• stefanieschissler

What do we need to make a difference?

Aktualisiert: 5. Okt 2018

Photo by Ben Tomesen

Recently, I was visiting an event that was dedicated to the guiding theme of making the world a better place. It was a smaller niche audience I’d say, but somehow everybody was connected through the same ambition of what I would describe as the need to find allies in a mission. The mission to improve well-being for everybody. Interestingly enough, there seem to be plenty of people with brilliant thoughts and growing dissatisfaction with current situations. So that I actually wonder why we are not doing more already.

What keeps me busy since then, is my hypothesis, that the issue is not that people don’t have great ideas. The issue is that we all, including myself, seem to be better at talking and thinking, than in actual doing.

So my question is: what do we need to start something new, to make a difference? This is one of the questions that often circles around, popping up from time to time, although we might already know the answer. And indeed the answer is: not much.

I believe that one of the things that matter most, is not the need to take the right step, but to start moving in the first place. Life is organic, and so are the journeys we take on. Unfortunately we have a tendency to overthink and analyze every situation even before it occurs — which in return only has the opposite effect. Going through every step in our head over and over again is somehow keeping us from the actual doing. We’re so good at mentally preparing for every bad scenario, that too often, the fear of what we believe could happen, is paralyzing us. Our constant (and most of the time) negative inner chatter restrains us, as it’s either reminding us of difficult situations in the past or lets us worry about the future. It hardly allows us to deal with the pure and unbiased present but with a distorted image of it instead.

What’s holding us back in addition, is our perfectionism. It’s not good enough to get somewhere, we need to get exactly where we want — right away. We readily forget that what we are trying to do is new for us, we haven’t done if before. Which is why the chance to get it right at the first time is rather small. So without being really aware, we are setting ourselves up for failure already before we start.

It is therefore not perfection we should strive for, but the ability to be proud on ourselves that we were brave enough to take a first step into the unknown. And to acknowledge that we have started a journey already.

This journey of change starts with ourselves, it is about where we wanna go and why. We should be conscious about what we want to change without focusing too much on a certain goal. How could we get there with the simplest possible action?  With every little step we will learn something new. And maybe we find out half-way that we want to change course — which only demonstrates that we are already smarter than we were at the beginning of our journey.

But often, we also don’t want to move alone. As a consequence, we want to convince others to follow so much, that we miss the mark. I believe however, that action & experience are more powerful than words. If we can lead by example, there’s no need to convince others. If we can embrace change ourselves, we will inspire others and they will follow naturally.

Finally it’s about the mindset we carry. The crucial part is, to understand change as something positive that will lead us towards something bigger than our current self, and not as something bad where it’s only about leaving everything familiar behind. We shouldn’t consider change as the end of something but rather as a beginning. Instead of focusing on the things we leave behind, focus on the new things we will discover.

If you take a moment to think about the past and certain moments of change, do you miss anything?

Most likely you don’t, and even if so, allow yourself to question if you really miss them, if those attributes were supporting you in any way. Or whether it might be nostalgia embellishing your past-self. A healthy human mind is programmed in a way that hardly causes regret or doubt concerning past decisions. With every decision you make, your inner self will automatically adjust and help you to focus on the positive aspects, in order to make the best of where you currently are. Biologically seen (and very simply put), in earlier days of hunting & gathering, there was no space for regret and doubt. Doubt will not allow you to focus on necessary decisions and doubt will not develop you further. And what matters is that you move forward — no matter how small the step.

Try to think more consciously about what else is holding you back. One of the reasons might be, that you don’t consider your current place the worst place to be. Comfort zone describes the place where you’re comfortable because everything is known and familiar. Which is also why the comfort zone is not quite the place to learn.  Don’t get me wrong, the comfort zone is an important place. Especially in today’s world, we all need a safe spot we can come back to. But wouldn’t it be great if this place would become wider over time?  If we never explore the mountains we see at the horizon, we will eventually get frustrated only by their mere sight. And most important, we will never see the valleys beyond.

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