How do you change the world?

Everyone wants to change the world.

That’s not very ambitious.

We change the world every day. We breathe, we talk with people, we post photos… All our actions in some way change something in our surroundings, which are all part of THE WORLD.

We’re all changing the world by virtue of being in it.

But okay, let’s talk about changing the world. Changing things on a massive scale. Helping humanity in general.

For a long time, I thought I needed to do something special to do that. I was on the lookout for the breakthrough idea. I don’t do that anymore.

It’s an unhelpful perspective.

It’s not about that special one idea or opportunity that will change the world. It’s about how we choose to do what we do.

We can choose to do our jobs in a novel, better way. We can find a room for improvement in our schedules. We can choose the vehicle through which we change the world.

Let me give you three examples.

Take Marie Kondo. She’s a Japanese organizing consultant and author, whose book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up I’ve just read. She consults people on how to tidy their mess and helps millions of people with her books to lead a better, neater life.

Or take Sekou Andrews, a full-time poet. He inspires and delights people with his poetry. He changes the world through his performances.

How about Jiro Ono, the sushi chef and subject of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Not only he has devoted decades to the art of making sushi, but he still continues to invent new ways of making it. He made his little restaurant into a world-famous destination for lovers of delicious food.

They all change the world in their own way. And they do it through an unusual amount of focused effort.

No one’s the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but we all have the opportunity to be really great at something, possibly even best in the world, if we focus our attention in a certain direction.

The Work

I want to mention something at this point: changing the world is a label that we slap on years of effort.

Typically, we recognize people only after decades of hard work and dedication. Then they have changed the world.

But they were changing it quietly for a long time before that. The evenings spent folding clothes, writing, designing, dreaming,… that’s when that change happened.

So instead of focusing on the distant outcome of having changed the world, it might be wiser to focus on the every day life. In short, it’s about the process and the habits that we build over time.

The Conclusion

I look at changing the world this way now:

It’s not about becoming the next someone, it’s more about recognizing one’s abilities and building on them in a direction.

It’s about trying new things and seeing what sticks.

It’s about learning with resources and practice.

And it’s about applying extraordinary amount of effort towards a distant goal.

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