The Blog.

What’s in your hand?

18 Aug 2014 | Being Human

I heard a great story recently, of a Ugandan villager who was asked this question. The only thing he owned was a piece of swamp land where mosquitos bred. His land was responsible for the soaring Malaria rates in the village. Not only did he feel he had nothing of value, but what he did have was killing his people.

But instead of doing nothing with it, he was inspired to dig. For weeks he dug, until finally he hit water. Out of his swamp land, he dug two giant ponds, which became full of fish. The fish fed his family, his village and still there were more, so he took them to market, made an income which he invested back into the village, in building and education.

And the icing on the cake: the fish fed on mosquito larvae. So the malaria rates dropped too. What once brought death, now brings life.

I love this story on so many levels.

It is a story of faith, a refusal to settle for hopelessness. A story of recreation, the genius that takes something worse than worthless and turns it into a thing of beauty. And a story of relentless action, not waiting for things to be better, not knowing how it’s all going to pan out, but taking action anyway.

Another story I love is the story of Rubies in the Rubble – a social enterprise that started with a frustration over food waste, a passion for the vulnerable and an old family chutney recipe:

Brilliant things start in the ordinary.

We all have something in our hands. We can choose to discount it, dismiss it, bury it and wait to be given a better hand.

Or we can start using what we have, right here, right now – and see where that takes us.

What’s in your hand? What are you going to do with it today?


  1. amanda_alexander

    What fantastic stories. We do what we can with the resources we have.. and often it’s just a case of thinking more creatively about those resources. Thank you Grace. Another gem from you.. or should I say ruby? 🙂

    • Grace Marshall

      Lol thanks Amanda! Absolutely – it’s amazing how many opportunities open up when we refuse to believe that what we have is useless, and start thinking creatively.

  2. naomirichards

    Gosh. I think often when we recognise what is in our hands we are too scared to do anything about it – to take the risk into the unknown. I agree we all have something in our hands – its knowing what it is then taking that leap of faith.

    • Grace Marshall

      Good point Naomi. Sometimes knowing scares us more than the unknown!

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About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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