Paradoxical Commandment #6:
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
Will Hartzell was told that his big idea would never get off the ground.
When he was starting his business, Safe Water Systems, there were a host of business advisors, accountants, government officials, prospective customers, and even friends and family who told him that he wouldn't be able to make the company successful.
They said he wouldn't be able to find the capital he needed because investors wouldn't risk money on a start-up business that looked like a humanitarian nonprofit organization. They said he didn't have the business training and experience needed to run an international marketing organization. They said it wouldn't be possible to sell the product internationally-it would just be too hard.
But Will continued to think big anyway. Safe Water Systems was born out of a deep personal commitment to help alleviate one of the world's biggest health crises. Contaminated drinking water kills more than five million people every year.
"We developed a revolutionary technology, called a solar water pasteurizer, which is a simple, low-cost, long-term solution. Yet the naysayers were plentiful: 'You can't succeed,' 'You won't make it,' 'It won't work.' I heard it all, but I stayed focused on my goals, and my personal commitment remained strong.
"After our equipment was installed, I was watching the patients as they came to get clean water to drink. One woman was in the hospital because her child was gravely ill. After she filled her water bottle and was headed back to her child, she stopped and looked at me. Our eyes met in one of those time-stopping moments. We didn't speak the same language, but the nurse translated for me. She said, "Thank you. Thank you for giving my child the chance to live. "At that moment I knew that I would do whatever it took to provide safe drinking water for as many people as I could all over the world. That was in 1997."
Since then, Will and his colleagues have installed 1400 solar water pasteurizers in 48 countries. The result? An estimated 100,000 people no longer suffer illness and risk death because of contaminated drinking water.
The naysayers who advised Will Hartzell were well-intentioned people, experienced in business, accounting, and government. They were good people, but they saw life in small terms. The world needs big people, open to thinking and acting in new ways to solve problems and seize opportunities.
The world also needs big ideas, ideas that will really make a difference. A big idea, a dream, a vision of how life could be better, will provide you with a lot of personal meaning. If your big idea is shot down, don't be discouraged. Just pick it up and keep going.
Am I living the sixth Paradoxical Commandment?
1. Do I have a dream or big idea? If not, why not?
2. If I have a dream or big idea, has anybody ever tried to shoot it down? How did I feel?
3. If someone shot down my dream or big idea, what did I do?
4. Why would somebody try to shoot down my dream or big idea?
5. What is life like for people who try to shoot down others' dreams and ideas?