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Inspirational Quote

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
David Brinkley

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

As Americans we are inclined to associate with causes bigger than ourselves. This “human spirit” is most obvious in our human services sector, in organizations such as Volunteers of America, Special Olympics, and The National Urban League. But in the face of contemporary challenges we often forget that such “brand names” — multi-million dollar agencies that impact millions of lives and employ hundreds of thousands of employees and volunteers — grew from very humble beginnings.

It helps to remember that challenges are prerequisites for realizing our potential. And stories of realized potential* remind us that each generation has its own unique set of challenges to which we can and must respond.

The Human Spirit Initiative has collected here the stories of social entrepreneurs whose impact on the 20th century is still felt today. Each of these individuals started with little more than an idea. But through courage and persistence and the ability to inspire others to join the cause, their stories give legs to the words of Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It’s likely that you are here because the seed of an idea has sprouted in you or someone you know. We invite you to explore the stories we’ve collected here. We hope they help you to realize your potential, to move from ideas to action. But don’t stop there! Please use the comment section below or this contact form to share your story as well. Join our initiative to kindle the human spirit and inspire visionary and innovative leadership for the future.

Together, we can change the world!

* For key lessons on realizing full potential for yourself and your organization, click here to download Realizing Our Potential: making a difference in a cause bigger than ourselves, a feature article from the Fall 2010 issue of Leader to Leader Journal, a publication of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute and Jossey-Bass.

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