Will This Motivational Story Change How You Think?




When you woke up this morning, how many of these things did you do: make a cup of tea or coffee, have a shower, brush your teeth, wash the dishes, and put on clean clothes. I imagine you did all of these tasks, which is why charity: water offer such a motivational story: for you, for me, for almost all of us capable of reading an article like this.

Our bodies need water, but above this, society thrives when it has to access to clean water. Businesses need it, as do households, as do just about all touch points throughout your day. It’s easy to forget how important H2o is, and even easier to forget that millions go without it.

Almost a decade ago, Scott Harrison decided enough is enough. When he set up charity: water, I doubt he could fathom the difference he’d make along the way. To say these guys provide one of the more inspirational charities around is an understatement, and if you ask me, they define what a motivational story is.

I love charity: water and their motivational story for many reasons: their videos, their mission towards water, their birthday stories, the open and transparent journey they offer, the stories they share from those they help, and their overall style and approach (it truly is something else).

I could talk about Scott and co for a long time, and write rather an epic and long post. Maybe one day I will, but today I’ll focus on two words I believe play an integral role within their motivational story. Not only do these two words help define who they are and who they serve, they’re words you can integrate into your own mission – whatever that may be.

Intrigued as to what these two words are? Good, because your own motivational story awaits.

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When I sit down to write a new novel, this single word drives me forward. I need to emphasize with the characters, the journey they’re on, and what they face along the way. I may not understand them or how they feel. I may not have gone through a particular hardship myself. But I can emphasize with them, and imagine what it’s like to walk in their shoes.

Above this, I strive to ensure the reader feels empathy throughout the story, too.

Storytelling needs empathy. In fact, I believe one of the core reasons we’re affected so much by stories is because empathy shines through during the good ones. We imagine ourselves there, living the same moments as the main character does.

We feel their pain because we imagine what we’d do… how we would feel like… what decision we’d make…

We sometimes place empathy on a pedestal, as if it’s some out of reach feeling we can’t quite grasp. Bullshit. We all have empathy. We’re able to feel it, and we’re able to project it. After all, when a natural disaster happens across the other side of the world, do you not feel? Do you not care?

When you lose yourself in a book or movie and shed a tear or two, that right there is empathy shining through!

Like I say, charity: water do a lot of wonderful things, and their motivational story goes deep indeed. But it’s the way they portray empathy that sets them apart, because it doesn’t take long for you to consider what life without water would be like.

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If you read this, I can only presume you have access to clean water. I suffer a lot of first world problems each day, but in comparison – and when I choose to reflect on the world and emphasize with others (the majority of others) – I am a lucky bastard. I sense you’re rather fortunate, too.

Imagine a world without water? Imagine waking up craving it and yearning for it. Imagine walking fifteen miles just to gather a bucket’s worth, and then walk all the way back in the heat. Imagine, that when you do, you tread on a dangerous path, because the water you drink and bathe in isn’t clean enough.

Imagine putting your kids in danger because of this.

Just imagine. Can you? Will you?

This is what charity: water do, and through the stories they share and the facts they offer, it’s hard for you to not feel and place yourself in their shoes. But lots of charities do this, yet where most guilt trip you and show nothing but pictures of dying children, charity: water offer happiness and hope.

They show you the difference you can make, and have faith in the fact they don’t need tho guilt trip you. By sharing their stories and offering the facts and portraying the journey they do, they let empathy do the rest. They don’t have to bombard you and make you feel bad. Once you imagine life in a water-less world, you’re on board. You want to help. You wish to be part of the solution.

This is why charity: water share a motivational story, because they don’t ram it down your throat. They don’t preach. They don’t have to.

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After empathy comes action. Whether you come across a charity: water campaign via the website, a friend, or on social media, it doesn’t take long for you to imagine life in the shoes of those who suffer.

You want to help and be part of it, but you’re also wary because so many charities vie for your attention. You’ve heard the stories of corruption, plus you never know where your money goes.

So often you’re motivated to feel for a story, but not motivated to take action. The thing is, charity: water take a different approach, because they invite you to get involved and take actual action, rather than sign up for some monthly subscription where you money becomes part of a giant machine.

They invite you to do one of two things:

  1. Support a campaign
  2. Create your own campaign 

They make the process fun, despite it surrounding a very serious and often bleak situation. They ask you to shave your head, get creative with your birthday, and start a book club. They want you to start a campaign, take ownership, and share it with your friends.

In a world where crowdfunding continues to grow, it makes sense to use such a model. Charity: water can only reach so many folk, but with your help, they can reach millions more. But why would you share if you didn’t have ownership and investment in the cause?

You wouldn’t! You don’t. Charities encourage you to share each day, but how often do you?

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Empathy without action doesn’t mean an awful lot. Not when you’re trying to make money or run a business or sell books. Not when you have a wrong to right, and a cause to dedicate your life to.

Empathy alone isn’t enough, but you cannot simply ask someone to take action. Not these days. You need to give them a real reason to give a shit, and more often than not, take ownership over the situation.

We (and when I say we, I mean all of us) desire to feel part of something. There’s too much choice and noise, and so we search for brands and people and causes that invite us to be part of the journey. It’s why things like Movember are so poplar, and it’s why charity: water provide one hell of a motivational story.

Sure, you can donate to charity: water like you would any other cause, but this isn’t their primary goal. They want you to start a campaign yourself, take ownership, truly invest, and spread the word because you want to spread the word. If they succeed in this arena, they succeed period!

Through empathy they entice you to take action, and by inviting you to take ownership, they give you real reason to literally take that all important step.

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So, what can you learn from all this? How can a motivational story like this one help you in your own endeavours?

Because whoever you are, and whatever you do, you can place empathy high on your to-do list. You can not only emphasize yourself (with your customers, those you can help, those who need you help), but can craft a story that makes your audience feel it, too.

But this alone isn’t enough, because you have to provide a real reason for them to take action. Don’t sell to them, invite them to take ownership and be part of the journey. Make them the hero, and make them want to be part of this.

Empathy + Action works, and in my opinion it’s why charity: water have the motivational story they have. I love it, could talk about it a great deal more, and cannot wait to see more charities and foundations take this approach. Because this isn’t about water, so much as feeling for those who are less fortunate, and giving a damn about your fellow brother and sister.

I am lucky. I sense you are, too. Many people aren’t, and this is why a motivational story like this matters. What do you think? Share your thoughts with me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER because I’d love to chat and heart about your own motivational story.


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