What are you responsible for? Some of us define our responsibilities narrowly (e.g. health, family, finances), while others see a much bigger picture.
How different would the world be if Mother Teresa had felt that the leper in the street was not her responsibility, or if Martin Luther King had decided to stay a local preacher; if Warren Buffett went out and got a "real job," or Oprah Winfrey retired once she had become one of the richest women alive?
Leaders who inspire us take on causes that are rarely their "responsibility," as most would define the term. They see themselves as part of a complex web of relationships—and their concern for the well-being of the whole drives their commitments and actions.
Network marketing leaders understand and teach this principle of interconnectedness and the ensuing need for cooperation. Over the past year, Networking Times has made it its mission to feature master networkers who are building teams across nations and continents where people historically have not had the same economic opportunity as we have here in the United States.
Yet the world has changed. For us, one of the highlights of this year was a company convention we attended in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The event gathered over 9,000 distributors from sixty different countries around the theme, We Are One. Interestingly, Chris and I were two of only a handful of Americans present. Most of the attendees came from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with average monthly incomes varying from $50 a month (Ethiopia) to $7,500 a month (United Arab Emirates).
Somehow all these teams from vastly different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds are doing business together in a world than can no longer be thought of as being divided into "industrialized" and "developing" nations.
Hans Rosling, a Swedish researcher and professor of global health, gave a compelling TED talk on this subject, dispelling outdated beliefs about the so-called Third World. Recent statistics show that what we used to consider developing countries are on the same trajectory toward health and prosperity as the Western world, with many of them moving twice as fast as the West did.
Forward-thinking scientists such as Dr. Bruce Lipton compare our planet with its six billion people to the human body and its trillions of cells. A liver cell needs healthy kidney cells and skin cells in order to function optimally, for every cell plays a unique and vital role in creating the body's overall health.
Similarly, prosperity has to include everyone in order to be sustainable, for we are related and connected, like ecosystems and weather patterns. While it may take another generation of politicians and business leaders to fully embrace this reality, we can all make our contribution by letting go of old mindsets of us vs. them.
Speaking of responsibility, Buckminster Fuller said, "Humans have always unknowingly affected all Universe by every act and thought they articulate or even consider."
JOSEPHINE GROSS, Ph.D. is cofounder and editor of Networking Times.