I know in my previous post, I teased a preview of this post and, well, let’s just say this is not the post you’ve been awaiting. After a day or two, it seems cooler heads have prevailed and the conflict I referred to has been resolved to my satisfaction. Posting anything further on my part would be unnecessarily inflammatory and in poor taste, so any readers looking for that sort of juicy, conflict-tinged content will just have to suck it up. Because I have more integrity than many, the rest of the story will stay with me, because no good will come to the world from airing this “dirty laundry.” I received the apology I sought and we are all good. Had a small, but joyful band practice Saturday.
So, thankfully, I now have other thoughts starting to flow once again. I don’t think I realized how much this conflict was weighing on me. I’m not certain how long this time of free-flowing thought will last (never long enough would be my answer), but I must write while the juices are flowing. There is no other choice to make.
And I’ve been thinking about how change is made, at any scale beyond an individual choice to change. So many ingredients are required to shift the direction of progress within any society, much less across the entire planet. I feel like there are multiple existential facts that I have been acting out in my life since I was a child that are coming into vogue all of a sudden, many of them related to environment and sustainability. Live within your means isn’t only financial advice… it also refers to environmental footprint. Why use more than you need? Why not challenge yourself to use less, consume less and take up less space, rather than expanding your footprint up to (or beyond) the limits of your income? What really is the point?
So then I start thinking about how so many people don’t see, refuse to interrogate or just plain don’t believe that they have an impact at all, whether on the economy, on the environment or on the decisions of their friend group. Are certain people just incapable of realizing their effect on others? There are those who exude positive influence without trying, but are more likely to downplay their influence because that is what they have been told throughout their lives. And on the opposite end, there are those who influence others adversely and refuse to believe it because they’ve always been led to believe that they were doing the right thing simply because they were doing it.
Not all advice is meant for all people.
When I say folks should pay more attention to the feedback they are getting from others and consider modifying their behavior, I AM NOT talking to the first group because that is not the message they need to hear. And on the contrary, when I advise folks to believe more in themselves and stand proudly in their beliefs of their own competence, I am certainly not talking to the second group. This is not the problem they need to figure out.
The point is to challenge yourself every day to grow in the ways that you know you are weakest. If you don’t know where you are weak, consider asking a trusted friend or relative for help. Don’t just lean into what you know; work on leveling up outside your comfort zone.
And this leads me to thinking about how we are to move forward in this country, or in the world for that matter, when there are so many issues and so much at stake. We have to put one foot in front of the other. There is no playbook and failure is not an option. Well, I mean, it is a potential outcome, but one we should at least all agree we would prefer to avoid.
So when you take an action or make a statement or move in a direction, try to make an effort to view that action not only through the lens of what suits you in the moment or for the medium term, but also through the lens of others who will experience the results of your actions or of those who may be influenced by seeing the action you take. What will the second and third-tier downstream effects of your action be? Are you setting a good example for those who may be watching or listening? Can you use your action to inspire positive action in others, or are you making statements or moves that discourage others? Is it possible to do what you wish in a way that increases the opportunity to radiate the positive effects while minimizing the chance others will have a negative or divisive view of your actions?
If all this seems to complex to even fathom when you have important decisions to make and actions to take, welcome to my world. You see, I am in that first group of people who has been told over and over that my ideas don’t matter or aren’t appropriate. And yet I have influence; I need to keep reminding myself of this fact. As my writing practice has grown in longevity, if not frequency, I have gotten different sorts of feedback, some positive and some negative, but all indicating to me that some people are actually paying attention to my words, and placing value on what I have to say rather than dismissing my ideas outright because they may be too challenging or not imbued with the appropriate amount of respect for and deference to authority. Therefore I have a responsibility to help bring people together, and to help elevate others who have not been elevated in the past. I want, I need to be building this platform as a way to help others.
Comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
How will you use your platform to elevate the thoughts and actions of those who have less than you today? Because people are watching and listening. What you say matters. If all you have to say supports the status quo, you should question your assumptions. Change is happening all around us and moving backwards in time is impossible. We cannot go back to the 1950s, even if that was desirable for anyone. We must move forward, keeping any penchant for nostalgia in check, and deal with the crises we have all contributed to in greater or lesser ways since we were born. Reset your priors and your expectations and get in the game on the right side of history.
The future starts now. How can you make it a better one?