A watercolor of Earth.

What Do 4 Orphans and Bill Gates Have in Common?

They want to save the world.

The world is in trouble. It always is. Someone or something wants to ruin your good time. Wants to take away your lunch. But you won’t let that happen. That’s your lunch. And if they’re so intent on taking something from you, you’ll be happy to give them a bite of your knuckle-sandwich.

Yes, the world is in trouble. And it’s up to you to save it.

Because if not you, then who? After all, you are the hero of the story. Without you, evil would rule. Babies would cry. Ice cream would melt. But being the hero isn’t always easy. Through the very nature of the hero’s journey, you must face obstacles in order to succeed. Doubt and uncertainty are required, despite your confidence. It’s the only way.

But, when you stand atop the mountain, trophy in hand, wrongdoers vanquished, it will all be worth it.

 

Undercover Espionage

In The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, four strangers are thrust into unknown territory. Each possessing a different strength, the four strangers, orphans, come to be known as The Mysterious Benedict Society. Their mission: to save the world from sure destruction. Or, if not sure destruction, certainly bad things.

It’s not long before The Society enters enemy terrain. Undercover, they use their unique skills to gain information. Information they hope can make a difference. But it seems they’re too late. The world is already doomed. What are they to do? Leave? Escape with their lives? Or stay? Stay because they feel it’s the right thing to do, even though they’re scared?

What do you think they choose?

 

Oh, you shouldn’t have.

In How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates explains the current situation the world is in. The planet is getting warmer and if left unchecked, it will lead to certain disaster. Not in a kids book everything will work out kind of way, but in a very real threat kind of way.

For a moment, remove the stigma of climate change from your mind. Push aside whatever feelings you have towards Gates, his projects, or anything related to the environment. Instead, take a step back and look at what he’s done with this book. Surely he knew it would receive pushback. Surely he knew it would receive criticism.

And yet, he put it out there anyway. Why? Well, after reading it, it seems to me like he wrote it because he felt he must. Because he felt it was the right thing to do. The world is in trouble and he took it upon himself to warn us.

 

Rockefeller at the Links

Gates didn’t have to write that book. The Mysterious Benedict Society didn’t need to accept their mission. Yet, both did.

The Society faced one perilous situation after another. They also faced uncertainty, doubt, and fear. They were unsure if what they were doing was going to make a difference. And, more importantly, if their lives were in jeopardy.

I can’t speak for Gates, but I think it fair to assume he put himself out there. Consider Rockefeller for instance. In his later years, Rockefeller took it easy. He handed his foundation off to others and spent his days flirting with ladies and playing golf (seriously). Presumably, then, Gates could do the same (especially post-divorce). He didn’t need to write that book. In fact, he didn’t need to do anything. But he put it out there anyway. Why? Because, I believe, he felt it was the right thing to do.

 

Do what is right, whatever you deem right to be.

You need to be the hero of your story. Not the sidekick. Not the extra in the background. The hero. And being the hero, you are faced with tough choices. In those moments, you must do what you feel is right. Knowing full-well what consequences may result. More than likely, the moments will be small. They will be defining though.

A few days ago, a friend and I embarked on a hike. We were making good time and decided to extend it. To take a slightly more challenging route.

Well, what initially was supposed to be a three-hour walk turned into a six-hour slog. At one point we were faced with a choice. It was around the hour-five mark. The dirt trail was to connect with a street. A street with cars.

We could hit that street and keep walking. In which case, we had about an hour to still go. Or, we could get an Uber. Instead of an hour, we’d be back in seven minutes. It would only cost a few bucks. We barely even considered it. We weren’t quitting. No, no. We would finish the hike. And so we did. *Ironically, the cost of emissions didn’t factor into our calculations. Sorry, Bill.

 

Remember to Be the Hero

In that moment we did what we felt was right. Not just in terms of the hero’s journey but in terms of the narrative we’ve built for ourselves. We don’t quit. We finish what we start. And we embrace a challenge. We could have faltered, but we didn’t. We pushed ahead anyway. Even though our legs were tired.

Gates published his book, even though he didn’t need to. The Society fought against evil, even though the odds were stacked against them. As the hero of your story, you will face uncertainty. You will face more lows than you can count. And it’s in those moments that you are tested. Give up? Or do what you feel is right?

This article has no other message. I have no list of takeaways to offer.

Instead, use this as a reminder. When you face uncertainty, think back to Gates. Gates, who put himself out there when he really didn’t have to. Think of The Mysterious Benedict Society. The group of orphans who risked their lives as mere children. And if you’d like, think of my friend and me not calling that Uber.

Remember to do what you feel is right. Even when it’s so much easier not to.