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A wee Fair Trade challenge

It seems like this is the time of year for challenges, be they big or small. That all around there are people who fit within the 43% of those recently surveyed by someone somewhere who would like to be more adventurous in 2016. Those who are seeking to push themselves harder, higher, farther, faster and be more, be better, be bigger, be thinner…choose your own tag line. Often this is for charity, to raise funds and awareness of those whose main challenge is simply getting through the day alive or finding the next meal. I was humbled listening to Eddie Izzard on the radio this week – he is attempting to run 27 marathons in 27 days in the South African heat, to acknowledge the 27 years Nelson Mandela spent in prison, and raise money for Sport Relief. Astonishing. Puts my own teensy challenges into piddling perspective.

Now of course we are not all in a position to attempt challenges on that scale, nor would it be appropriate. Each of us is unique, and one man’s challenge is another man’s walk in the park. Or something.

But if we are honest with ourselves, what causes us to hide behind our comfort, security, fears and avoid or run from challenge? Sometimes we choose to stay within our own little trench, to continue with our own familiar and safe role – that which others have come to expect of us or that we expect of ourselves – because it is easier and less scary than sticking our heads above the parapet to see what else could be out there. What difference could I make, we tell ourselves. I’ll never change. This is as good as it is going to get.

Really? Is that what you believe in your core, deep down inside where all the darkness and gremlins are?

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

But there is something to be said for stretching ourselves further, and seeking to do something for the greater good that expands our understanding of our position in this world. Mere me, small fry in 6 billion people, we can think. What can I do that will make a difference?

Why would I bother? Let me pose another question:

What is it about human nature that prompts us to seek out challenge?

I was talking with friends recently about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (a bit random I know….it was one of those regular put-the-world-to-rights conversations), with distant memories of first year college psychology lectures. Had to look up the triangle to remind myself, but there it was. Our highest need, as cited by Abraham Maslow, is for self-actualisation:

realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences

Strikes me that challenging ourselves, especially where there is a greater good as well as personal gain, ticks many of these boxes. Interestingly, Maslow extended his hierarchy to include transcendence needs: helping others to achieve self-actualisation.

This is Fair Trade Fortnight. Seems like a great opportunity to challenge ourselves to buy more Fair Trade goods – try one regular switch – to ensure not only a fairer deal for farmers, but also to encourage them in their own quest for achieving personal potential by supporting their work and communities.

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

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