If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world. – Elaine S. Dalton
What does that mean?
How much change will happen if everyone is the same? If everyone thinks the same, acts the same, and no one is different, how can change happen at all?
That is the underlying question of question posed by the quote. If everyone is the same, how will the world change, or even know that change is possible or desirable?
It is stated in the positive, stating that if you want to change to occur, you will have to be different from the others, that they might see you and be influenced.
To influence the world to change, you have to show it a new or better way. The same goes for smaller groups, such as friends, family, and those around you.
Why is being different important?
As mentioned before, if people look at you, and you’re doing the exact same thing they are doing and in the same way, what influence will you have to change anything? The same thought applies when you are thinking. If you aren’t showing anyone a new way to think, how will you influence their thinking?
By being different, we can show that there is another way, perhaps a better or more efficient way. But understand that others may be resistant to change, and that can cause some difficulty at times. Also understand that others may not value the same things you do, and may not find your new way to be better from their point of view.
Still, we humans are a contrary bunch. While most of us move with our society in broad strokes, most will have their own little differences. This can lead to interesting reactions from some, and hostility from others. What can you say, haters are going to hate. But we each must determine if the pain is worth the benefit we gain from it.
By being different, we will impress some and annoy others. Some of us do it on purpose, other times, it is accidental. Understand that there is no universally accepted way to think or behave, as everyone is a little different, and will react by their own definition of normal. So the question becomes how do you want to influence or change your world?
Where can I apply this in my life?
We all have areas in our lives where we conform, and areas where we refuse to do so. We have things in our lives where we are comfortable and don’t desire change. There are also areas in our lives where we are uncomfortable and wish to become an agent of change, even if only in our own family or group.
And why not? It’s a place to start. Take a first step, see how things are going, and learn a little bit. Learn how others react, how to best discuss the difference you wish to see accomplished. How will you handle objections or conflicts in desired results? How will you convince them that you have a better way?
One of the things I am working on, starting with my family and friends, is giving positive reinforcement to kind and gentle words and acts. I also try to be the example of what I would like to see them become. It isn’t easy, as I am only human, and sometimes act before thinking, but I’m getting better. And so are they.
What are some of the things which annoy you? What might you be able to do to help make things better in your little corner of the world? Who can you show the new way or even the subtle changes you might have found? How will you point out these changes, that they might notice and consider them?
What can you do to help make others believe you have a better way? On the world stage, Mandela, Gandhi and King all were willing to go to prison to show their dedication to their respective causes. That’s probably not a good starting point for any of us. Remember, it wasn’t a starting point for them either.
Now, are you willing to take that first step and live the change you want to make in the world? Will you do the different things that inspire others in the world to do the same? Sometimes it is easy to do, other times it can be more difficult. But it is the first step, and a necessary one, if you are to convince others to join you.
Which leads us to the next step. Who will you talk to, or will you wait for them to notice and talk to you about it? How will you broach the subject? Just blurting it out will probably not be a problem with friends and family, but a slightly more elegant approach may be more useful for discussing the idea with a larger audience.
We can make a difference in the world. The first step is to identify what we want to change. What do you want to do? What are you willing to do to be different, to be the example of what others can do to become that change?