Today is a special day: Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus is visiting the KaosPilots.
He sits quietly at the front of the room under the banner with the playful KaosPilots logo and invites questions from the students. He's so down-to-earth, honest, matter-of-fact, and authentic that it takes only a few awkward opening questions from the slightly awed students before they forget that the man dressed in his signature Bangladeshi vest is the founder of the Grameen Bank and a genuine Nobel laureate. Yunus goes around the circle inviting each student to ask a question. Finally, one student asks the question that many have been thinking.
"There's so many things that concern me, so many problems that need working on," she says. "I don't know where to start. Global warming, poverty, AIDS. Where do you think I should start?"
It's the question of a generation that genuinely wants to change the world. But in a world that needs so much changing, the biggest problem is getting started.
Yunus' answer is simple, direct, and practical.
"Start with whatever is right in front of you," he advises. "Start with whatever is within your reach. That's how I got started. With one woman who needed a little bit of money to get out from underneath a loan shark."
Muhammad Yunus didn't set out from home one morning with the goal of ending poverty in Bangladesh or raising tens of millions of people around the world out of poverty. He wasn't thinking about starting a bank or a social movement. He certainly wasn't game-planning how to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He saw a woman in a village who needed help and, as he told the students in Stockholm, "I could not not help her."
Start small. Do what you can with something you care about so deeply that you simply can't not do it. Stay focused, close to the ground, rooted in everyday reality. Trust your instincts and your eyes: do wat needs doing any way you can, whether the experts agree or not. Put practice ahead of theory and results ahead of conventional wisdom. If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn't work, change what you're doing until you find something that does work.
Start small, start with whatever is close at hand, start with something you care deeply about. But as Muhammad Yunus told the KaosPilots, start.