"Be the change in the world you want to see."
— Mahatma Gandhi
Hundreds of people were lined up in the town square area for the opportunity to visit with Mahatma Gandhi. On this particular day a young mother and her son waited for hours to be able to visit with him, and when the opportunity arrived, the young mother asked Gandhi if he would speak with her son about his eating sugar in the hopes that his words would encourage the young boy to stop eating sugar. Gandhi looked intently at the woman and said, “Please come back in two weeks, and I will speak with the boy about his eating sugar.” As she and her son walked away from Gandhi so the next person could speak with him, she wondered why he didn’t just speak to the boy but also realized that Gandhi was a man whom she should obey, and so she obliged.
In two weeks they returned to the town square, and after waiting for a couple of hours once again, she was able to approach Gandhi once again. Upon her request, Gandhi immediately spoke with the boy, and the boy agreed to begin the journey of not eating sugar. The woman thanked Gandhi for his wisdom, compassion, and words and then asked him why he asked her to return two weeks later versus just speaking to him on their first visit. Gandhi replied profoundly, “Upon your visit two weeks ago, I too was eating sugar.” And he went on to explain that he could not speak of or teach the young boy to not eat sugar if he himself had not taken that journey.
Where in your life do you find yourself focusing on the economy, other people, or factors outside of your influence for the reasons why you have not been able to accomplish or achieve something? You may have always wanted to create a great work environment; you have just always told yourself that you don’t know how or that others wouldn’t support you in it. You may have always wanted to create a better family environment at home for your spouse and family; you have just always told yourself that you didn’t have great role models for how to create the environment you have dreamed of. You may have always wanted to get involved with your community; you have just always told yourself that you don’t have the experience and that you don’t like politics; therefore, someone else will step into that role and do a much better job than you.
One of the greatest things that Gandhi has ever said is this: “Be the change in the world you want to see.” He didn’t say, “Wait for someone else who is more qualified, better educated, or better looking to come along to create the world that you desire.” He said, “Be the change in the world you want to see.” And I believe through his thoughts, communication, and actions, he created a legacy for all of us to follow in our lives to create the life and world we all deserve. The only challenge is to decide. And to help you decide, I encourage you to do these four things to get you going on your journey and be able to form the long-term habits that will create the world you desire.
1. Decide what you stand for. Take the time to reflect on your life. What are the things that inspire you? Who are the people who have inspired and influenced you whom you would like to emulate? What type of atmosphere and conditions do you want for your family, schools, businesses, or communities? Be clear, concise, and honest with yourself, as this is who you are and what you represent – be proud of that! Change doesn’t have a size or number of people impacted type of requirement – it doesn’t have to be perfect to start – it does however require that you truly be committed to what it is you stand for.
2. Decide who will stand with you. It is critically important on this journey of “Being the change” that you are surrounded by people who will support you, hold you accountable, and challenge you to be better. These people are ones who may have similar commitments, similar thoughts on the world, or they may not see things the same way, yet have similar desires to create a much better place in the world. I believe strongly that you will become your environment – it has been said that you will become the compilation of the five people you spend the most time with – so choose the people who will stand with you wisely.
3. Decide to “Be the change” in mind, heart, body, and spirit. This is an “all-in” type of commitment, no days off, no excuses, no reasons, just results in adding value to the world. All of you have unique talents and gifts that you have been given to share with the world; it is time to fully share them. In order for your world to change, you have to change, not others, not the government, not our families. When we decide to be the example for others, when we decide that we are committed to something, it automatically gives others permission to do the same, thus changing our worlds. Continue to search your heart and mind and allow both of them to lead you down the path of creating the world you desire.
4. Adjust and Act. The universe will test you throughout your journey, reminding you of the difficulties and pain that go along with creating a better world. Yeah! This does not mean you have to be perfect or that you don’t have tough days; it just means that you understand and embrace those days as learning and growth opportunities, and you move on. Celebrate all failures, as they are blessings to approach things differently in the future. On a moment-to-moment basis choose to adjust what is not working and continue to take action. This mantra of sorts – adjust and act, adjust and act – must become a habit in order for you to truly become the change that you want to see.
By following these four points and making them a part of your life, you will create a much happier and more fulfilled life for yourself and for the people in your world. Graduates of our leadership intensive titled “Leadership from the Heart” spend two days discovering these four aspects at a level that many times is “indescribable,” as they have felt what it is like to be fully engaged and committed to something that is bigger than themselves. This is as much their pledge as it is our organizational leadership pledge:
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, I HAVE MADE MY CHOICE
I WILL LEAD, NOT FOLLOW
I WILL CREATE, NOT DESTROY
I WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE
I AM A LEADER!
Brandon Johnson is the President & CEO of The LifeSkills Center for Business Leadership.