Leave It Better Than You Found It
If there is one thing you could change in your life to make it better, what would it be?
Perhaps, it’s your relationship, or your job, or the fact that you don’t seem to have enough time
Do you feel like there’s nothing you need to change in this life because it’s perfect the way it is?
Or do you think that things can be better if you make some tweaks to it and kind of improve on it a bit?
Complacency or leaving things the way they are sounds like a safe, easy bet.
But then, when we look at them closely, there are always room for improvement.
It’s what my grandfather used to say too often back when I was a kid.
He would say the expression “leave it better than you found it” a bunch of times. At first, I was clueless what he actually meant by that.
But growing up, it made more sense to me… And he’s right. It’s good to leave things better than you found them.
It’s called doing people a favor, which in the end is kind of like doing yourself a favor, too.
What do I mean by this?
Let me explain.
Leave It Better Than You Found It Examples
It’s pretty easy for most people to be complacent and OK with how things are.
But we all know that there are always things in our society that could use some improvement, some reform, a positive change.
And we also know that do make such change happen, it requires a certain amount of courage to challenge the norm, ingenuity to come up with a better way, and commitment to make it happen.
A couple of people quickly come to mind when I hear the expression “leave it better than you found it”. I’m sure there are more, but these are some people from history that are at the top of my head right now, and boy, did they leave a great legacy when they changed things up and introduced something that opened the eyes of humanity.
He challenged Einstein’s theory about the black hole, that it was completely black and that light can’t escape when caught inside of this hole.
Hawking thought differently and did research and questioned this theory.
He discovered that black holes are far from being entirely black. That quantum physics brings about some subtle consequences that emit “Hawking Radiation”. This breakthrough set the foundation for key questions involving physics and the understanding of how quantum physics and gravitational physics actually fit together.
In his book “Brief History of Time”, translated into several languages, he gave people an access to a comprehensive set of topics involving the universe. His work became a New York Times bestseller and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide… And it’s just one of the many books that he has written and published throughout his lifetime.
She boarded a city bus in Alabama in 1955, the time when people were judged according to their skin color. The segregation laws were set in place and violators were convicted immediately.
But Parks challenged this. She held her ground and stayed in her bus seat instead of giving it up to a white man.
This led to her conviction, but ignited the fire that African Americans have been bottling up inside of them since these laws were created. Her conviction resulted to a boycott that went on for over a year, led by Dr. Martin Luther King.
Despite the violence shown towards the blacks, and even if Parks ended up losing her job and experienced numerous forms of harassment, she remained firm and committed to her mission to abolish the entrenched and unjust racial segregation.
The day she stayed in her seat, the day she knew she wouldn’t just leave things as they are, this fateful event did not end in vain. In 1956, over a year after this incident, the Supreme Court released its decision stating the unconstitutional nature of bus segregation.
Rosa Parks did not fear the consequences of her decision and actions because she knew she was standing up for what is right. At the same time, she kept her eye in the big picture even if she faced unemployment and harassment.
All of these in the name of leaving things better than she found them.
Now, you may not Hawkings or Parks.
You CAN make a difference in your own way
You just have to challenge life better and never be afraid of sticking to your guns as long as you know you are doing the right thing.
Many years back, about 35 years ago, I became involved with lead paint inspections. And I discovered there was a major problem with the kind of equipment I worked with in that company. I found out that the housing units we were working with were contaminated with lead paint.
We made a significant dent over a 25-year period in the number of houses and housing units facing that problem.
But I didn’t just turn my back, pretend there’s no problem, and let it go.
Just because the product was going downhill, I didn’t think that there’s nothing I could do about it. I realized there’s something worth saving in that situation.
So I created a different product, a better product, something that really made a difference in the lives of those people affected by lead paint contamination.
That’s all that mattered to me.
That’s all I wanted to happen.
To leave things better than I found them.
And how did I do it?
By keeping my eyes wide open instead of shutting them close and ignore the situation.
See, there are everyday problems that require solutions. And we can make these happen.
If we allow ourselves to adopt this mentality and not just shrug things off and throw the towel.
We can always do something better. We possess that creativity spirit inside us, and we just have to let it come out to make something much better of what we’re presented with in this life.
The challenge is in taking that challenge.
You Have The Power to Change Things
Let’s just think of regular things in our life that may need to be left better than we found them.
Say, a problematic relationship, or a depressed friend, an estranged lover, a rebellious teen.
One day, we might just find ourselves with these kinds of situations, with sad and angry individuals that need our understanding, love, and compassion.
Maybe your relationship with your spouse is on the brink of dying because of a lack of communication.
Or your teen is a little challenging to deal with because of the numerous changes going on in her life.
Or your friend hasn’t been the most fun person to hang out with because of extreme sadness.
Should you just leave them, walk away, and not do something that’s in the best of your ability to make things better one way or another?
In this world where people get the habit of throwing things away once they’re broken, they tend to adopt that in relationships.
If it’s broken, if it’s not as good as it was, if they find a situation that’s not to their liking, they step out, walk away, move on.
But my advice is this - try the best that you can to leave it better than you found it.
Maybe you can make that difference in the other person’s life.
And maybe this can also be a game changer in your life… To actually make a difference.
So don’t just toss things away.
Don’t toss people away.
Don’t simply give up on tough situations, hopeless circumstances you encounter.
Make a change. Leave it better than you found it, it’s worth it!