Here’s the idea.
Don’t try and change the world.
Heresy I know, because we live in the age of go big or go home. But I’m more than a bit exhausted by it all. Don’t get me wrong, I‘m not suggesting people give up, just that it might be time to change our expectations and attachment to some outcome outside our control. Because amid the endless clarion calls urging us onwards something became clear…
I can’t (change the world). Still maybe I can change my world.
What if instead of shooting for the big thing, I shoot for the bit smaller thing. The thing I can hold and do and as my part of a whole system of other people doing their things. Could that be enough?
A few years ago I attended a masterclass with the wonderful and wholly under appreciated Margaret (Meg) Wheatley.
I’ve been an avid student of Meg’s thinking and writing since I stumbled over her book Leadership and the New Science. And eight books later her thinking still resonates and in particular this passage from her book So Far Fom Home.
“As warriors for the human spirit, we discover our right work that we know is ours to do no matter what. We engage wholeheartedly, embody values we cherish, let go of outcomes, and carefully attend to relationships. We serve those issues and people we care about, not so much focused on making a difference, as on being a difference.”
Not so much focused on making a difference, as on being a difference…
This passage got me thinking about how subtle, distinctive yet powerful the shift is from making a difference to being a difference. The former laden with singular ego and expectation, the latter with acknowledgement of contribution with others as part of a whole.
What does this somewhat philosophical thinking have to do with achieving a brand result and the promises you keep?
I see too many organisations big and small and the people in them consumed by the pursuit of the outcome at all costs. They overreach and end up disappointed and burned out when along the way, what they cared about became distant and unrecognisable.
So I’m asking each of you to think about what kind of promises would you make, how you would navigate your unheroic work, if you let go of “making a difference” and embraced “being a difference” as a guiding idea?
If scaled down and bought a more intimate attention to what and how you do things.
I think your organisation and the people in it would have a stronger spirit. More grateful for the ups and more able to withstand the downs. And if enough people were intent on “being the difference” who knows what could happen…
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