Want to be a world changer? Pull up a chair or build your own table. Quit waiting around for your gilded invitation!
I am often so focused on getting things done, that I don’t much care if I’ve been anointed one of the chosen ones. We need to be careful of comparing our messy beginning or middle with someone’s else’s resolution or polished delivery.
I know sometimes it might feel like you’re not being given the same opportunities that others get. It’s hard and sometimes it hurts. And you know what? you’re probably right.
The word isn’t fair. There are those who will, for whatever is the reason du jour, seem like they coast to you. But that doesn’t mean they do…you may not really have any clue how hard someone else has worked or the challenges they have faced or obstacles they have overcome.
But here’s the thing. I don’t much care. Stop comparing yourself to others. It is unproductive. By all means look to those who have done what you want to do to see what you can learn from their path. But it is a waste of time if it’s all about comparison, resentment, or bitterness.
You might work without recognition or acknowledgement; and that has to be okay – unless recognition or acknowledgement is your goal, in which case go and find something else to do.
For those of you working away to change your piece of the world, I want to ask you why you do what you do? What is your goal?
I am going to perhaps ruffle some feathers by asserting that your goal should not be about bringing attention to you personally, but to the issues and communities larger than yourself. Know your facts, understand the issues cold – from more than one perspective! Please hear what I am not saying, I am not saying that your personal experience and story is unimportant. In fact, it is fundamentally important.
Okay, I hear you say, sometimes you need to be heard by the “right people,” and you need to be noticed to do that. Yes, I grant you that it can be important to be at the table. But is that what it takes to be a world changer?
But here’s the thing: if you want open doors and people to fall over themselves to support the changes you want to make, you have to know that that is unlikely. You must figure out what’s in it for them.
You have to decide what you are trying to achieve and why – and be able to approach the issues from a range of perspectives. Seek to listen and learn why others might have a different approach. Be persistent- ask for meetings, but don’t walk out of every meeting telling yourself that you’re going to get everything you’ve asked for! It’s easier for those you are meeting with to make you feel good and hopeful, than say no to your face. Be cautiously optimistic in the face of both good and bad news!
So what if you’re finding it hard to build momentum or to get those you want to listen to you to invite you to their table?
Build your own table. Gather people around you who are working on similar topics from different perspectives. In saying this, I am not advocating reinventing the wheel. Build coalitions! Empower those around you.
As far as building momentum and getting in front of decision-makers: You need to find a window if you can’t find a door, this means that should keep asking and communicating recognizing that everyone you communicate with has an agenda of their own.
Don’t give up.
If you don’t feel like you’re getting invited to the table you have three choices – 1) decide you don’t care about the table and build your own; 2) find another way to get to that table – keep on advocating; 3) pull up a chair and get on with it, you may be waiting a very long time for an invitation – so make room for yourself at the table confidently and assertively. Sometimes you need to be bold!
One final and essential point for what it means to be a true world changer: Once you have a foot in the door; once you have a seat at the table, or you’ve made your own – make sure you pass it on – teach others what you’ve learned, and bring people with you.