Finding that beacon took quite some time, but as I searched for it, I realized I have always been concerned about the plight of the poverty stricken women and children around the world. It just dismays me to see the starving children and the abuses of women in developing countries. I have travelled in some of these countries, I watch the news, and I worry about these people, so much so that I developed a rather general goal of helping women in developing countries find their way out of poverty. However, I felt for a long time that this was a goal that was largely out of my area of influence.
Many experiences have helped me change my view, but perhaps none more powerfully than when I had the opportunity to interview a man named Steve Comrie, who is a pioneer in the satellite television industry. He and his business partner, David Reid, have both been very successful in their field. At one point, the two somehow became aligned with Afghanistan and discovered a group of freedom fighters who desperately wanted to bring honest, fair, and open television to the Afghanis.
Over time, this goal became Steve and Dan’s beacon in the fog, despite the realities they faced in dealing with a corrupt government, Taliban strongholds, and many others who were hostile to the idea of a free flow of information. As they undertook this endeavor, the two men spent many weeks and months having no idea how they would find their way through the darkness. But they had a goal in mind, and through a series of miraculous events, Steve and Dave made the decision to go to Afghanistan to play their part in helping these freedom fighters. At great personal risk, they were able to set up uncensored television programming. They even created a program called The Mask, in which Afghan women who usually have no voice in social issues can wear a mask and speak freely about what is happening in their country without fear of reprisal or death.
Was this undertaking at the very edge of Steve and Dave’s comfort zone? Indeed it was. It was also right on the fringe of their area of influence and their area of concern. But through identifying and pursuing their beacon in the fog, they have been able to expand their area of influence, and they are actually doing something about their area of concern. Their undertaking meant they had to spend considerable time zigzagging through the fog guided by their beacon, but in the process they did something remarkable for the women and the men of Afghanistan.
I contend that all the great breakthroughs that occur in the world happen when people act right on the perimeter of their area of influence and their area of concern. This is where real power and influence is born.