When you think of important people from the twentieth century, you’re unlikely to consider Norman Borlaug. In fact, most people probably don’t even know who he is. However, his dedication to small, quiet actions kept millions of people in Mexico, India, Pakistan, and multiple other countries from starving.
Borlaug was born in 1914 and grew up working on his family farm. He pursued a degree in forestry while continuing to work in order to put himself through school. During these formative years, his eyes were opened to how food, or lack thereof, transformed people.
This passion pushed him to work for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Mexican Hunger Project, helping countries that struggled to produce enough food to feed their citizens. Ecologists were predicting worldwide food shortages due to overpopulation.
Meanwhile, Borlaug was studying and developing a new variety of wheat that could produce triple – even quadruple – the standard amount. His work was a catalyst for change that helped keep millions of people from starving.
What did Borlaug do to make such a big difference? He recognized a problem and refused to accept that it was beyond repair. He worked tirelessly and thanklessly in the name of progress, while others pronounced the situation as hopeless. In his own words, Borlaug was “impatient and [did] not accept the need for slow change.”
Change doesn’t come all at once but in small, seemingly insignificant steps. Keep moving forward, stay the course, and remember that small steps lead to great change.
Read more of Borlaug’s story and many others in my new book Change Your World, written with John C. Maxwell.