I’m a pretty confident guy, and I’m not short on self-belief.
Most of the time.
But, sometimes, in quiet, private moments, I sit and ask myself just who the hell I think I am: who am I kidding to think that I can change the world?
Do you have those moments, too? If you do, and I’m guessing you probably do, you’ll know that in those quiet, private moments it’s easy to convince yourself that you are a nobody, to compare yourself to the real revolutionaries who are making a real difference in the world. Who are you when compared to Richard Branson, or Blake Mycoskie, or Aung San Soo Yi, or Bob Geldof, or Bono?
But, frankly, why should it matter how you compare to Bono, or to anyone else for that matter?
The reason it seems to matter how you compare, and, for that matter. how your revolution compares, is that we have been conditioned to a vocabulary that espouses a message of ‘bigger is better’. Words and phrases like ‘create something epic‘, ‘do something amazing‘, ‘be awesome‘ and ‘make a commotion‘ can make you feel that, unless what you are doing is grand and bold enough to be worthy of retweeting, or sharing, or giving a plus-one – or, to put it another way, unless it’s like something Richard Branson might do – what’s the point?
But, what if I told you that it isn’t scale or size that makes something epic. Or amazing or awesome. Or a prerequisite to making a commotion?
What if I told you bigger is not always better?
What if I told you that impact in the world isn’t measured in retweets, shares, plus ones and the size of your mailing list?
What if I told you that what you are doing is epic?
What if I told you that the revolution you are creating is not just amazing, but heroic?
What if I told you that you are awesome, and you are making a commotion?
Well, forget ‘what if’. I am telling you that.
And you can forget those objections you are about to start throwing at me – the ones about how I’ve got it all wrong, how I’ve confused you with someone else, and mistaken what you are creating for something that really will change the world. Because I haven’t confused you, or what you are creating, with anyone, or anything else.
You see, however insignificant or irrelevant you may feel your revolution is, you are doing it. For you, it’s not just a fleeting idea – a brief encounter with what could be – for you, this is an adventure into what should be.
And that puts you in the small band of misfits who, in spite of everything stacked against them, and in the full knowledge that they are not a Richard Branson, or Blake Mycoskie, or Aung San Soo Yi, or Bob Geldof, or Bono, still get on and do.
And that is epic.
You see, when you get on and do, like you are, even when it feels like you are barely making a dent, you change the world.
When you get on and do, you create a disturbance in the status quo, and nothing is ever the same again. And, whether that disturbance is the equivalent of a ‘nine’ on the Richter scale, or a barely perceptible tremor, matters not. The fact remains, you upset the balance – you sent out ripples.
And you can have no idea just what impact those ripples you send out will have, or how far they will reach.
For example, in 2007, believing we had absolutely failed to achieve anything through our not inconsiderable efforts, we closed a charity that we had started four years earlier. But, three years later, a group inspired by the work we had done, picked it up and, even today, are still doing it.
And, often, the i58 team work with people who just don’t seem to get any benefit from our input, leaving us wondering if we failed them. But, months after their programme with us has finished, they say how much it helped them take important steps to kick their drug habit, or got a job, or find some stability.
It’s not about the numbers – how many lives you change, how much money you raise, how many units you ship – it’s about making ripples. And, however inadequate, under-resourced or ill-prepared you feel, you can – no, you are – making ripples.
So forget comparing yourself to others, or measuring your project in terms of retweets, shares, plus ones, or the size of your mailing list. Just keep doing your thing – sending out ripples – and you will change the world.