“Or is there?”

A powerful question around change and our ability to affect change. 

This simple question – from my Uncle Lurie was to be a catalyst for change. 

This is an excerpt from my book What’s Your Catalyst: The Power of Managed Change where I recount my life-changing work trip to Africa and the impact of those three words. 

As I sat writing in a Cameroonian hotel room late one night, my tone was different. I wrote with a heavy heart. I described the toxic surroundings that confronted me. I cried as I chronicled the week’s revelations: naked children lugging buckets of disease-infested water, the pregnant house mother who would soon be giving birth in squalid conditions, the poor technician who had no electricity or running water, and the young girls being forced to sell their bodies (even some in the lobby of the hotel I was in at the time). I closed one of my emails with a desperate plea that was disguised as a confession: “There’s nothing I can do,” I told them.

Then I hit send.

Moments later, I received a response from my Uncle Lurie. “Or is there?” he asked simply.

His “Or is there?” response challenged my thinking and set off a chain of life-changing events. Totally impacted by my experiences in West Africa, I sent another email and expressed how I wanted to make a difference and a bigger impact.

I would hold myself accountable for the purpose and passion for life that I longed for. In my follow-up email to my family and friends, I wrote “Heavy Heart Clothes Drive” in the subject line. I urged them to send clothes and money to help the suffering African people.

The result of this action was a coordinated effort to send much needed supplies to the Malabo community in Africa. It was truly a reminder not to underestimate the power of what we can do, what we can be a catalyst for. 

What is your ‘Or is there?’ 

Where do you feel helpless or despondent? 

Where do you see a need that isn’t being met?

This can be as broad as your industry or organization, or in your community or family. We have so many opportunities to have an impact – but sometimes we all need an Uncle Lurie to give us a gentle nudge in the right direction. 

‘Or is there?’ In the Organization

When faced with the challenge of organizational change, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. The task at hand may seem insurmountable, and you might find yourself thinking, “There’s no way I can make a difference.” But what if you asked yourself, “Or is there?”.

The question “Or is there?” challenges us to question our assumptions and beliefs about what is possible. When we feel unable to make progress or drive change, it’s often because we’ve accepted certain limitations as facts. By asking ourselves if there might be another way, we open our minds to new possibilities and solutions.

My Framework for Effecting Change:


1. Define the Problem: Clearly articulate the issue you’re facing. What is the current state of affairs, and why is it problematic?

2. Identify Stakeholders: Determine who is affected by the problem and who has the power to influence change. 

3. Brainstorm Solutions: Ask yourself, “Or is there?” and generate a list of potential solutions. Encourage creative thinking and don’t dismiss ideas prematurely.

4. Evaluate Feasibility: Assess each solution based on its feasibility, impact, and alignment with organizational goals.


5. Develop an Action Plan: Select the most promising solution(s) and create a detailed plan for implementation. Break the plan down into manageable steps and assign responsibilities.

6. Communicate and Collaborate: Share your plan with stakeholders and seek their input and support. Change is rarely accomplished alone, so foster collaboration and build a coalition of advocates.


7. Take Action and Monitor Progress: Put your plan into action and regularly assess progress. Celebrate successes along the way and adapt your approach as needed.

The Ripple Effect of Individual Action

It’s easy to underestimate the impact that one person can have on an organization. However, history is full of examples of individuals who have sparked significant change through their actions and ideas. By asking yourself, “Or is there?” you can become a catalyst for positive change in your organization.

Remember, every journey begins with a single step, and your actions, no matter how small, can have a ripple effect that inspires others and drives lasting change. Never underestimate the power of what you can do when you commit to change.