A Promise Not to Text

February 9, 2011
Discover how you can help prevent car accidents.

My grandson was killed several years ago but by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel. So I know the pain of suddenly losing a person you love very much. It is doubly painful to know that the accident could have been prevented.

That is why I want to share with you a video my brother sent me yesterday.  I think everyone who has ever texted (apparently it’s a real word) should absolutely watch. It is ten minutes but can save a life, maybe even yours.

The AT&T “Don’t Text While Driving” documentary below focuses on several young people who were texting while driving; it was the last thing they would ever type. The CoolestOne.com, where I first saw the video, says it should be shown in every high school. I agree. Even more, every parent should require their children to watch it.

And if you text, watch it even if you don’t “usually” text while driving. Any distraction that takes your eyes off the road has the potential to kill you or another person. Is the risk worth it to get that message typed immediately?

After you watch the video, be sure to scroll down and read the rest of the post for a text challenge.

After watching this video, I wondered what I could do, besides putting it in my blog and sending it to family and friends. Then it hit me. Start a campaign to get people who text to promise not to text while driving. I was about to start one on this post when I went back to the CoolestOne.com and discovered they had created the following pledges:

I pledge I will not text while I am driving.

I pledge I will not text while driving and will use only hands free calling if I need to speak on the phone while I am driving.

I pledge I will not text or use my phone while I am driving. If I need to use my phone, I will pull off the road to a safe location.

I wonder if the pledge might catch on more quickly if it were written in “text” language. I frankly don’t know what that would look like since I don’t text. But send me your contributions of any of the pledge statements above in the shortened words and phrases you would use if you were to type it on a cell phone.

Then send that text — when you are not driving — to everyone on your contact list. See how many of them will be willing to take the pledge with you.

I will post all contributions on this blog once a week for three weeks so more people can see it.

Since it takes two to have a text conversation, here is one more suggestion. Pledge not to engage in texting or a cell phone conversation with someone who doesn’t have a hands free phone if you know the intended recipient is behind the wheel. The other person may not want you to stop the conversation, but at least you won’t be responsible for encouraging him or her to drive distracted.

How much better to later see your friend healthy and in person than laid out on a cold slab or reduced to ashes in a jar.

Trust me. I know of what I speak.

P.S. I don’t insist that others be politically correct, but I did wonder why all of the young people who were shown in the video were white. Surely people of color also text while driving and many of them have been killed as well. Perhaps none of those families were willing to be photographed. It’s just something I tend to notice since I live in an interracial area and seeing people of all one color always strikes me as unusual. It doesn’t distract from the power of the video; I just think it would be more impactful for more people if there were teens of other races.

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Here are a some related posts from this blog, and articles from the Support4Change website:


How to Pass On Your Passion

October 8, 2010
If you need to move out of an organization you started, do you do so with joy, or will there be grief and regret?

Wednesday evening about one-hundred of us stood on the patio under sturdy tarps covering food stations contributed by several restaurants for the occasion. (It was the end of our first winter storm — one week after our record high of 113 degrees.) We were celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Wellness Community-Foothills, a non-profit cancer support program in Pasadena, California. As a co-founder, I was one of the honorees at the $75-a-person event.

Bouquet of flowers with pink ribbonAlthough I am no longer on the board or give workshops, when I was involved, I did whatever I could to support an organization that has served tens of thousands of cancer patients and their families.

After I was given a lovely bouquet and a certificate of appreciation from the mayor and our county supervisor, I needed to say a few words. I repeat them here (approximately, since I didn’t write them down) because I think you may find them helpful if you are in the beginning, middle, or end of organizing some new venture.

Thank you for this honor. When I was asked to say a few words, I wasn’t sure what to say and decided to get my inspiration after I came here and saw all of you. That’s when I realized I knew hardly anyone! When I was involved in the first fund-raising events, I knew the names and faces of most of the participants. Tonight I recognize only a small handful.

When we began this organization, I wasn’t thinking about what it would look like in twenty years. All I knew was that the community needed a place where cancer patients and their families could get comprehensive social and psychological support.

I had a passion to make that happen. Looking around at all of you, I can see that an organization only continues through the effort of new people who catch the same passion that began it — and then expand it in their own way.

So I am glad to see all of you here, even though I don’t know who you are.

