If you are involved in any volunteer or charitable organization, I’ll bet you ended up there because you took, ‘The Extra Step’.

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This concept was brought to my attention by my good friend and Rotary/non-profit partner- Rabendra Raj Pandey or ‘RR’. RR observed that when you take ‘The Extra Step’, going out of your way to do something different, something extra that you wouldn’t have ordinarily done, that is when the ‘magic’ happens.

What is so magical about this? Think about it- if you hadn’t taken that step, would you have joined Rotary or another service organization? Would you have met your spouse? Would you have coached your kids’ baseball team?

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You can go about your life in the usual way doing usual things and have a usual life. BUT, if you take that extra step, who knows what might happen? It could be something extraordinary, something you would never have imagined. Granted, it might not go anywhere in particular, but I will guarantee that your life will be changed, if only in a minor way as you have added a new experience or interaction to your life’s portfolio! ‘The Extra Step’ could also take you in an entirely new direction with new experiences, places and friends you could never have imagined.

I’ve had this happen to me time and time again in the course of my Rotary and non-profit travels in Nepal. All of my work in Nepal hinged on a single phone call I made back in 1997 to volunteer as a photographer!

Here’s a recent example of a very chance meeting where both RR and I took ‘the extra step’:

We were all visiting the scenic Nepali city of Pokhara, starting point for many of the Annapurna treks, though we were there to visit a center for children with cerebral palsy where we provide support. RR and his wife Chandra had gone up to a spectacular viewpoint called, Sarangkot. At the bottom of the steps to the viewpoint, RR noticed a signboard in front of a newly built building. An American man named Daniel who owned the building noticed him reading the sign and invited him in to tour his school/training center. RR stepped in through the gate and was amazed at what this man had been building. Daniel was totally unique and to say he was thinking ‘out of the box’ was an understatement. He had built so many interesting and unusual qualities into his building, with many enhancements for people with disabilities and particularly for those with blindness. A couple hours later, during lunch, RR told me about this experience and he suggested that we go back to chat further with Daniel. His intuition was telling him that this might be an important opportunity. At first, I was hesitant to agree. We had a group of 14 people with us in Pokhara, many with disabilities and I was feeling a little tired. However, the thought also occurred to me that I shouldn’t pass up this opportunity.

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RR drove us back up to Daniel’s recently finished building. Nirmala and Sita Gyawali accompanied us on this journey. Both are women with blindness. Daniel greeted us at the gate and he was excited to meet Nirmala and Sita. Just the day before he had blindfolded himself and walked through all four floors of his building to experience its accessibility for the visually-impaired. He had built it to be able to be toured top to bottom (or bottom to top) without having to turn around or be stopped once! He envisions his building as a training center with flexible rooms to allow for different trainings or events to be held depending on the need. He hopes people from around the world will come to share their expertise in various areas of study. As he was showing us around, we were all thinking of potential areas of partnership with Daniel and our own projects helping people with disabilities. Of particular interest to Sita and Nirmala was the short ‘dragon walk’ that Daniel had created out of bricks and stones (see photo). This was a very tactile experience and the top layer of bricks could be filled with various items to enhance the sensory experience: i.e. small flat stones, dried wheat, etc. Nirmala and Sita walked the ‘dragon walk’ and were delighted with the experience. Daniel is also installing an out door movie screen for trainings or movie-nights and so many other unique additions!

Well, we had a fascinating tour and as we ‘tied-up’ our visit over a cup of tea, I suggested that there are no chance meetings and that we should try to continue our new friendship and collaboration. I continued by proposing that we have a knowledge-exchange whereby Daniel could visit our new TRIFC/NADF office and Braille Library in Kathmandu. He could suggest sensory, tactile enhancements to make visiting our office and library much more fun and experiential for our guests, whether they were visually-impaired or not. In return, Nirmala and Sita could make a return visit to Pokhara to give Daniel more insight into the accessibility of his new building and make suggestions on accessibility for people with disabilities.

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Long-story short: We are going to be meeting with Daniel at our offices/library next week to begin our collaboration together. Where will this seemly chance meeting go and what kind of impact will it have? Of course we don’t know…yet. What I do know is that our lives have now taken a small turn in an unexpected direction. That ‘opportunity’ would not have happened if RR hadn’t taken ‘the extra step’.

Think about it…what ‘extra steps’ have you taken in your life and how has it impacted your life and the lives of others. If you consciously keep a lookout for these opportunities, how might it continue to shape your life?

Taking the ‘extra step’ by writing this article

 

– Rob Rose