When people ask how they can influence the world and they get a vague answer like “start with the man in the mirror” or “do something in your own little corner”, I used to think people said these things because they really don’t know what answer to give, but I’ve come to realize that these answers are not as silly as I used to think…
What you can “do in your own little corner”, I have discovered, can be clear in a place of personal reflection. Believe me, it is as simple as it sounds – each day, take some time and ask “what could I have done better today?” or “what made me act the way I did today?”.
I must say, many times, the first answer that comes to mind is not the real/full truth answer;
A while ago, I was planning an event with another person and everyone who has ever organised anything knows that there are some high pressure moments where everything going right is essential for your sanity and anyone who says no to you during this period is a clog in the wheel or as some might say, an enemy of progress. (such strong words, haha!)
Anyways, we had one of such people who simply was not a collaborator and I made a mental note to give some feedback after the event was done. We found a way to get around this person playing a role and the event went smoothly. (Thankfully!)
After the event, I set out to do what I had on my list – give my gift. Feedback is a gift, afterall. In trying to make sure I crafted the feedback properly, so it hits the mark in a witty way without being outright offensive, I decided to sleep on it, so I could consider it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind in the morning.
That night, I reflected. On the face of it, the reason for the feedback was for the person’s benefit, so interpersonal skills can be improved, you know, so collaboration in future can be easier, for the greater good…a noble reason.
But as I peeled the layers, I saw that the real reason was that I was hurt/upset when our requests were ignored and was just peeved that someone didn’t know how to be a team player; I had planned to use words designed to make sure my feedback was ‘crystal clear’, if you get what I mean.
I knew, at that point, that giving feedback that day would have given ME satisfaction, it was not for the greater good, it was selfish…very selfish.
When I came to this realization, I could see how imperfect my gift was and I didn’t need to give it, no matter how beautifully I planned to wrap it. That day, in my own little way, I contributed to making the world a better place.
I liked how coming to this conclusion made me feel and I would like to be this deliberate about the choices I make each day, to do my part in creating a world with less hate and more love.
So, the next time someone says “start with the man in the mirror” or “change begins with you” or “do something in your own little corner”, hear it a bit differently from how you used to.