Everywhere I go, I hear discussions, lectures, and proud statements about changing the world. I get emails encouraging me to change the world (or at least donate time or money to those who wish to do so). The media highlights world changers. Venture capitalists invest in world changers. Politicians should be (re) elected because they will change the world. Even entrepreneurs are in the world changing business.
Well, guess what – I don’t want to change the world. At least not as a deliberate agenda. I want to help people. My righteous path is in growing human and intellectual capital – personal growth as well as helping others. I believe that my efforts improve the lives of others. If the world happens to change because of what I do, so be it. But it is not my righteous path. I am not put here on this world to change it.
Why shouldn’t I seek to change the world? Does this mean that I can not see that all is not awesome and needs to be rectified? Can I not see that much improvement can be made? Remember, many of history’s “leaders” also sought to change the world (just not to the world you may have in mind). And why should my prescription for the world trump everyone else’s?
What does it mean to change the world? Who should be doing the world changing? And changing into what? And if you succeed in changing the world, does that mean I need to change it again so that I too can change the world? And what about the millions of others who are told that they need to change the world? The changing will never stop. And here’s the kicker: The world is a dynamic place that changes through its own nature (not always man-made), as well as the actions of multiple stakeholders, leaders, actors, and spectators.
As I write this, I am already tired of world changing (at least writing the words). The point is that we are placing too much emphasis on some utopian notion that we need to drive grand plans built upon (often unrealistic) ideological conditions. What ever happened to the much simpler and more effective slogan to “think global, act local?”
Making a meaningful difference in the lives of others does not need a conquest-like mindset. If we would create value adding businesses that generate impact and profit, we can feel proud that we are doing well by doing good. And when we have thousands upon thousands of such actors engaging in a (mostly) free-market, then we are changing the world. But not through coercion, ideology, regulations and force, but by leaving the world a better place than we found it while taking care of ourselves and our families.
And that is what most business owners do. They do not need to go out and change the world – they are already making a meaningful difference. And that changes the world.