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Can't Not Do: The Compelling Social Drive that Changes Our World

Can't Not Do: The Compelling Social Drive that Changes Our World

Paul Shoemaker

ISBN: 978-1-119-13159-5

Aug 2015

224 pages

In Stock



With so many social challenges facing our world, trying to effect change feels daunting. The problems are complex, the politics murky, and the players innumerable. Yet, every day there are regular heroes making a significant impact on our most intractable social issues.

“Can’t Not Do” is a catchphrase for the urge that captures the heart of effective social change agents—explaining, in their own words, their passion and drive: “I can’t not do this.” “It’s not that I can do this, it’s that I can’t not.” “I could not imagine not doing something about this issue.” The surprising truth from the trenches is: we already have numerous proven solutions for our many social challenges; what our world needs most, and what most changes our children’s future, are more people prepared and committed to act on their social impulses for the long haul. Innovation helps. Money helps, too. But greater numbers of committed people help the most.

If you feel an internal, persistent call to do more for the world, Can’t Not Do will help you to bridge the gap between “wanting to do” and “doing”—to access the drive of an effective change agent, to break through self-imposed barriers, to learn key principles for success, and to start seeing yourself acting as a change agent.

There is no “secret sauce” someone is born with and no special club needed to be successful at social change. Rather, successful change agents share some fundamental orientations to the world and to their committed cause and, over time, learn certain lessons that help them become more effective. These lessons are reflected in Can’t Not Do in seven seemingly simple questions that provide guideposts and unlock the reader’s potential to make a difference for a social cause they care about.

This isn’t a self-help book. It’s an inspiring narrative intertwined with a “street-readiness” dialogue, between the author and you, between you and your inner aspirations. These are authentic success stories, vital questions, and unconventional answers that can guide and inspire you to realize your greatest potential.

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Prologue: The Power of Can’t Not Do xi

Introduction: Why Our Social Drives Matter More Now—Multipliers 1


Chapter 1 David Risher, the Lost Key, and Eradicating Illiteracy: Are You a Determined Optimist? 15

What’s the Point? 19

Haven’t Had That “Aha” Moment? 23

This Work Does Not Have to Be an Epic Endeavor 27

So What’s Mine? 29

Optimism + Determination 31

= Grit 34

Chapter 2 Lisa Chin Is Not Doing This to Be Happy: Who Are You at Your Core? 37

What’s the Point? 40

A Cause Connected to Your Core for Someone Else 42

The Right Time and Place 45

Putting Optimism to Work: 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 10 49

Chapter 3 Eleuthera Lisch, Stepping Out from Behind the Fourth Wall: Are You Willing to Go to Hard Places? 53

What’s the Point? 56

Some Hard Places Aren’t Places 59

What If You Have to Leave a Hard Place? 62

Failure Never Feels Good to Anyone, Including Me 64

Finding Meaning in a Hard Place 66


Chapter 4 Jeff Tollefson, Losing It All and Becoming Richer: Are You Ready to Be Humble and Humbled? 71

What’s the Point? 75

Power (and Humility?) in Philanthropy 77

Humility Has Power 81

Your Mindset 84

Level 5 Leaders and Humility 85

My Own Lesson in Humility 86

Even the Great Are Humbled 88

Chapter 5 Lori, I Got Married a Little Too Early to the Right Woman: Can You Actively Listen? 91

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood 91

What’s the Point? 93

Levels of Listening, Where Are You? 96

You Hear Interesting Things When You Listen 97

Chapter 6 Suzi Levine, Learning When Not to Raise Her Hand: Do You Believe 1 + 1 = 3? 103

What’s the Point? 106

1 + 1 = 3 with Connectors 108

Learning to Connect 109

Pacing the Floor Like an Expectant Father 111

Director or Connector? 114


Chapter 7 Heidi Breeze-Harris, a Sick Pregnant Lady with an Idea: What Is Your Can’t Not Do? 119

What’s the Point? 124

A Different Kind of Career Dedicated to “Can’t Not Do” 125

Can’t Not Do for Others 126

Can’t Not Do Takes Time, A Long Time 129

What Is It in Your Life That You Can’t Not Do? 130

Chapter 8 Why Your Social Drives Matter More Now: The Equation 133

The Equation 135

What’s Possible 137

Conclusion Surrendering to the Intention 141

A Meaningful versus a Happy Life 142

Start the Journey 146

My Family, Where It All Starts . . . and Ends 146


Appendix 1 20 Questions for a Personal Checklist: Finding Your Focus 151

Appendix 2 20 Suggestions for a Personal Checklist: How You Do This Work Well 157

Appendix 3 Which Stories Fit You Best? 161

Appendix 4 Additional Resources for Getting Started: SVP Stuff, Books, Websites, and Blogs 163

Appendix 5 Chapter-by-Chapter Summary 167

Notes 175

About the Author 181

Acknowledgments 183

Index 187