I have always wanted to be special. Throughout most of my childhood, I felt like I wasn’t, like something was missing, like I had nothing exceptional to offer. I was simply ordinary, destined to live an ordinary life. It was far from satisfying, but I just didn’t really think I could be extraordinary. I did not feel brave, I did not feel strong, I did not feel like a leader. I remember countless nights going to sleep hoping that I would wake up with superpowers and I would be able to finally do extraordinary things and change the world.
It’s the sexiest trend nowadays: the desire to change the world. I don’t know why, maybe it’s a generational thing. Maybe it’s been the case for centuries. Who knows?
Regardless, the fact remains that most of us want to contribute, we want to “make a difference”, we want to “have an impact”. Whatever the hell that means. Because another fact is that most of us have no clue what we mean when we say that. We have no clarity about it. We just know we want to get involved and change lives, or the way the world works. And this is a beautiful thing. In many ways, my work consists in helping my clients tap into their full capacity to create, so they can make that difference they dream of in the world.
Where I got it wrong, and where I see most people get it wrong, is that we believe that we need to know what the impact, what the difference, what the contribution will be, before we really do something about it. We want to know what is this big breakthrough that we are going to make and not only that, we want to have some kind of assurance around it: what it looks like, how it feels, how it smells, how much money it will make us and most importantly, whether or not we will succeed. And we want all this before we dive in and give our all.
Well that’s a losing game if I ever saw one.
Because all of these answers that we want before engaging down the path emerge precisely from taking the actions and walking down the path. You only get them on the other side of going for it. Do you get me? You cannot know whether you’re going to succeed. You cannot know how your impact will look like or feel like. You cannot know how much money you’re going to make. You cannot know exactly what will be the nature of your contribution to change the world, until you get moving and actually start!
I still dream of superpowers and magic and changing the world. But there is something that changed since my childhood. Something I got to understand which has turned my entire world upside down. I discovered a superpower. I have the capacity for it, and you have the capacity for it. It holds in one simple word.
* COMMITMENT *
People who object to the above typically tell me that they can’t possibly commit before they have clarity and know whether it’s worth it. “Fair enough”, I tell them, “Good luck with changing the world.”
When I started in the world of changework, I explored approaches such as Hypnotherapy (therapy utilising hypnosis) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. As I started working with clients, helping them reframe and re-create their world, I was often caught up in fears and doubts around my own competence because I did not feel as good as I wanted to be. One day I shared this with one of my teachers, and he replied: “You don’t need to be good to start, but you do need to start to be good.”
I’ll paraphrase him here and say: “You don’t need to be confident to start, but you do need to start to be confident.”
Because here’s one thing that has pretty much been true throughout history: the people who changed the world in significant ways all got committed to something way before they knew about the results, outcomes, impact, money, difference or fame that would come out of it. They got committed to a desire so deep within their bones that it didn’t matter what the outcome would be or whether they would ever reach it. They just went for it with all their heart and soul, committing to the process and pursuing the dream rather than questioning the outcome and being paralysed by the doubts of whether that would be “big enough”, or whether they could “do it”.
Entertaining these fears and doubts – which many of us do and reach a quasi-expertise in – is just a way to act out excuses so we can sit on the couch, binge-watch West World and do nothing about the Real World out there. Oh, and we get to do that whilst still claiming in public that we want to make an impact, of course, but that we haven’t found our passion yet, so we’re kind of waiting for an epiphany that will reveal our divine purpose to us, so we can then go out and shine bright and do what we were put on this earth to do. Blah blah blah. Excuses.
If you want to change the world, get committed.
Look within yourself and find something that you are willing to deeply and profoundly commit to.
Then start walking and don’t stop.
Work on yourself.
Invest in your personal growth.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you.
Do things that scare you.
Follow what fills you with energy.
Take tiny steps every day to act out your deepest commitment.
Serve people around you (family, friends, colleagues, clients) – because changing the world starts at home.
Really, the recipe is quite simple.
But the kick-ass ingredient? The type of commitment you make to yourself and the world.
It’s entirely up to you.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
THAT THE MOMENT ONE DEFINITELY COMMITS ONESELF,
THEN PROVIDENCE MOVES TOO.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man [or woman, obviously…] could have dreamt would have come his way.”
W. H. Murray