Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality

“When you are no longer able to change the situation, you are forced to change yourself.”

Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search For Meaning

(Psychologist & Concentration Camp Survivor)

Viktor Frankl’s quotation is perhaps the most touching, sharp, provocative and simple quotation on what it takes to be a differencemaker. Sounds simple, but don’t mistake simple for easy to do.

To be a Differencemaker is to begin by making a difference to yourself. It’s about finding the courage and tenacity to either change your situation or change yourself; or both. It’s about thinking differently and independently from the conditioning and rules that have made you who you are today. It’s about finding new possibilities in your life and acting on these new possibilities. It’s about touching different lives as you change yours.

I know people who says they would make a difference once they achieve a certain status, job or financial stability. In other words, they need to change their current situation and have to be ‘doing well’ before they would contemplate ‘doing good’. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Differencemakers are people who understand you can ‘do well by doing good’.

Your mind has the power to imagine better – and this starts with imagining a better you. A better you doesn’t depend on your job, your status, your friends, your family or your wealth. It’s simply about you. What is the difference in you that you can imagine and what are you willing to do about it?

And you don’t have to make earth-shattering differences in someone’s life. For example, if the difference you wish to make is to spend more time with the family, then what’s the difference in you that you have to make in order to spend more time with the family?

In December 2008, I was staring into the abyss because my new career in leadership development was failing spectacularly. I couldn’t change the situation and it looked like I had to go back into the IT industry again. Then came the announcement that the UK high street store Woolworths was closing down with the lost of 27,000 jobs. I decided I would help 500 people facing redundancy locally and not charge for this.

I spent a whole day (literally) thinking and dealing with my commercial conditioning that says ‘I will only share my insight if you paid me.’ After all, I had not earned any money for over 8 months. In the end, I was forced to change myself; to get rid of my conditioning, to think independently and to search deep down about my authentic intention for helping people. After 24 hours of thinking, I was finally happy with my intention, which was ‘I am happy to share my leadership learning freely because I know it can make a difference to people’s lives’

In forcing myself to change I began to see other possibilities to help people. With the Internet being such a great leveler for sharing insight, I realised I could share my leadership thinking with 20 million people through a blog. That’s how Leaders Café was born!

As Plutarch, the great Greek philosopher said so eloquently “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”.


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