Below is a guest blog written by our friend Andrew Gottlieb from No Typical Moments. He decided to give up alcohol in order to better understand how his money could truly help in the Global Water Crisis. Take a look!
To the bewilderment of many, I recently embarked upon a personal journey to go three months without a sip of alcohol. I decided to go on this quest for clarity on my life and purpose with my business. I believe alcohol serves its purpose in certain situations; however, I started to question its subconscious impact on my life–especially when I considered its context at the bar.
The Mighty Bar Scene
The bar… where women be crazy and the drinks be flowing.
I fell into this trap for a good portion of college and my first year out of school. The bar is held on a pedestal as the answer to all our problems–where we can finally be free and independent. Most importantly, it’s where we finally have the courage to talk to the opposite sex!
I started to notice the social dynamics occurring in bars and how much negative energy truly exists there. It’s as if everybody is attempting to ‘steal’ each other’s energy in a desperate attempt to be crowned alpha male/female (and obviously ravish that individual by the end of the night). Isn’t that energy supposed to come from within instead of looking for others to ‘take’ it from? I thought to myself:
What if this negative energy and passion was redirected toward a project bigger than myself? Would this give me better clarification on what truly matters?
From there, I did rough calculations on how much money I spent over a week, month, and three-month horizon on alcohol. It came out to roughly $180.
The purpose of the project then clicked for me when I asked my friend on the volunteer board of Charity Water how far $180 would go to fight the water crisis. $180 would give nine people clean water for 20 years!
Furthermore, the economic and social impact of access to clean water has the potential to produce results in many other areas. These benefits extend to the following:
- Health- Much of the water that is collected contains germs that lead to diarrhea, dehydration, and death.
- Education- With better access to water, women and children will have more free time to attend school and receive an education. By not having to pay more money to combat health issues, families would have more money for books and school uniforms. Additionally, if a well is built near a school, it could increase school attendance.
- Poverty- Clean water means less disease, which trickles down to less money spent on medicine.
- Shorten the commute to gather water- Women spend upwards of three hours collecting water for their families. This time could be spent towards learning to read and write, earning an income, or taking care of their family. This walk is also dangerous because the women are alone and face the threat of attack.
The decision was then made to abstain from alcohol for three months and donate that $180 to fight the water crisis.
Follow your Heart, Not the Voice of the Crowd
As anybody who’s obsessed with social media, I immediately announced my intentions to not drink on Facebook and Twitter. As expected, I got a very mixed reaction to the challenge ahead.
On the one hand, I had friends who commended my efforts because they too are sick of being told that happiness can only be found at 1AM each Saturday. As if enjoying Monday mornings is a hate crime. Additionally, they liked the concept of getting rid of a bad habit by lifting up somebody in need.
At the same time, I received a completely different reaction, which drove me to the brink of caving into the demands of the oh so typical ‘frat brah’ and ‘club hoppin single lady.’ I think I have a pretty thick skin (you kinda have to when you name your company No Typical Moments), but I was ill prepared for the high school type jokes that I would be the butt of. Apparently, being a 23 year-old male and not wanting to wake up covered in vomit and pizza crumbs excludes you from ‘ice breaker’ conversations. What was also interesting was the whole concept of giving up a selfish act for a selfless cause. More on that in a moment, but first I want to address what I learned from this reaction.
I learned from this mixed response that people have a tendency to react to events in other people’s lives in a way that reflects their current perception of themselves. Ultimately then, the decisions we make can’t be based upon the approval of our peers because that reaction can be misguided. The truth must be found within ourselves to fulfill our personal legend–not the route taken or imposed upon us by others.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
â€• Mark Twain
This Wasn’t and Will Never be a Hand Out
In and of itself, giving back to others shouldn’t be misinterpreted as giving out a freebie to the lazy. It’s based upon the principle of helping somebody else in a matter of deep turbulence in his or her own life. Not everybody is blessed with being born into an upper-middle class white family. There are those out there who just need a little extra assistance to help them get by and to be assured that things will be okay. I hope that when reflecting upon your own life, you remember instances when you were in need of a helping hand and you had somebody to answer the call. To these families who don’t have access to basic necessities for survival, they have nobody to reach out to. $180 is a matter of life or death in some instances.
$90 can provide nine different families with a PackH2O water backpack and the ability to transport water in a clean and more efficient manner.
$90 donated to one family will provide them with a safe way to transport water everyday for 27 years.
Over those 27 years, the family will walk on average 29,565 miles to transport water. $90 would ensure that those miles would be walked with a backpack full of water–not a dirty jerry can on their head.
Plans for the Future
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reflecting upon my experiences and the lessons I learned during this journey. As a result, I turned to social media to voice my sentiment about my project for the world to hear. Low and behold, Scott Harrison somehow discovered my message and ‘favorited’ my tweet! He even took it a step further and responded to message!
Now, the question remains: how do I answer the call to Scott Harrison? How do I expand upon my focus group (of myself) to create a sustainable business around the idea of eliminating bad habits and giving back to a cause bigger than myself? Does the answer to eliminating bad habits lie within creating your own hero story?
How can WE realize that shifting our focus outward can empower us within.