I Won't Be Changing the World in 2012

The question posed to me was this:  
How are you going to change the world in 2012? 

My answer?
I’m not.

Before you shake your head in shame or run off to the eye doctor to see if you need a new prescription, let me explain.

Open Clip Art Library: jongo_jingaro
Maddie Grant, co-author with Jamie Notter of a wonderful book, Humanize (you are reading it, aren’t you) picked this question up from this post by Craig Newmark, founder of Craig’s List.  After responding to Craig’s question she then tagged a whole bunch of us to respond as well.

So back to why I’m not going to change the world in 2012.  I imagine some people find this question very inspiring or motivating. For others it might be daunting or overwhelming.  Regardless of where you fall on that continuum, you have some thing in common with everyone else on it: you care.

You care about some people.
You care about some issues.
You care about some communities.
You care about some opportunities.

I’m soon going to be sharing how I am refocusing my work to address the professional issues I most care about, but I can tell you this now:  The way I plan on changing the world in 2012?  By amplifying how I help others:
  1. gain clarity about what they most care about right now;
  2. identify the contribution they most want to make right now, and 
  3. do what's necessary to get in action right now.
It's about identifying the inspiration. Putting in the perspiration. And trying to avoid acting out of desperation.

And you know what?  By making a contribution to what they care most about all of those people will help change their worlds.  And some of them might—just might—end up changing the world.


@KathC said...

This is wonderful! It is exactly how I see myself - I am happiest and do my best in helping other people and organizations use their strengths to create positive change in the world. So while not doing it directly, I am creating change indirectly.

Thank you for articulating this idea so well.

Joan Eisenstodt said...

Ok..I'm not reading their book and I will .. once the pile of the "I-swear-I'm-going-to-read-them" books is a bit shorter.

Here's the thing: What you said is so right and good. And I wish I could focus the same way you do. I wish my CARING were more focused, that my empathy weren't so strong. (I don't really wish that .. it would just be a bit easier for me. I've read they've identified an "empathy gene" and I bet I have an extra one.)

Yes, I know that I can help change the world - and have - a bit at a time.

Why does it feel so drop-of-water v. even a tablespoon to me?

Maddie Grant said...

yeah baby!! :)

Thanks for an awesome response. Love it!

Maddie Grant said...

@Joan - I think you're totally right, that it does feel like a drop in the ocean... so to me, when I read Craig Newmark's post about what some nonprofits were doing, and I remembered a post by Lindy about the Power of A awards and some of the amazing things associations are doing, it made me think - this is why we're all here. To make things better. In small ways or in big ways. And I thought the meme might just be a way to share those big and little things with others, and make it all not so daunting after all.

Jeffrey Cufaude said...

Joan: Its challenging, isn't it? And that damn starfish story isn't going to make us feel much better when it doesn't seem like more progress is being made.

I guess each of us has to decide how to assess what impact is most important to us. I know some people pick one issue and go deep so that they can really advance it. Others spread their contributions around, planting lots of seeds that may or may not grow into something great.

I wonder if the real key is for us to embrace whichever choice we make (and I've only outlined two of them), both for its benefits and for its inherent limitations.

Joan Eisenstodt said...

Maddie & Jeffrey - Thanks for that. And Kath - ditto: I too am happiest when I can help people and orgs. use their strengths .. or first discover their strengths and their needs and then do more.

Funny: This made me remember that when I was much younger, I was certain that if Khrushchev & I could just talk, we could negotiate peace. I think I still hold on to that vision about 1 person at a time communicating.