I remember a tale about an elderly person being on the death bed and sharing about his perception on changing the world. The tale goes like this, with our grandpa saying that at a young age he wanted to change the world but soon he realized that after several attempts it was not working, things were difficult to move and the world was so complex that his contributions were really insignificant. Then he thought that changing the country he lives in must be an easier way to tackle his dream, but after a while he realized that was difficult to accomplish too. Years passed and his will to change the world was still there, but this time focusing on his town seemed like something doable. He tried and again it turned to be pretty difficult. Later on he focused on influencing the local community that was surrounding him, and things somehow started moving. After all these attempts he realized that real change in the world happens when we firstly change ourselves and we are able to transfer our experience, motivation, transformation and flame to the ones around us. Morale here: you can’t change the world unless you change yourself first.
Many times with my friends we were caught in discussions about changing the world, what do we do, what counts and how do you measure all of this. What does it even mean after all? How you measure a big contribution or a small one? Is this the ultimate mission ones life should be? Are the ones who don’t act as change agents a stop toward development of our society? What is changing the world all about?
If we look at all the reports and insights written and debated by millennials we will notice a considerable amount of times the desire of driving change and having an impact on the world on the top side for most of the youngsters/young adults. Feeling that you contribute towards something bigger than yourself, feeling that your actions trigger a positive impact on the ones around you and if scales up or it’s scalable even better.
Yet you find yourself pumped up with all the examples and the ‘wave’ of being a change agent, a driver for good and a sustainable contributor toward a better world. But where to start from?
Here are my 2 cents on how positive change is activated with simple steps and what empowering ripple effect such actions would have if followed by all of us:
1. Kindness. No course or manual or professor will teach you on how to be kind to the ones around you. Yet this is one of the most powerful tools to bridge gaps and understand better the people around us. I am empowered by how open people can be when you just open up and you give without expecting nothing in return. A simple good morning, a simple help to someone looking lost, paying for someone who doesn’t have change, holding the bags of that old lady unable to carry the stuff upstairs, or just smiling to that cute kid staring at you.
2. Spread the positive. The other day I was having a conversation with a colleague on how powerful it feels to build on positive successful experiences and how much trust we gain in ourselves when we multiply the good stories. Associating good with positive examples and keeping an open minded, positive approach to daily or outstanding challenges. I keep on asking a simple question to myself: sharing or thinking or spreading the word about this negative experience will help myself or someone else benefits from it in any way? If at least to one of the questions the answer is no, let’s move forward.
3. Learning. Did you notice how similar curiosity kids and elders have? It’s even cute and contagious to see how thrilled they are about learning new things and how excited they are to discover new stuff. Living an experience regardless its outcome and not taking the lesson is almost like not living it at all. Looking at happenings around us and just keeping an approach of ‘what is this here to teach me?’ might just lead us to discover sides of us that we never were aware of or gets exposed to contexts and situations that we wouldn’t have imagined living. As for me, there is never enough learning one can have.
4. Keep the dialogue on. Reaching a level of understanding about what is happening around us, all the technological transformation, all the digital revolution, the virtual world and the increasing tendency of celebrating diversity and being united in differences has never been so much discussed and debated before. And as all of these are supposed to bring us together, we are coming with such a heavy baggage of beliefs, biases and we are so much influenced by where we come from, that if we’re not able we keep the dialogue on, trying to understand what is the view of our peers and friends and anyone else, we will keep our own understanding which might be unilateral or just from one perspective. Every time you exchange an opinion about something, the only risk is that you’ll hear a better opinion than yours. In that case apply point 3 😉
5. Celebrate uniqueness. This is really a challenging one. Since kids we are encouraged to compete, to be the best from our class, get best grades, get a top seat at the best high school in town, get that well paid job, get the flat with the best view, and so many other examples of being better then the ones around us. For us as social beings competition is a natural behavior yet the advancement of a society and its prosperity is when individuals are respecting each other for who they are first as human beings and then accepted and celebrated for what they stand for. The prejudices baggage balances quite heavily on the judgement formula, and letting go of comparisons and social pressures is the next level of celebrating the uniqueness of individuals rather than comparing them with an unequal mass of people. Remember each of us come from a different background, family and society values, childhood experiences, different genes and we are shaped up by everything we have around us; add to this that people are constantly changing and transforming, the person you used to know yesterday might have lived a transformational experience today and you might not recognize him/her tomorrow, be open to the continuous new versions of the same people and celebrate uniqueness.
6. Define your call and stand for it. Whoever said life is a journey of self discovery couldn’t be more right. It’s the ongoing investigation, the discovery of ones capabilities, the exploration of the potential and embracing the unknown. The future becomes reality anyway so it’s a matter of how we chose to look at it, how we chose to live it and how to capitalize on the tools that we have to make is hopefully better. Getting lost in the daily routines, social aspirations embraced as personal goals without deeply rooting the meanings, and finding ourselves less us but more of them. It becomes essential to define your identity and to keep living up to your calling (also known as passion, life goal, life vision, personal impact, personal mark, etc.). Some are lucky to find their life’s mission very early, some never find it; but if you found it, let it make you shine and transcend through it.
I believe a change agent is anyone who adds 2 cents towards making a better anything. Be it a job, be it a project, be it a social action, be it a meeting, be it a product, be it only changing the atmosphere around you or anything that pushes the world forward towards a better state than it was found in before.
These are just my 2 cents, we need much more of them to create that bright future we dream of, for the future generations. Do you have your 2 cents ready to add to this?