"Be the change that you wish to see in the world."
I heard this quote about four years ago at an evening seminar down at the University of Toronto and it's kind of stuck with me. I've thought about it numerous times. What does it really mean? Does it mean that you should work hard to change others, thus being the actual change? Does it mean you should be speaking about change, informing others? Does it mean that you should always be changing? There's lots of change going on in my mind when I think about this quote.
Nope. I've realized that, at least for me, it's less about the actual change. It's about the example you set. The leadership skills you present. The chances you choose to take and the things you stand for. It's what you do, not what you change. This quote is about leading by example.
And this is something that's really challenged me over the past while. I have (according to some people I know) high moral standards. Intense ideals for how I want the world to be. But I've had to ask myself recently, how many of these ideals am I following? Yeah, I can write an essay about what Utopia is to me and then comment and judge others for not living that way. But should I be?
No. This quote is saying to take that ideal world that you have in your head: that perfect society or way you wish everyone behave and embody that. Become the change. Become the thing that's different. Choose to live the way you're always wishing others did.
Yeah, you and I may be the odd ones out. I'm known as the "good girl" in so many areas because I speak out about what I believe is right and what I think isn't. I've been shunned by different groups of people because my beliefs are too liberal or too conservative. But let me tell you, I've had a lot of people come up to me afterwards and say stuff like, "Thanks for that, I didn't want to say anything, but I'm glad you did," or "You know, I never really thought about it like that before".
You can cause a ripple. The world around us both hates and loves ripples. It loves them because, somehow, everyone's got an ideal world and to see someone moving to make the world a better place is encouraging. It hates them when the ripples ask them to move outside their comfort zone. Therefore, you will have people who will join you in your rippling and others who will try to stop you.
Can I encourage you to try and make a ripple? It doesn't have to be a big one. I'm not asking you to donate your savings to charity or go on a community service trip to Africa for a year. I'm not even looking for you to stand up in front of your school and talk to them about an issue you see. Hold the door open for someone. Buy the person behind you in the drive-thru's lunch. Smile at a stranger. Compliment someone you don't usually talk to. Ask your friends to stop when they start making fun of that kid. You might not see a change after a day or two or even a week. But the ripples will start.
I challenge you. This week, make three ripples a day. I'll do it too. Make a ripple. Be the odd one out.
Be the change.