The Change You Wish to Make
A leader is another name for an agent of change. Leaders possess the ability to visualize a future that's different from our present and articulate a path to get there. If a leader sells that vision to just one more person, now you have a movement. Those two people become four people; four people become eight people, and exponentially onward. Anybody can be a leader. You don’t need specific genes or a particularly outgoing personality. You don’t need a degree or a message from God. All a leader needs is two things: a vision, and enough belief to make it come true. The only problem is, it's a lot easier said than done.
When was the last time you paused and took a moment to consider the changes you want to make in your life? Put down your phone, close your laptop, remove any other forms of distraction and honestly ask yourself, “What would I change?” Another fun way to do this is to imagine money were no object and you could just wave a magic wand over your life; what are the changes you’d make? It might feel silly, but you’d be amazed by the number of people who actually don’t know what they’d change. Maybe some would want a bigger house, or salary, or more time to travel, but then what? What other changes would you make?
Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest leaders in history. It was Gandhi who said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” So lately, I’ve been challenging myself to really crystallize the image of the person I want to become and the legacy I’d like to leave behind. I’ve thought about details like where I'll live, what my family looks like, the kind of career I want, even what kind of physical shape I’m in. The reason for all this imagining comes back to this idea of change.
There’s a brilliant quote by the author, P. J. O’Rourke that says, “Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to help their mom do the dishes.” And there’s actually something powerful in that line. My generation of Valley-dwelling millennials are full of grand and lofty goals (which is great), but too frequently overlook the small-but-important things that can be done to make a difference today. Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to solve world hunger in a week; it’s about prioritizing the things you can do, and then taking action.
I’ll leave you with yet another quote from Gandhi, “My life is my message.” Gandhi believed his life would communicate his message of nonviolence and freedom to the world. Everything he did was an extension of those ideas. So now I ask you again, what’s your message? What changes do you wish to make in the world? These are the questions I’ve been pondering lately and I’m still searching for answers. One thing I’ve realized though, is that to be an agent of change you don't need a lot. You can start with yourself. Make the changes you wish to make in your own life. Start by helping your mom with the dishes. And from there, who knows?