“Be the difference you wish to see in the world.”
I’ve heard everyone’s favorite adage plenty of times.
I say no.
I say there is one word that does not belong.
The verb must be replaced.
“Define;” “Own;” “Live;” “Make” the difference you wish to see in the world. Do not subject (or restrict) yourself to becoming the entire embodiment of the change.
Define the Difference
In this instance, a difference is defined as a planned change of a large scale. As with anything that is planned, a difference is therefore a goal (or a mission). Regardless the desired effect, all goals share certain qualifications. They must be not only attainable and meaningful, but have clearly distinguished timelines and end results. Anything worth changing is worth the work; and chaos, (however appealing it may be at times) is never a better alternative to structure. Make a skeleton for your vision to stand upon and a path for it to follow.
Own the Difference
Going along with defining a difference or change, owning that action is a preliminary act that confirms the willingness to work for what you believe in. Owning a vision has three immediate consequences-and they aren’t bad ones. Firstly, by committing to a course of action, you show both yourself and others that it really is worth fighting for and creates the pressure needed to ensure further action. Expanding on that, you must know what you are gaining possession of, and therefore owning a change forces a return to my first point-that a difference must be defined. Finally, the momentum and definition given to a movement by setting on this path provides the opportunity for external groups and individuals to learn about your cause and begin offering their own support. An essential part to any team (and that is what those in your movement will become: a team) is a leader, and you are naturally the most qualified to take this position as the one that knows the most about your goal.
Live the Difference
Returning to the original quote, recall that the popular demand is to “BE the difference you wish to see.” Living out a vision is very similar to “being” that difference in that you are required to embody the action you plan on enforcing. Beginning with yourself is naturally a perfect place to kick-start a change, because, as is so often proclaimed, every action must be pursued from the inside out. The minor differences in verbiage, however, lead to very different endings if brought to their conclusions. By accepting that you will “be” a certain thing, you become mutually exclusive with the object or idea. Neither you nor what you represent can exist without the other. By definition, this then becomes a one-time vow that loses meaning as it is later pushed to the background. Everyone expects you to be a certain way, but they don’t think about it. And when you are no longer here to act that way? If you die or move away? The idea is removed with you. By living a certain way, however, you introduce an organic element to the agreement. By living out an action, every day becomes a battle against your mind. By choosing to live out a mission, you accept that you will continually search for ways to keep your beliefs at the forefront–you will search for ways to further your commitment, you will show that you are loyal, and you will not allow yourself to become status-quo. By doing this, you will make it impossible to ignore your allegiances, and others will begin to recognize them as well, furthering your purpose beyond your own life.
Make the Difference
If you’ll remember the past references to getting others involved, this is where it all comes together. If you vow to make a difference, you vow to find support and make a lasting impact. You do not vow to become the sole proponent of a firm stance as you would if you were to “be the difference.” You vow to lead a change, not to overwhelm yourself with its vastness. If the end goal of your action is too make a difference, following the previously stated steps: defining, owning, and living out your change, it is inevitable that others will notice and some will join you. Keep working with those and soon your cause will grow. Anything worth hope is worth seeing through. Making a difference is certainly life-changing, but it does NOT have to be stressful and life-ending. So go out there and find your passion. And while you’re at it, see it through and make a positive impact on the world!
Yours in Life with a Purpose,