In the corporate world, an agent of change is defined as: a person from inside or outside the organization who helps an organization transform by focusing on such matters as organizational effectiveness, improvement, and development. This definition should be expanded. As human beings, are we not all agents of change? We inherently possess traits and characteristics that allow us to influence others.
What does it take to be an agent of change? Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” You must be willing to pick up that stone. Overcoming your trepidation may be difficult. To be certain, much of what we fear is due to what we remember or are conditioned to believe. You cannot change what was done in your past. You can only hope to learn from past mistakes and success. To be an effective agent of change you must be able to overcome your fear or anxiety.
Be proactive. In today’s world, the old adage, “If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it!” does not apply. I encourage you to make changes before you are required. Staying static is not optional. Eric Hoffer stated, “In times of change learners inherit the Earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Each new day provides an opportunity to change the course of your life and the lives of those with whom you encounter. According to Henry Ward Beecher, “Our days are a kaleidoscope. Every instant a change takes place-new harmonies, new contrasts, new combinations of every sort are formed”
Push yourself past your comfort zone. You may feel secure where you currently are in life. I assure you that if you never venture out past the ledge of your comfort zone, you will never truly experience life to its fullest. Do not be afraid to put your best self out there. The Apple Computer Company has a motto, “Here’s to the crazy ones-the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Do not expect change to always be well-accepted by others. Some are defiant to change. Others love it. Sydney J. Harris said, “Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” If you want to purposely alienate people, try changing something that affects their daily routine without first consulting them. Most people do not resist change. Most embrace it if given good reasoning and purpose. Most people do fear being changed. I encourage you to collaborate. Often, the ideas of others are better than yours. Listen and be receptive, especially, to those who challenge your way of thinking. When proposing change, give reasoning and listen to feedback. When adamantly opposed, think about the words of Andrea Jung, who said,”If you feel like it’s difficult to change, you will probably have a harder time succeeding.” Do not be so stubborn in your thought process. Sometimes you must compromise to receive the reward of change and the satisfaction of how it is received.
As for when to know when change is necessary the late Steve Jobs said, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Look inward, first. Until you are willing to change yourself, you cannot predictively hope to influence others.
I encourage you to use your strength, wisdom, power, and experience to positively effect the lives of others. No act of kindness goes unnoticed. While I am certain many of us are oblivious to the effect we have on others, I think it’s worth noting we make an impact; whether it be large or small.