Later in the evening a woman said that my comments reminded her of a speech she had heard on the stages of creating an organization. There was first the recognition of a need, a passion to make a change, a vision for how that could be achieved, the work involved in accomplishment, the need to do something else, and the grief of letting go.

She said, “I think you are in the stage of grief, seeing all these people you don’t know taking part in something that used to belong to you.”

“Good heavens, no,” I replied. “Far from it. I am absolutely thrilled that others also have a passion to make this organization successful.”

Then I told her that, “I believe one of the things that has prevented my grief in moving on is that I have other passions. For example, about thirteen years ago, I co-founded CancerOnline, a non-profit Internet program where I served as pro-bono executive director for five years. With that experience on the web, I later created LearningPlaceOnline, and then Support4Change and ChildhoodAffirmations. Along the way I wrote three books, am actively writing a fourth, and have ideas for two others.”

I continued, “So you see, if one stops an activity, for one reason or another, and there is nothing to fill the void, then I suppose grief is natural. But if you always have something to catch your interest and your passion, you don’t have to grieve. You can let go joyfully, celebrate the involvement of new people, and move on.”

I believe that one cause of grief is our ego’s attachment to what we’ve accomplished. It says, “You are the role you played in making that organization, or activity, successful. Since it was successful, so are you. That organization is you.”

Operating from the true self, however, you can create an identity that says, “You are a person who has accomplished something that makes the world a better place. You are a person who saw a need and met it. You are a person who can see another need and, using the skills you have, can meet those needs with the same passion you gave to other projects.”

Based on my experience, if I were to suggest the steps to creating a successful ongoing organization and then moving on, I think it would be this.

Notice a need that has not been met by anyone else.

Notice whether you have a passion to meet that need.

Find others who can help you accomplish it

Use the passion and skills of all of you to create the best possible solution to the need you are trying to meet.

When you have given all you can give, or when there is something else in your life that needs your focused attention, notice all the people who are still involved in the project you’ve created.

Give them your best wishes, celebrate their efforts, offer whatever advice you can, and let go, knowing they will each bring their best to this venture you helped create.

Embrace your new passion or responsibility with enthusiasm.

FOOTNOTE: Over the years The Wellness Community formed 25 separate facilities across the country. Another organization, Gilda’s Club, also created to meet the needs of cancer patients. Recently the two groups combined to create the Cancer Support Community, the largest organization of its kind. This is an example of how you don’t know what will happen when you begin something new.

So my advice for you who see a need is just to go for it. Don’t try to imagine accolades you’ll receive for your success, for you may not be successful for any of a hundred different reasons. However, your intention to create something of value for the world will become like a snowball rolling down the hill, gathering more momentum as it rolls. The shape it takes will not be entirely in your hands.

Photo credit: IndiaFloristOnline.com
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Here are a some related posts from this blog, and articles from the Support4Change website:


Ask Questions, Make a Difference

April 19, 2010
When people are concerned, curious, courageous, and caring, they can make a difference in the world by asking themselves questions.

Graphic of person thinkingToday I’m going to a friend’s house for lunch and visit. She is blind and I enjoy reading to her every day by phone and once-in-awhile seeing her in person. Since she is a colleague who has many excellent ideas, it’s fun to expand my views by talking them over with her. We both benefit from the relationship.

I didn’t have a topic when I started typing this and have a deadline for when I must leave, but a question is beginning to form:

Who helps stretch your mind?

You realize, of course, that when we don’t ask questions or when we just accept what we’re told is true, we are at the mercy of someone else’s opinions and the facts they use to support those opinions. When we don’t ask questions and probe more deeply into how the world works, and how our own lives work, we are like a leaf floating down a river at the mercy of the currents. Life changes around us and we assume there is nothing we can do about it but go along for the ride.

Yet as the theme of the Support4Change website notes, “Change is not a necessity for life. It is life.” So the most basic question you can ask is this: Are you willing to allow others to manage the changes in your life, or do you want to discover how to manage what happens in your life to the greatest extent possible?

I firmly believe that we can make a difference in the world by asking ourselves questions and expanding our thinking. Changing the world will depend in large part on people who are :

Concerned about the direction in which the world, or their life, is moving,

Curious about what they can do to change the world and their life,

Courageous enough to question their most cherished assumptions, and

Caring enough to do something about the answers they discover.

We begin to change the world and to improve our relationships when we are willing to stretch our minds. So again, I ask, who stretches your mind? Do you see that person often enough? What do you do with the insights you receive?

Happy stretching.