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Published:August 1st, 2008 14:32 EST

Are You Going to Leave the World Better than You Found It?

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

When my kids were young, we used to be involved in the YMCA Indian Guide and Indian Princess Program. We learned that we were to "leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but memories" from the campgrounds that we visited. Our children were very young and this was a very simple way of sharing an important message with them so that they could learn to be respectful of the natural surroundings that this wonderful program allowed the fathers and the children to participate in together.

Now that my children are in middle school, high school and college, I understand this little message in a different way.

I belong to a health club where I workout several times a week. It`s not the most expensive health club in Los Angeles, but it`s a nice club. Towel service, janitorial service, nice clean locker rooms, clean workout space. It`s a real fine place, I`ve got a lot of good friends there and I really like going to the club.

Most of the people at the club are pretty respectful of the environment. They clean up after themselves. They put their things in lockers. They leave the environment tidy for other members of the club to be able to enjoy the space.

But there are a few members of the club who clearly didn`t learn anything about picking up after themselves when they were children. They leave their towels wherever they decide that they are done with them. They leave the bathroom a mess. They leave their papers and hangers that they`ve discarded in the lockers and in other places.

One guy even goes as far as putting his shirt and towel over the wood paneling in the dry sauna so that it`s nice and warm when he`s ready to wear it. It offends all the other members of the club that he leaves his things spread out all over the dry sauna because it affects the area that the rest of us pay to share. One day I mentioned it to him and he reacted badly. He has not talked to me again since.

How can we get such people to be better citizens?

Last year one of my friends hosted a cigar dinner in the backyard of his beautiful home. I spoke to him the other day and asked if he was going to host another dinner this year. He was sitting on the fence because last year he said he spent weeks picking up cigar butts, ashes, and garbage that our very good friends left all over his backyard. I felt embarrassed as one of the guests at his party that other people behaved this way. He`s sitting on the fence about having another party because some people ruined the environment.

Let`s not let people ruin our environment. Let`s set an example, let`s be role models and let`s leave the world just a little bit better than we find it.

Sharing isn`t just something that stops after you finish kindergarten. Sharing goes on for the rest of our lives and if we want to have a nice civil world that we share together. We need to learn how to clean up after ourselves. Not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. We have to make it our goal to leave our environment a little better than we find it.

Our businesses need to make the world a little better too. At the club that means picking up our dirty towels and putting them in the place where dirty towels goes. In the bathroom it means wiping down the sink if you`ve splashed a lot of water all over the place. In public places it means picking up your litter rather than leaving it for someone else.

Small things make big differences and these aren`t lessons that are just appropriate for kindergarten children. These are lessons that adults need to put in place because if we do so, it will make a big difference in the way that we get along together.

The world is complicated enough and our relationships generally speaking are already strained. We must work hard to repair these situations and one of the most important things that we can do is clean up after ourselves and make it our goal to leave the place a little better than we found it.

About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit  or  Also, be sure to check out our newest project: a blog to organize the blogs that cover entrepreneurship - And finally, for film makers:  - our newest project.