“Change is inevitable, but growth is optional.”
This quote from leadership coach John Maxwell, which is typically spoken in regard to an individual’s own personal development, can also be applied to the subject of your environment. Look around you. Have you relationships become stagnant, with discussions lacking in any real substantive value? Is your business or workplace using outdated processes? Have the non-profits and churches you support failed to adapt modern technologies to their cause?
All of these examples are unfortunately common. People, businesses, and other organizations can find themselves losing their relevancy and effectiveness if they fail to adapt and grow. More distressing, however, is that the response of many individuals to such decline is to either exclaim “why doesn’t someone do something about this?”, or, worse yet, accept the situation as hopeless and simply walk away. They adapt a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality, acting naively as if the solution to the problems in their environments is to simply seek new ones where problems and stagnation are presumably absent. What these individuals fail to recognize (other than that there is no such thing as a perfect environment) is that they have the power to influence and change their environments, to positively influence these situations for the better.
They have the power to be agents of change.
What defines a change agent? As discussed by Success Magazine, change agents are individuals who have a clear vision for what they are working towards, addressing specific issues to positively influence their business, community, and general environment. They are knowledgeable about the subject at hand, are not afraid to address the difficult questions, and are persistent in their mission. They also build strong relationships, earning trust by setting the example and inspiring and encouraging others to their cause. These relationships result in successful teams with various complementary strengths, furthering their progress.
Some change agents radically transform their environments. These disruptors, individuals such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos, alter how millions of people around the globe operate each day. But your impact does not have to be that extreme to create positive influences on the world around you. As Mother Teresa once stated, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” The individual who goes on their own to hand out coats to the destitute during winter is creating change. The employee that puts forth suggestions for improving processes is creating change. The friend who begins to invest more time in deepening relationships is creating change. The advocate who encourages their city or county government to adapt positive reformation is creating change.
Change begins with you. Create the first ripple in your environment, and let that roll into an avalanche of positive change.
To be fair: yes, there are some situations in which change will not occur, or at a minimum will be extremely difficult. You may be a great connector and be enthusiastic at creating positive change, but if your colleagues, management, or other individuals tied to the situation are hard set upon the status quo, you may face a battle in which the potential rewards do not outweigh the cost. You will have to use your best judgement and input from closely trusted sources in these instances to determine how to respond.
Remember: everything begins with making a choice to be involved. The “armchair quarterback” may have good suggestions, but he ultimately contributes nothing because he is not in the game. Take time during your day to not only identify the areas in which you can improve the world around you, but also go out and actually begin to implement that change. Don’t go in search of greener pastures; turn the grass beneath your feet greener.
Jeremiah Clark, M.A., is a healthcare IT consultant with six Epic Systems certifications. He is also the co-owner of Appalachian Digital, a website development agency. You can contact Jeremiah at JeremiahSethClark@Outlook.com or connect with him on LinkedIn at Jeremiah Clark.