Can I Really Make a Difference?
As much as we want to enact positive change in the world and make a difference, social entrepreneurs often overestimate their capabilities and responsibilities.
Social entrepreneurs are by default, very optimistic and hopeful for the future. But this doesn’t mean they are miracle workers.
In order for someone to start making positive life choices for themselves, they need to be ready for a change.
Who is Responsible for Making a Change?
At the start of my journey with 4Lunch, I dedicated a lot of time and effort to people that weren’t ready or didn’t want help.
It wasn’t the right moment in their journey. At the time, I felt that I should have done more.
When someone quits, relapses or doesn’t show up, I feel a sense of personal responsibility. Was there anything I could have done to stop that from happening? Or was it beyond my control?
When I first started 4Lunch, I thought my job would primarily involve cooking and teaching. But I found myself having to rise up to the challenge of being simultaneously a caterer, social worker, fundraiser, mentor, and accountant. This is the life of a social entrepreneur.
A Worthwhile Use of Time
If you take on too much responsibility for moving people on from their current situation to somewhere better, it can be difficult for them to take responsibility for the change themselves.
There is a delicate art to learning how to approach working with certain people. I’ve learned that you can’t deliver the same course in the same way, because each person and each group can be so different. No matter how well you plan, success depends on how people feel on the day.
Despite the difficulties and hard truths I’ve had to accept, I still sincerely believe that given the right opportunities and support, everyone is capable of making a positive change in their life.
There are some fundamental questions to ask as I continue with 4Lunch:
- Who is it exactly that I want to work with? Who do I not want to work with?
- Are my interventions going to help? Or are my efforts ultimately futile?
- Where does responsibility for change and action lie?
- What are the limits to my duties when working with individuals who are simply are not receptive to help at this time?
How to Make a Difference
It’s always good to remind yourself of the positive comments that emerge through doing these projects. Sometimes you need a reminder that this work is meaningful and worth the effort.
A few of my favourite comments from 4Lunch students:
“I try more things, I can now experiment with food”
“I have gained more knowledge about cooking from scratch”
“I am more confident with food”
“I can make healthier choices when cooking food for my family”
“I’ve enjoyed connecting with others instead of being alone”
“I have something to look forward to every month”
“It keeps me busy and makes me feel more productive”
“I feel like I’m doing something useful”
“I have new knowledge in cooking techniques”
“You have helped me become more professional, gain work experience, improved confidence and business skills”
“I now have more motivation to set up my own business doing something that I enjoy”
“I have increased ambitions for the future and have a more professional focus in my life”
“By far the best decision I made this semester. Every student needs to come on a course like this”
Our learners come from all walks of life, but it’s a shared interest in food which has brought everyone together. I’ve always been a bit skeptical about how much benefit someone can get from coming to one of our classes for a couple of hours, or even a series of classes. However short the interaction, we are always trying to create a memorable, relaxed and fun experience for our learners. And we hope to continue to work with more people in the following years to come!