One of the things many people aspire to when asked about their goals or purpose in life is to ‘make a difference’.
There seem to be three levels.
Some want to make a global ‘difference’ – to change the world through mass political change.
Some want to ‘make a difference’ to a particular community in some way.
And some want to ‘change the world, one person at a time’.
All can be done, but we know the first one usually goes horribly wrong and has never really worked for those who have tried it – unless it is ‘downgraded’ into the second more local level.
But even then, the results are usually relatively short term in the grand scheme of things.
At the second level, which could be geographical – nation, city, neighbourhood, street, or relate to some kind of interest group, results in terms of making a difference can certainly be achieved.
But often the initiative, which usually starts with one person, becomes ‘organised’ and the focus of the change – the ‘difference’ being made, becomes diverted, or subverted into something else.
And the initial instigator, the person who started it all off, is often ‘expelled’ from the very community they were trying to improve – and replaced by some sort of ‘committee’.
I suppose this happens for two reasons.
‘Making a difference’ implies change, and people don’t like change, so the initiative is diluted so that it becomes less of a ‘threat’ or less ‘dramatic.
“Yes, we’d like things to be different, but we don’t want to change anything”
I think this is known as having your cake and eating it?
The other reason why ‘making a difference’ often fails is related to this – it’s called ‘democracy’.
You see, we’ve come to believe that everyone should have a ‘say’ in anything being done that might have an impact on them, or even have no direct impact on them – they just feel entitled to ‘vote’.
The idea of some individual taking action on something without ‘consulting’ all and sundry is considered, sadly by most people in the ‘civilised’ world, as being in some way ‘wrong’.
Even if it does bring them a direct benefit.
They weren’t consulted, therefore whatever it is must be ‘wrong’.
So that leaves us with the third way.
The third way of making a difference.
And thanks to the communications revolution this has become, in a way, a lot easier.
You and I now have the ability to change the world – one person at a time.
So how does this work?
And how long does it take?
Well, the secret lies in the fact that people are far more likely to make changes in their lives based on a one to one encounter.
Because no-one else is involved, no ‘vote’ is required.
They make the choice to change for themselves and by themselves.
And if the change they are making in themselves impacts on someone else then, again, it’s a one to one encounter.
Now that doesn’t mean that you or I can only communicate with one person at a time.
We can speak to large gatherings, send messages to a large list of people.
The difference is that we aren’t attempting to ‘change the mind’ of the group as a whole, which is what the other methods are about.
It doesn’t need a group decision; no vote is required.
It’s all about individual choice.
Let’s say you’re speaking to 2000 people about some topic that could make a beneficial impact on their lives if they decide to adopt your way of thinking.
Even if only 20 people choose to change, then you are making a difference.
But then, if it’s just you giving out the message, it’s going to take a long time.
A very long time.
Depending on the message this may or may not matter – but how can you and I speed things up?
How can we get our messages out to more people, more quickly?
Well, aside from the technology we now have available, we need what used to be called – ‘disciples’ – defined as a follower, advocate, proponent or pupil of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.
It comes from the word ‘discipline’ as used to describe a particular system, method or philosophy.
The thing is, if we have a ‘system’ whether that be to do with coaching, therapy or a learning programme it can become a ‘discipline’ or the newer ‘buzz word’ – ‘modality’.
We can ‘spread the word’ – tell people about what we have to offer – not just by ourselves but by other people we have trained to teach our system, modality or discipline – whatever we call it.
That way, more and more people are offered the choice.
The choice to change their lives.
The choice to be, do and have something different
To change their world, and maybe impact other people around them who can then also make the choice.
There are many speakers, teachers and so on, ‘out there’ talking about how things can be different, better, for people.
Social media is littered with affirmations, sayings, quotes, thoughts and images intended to inspire or ‘motivate’ people.
Now this is all very well, but as Mary Morrissey says –
“Inspiration without action is just entertainment”
– and sadly, that’s what many of the social media posts and famous (or not so famous) ‘inspirational’ and ‘motivational’ speakers are all about – entertainment.
The effect, if there’s nothing to follow it up, soon fades.
I’ll cover why this is in more depth another time, but for now there are two things you and I need to do to change the world.
The first is to systemise our message – turn it into something that people who choose to adopt it can do – practically – to reinforce and embed the change into themselves.
The second is to recruit people to spread our message, system, modality, discipline – and teach them to do it through a straightforward process they can follow.
Change the world.
One person at a time.
Make a difference.