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Learning how to be the change you want to see

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Civil Rights Leader Mahatma Gandhi famously said, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’. I remember when I first heard that I was a bit flummoxed at how I might go about ‘being the change’ that I wanted to see. I want all sorts of change – world peace, equality, the end of racism, homophobia, violence, homelessness and all kinds of abuse – those big, societal things that many of us share a desire for. How do I go about being the change in all of these areas?

The thing is that these things are so big and so challenging that most of us scratch our heads, think ‘well there’s nothing I can do about any of it’ and then just carry on living our lives as we always have, feeling helpless.

I have come to realise that it is in the small things we do every day that we can choose to do things differently and be the change we want to see. As a leadership mindset mentor, I have heard a lot of stories about how women feel frustrated in their workplaces. That they are over-looked for promotions or aren’t getting noticed by their superiors, or that the people around them constantly moan about how fed up they are, and it gets them down. This is exactly when it is a great opportunity for you to be the change you want to see in the world.

When I worked as part of a larger team, inevitably there were people who would enjoy moaning and groaning about everything. You know the type, the ones who seem to revel in things going wrong, almost waiting (hoping?) for it to happen. The toxic individuals who want to drag everyone down to their low mood. The glass isn’t half empty, it’s got a hole in the bottom!

The trouble is that misery loves company and once one person starts moaning it can start others off on that path and soon you are surrounded by people complaining that nothing ever works for them in ‘this place’. If you work anywhere near one of these individuals, my advice is to get the hell away from them as fast as you possibly can! If you can’t escape them fully then protect yourself from their negativity by not engaging with them or zoning out of the discussions by wearing sound-proof headphones. And if you recognise yourself then please do yourself a favour and stop moaning – the reality is that no-one likes a Debbie Downer!

One of the key things I teach in businesses is how to develop stronger Emotional Intelligence. The first step towards this is to realise that you have a choice and allow yourself to exercise it.

When you exercise choice you accept accountability, see your options and are open to change, choose to be open and seek to understand – ultimately you feel empowered. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t exercise choice and feel ambivalent, blame others or circumstances, give up and act like a victim.

But what if everyone suddenly woke up and realised they actually are in control of their own lives? That you do have a choice, that you can make a change to your life – no matter what the situation is that you are currently in? Because that is the truth. Unless you are reading this from a prison cell or are being held captive somewhere, you are not a victim unless you choose to be.

If there are things you don’t like where you work, ask yourself what you can do to change them. If you want to be in a different place in your home, work, life in general, what small steps or changes can you start doing to make that a reality?

Problem solvers, fixers, doers – they are the ones who rise to the top.

Wherever you are in a business you can play your part and make a difference by seeking out opportunities to get involved in different things which play to your strengths. It starts having a voice and being heard by the right people. If you are someone who see solutions where there are problems, don’t wait to be asked to do something – volunteer to help! Be focused on a positive outcome for the business and seek out other people to support you.

As the American Anthropologist, Margaret Mead, said: ‘Never doubt that a small, concerned group of citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’. So whilst it may be impossible for you to see how you can make a change to those huge things like world peace or homelessness, feel empowered to know that there are always things you can do to make changes around you in your workplace. If you are looking to get ahead in your career, start finding out what the big issues are in the boardroom and how you might be able to help. Make it known what your career aspirations are, where your skills lie, what more you would like to get involved in.

Don’t be defined by your job title or role profile, seek out opportunities to shine your light!

If you've enjoyed this blog and would like to read more from me, grab a copy of my book Don't Dim to Fit In and come and join me over on one of my social channels! I look forward to meeting you there.


Kate x

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