Be the Change You Want To See in the World
So you’re addicted to success. Right now, take a minute to imagine you’ve got it all. Everything you want.
Now imagine you’ve got it all, but in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Hmmm… Being a billionaire doesn’t seem so great anymore…
Because let’s face it, personal success is great and all, but without an awesome world to live it out in, then I imagine it wouldn’t taste so sweet. So here’s the question. What vision do you have for the world around you? What is the world of your dreams? What type of people inhabit it? What type of world do you want to live in?
For example, ever thought it would be great if people would put down their phones and have a real conversation with you? Ever thought the world would be a cooler place with more random acts of kindness? Or if people were part of ridiculously fun and soul-satisfying communities? What if people were more environmentally conscious? Or bicycle more? Or host more house parties?
A lot of people know what they want the world to look like, but think it’s an impossible-to-reach utopia. I disagree with these people.
The world of your dreams is possible. And it all starts with you. There’s just one simple maxim to follow:
To live in the world of your dreams, you must be the change you want to see in the world.
Want to live in a world with more honest men or people? Then become an honest man or woman yourself. Want to live in a world where everyone picks up litter off the street? Then you must start picking up litter off the street. Think the world would be a cooler place if people would write more good ol’ letters? Then you must write some more letters. Think Copenhagen is cool cause everyone bicycles everywhere, and think that would be your ideal world? Then take it as your mission to bicycle more.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
It’s powerfully simple. And it works. History shows us that it works. The world is changed by people being the change they want to see in it.
Mahatma Gandhi non-violently opposing British rule in India. Che Guevara and Fidel Castro igniting the Cuban revolution to overthrow the Batista regime. The Founding Fathers forming the United States. All were individuals with a vision who became the change they wanted to see in the world.
From Eric Thomas’ famous “How Bad Do You Want It” motivational speech,
“I’m so grateful that the slaves didn’t drop and quit…
The slaves said, “We will live because one day we will become. We won’t always be slaves.
So today, although we’re slaves, we’re going to act like we’re free. And one day our children will be free.”
If the slaves would have just said, “We quit! We give up!” We would have died in The Middle Passage.”
Maybe it’s not global socialist movements, abolishing slavery, or fighting a corrupt regime. But perhaps in the world you dream of, business can be conducted by a handshake, and a person’s word is sacred. So why not start a revolution of your own? Make an effort to keep true to your word, and take a leap of faith to trust others.
What happens when you do this? Magic. People will follow your lead. How do I know this? Because I follow people like this all the time.
If I see a random act of kindness that makes the world a cooler place, it makes me think, “Damn, I should be doing that!” If I hear about a friend volunteering in a soup kitchen, or going out of their way to help someone, or just learning a new skill in their own time, I feel humbled. They’re all taking the initiative to creating the world that they dream of, which spurs me into action.
Action spurs action.
Taking small steps to create the world of your dreams also gives you a hefty dose of life satisfaction. Why? Because the decisions you take will be aligned with your core values. And when your actions and values align, beautiful things happen. Think of it as a gift from your subconscious. Great job, bud.
“What difference can I make? I’m just a tiny piece of this gigantic puzzle. This isn’t my responsibility…”
This mind-set is the most common spanner to be found in the works.
First, you’re not a tiny piece. Everyone has the potential to create a revolution. Everyone who takes action is a linchpin to inspire further action. And second, if you don’t use your power to act, then you can’t expect others to. And if you can’t expect others to act, then no-one will build your vision of the world.
We can expect no more from those around us than of what we expect from ourselves. It’s amazing how many inspiring leaders truly embodied this ideal.
Theodore Roosevelt campaigned for war against the Spanish in Cuba. When war was eventually declared, he enlisted in the Army and would go on to lead the heroic charge up San Juan Hill. Nelson Mandela was prepared to lay down his life in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, and he’d eventually spend 27 years of his life behind bars. Che Guevara, one of the most iconic leaders of all time, was devoutly respected and admired by his guerrillas and colleagues because although he kept others at a high standard, he reserved the harshest standards for himself.
If our ideal world consists of people doing X,Y or Z, then we must take it upon ourselves to do X,Y or Z. Because ultimately, are we part of the problem or part of the solution?
I’m a huge fan of the high-octane TV series “24”. And it turns out it’s not just car explosions, fire-fights and averting disaster. In one of the episodes, the protagonist Jack Bauer says something along the lines of, “Bill! You’re the one that told me if you stand by and watch the bomb go off, you might as well have planted the bomb yourself.” If you stand by and do nothing, then you might as well be working against the world of your dreams. Hard-hitting quote. I love it.
So maybe the world of our dreams has no racism, no vandalism, no litter dropping. Well, unless we speak up and act against these things, we might as well be racists, vandals and litter droppers ourselves.
At the end of the day, we’re all human. We’re not perfect. But we can always make the effort to choose what’s right over what is easy. Dream big for your ideal world, and take small steps to creating it. Dream big, and start small. To live in the world we dream of, we must be the change we want to see in the world.