We often hear about the "law of unintended consequences," almost universally portrayed as something quite negative. I'd like to share a personal story where planned, intended consequences came to be in an awesomely positive way! This is a message I received only a few weeks ago, seven months after leaving Okinawa where I was very active in conducting Dive Against Debris events:
"Hey, you probably don't remember me well, but I remember you. I was just listening to a podcast and the subject was about people who inspire others without knowing they do it. I was moved and I realized that you did this to me. I was the guy bothering you about running my own reef cleanup at the North Sea Wall. You many not remember, but you told me that doing this was easy, that most of the volunteers want to do a good but just need to be organized and led. I went on to make Okinawa Beach Clean Up, and so far we have had 8 events, 170 volunteers and 289 bags of trash off the beach to date. We are still running strong and I am just getting started. I want to thank you for inspiring me that day and I don't care if you don't remember. That's okay, because I won't forget. I want you to know about the change you caused and I appreciate you for the leadership, whether you meant to or not. Stay safe with your next adventure, and thanks for helping start mine."
I meant it. I meant entirely to lead by example and challenge the community to do more, to do something. And it's not hard. We never know how the actions we take today will shape the environment of tomorrow. And it's always wonderful to get such positive feedback. It's true: most people want to do the right thing. What they need is someone to take the lead, organize the event, advertise, provide some supplies, and take care of the debris.... I am so happy that Michael Cappola and I crossed paths. And I'm even happier for the oceans surrounding Okinawa that they now have a new proactive advocate, the making of which I had some small part.
We often never know the impact we will have, or the people we will touch. For that reason, act with purpose, lead by example, and carry on your life with the goal of positive intended consequences. People are watching, they are listening, and you can be a much larger active part of the solution, rather than a passive part of the problem, than you ever might have imagined.
Be sure to check out Okinawa Beach Clean Up at www.facebook.com/ProtectOki/. Their current tally of debris removed is on the order of 600+ bags, and "around 10,000 pounds". Wow. Just wow.