One of my favorite movies is Pay It Forward. In a scene, in the beginning, a seventh-grade teacher poses a question to his students, “What if the world is one big disappointment?” Then he proceeds to give them an assignment: Think of an idea that changes our world and put it into action. The immediate reaction of the students is skeptical. They describe it as weird, crazy, and hard. Then he uses a different descriptive word, possible. Learning how to change the world is in the realm of possibility.
Everything you do has ripple effects, starting with your wife, kids, friends, and co-workers. What most folks mean by changing the world is that they want to have a global effect. And that’s not simply fantasy. Having a global impact starts small with these 10 steps.
1. Study Yourself
To be self-critical is imperative if one wishes to project influence outward. What are your talents? Where are your weak points? What stirs your deepest passion to action? No one can be inside your head but you. Honest self-assessment is absolutely required. A man fully aware of his capabilities can then use them for the greater good. The first step is to figure out just who and what you are.
2. Seek Out Other Like-Minded Individuals
Whatever your vision, whatever your plan, two heads are always better than one. Network with and seek out others with the same general belief system as yours. Listen as much as you speak and always analyze and absorb, tweaking your ideas as you move along. It’s important to nurture your first couple of followers as Derek Sivers humorously explains in How To Start A Movement.
3. Ethics and Integrity
If you want to have a positive impact you have be consistent, reliable, and treat others with dignity. In other words you need to have integrity and a strong moral framework. Otherwise, you will drift with the cultural wind or join in whatever is popular with the crowd. Drifters never make an impact.If you want to have a positive impact you have be consistent, reliable, and treat others with dignity.
4. Keep Learning
Many people shut down and go with what they already think they know. Yet, circumstances and conditions are always in a constant state of change, and what might have been correct yesterday can be disastrous today. It requires active participation to make sure you are still learning. Do not trust just one source, one opinion, or one ideology.
5. Develop Compassion
Draw on your own pain to relate as best you can to the pain of others. Open up your heart and your mind to their needs. If you understand them, then you can help them. And ultimately, you can lead them.
6. Focus on the Mission
Ego can wreck even the best plans and intentions. Don’t focus on recognition, but rather on moving the mission forward. This is something that most will never be able to accomplish because it is against our nature and training to accept zero recognition for our achievements. Yet, if you master the ability to sit in the shadows as you watch your work blossom, you will soon learn that no deed goes unrewarded no matter how small.
7. Keep Your Heart and Mind On The End Game
Creating the type of change you wish to see is serious and tough business. You fail far more often than you succeed, and those with weak spirits will not last long. Stay focused on the finish line and whatever you do, find the inner strength and conviction to keep moving toward it.
8. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Change involves moving out of our comfort zones. It takes great courage to stand up, stand out, and go. It takes even greater courage to have the conviction to remain steadfast after experiencing failure. Change will always be resisted and reviled until it is proven to be a better option. To get to that point, courage and conviction are of utmost importance.
9. Give Until it Hurts
Giving should always be our primary focus. We should have things we wish to do in our life but can’t because we give away too much. The world is full of those who will take. Positive change requires sacrifice and giving hearts. Give of your time, your talents, your blessings, and especially your love. In this way alone, one man truly can change the world. A simple gesture of kindness to a person in need creates ripples of change that spread far and wide.
At the end of the day, follow the call God has placed on your heart and trust Him. You were created for a purpose. You were created to love and serve others. Walk confidently in that promise.