“You must be the changeMAHATMA GANDHI
you want to see in the world.”
Each year many, if not most of us, make resolutions for the new year. We focus on the ways we would like to improve our personal lives and hopefully make resolutions to pay it forward and let our actions serve to improve the lives of others. It’s that second part that intrigues me; letting our actions improve the lives of others. As Gandhi points out, changing the world starts with us. So how can we begin?
Let’s start with a sense of realism. Changing the world may seem like an insurmountable task, but it’s not. It has more to do with process and our definition of the world! It begins simply, by looking at yourself, considering your own behaviors, and then asking this question, “Do my actions represent those that will serve to bring about change in the world?” In other words, before we try to change others or change the world, we need to assure that we have reflected on our own behavior and made the appropriate changes in our own life.
Want to change the world? It begins with a growth mindset. In her best selling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford professor and psychologist Carol Dweck proposes that those with a growth mindset believe that their most basic intellectual skills and areas of talent can be continually developed. They work harder, persevere, absorb learning opportunities, and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve. Once the growth mindset is embraced, we need to reflect on our own leadership.
Want to change the world? Be an authentic and genuine leader. It would seem that our brave new world includes two habitats; our daily reality and our social media environment. So here’s the question, “Is the person portrayed through your social media accounts, the same as the one I would meet for coffee?” Many people use social media to portray themselves as they wish they were, not as they are. Being authentic and genuine means embracing who you are and what you stand for; it means not “stretching the truth” to make yourself look better; it means stating how you actually think and feel, not what you think others want to hear. Authentic leaders cause others to become self-aware of their own lack of authenticity and inspire them to become more genuine.
Want to change the world? Be a leader who listens. The Greek philosopher, Epictetus wrote, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Effective leaders know that consistent listening leads to consistent improvement. Effective leaders show respect for those with ideas that differ, or may even contradict their own, so that they will continue to offer their thoughts. Most important, effective leaders know that they do not have all the answers.
Want to change the world? Demonstrate a leadership approach that embraces generosity, empathy, and humility. Generosity is simply unconditional giving. You can give of your time, your energy, or your skills. But it’s important to remember that in giving, there is no expectation of receiving anything in return. Empathy is the ability to listen to others and understand what they are going through. People want to be listened to and understood. It is putting yourself in their place. It is listening with your head and your heart. Humility is one of the most valuable traits held by any leader. Humble leaders make others feel appreciated and valued. Humble leaders highlight a team success by letting the light shine on others. Humble leaders are willing to admit a mistake and change course when the plan isn’t working.
Want to change the world? It can be done, but it begins by taking a good look at yourself and making the necessary adjustments. Once that is done there will be no stopping you!
Embrace the Challenge
Change the World!