The Power of One

Personal Purpose

There they sat, alone, forgotten, almost unwanted. All its other companions had disappeared, the multi-grain rustic slice, soda bread, granary uncut, wholemeal, best of both, even the starchy made of nothingness thick white slice had been picked for the breakfast team. But for these bagels whose confidence had slumped in their plastic suit, they would no longer be on their own. They would belong to me and my wanton friends, salted butter and marmite. Reaching to pluck them from their seclusion my hand was parried aside by a feminine one seeking the same satisfaction, to remove her morning hunger. Looking across to the younger smiling face of a suited Exec her eyes apologised and pleaded at the same time. Perhaps her need was greater than mine. My Grandfather’s instruction tweaked my ears, ‘It’s better to give than to receive.’ I tried to rescind gracefully and gestured that the bagels were hers to take. Walking to the cash till with a glow of sacrificial satisfaction and a packet of pitta bread (it was all that remained), I reflected on my Grandfather’s wisdom and wondered I how I could turn pitta bread into breakfast.

That evening I spoke to a re-connected friend, “I guess I reached the tipping point. I sat in yet another board meeting and realised that creating wealth for shareholders just didn’t do it for me.”

The power of one 1

This hotshot lawyer had reached the dizzy heights of the international management team of one of the globe’s most influential TV companies. An ascent decked with impressive competition and one which would have taken years to climb. “I just think my life should add up to more than just making money, I’ve sacrificed enough of myself doing that. It’s time to invest in something more eternal.”

Our conversation turned to the subject of what that meant, I mean that’s a very noble statement but how does one achieve something of eternal value, which sounds akin to a Charlton Heston line in a biblical epic. It’s quite a high bar to set, I mean wouldn’t it be more practical to start with something a bit easier and then go on from there? His friendly chuckle indicated he’d pondered the same thing, “what I mean is that, say you could change a person’s life irreversibly for the better and the impact of their transformation would positively influence the course of those around them and their descendents...for me that’s of eternal value.”

His wife and children had jointly decided to switch their home to Chennai, India and work with International Justice Mission on behalf of those in bonded labour, sold into the sex trade or trapped in slavery. * The wealth of careers, comfortable London living, clean water, the company of friends, consistent power, frothy coffees and Greek delis would be set aside for a distinct purpose. Is it possible that the power of one can change many? As we spoke I realised he’d discovered something potent, possessing nuclear life altering properties. Some call it mission or purpose, for him it was that ‘one thing’ which his life had been leading up to, using his legal training and negotiating skills to revolutionise trapped lives. His voice carried lightness and determination and we agreed to meet in Chennai at some point. I came off the phone reflecting on my bagel sacrifice that day...perhaps I need to find my one thing.


  • There are an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 children, women and men trafficked across international borders annually.
  • Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are children.
  • The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion.
  • There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today, more than any other time in history.
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yeh, ayn rand said the question ‘what’s the meaning of life?’ isn’t quite right. it should be ‘what’s the meaning of your life?’ if she’s right, each person has to find their own answer to this.

By chris on January 05, 2012

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I know for sure the meaning isn’t in bagels!

By Urban Rajah on January 06, 2012

I agree, the phrase should be ‘what’s the meaning of your life’.
We all have our own perception of the world and live our lives based on our own sense of reality.

By B on January 26, 2012

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