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How a tennis star made me feel ok about my occasional use of zip-lock baggies.

September 25, 2009

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

I’m sure Arthur Ashe had no idea that his statement of simple positivism would reach so far into the future, into the sustainability movement, and into the minds of so many frustrated change-makers. I’m sure Mr. Ashe just meant that when the chips are down, try your best. right? But that’s the thing about the power of words….once they are out there, they grow and bloom and expand and wiggle their way into our consciousness. They can turn into something so much more powerful than we ever imagined.

Start where you are.

You know those moments, when you are standing at the grocery store, and you realize that you need something else, but you have to go to the other side of the store to get it? Somewhere right after realizing you need that eggplant, just before kicking yourself for not remembering it when you were over there to begin with, is that brief moment when you take stock of where you are right then and how to get to where you need to go. It sounds simple enough, but when was the last time you really thought about where your business is, and how you can get to where you need to go?

Use what you have.

So, you’re back at the grocery store, wracking your brain, trying to remember if you have fish in the freezer or not. You finally realize that you really won’t know for sure until you get home. So, you take stock of what’s in your cart that you could magically turn into dinner (because you really just want to go home and eat, and you are tired of shopping for more stuff, and you had a long day, and you would probably be perfectly happy eating popcorn and leftover rice anyway). Then it hits you….stir-fry, voila! I don’t need fish, I have peas and carrots and broccoli and soy sauce!

Think about it. Take stock. You probably have more in your cart than you realize.  That old can of tomato paste could be tomorrow’s brilliant spaghetti sauce. Use what you have. You probably have more than you realize.

Do what you can.

Remember, doing what you can doesn’t mean the same thing as doing what you are capable of.  Just because you are able to do something doesn’t mean it is a good idea for you. Especially if that thing will preclude your ability to do more/better later. Doing what you can means being comfortable with saying no, so that you always have the time and energy to do the things that light you up and make you the brilliant leader that you are!

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