A genuine change must first come from within the individual, only then can he or she attempt to make a significant contribution to humanity. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
Change. One can command others to do it, but that won’t last very long, will it? Once they decide the novelty has run out, or when they grow tired of doing it that way, it’s over. One can threaten to use force, but that will only last as long as you wield power (and with a bunch of annoyed people, that might not last very long).
This quote urges a different path. By changing yourself first, you become an example for others to follow. You are motivating them by your transformation and your example of how it could be, rather than motivating them through fear or intimidation of how it must be.
By becoming the person you need to be to make the change, you bring people with you to help make the change. You become the catalyst for the change, instead of the force to make the change. The people you inspire become the force that makes the change. In this manner, they become the unstoppable force that makes the change inevitable by motivation and weight of numbers.
Why is pulling, not pushing, important?
This quote is about pulling others to take part in the change. It’s about bringing them to you, and to the new method by inspiring or otherwise motivating them. It’s a pull model, rather than a push model. Whether it’s puppies or small children, the pull model works much better than the push.
If you try to chase either, they tend to twist and turn. What moves one in the desired direction scatters the others. Consider how many people, often assisted by dogs, it takes to herd cows, sheep or other animals in the wild. Push is often another word for failure.
Contrast that with being one person with the lollipops, one person with the bowl of food, one person with the truck full of hay (or other edibles). That is a pull based model, and it is usually every bit as effective as the push method, but takes significantly fewer people.
Where can I apply this in my life?
If you could change the path of humanity, if you could provide a significant contribution, could you do it based on who you are now? For most of us, the answer to that question is “No.” Few of us are world-class at the moment.
Any of us could be, all of us could be, if we were willing to put in the time and effort required. But how many of us have the drive or desire necessary to change ourselves, and then change the world? I would imagine there are very few who are willing to put forth that amount of effort.
However, that doesn’t mean we cannot contribute at least a little something to help the world out. Even if it’s just in our little corner of the world. It starts with the question “Who would you have to become in order to be the person who could make the change?”
Hopefully, there are things you already are good enough at to do at least a little to help. And while you are helping, you can be working on upgrading yourself at the same time. That allows you to simultaneously help others in addition to helping improve yourself.
The question is what do you want to do? What about humanity do you feel is not the way it should be, and how will you have to change to make it more like what you wish it was? If you prefer to start locally, you might ask yourself what you can do today to help others, and how can I improve myself so I might be a better helper?
Since even people who agree on the existence of the problem often disagree on the best method of solving it, you will have to work that part out on your own. Consider the situation in your life, and in your part of the world. Start with identifying a something that you feel needs improvement.
Once you have selected that something, start trying to figure out what you can do to help. Are there already groups that are working to make things better? Try to find out about them and what they believe is the best solution.
If you agree, you have a path forward. If not, keep looking for others who are trying to help. You may not find a perfect match, but you also might learn something. What if you find out that they tried your way, and it failed for very specific reasons? You might then find you have an even better match, right?
Even if you decide to start doing things on your own, realize the power of numbers, and consider who you might be able to better help by working with other organizations. Perhaps you could even find a way to provide a service to some of these other organizations that they can’t (or haven’t figured out how) do for themselves.
The final step is to consider what changes you need to make to you. Where can you improve yourself so that you might better help others? Is it worth being less grumpy if it means you can better influence a group to do it your way? If they need someone to keep the books, and you’re good with numbers, perhaps you can improve yourself in that way.
It’s a big world, and there are many flaws in humanity, and it’s societies. There is a lot you can do to help right now, so don’t wait until you are perfect to get started. Consider what you can do to improve yourself and what you can do for others. It is truly a nobel cause.
The final question is “When will you start?” Now might be a good time, don’t you think? Pick something and get busy. You can always try something else later. Better to do something than to just sit and think.