She had the simple idea of getting an airplane “donated to airlift children.” People responded to her call for help by offering planes, volunteering their time and medical services and donating money.4 Ultimately, Klein was able to recruit a huge network of people, planes and money to fly all of the orphans out. Even the Pentagon got involved! So, how did a normal citizen have such a surprising impact?

Klein accomplished something positive by working together.

The objective was simply too large to accomplish alone. From the beginning, Klein was forced to reach out to others for help. Navigating immigration regulations, foreign and domestic bureaucracy, meals, clothes, bathroom breaks – imagine how overwhelming the list must have been. The list of things that must be done. Klein experienced that when she reached out for help people joined her impromptu network of relief workers. Lawyers, doctors and many others joined her. Once Klein was not alone, the list of things to do wasn’t so overwhelming.

Klein spent what she had.

Klein did not personally have the money to charter planes, chaperons and feed a multitude of children or hire immigration assistance for all of them. What she did have was time. So, she became the focal point to deal with it all. That meant answering the phone at all hours of the night, sacrificing fun and family time and rest. Klein did make a huge time investment – but the payoff was huge.

She got rid of thinking she looked stupid.

It’s not every day that you call someone and ask to borrow a three-engine jet that can carry up to 189 passengers, or ask for a couple-hundred sack lunches. Klein says, “Don’t be afraid to ask for something that seems too big to imagine. Get rid of thinking you’ll look stupid, instead, keep trying. You can make a difference.”5

What is something you can do? If you can’t charter a jet, do you have something you can invest? Can you invest your time? It might make a difference bigger than you can imagine.

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  1. (c)2015 Brandon L. Blankenship. Image Credit: Beautiful Orphan James Southorn flickr CC 15JAN2012.
  2. Medicine, Conflict and Survival Vol. 26, Issue 4, 2010, Mortality, crime and access to basic needs before and after the Haiti earthquake.
  3. http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/coloradans-hold-vigil-for-haiti-s-orphans (retrieved 15NOV2015).
  4. http://www.lawcolorado.net/blog/2010/01/25/attorney_beth_klein_organizes_mass_effort_to_assist_orphans_of_haiti (retrieved 30NOV2015).
  5. https://www.blacktie-colorado.com/have-you-met/beth-klein/ (retrieved 1DEC2015).
About The Author

Brandon Blankenship

Brandon L. Blankenship is a continuing legal education presenter and business educator. He is the author of Unmasking Hour. He writes weekly posts on the legal industry and is a contributor to the Nobility Academy. He and his wife Donnalee live on their hobby farm south of Birmingham, Alabama.