This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John Maxwell’s personal impact resource, Change Your World. John Maxwell has been one of the world’s foremost personal and professional leadership experts for more than 40 years, and this guidebook for local and global transformation contains invaluable insights. You can pick up a copy here (use code BOGO15 at checkout for a second free copy!).
Looking at our world, it’s pretty easy to see that things could change for the better. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have better schools? Better neighborhoods? More positive workplaces? Would you like to have a more connected family? Communities where people get along and work together for everyone’s good? Wouldn’t the world be better if people were more respectful, unified, and positive?
There’s just one problem: compared to you and me, changing the world is a goal of a grand scale. On November 15, 2022, the world population hit an all-time high of 8 billion people. That’s 8 billion unique, distinct lives, hundreds of millions of whom are suffering from hunger, poverty, and crime.
But that does not mean change is impossible.
Every name you’ve ever read in a history book was written there because someone decided to change something. Everything that exists, exists because someone saw a need and stepped up to fill it. Nothing gets done alone, but everything gets done because someone steps forward.
Change begins with you.
Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” While that is true, to make the dream come true, you must also act. Many things in life just happen—but positive change isn’t one of them. Changing anything in our world requires someone to be the catalyst. Here’s how you can start the change-reaction:
1. CHANGE FROM GOOD INTENTIONS TO GOOD ACTIONS.
If five frogs are sitting on a log, and four decide to jump off, how many are left on the log?
You’d be excused for answering “one” – but deciding is not doing.
We often hear about the haves and the have nots. When it comes to making a difference and changing our world, we should probably be talking about the do’s and the do nots. We tend to want others to judge us based on our intentions. But what ultimately matters isn’t what we intend to do. It’s what we actually do. How do we miss this? We rarely tell ourselves, “I’m never going to do this good thing.” Instead, we tell ourselves, “I’m going to do this tomorrow.” But when tomorrow comes, we don’t follow through. Maybe we mean to, but we don’t. That’s why the biggest gap between failure and success is the distance between I should, and I did.
People with good intentions want to add value to others but find reasons not to do it.
People with good actions want to add value to others and find ways to do it.
People with good intentions can be passive, inconsistent, and disappointing.
People with good actions are deliberate, consistent, and willful.
Management expert Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” As a catalyst for change, that’s what you do. You create a better future by following through. Don’t settle for good intentions. They won’t change the world. Focus on good actions.
2. TAKE OWNERSHIP.
In Put Your Dream to the Test, one of the first questions John Maxwell recommends people ask themselves is this: “Is my dream really my dream?” Why? Because if the dream you intend to pursue isn’t really yours, you won’t own it. And if you don’t own it, you won’t do what it takes to achieve it. Your dream becomes your dream when you recognize the contribution you can make. The same is true for becoming a catalyst for change. Only if you own it will you be able to fulfill it.
3. INVITE OTHERS TO JOIN THE CAUSE.
When you become a catalyst for change, one of the most significant things you can do is invite others to join you in the cause. As soon as another person works with you and is influenced by what you’re doing, you are a leader, a leader whose why is bigger than you. Martin Luther King, Jr. said about the importance of leaders when it comes to change: “May I stress the need for courageous, intelligent and dedicated leadership. Leaders of sound integrity. Leaders not in love with publicity but in love with justice. Leaders not in love with money, but in love with humanity. Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause.”
Now, don’t be intimidated or discouraged by King’s description of the leaders needed for an important cause. You don’t have to be someone of his caliber to make a difference. Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. You can—and should—influence others to work alongside you. Change requires a diversity of talents and skills in order to be accomplished. Your job is to give everyone who joins you permission to operate in their gifting and invite them to be in the story. If you aren’t a good public speaker, find someone who is. If you tend to be a skeptic, balance yourself by inviting someone who’s optimistic. Why? None of us is as smart as all of us.
You can start by…
- sharing your passion. The most important thing you can do is speak from your heart about the change you want to make and what you want to do to try to create it. Passion is contagious with like-minded people.
- asking what they think. Once you’ve shared your passion, don’t try to sell them on your cause. Instead, ask them what they think, and really listen.
- inviting them to improve your ideas. You know that you don’t have all the answers, and so will they. Invite them to give you their ideas. When people contribute creativity or resources (like ideas), your dream becomes their dream.
- asking if it’s something you can do together. Don’t leave things ambiguous. Be bold. Ask if they would be willing to join you in making a difference.
4. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO.
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Austin said, “We can’t change everything, but we can change something.” The question to ask is, “What can I change?” What can you do exceptionally well? What’s your A-game? What do you do that consistently makes a positive impact? That’s what you should be focusing on.
As you read those questions, what came to mind? Do you know with certainty where your focus should be? If not, maybe you need some perspective. Organizational psychologist Benjamin Hardy said, “True learning occurs when you can see the same thing with new eyes. They call this a Copernican Revolution. For example, when we as a people realized the sun did not revolve around the earth, but vice-versa. That single insight shifted how we saw everything. We were looking at the same stimulus but with a new frame.”
How can you develop a new frame? You need to try to look at yourself objectively. Your best contribution will be based on:
- Your gifts
- Your past successes
- Your passions
- Your opportunities
5. DO SOMETHING.
Now is the time to do something. It’s okay to start even when you don’t have all the answers. Do what you know to do. You don’t need to know every step of the way. There is no silver bullet. There is no perfect plan. Focus on purpose, not perfection. There is no standing still when it comes to making a difference. You are either moving forward or sliding backwards. Start moving forward. And invite others to join you. If you don’t, you may look back a year from now and wish you had started today.
Your goal is to make things better, however you can. Think about what better can do. Incremental change is better than the status quo. William Pollard said, “Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement.” He added, “Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” Would you rather have a hand in positive change, or just be swept along in the negative change that is going to happen without you? We would rather be catalysts for positive change without preconditions. We believe you would too.
Ready to change your world?
You can start with this incredible Book of the Week offer. Buy one copy and we’ll send you one to give to a fellow world-changer for free! Go here and take advantage of this Book of the Week offer today. Important: Use promo code BOGO15 when you check out to get the second free book.