Last week I was sent a great quote that I wanted to share and write about:
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.” – Unknown Monk, 1100 AD
If I am honest, my greatest challenges do not lie with making things happen in the outer world. I actually find that relatively easy. However, the closer to home, the more I struggle.
I find that simple things – like paying attention to what interests my 3 year old son – are far tougher challenges than convincing people to take on a world problem. I find that not getting annoyed with my wife about something small is actually a far tougher challenge for me than coming up with a crazy idea that impacts a lot of people.
And how I feel, deep inside, can be the hardest part. Even now, living a rich and rewarding life as I do, there are still times when I struggle to motivate myself to get out of bed.
The last few years have been quite a journey. What started as a mission to change the outer world has become a very necessary drive to change and improve my inner world.
The great thing is that the more I slow down, let go, and focus on the inner struggle, the more the outer world seems to improve around me, and the easier change happens.
To me, the most important thing is not what I do: it is what kind of energy I send out into the world from within. The unintended consequence of expanding my inner struggle into the world could be huge. My belief is that if I strive rather than thrive, it creates unintended problems that I don’t yet fully understand.
Reflecting on Steve Jobs, whilst I admire what he has done in the world, I also question what more he could have done if he had not had such a painful way of dealing with those close to him. What subconscious message did that send to people within his organisation? What subconscious message did that organisation then propagate around the world?
I also look at Elon Musk, whom I also admire, and I see that he is getting divorced for the third time. Again, what subconscious impact is that having on his organisations? What impact does it have on the way everyone else builds organisations?
How do these struggles closer to home compromise the longer-term impact such people can make on the world? How do our inner struggles impact the world? What are the unintended consequences of this?
If potential is infinite and our ideas are an infinite resource, why compromise on any part of life? Why sacrifice something you hold dearly, in the pursuit of something else?
These questions pose good challenges for me. Every day that passes, I am more focussed on building from the inside out, rather than the outside in.
A good job, too – because in matters of inner transformation, and in being a great husband and father, I have to say that I still feel like a complete novice.
Work in progress.