You Say You Want to Change the World?

Do you really want to sell sugar water, or do you want to come with me and change the world?

—Steve Jobs, recruiting John Sculley to become Apple CEO, 1983

We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?

—Steve Jobs

Changing the world. That’s some pretty heady stuff. I’d like to think we all want to change the world, to put our own dent in the universe. I know that when I talk about my work with SIS and 10XP Solutions I frequently mention that my goal is to change the world of staffing and change the world of software development. Both of these are laudable goals, but this merely begs the question, how does one go about changing the world?

The answer is deceptively simple, but, like so many things in life, it is hiding in plain sight. The problem is that most of us fail to approach the problem correctly. We believe that if we are to change the world that we have to perform some action on the world itself – we need to create something that didn’t exist, we need to convince someone of something new – but this is the wrong place to begin. If we wish to change the world, we must first change the way we view the world.

World SculptureThe world only exists as we perceive it. This perception exists regardless of whether there is (or isn’t) an objective reality. Of course, we should try to passionately and unwaveringly pursue objective reality, but we should always acknowledge that our view of reality might not be correct and the way we behave, as a result of our perception, might not be optimal. Therefore, when contemplating the qualities that will allow us to be the leaders that change the world, we must never forget humility or curiosity. Our world will never change until we allow the freedom for our perception of the world to change.

When we look at those things that we say have changed the world, what, in fact, has changed? Is the world really radically different or is it our perception that has changed? I think if we give it any thought at all we would easily conclude that the world really doesn’t change much, but when new things, whether products or ideas, come our way and these allow us (or force us) to see the world differently, then the world itself has changed.

World in my handThe first step then when we want to change the world is to first change our own world by changing the way we view the world. Once we have changed the world in that manner the next step is to figure out how to lead and convince others that our worldview is the correct one. This is where the advice from my last blog, “You Can Be Right or You Can Be Successful” comes into play. We need to help people see the new world, not because we are right, but because we have made the fundamental mental shift ourselves and find that the new worldview is more successful.

Steve Jobs made monumental changes to the world; he certainly made his dent in the universe. It is my opinion the reason he was successful was because before he changed the world, he changed himself and his view of the world. If we wish to follow in his footsteps and the many others who have changed the world, we need to have the curiosity to keep seeking, the humility to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers and, once we have seen the world change by the new views we hold, the patience and compassion to lead others to see the world as we now see it.

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