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Posts tagged Changemaking
Drip by drip

A garden doesn’t flourish from a flood of water.

Writing for an entire day doesn’t build a habit.

Going a day without meat doesn’t make you a vegetarian.

And signing up for a gym membership doesn’t make you fit.

Lasting change hardly ever happens through intense, sporadic, passionate bursts of action.

Change happens through the consistent, generous practice of showing up — day after day — and falling in love with a different way to see the world.

Quality, and…

At another time in history, it’s quite possible that we might have been the only shop in town that provides our particular service. And at those points in time, doing a quality job would have been enough.

It’s doubtful that we’re the only act in town now.

Also, being ‘in town’ isn’t the advantage it once was.

All of this to say it’s almost certainly not enough to merely do a good job.

Quality work is an expectation. Now that that’s out of the way, we can get down to the real work of deciding what’s going to make us different.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
It's easy to be against things

But what are we for?

Take a second to think about that today. Come to some decisions that you’re willing to stand behind — with conviction and pride as well as curiosity and empathy.

Yes, of course, to be for something we by definition are most times against something else. But if we’re debating that then we’ve already missed the point. It’s not about logic, it’s about focus. Where do we focus our time, energy, research, intention, generosity, and care?

Is it towards the things that we’re against, or the things that we’re for? Only one actually helps the world become a better place.

How we make change

It’s tempting to chase making change like an avalanche — sudden, powerful, noticeable, and landscape altering. Much like avalanches though, chasing this kind of change is mostly unpredictable. And even if we succeed, it hardly lasts very long.

Better, then, that we pursue change like a glacier — deliberate, constant, impactful, and sustained. Not only is this a kind of change that we can always control, it’s proven to work. More than the reeling, forced change of the avalanche, the change of a glacier tends to stick.

The credit

It seems like something we would want, doesn’t it? Maybe even something we feel like we’ve earned.

The interesting thing about the credit, though, is that it’s most valuable when it’s given away.

Sure, it’s worth something if we hoard it for ourselves. But the more it gets passed around, the more it accrues. Until one day, we’ve got something so large, so resilient that it transforms everything it touches. It works for aspens. The same thing can happen with humans too.

What has worrying done for us?

Not just lately, how about ever?

Nothing, right? Not a very good return on investment. In fact, take a second to think about the cost of worrying — not just in hard costs, but soft ones as well. Emotional costs. Energy costs. Opportunity costs. It really starts to add up doesn’t it?

If worry is never a good investment, that really leaves us with two basic choices:

+ Do something helpful to change our current circumstances
+ Let it go, and spend our energy on something we can change for the better

Step by step

I’ve recently gotten into the habit of taking walks on a bike path directly behind my office building during the day. I’ve found it to be not just rejuvenating for my energy and body, but also my mind and spirits. Once I’ve gone far enough to feel my muscles loosen (and ideally before I break a sweat), I turn around and head back.

One useful insight from this story is to highlight that the only way to get to my destination is to keep walking. Stopping does me no good. I’d be essentially in no-mans-land, neither here or there. So of course, even if I were to get tired or start sweating, I would always keep going until I made it back. Perseverance of a sort.

More interesting, I think though, is how choose to keep walking. There’s many different ways to make it back.

Steps too small and the journey back becomes horribly inefficient with no more noticeable value accrued.

Steps too big and I’ve used more energy only to arrive in probably the same amount of time (or worse).

Steps too flat, too wide, or angled and now I’ve caused myself long-term harm with my short-term lack of purpose.

The most reliable way back — much like the most reliable way to make change — is with a consistent, repeatable, continuous stride.

Intentionally, deliberately, purposefully we make change. One step at a time.

Something might go wrong

Indeed. In fact, something will go wrong.

We often hesitate to change less because of something going wrong than because of the possibility of being wrong. The thing is, that possibility actually always exists. More-so for those of us who don’t think we could be. This might not work is an ever present reality.

Change happens when we’re willing to embrace the reality of this might not work with the belief that it absolutely could.

Self-fulfilling prophecies

Generally we use this phrase with a negative connotation. Someone spent so much time trying not to become the thing that they feared, that they ended up becoming the exact thing they didn’t want to.

Well, what about the other way?

If negative self-fulfilling prophecies are possible, then positive ones must be too. And if this is the case, what greater gift could we give someone than a little seed of belief in the thing they could become?

And what better soil to plant our seed of possibility in than interacting with them as if they already were that person?

The power of acting as if.

What would happen if we dared to use it for good?