Seeing the Bigger Picture
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
We are not one of many, we are MANY OF ONE.
When we change our thinking in some way, we will almost certainly be impacting and influencing others without knowing it, because we’re affected by one another’s energy fields, and are very probably connected at the level of ‘superconscious mind’. When we change our outlook or attitude, for example, it extends a compelling invitation to those we’re dealing with to change too (although they are free to choose not to, if they don’t want to).
Whilst we can’t (and shouldn’t try to) directly change other people, or control what they do, we can often influence them through our own example, and by providing information, stories and so on that might make them want to change. I should add that the only time it would be ethical to try and change or influence someone’s actions is when the change would be for their own benefit (for example, a behaviour change to benefit their health), or where there’s a ‘greater good’ at stake (like maybe climate change). Otherwise it would be a violation of free will, and would either not work, backfire or come at a high cost, and I don’t mean financially.
When we look around, we can probably all see things that would benefit from transformation. Often it’s the larger systems and institutions - financial, political/governmental, religious, judicial, educational, welfare, health-care, media, and so on. Then there are industries like food, manufacturing, chemical, clothing and energy. Many large organisations (and some small and medium sized ones too) are obsessed with growth and increasing profits above all else, when that’s not always sustainable. Usually, it’s culture that needs to change first - the ideas, customs and behaviours of an organisation, group or society – then, the more obvious, tangible changes follow.
Too often we steer clear of trying to influence these things because they feel too big and overwhelming. Maybe we don’t believe they can ever change. Often we wish somebody would do something about them, forgetting that we are somebody! Individually, of course, we are limited in our influence, however, collectively we hold more power than we realise. Collectively we can change the world! The difficulty is that we are not always united. We focus on our differences, forgetting that, at the higher level, we all have the same needs and want the same things (love, peace, fulfilment, health, happiness, and so on). When we work together with a shared purpose, we can achieve anything; however, our beliefs are self-fulfilling… if we believe we can bring about change, we will make it happen; if we believe we can’t, we won’t even try.
Of course, change isn’t always easy, and it often meets with resistance. We need to make it as easy and safe for people as possible, clearly communicating why it’s necessary, how it will benefit them and how they can take full advantage of the opportunities. We also need a compelling vision and an excellent project plan, along with a great team and some contingencies for the unexpected.
I recommend checking out the book, ‘Influencer – The New Science of Leading Change’ (Joseph Grenny et al – McGraw Hill) to anyone serious about achieving larger-scale behaviour change, and if possible, attending the ‘Influencer’ training course (go to www.vitalsmarts.com). There’s also a heap of free, change-related microlearning available on mobile learning platform SmartUp’s ‘Changemakers’ community. From a smartphone or tablet, download the ‘SmartUp Learn’ app from the App Store. Enter the community name ‘changemakers’ in the blank field: ________________.smartup.io, and sign-up.
As individuals, we are at the centre of our experience, however, we are not at the centre of the universe, and nor do all things revolve around us individually. As much as we have physical individuality and our own personality, we are also a small part of a greater collective, and are interdependent on one other, much like cells in the human body. Each cell has a different job to do, but what happens in one part of the body can have a negative impact on the other parts, with the effect of disease or dysfunction taking a lot of the available energy and resource away from the whole. Similarly, we are all affected by what’s happening elsewhere in the world (even if we don’t consciously feel it) – and other parts of the world are affected by what’s happening here. In some cases, what’s happening is a potential threat to our collective existence, and we need to wake up to the threats and start taking action.
Not everyone will want to lead change, but we can all play a part in making it happen. The question is, what are the things you care passionately about, or that really bother you, that you would love to play a part in protecting or improving? It’s said that “charity begins at home” - that our first responsibility is to ourselves, our families and friends – and I think that’s true. However, I also think that we are here in service of something bigger – the collective – and that we each feel inspired to make a difference in different ways. You might have a leaning towards benefiting the environment for instance, or animals, or something connected with wealth/poverty, housing, equality, food, water, government, spirituality, justice, education, well-being.
At different stages in our lives we will have more, and/or less, time and energy to give to these matters. If you have the capacity currently, give some thought as to what change initiative(s) you could start, or perhaps help with, that relate to the things you care about. Even if you only gently questioned or challenged faulty and/or unhelpful beliefs, that would be a significant contribution.
Imagine for a moment how the world would change if the majority of us…
viewed everyone as important
treated ourselves and others with love and compassion
were emotionally honest with each another, in a kind and respectful way
listened deeply to each other without judgement, in order to learn and understand
consumed only what we needed
made decisions that represented the best interests of all concerned
took responsibility for nurturing and prospering ourselves, other people, our planet and all its life forms.
What kind of outcomes do you think we would see? What improvements would there be in areas such as conflict and war, health and well-being, environment and climate change, poverty and hunger, education, and so on? Would the issues even exist any more?
Some people snort at the idea of a world where people conduct themselves with this level of consciousness, integrity and responsibility, saying that it’s utopian and unrealistic. However, whilst the world will probably never be ‘perfect’ as we understand it, it would seem to me that these actions are not outside of the bounds of human capability/possibility. Take another look at them. Aren’t they all teachable and learnable?
We will probably never have a situation where everyone behaves in this way – it is a planet of free will and choice after all, and not everyone will see the benefits – however, I think it’s reasonable to believe that the greater majority of people could be raised or taught to operate as such. Again, we need to be fully conscious of our beliefs about what is and isn’t possible, because they will tend to be self-fulfilling.
For this reason, we should hold a vision of the highest potentiality for humankind, modelling and promoting these actions, and ignoring the naysayers who say it’s impossible. As the Chinese proverb tells us: “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it”!
Anthropologist Margaret Mead once famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. So, I hope you will join me in dreaming big – both in your own life, and in your visions for the bigger picture. I strongly believe that we can create and achieve anything we put our hearts and minds to, when we get out of our own way.
May your faith be stronger than your fears!
From the final chapter of Martine Bolton's forthcoming book: ‘Your Thinking is Your Superpower’ – out Autumn 2019.