Written by: Dez Stephens, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
As a child, did you ever throw a pebble into a pond and watch the ripples radiate from where the stone hit the surface of the water? You were probably just doing something that felt completely natural to you. You didn’t think about it much. You just did it, and the effects of your actions rippled outwards.
It doesn’t matter if you intentionally threw a rock in or accidentally knocked a rock into the water. The end result is the same. The rock will create ripples.
This is a great metaphor to describe the social impact our actions can have on others and the world as a whole. It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart and is something I do holistically through my business and initiatives.
Accidental social activism in Honduras
Social impact isn’t always an intentional act you set out to do (like setting aside 10% of your profits to support a charity). Sometimes it comes from unexpected places or from a seed someone plants in your mind. I didn’t set out to purposefully create a social impact in my work. I like to say I’m an accidental social activist.
In 2013, I was visiting Honduras and I noticed that many women didn’t have jobs outside of the home. I was talking to a dear friend about this and she ever so casually said, “Dez, you should train them to become holistic coaches.” At that moment, I realized that I could give them the foundation for a flexible career where they could become financially independent while benefiting their community.
Her idea rippled inside me as I thought of all possible ways that training even one coach could impact the community. The coaches I train could coach their neighbors who are struggling. They could coach tourists. They could coach pro-bono in their communities to make the ripple extend further. The potential impact of a one-week training, coupled with the drive and passion of the women who raised their hand and said, “Yes!” was all I needed to say, “Yes!”, too.
So, in 2015 we found 50 interested women, and we taught them to become ICF (International Coaching Federation) Accredited Holistic Coaches. We’ve since trained over 120 women and men in Honduras.
The ripples keep radiating for those 120 internationally certified holistic coaches. From those initial 50 women, one became a best-selling author and started running marathons. One started a nonprofit for women. Another one started a different nonprofit in 2017 that I co-founded with her and her family. Each one is impacting their local communities in so many inspirational ways! It all started with one seed and a deep-rooted belief that by changing one life, you can change many!
What’s your impact on the world?
We’re all making a social impact, whether intended or not. You see, social impact looks at the net effect of our actions on other people and the community as a whole. Everything you say and do has an effect on those around you and has the potential to be a force for good. The key is that it comes from a genuine desire to do good, regardless of the potential for recognition or accolades.
There are three ways you can make a social impact:
Look for opportunities to make change.
Accept and act on a seed you’ve been given.
Wait to see what fate puts in your path and act.
It doesn’t matter if you purposely act to have a social impact or it just happens based on someone you meet or circumstances in your life. The point is that your social impact, no matter how big or small, will have ripple effects.
If you struggle to see how you’re making a social impact, then here are some examples that you may relate to or that inspire you:
Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through (in one example of this, drivers in a Dairy Queen in Canada “paid it forward” for 900 straight cars through the day).
Start or volunteer for a non-profit related to a cause you believe in.
Teach others a craft or skill so they can thrive and go on to teach others.
Hold open the door for the person behind you.
Support a business that’s doing good things for your community by purchasing from them or spreading awareness that they exist.
Stand up for someone being bullied.
Ask others what they need and step up to meet them.
You may not always see the impact you make, but it’s there, rippling through time and changing the lives of others.
What ripples will you create?
So today I ask you, what kind of ripples do you want to make in the world’s pond? Even the seemingly “little” things can make a significant impact and change the lives of others.
For the women in Honduras who are now trained Holistic Life Coaches, they provide a better life for their families and help other families do the same so that their whole community thrives.
For the drivers in that Dairy Queen drive-through, they paid it forward to the next person in line, 900 times. It may have also inspired them to pay it forward in other ways throughout their day.
For all those I train and certify to become Holistic Coaches, they are supporting hundreds of thousands of people to live happier lives and step into their true potential around the world.
In his presidential inauguration speech in January 2021, President Biden said, “There’s no accounting for what fate will deal you.” Fate dealt me the right combination of people, experience, and seeds of inspiration at the right time. This opened the door for me to directly impact the over 500 holistic coaches in over 10 countries I’ve trained through Radiant Coaches Academy. Everything flowed with relative ease, and now these coaches are creating their own ripples in their communities.
No matter what fate sends your way, you have the choice to make a positive social impact in your personal life or your business. If you have a choice, then choose to create ripples in ponds that are near and dear to your heart.
Dez Stephens, Executive Contributor, Brainz Magazine
Dez Stephens is the Founder and CEO of Radiant Coaches Academy, a social enterprise and prominent international coach training school that certifies individuals to create vibrant, professional, private practices as holistic life coaches, wellness coaches, and business coaches. She is a certified + credentialed coach, master trainer, and marketing strategist. Dez is a social justice entrepreneur, peoples advocate, and planetary activist. She is a co-executive producer of the documentary film "End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock," highlighting Native women fighting to keep clean water on their Native lands in North Dakota and beyond. She is passionate and sincere in helping people live more meaningful lives as a dedicated global humanitarian and social entrepreneur.