The invention of the internet changed the way that you and I communicate forever, allowing people across oceans to exchange ideas and information faster than ever. That’s meaningful change. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States pushed a nation out of antiquity into an age of progress (as imperfect as it may be.) That is meaningful change. Creating a company that will send people to Mars and expand the horizons of humanity to other planets—that’s meaningful change. Whoever finds a highly effective cure for cancer and releases it for all to have access to will save countless lives over the course of human history. That’s meaningful change.
Notice that in all of these examples, the change outlined has a direct effect on other people, not just on those who made the change. Meaningful change requires us to look far past ourselves to our fellow humans who we live to serve every single day. It may sound too altruistic for you, but it’s true; change means little if we’re not finding some way to improve the human condition. Recognizing this larger purpose makes all of our work turn out a hell of a lot better. This is exactly what makes great salespeople so successful and loved—they recognize that they are not even half of the equation: it’s all about serving the customer, not the smaller purpose, which is to simply make money.
Anybody can make a big change, but that doesn’t immediately qualify it as positive change. Big or small, change also has to be beneficial, regardless of magnitude. Often, the quantifying of change is just a veil on the reality that nothing really changed. An investing example: Let’s say that there are 1,000 outstanding shares of a company, and each share is currently worth $10. This means that the market capitalization (the total value of all of the company’s outstanding shares) is $10,000.
Common practice for many businesses some years ago was to perform a “stock split,” which in this case, would give you double the amount of shares you previously had, but cut the price of each of these shares in half. Now, there are 2,000 outstanding shares of the company, but each share is only worth $5. The market capitalization is now a whopping…$10,000.
What changed? Many companies performed stock splits to demonstrate “confidence” in their earnings and “optimism” about the future. Intrinsically, however, absolutely nothing changed. A stock split did not hire a new CEO, create sales, or improve profit margins. This isn’t positive change, or change with a purpose at all. It’s all a show, and we’re not here to put on a show. We’re here to do meaningful and positive things for others. The question is:
How will you create meaningful and positive change for others?