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How to Change the World

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

It’s not rocket science. It’s just simple. How we see and manage the world inside determines what we do on the outside. The choices we make, the actions we take. It’s really not any more complicated than that. It may be tempting to get lost in intellectual analyses ad nauseum, but ultimately, it comes down to a simple 2+2=4.

So if we actually do care about making a difference to the state of the world, about truly understanding human behaviour, then we need to put the posturing aside and focus on the heart of it all. What drives our behaviour.

There’s no use focusing on the big picture of what entities do - institutions, government bodies, organised groups. Because while, yes, there is such a thing as herd behaviour, ultimately, that herd is made up of individuals. And each individual chooses their own actions.

What makes you do (or not do) the things you do? How aware are you of what’s really going on inside? What is the real impetus for choosing a course of action over another? How can you possibly imagine you have any real personal control of your own choices if you don’t know why you make them? Or at least be willing to ask yourself that question?

So much has been written about emotional intelligence that it’s become a cliche. Like an intriguing new piece of artwork you hang on your wall, you stop seeing it after a while. And it becomes background noise. And we start looking for the next new shiny, packaged, intellectually gratifying theory or model to stimulate our brains with because actually stopping and dealing with this simple, but difficult, one is just not much fun - and feels like hard, tedious work.

We know enough about what we’ve termed ‘emotional intelligence’ and its impact on human behaviour and achievement that we easily have what we need to start changing the world. In schools. In government. In business. In societies. In families. In our personal lives. But with the exception of small pockets of wise individuals and groups scattered around the place, we have done almost nothing with it. An indictment which is shameful at best, and nothing short of appalling at worst.

Pay attention to those dots. Follow the line of crumbs

What are we waiting for? We all share the experience of being human. Of having a mind, emotions, will, memory, etc. We all have the capacity to join the dots between our emotions, thoughts, choices, actions… and the final outcomes of that trail. It’s really not that hard to see those connections unless we wilfully choose not to. And the news is full of examples of that choice. To really make a positive difference in our lives - and in the world - we need to stop making that choice.

Instead, pay attention to those dots. Follow the line of crumbs. A wise person once said “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Yes, it may be uncomfortable to face up to the reality of what goes on inside your mind and heart. Nobody actually likes to admit what they see as weaknesses. But the very act of doing that is an admirable strength. It takes courage and integrity. We can all do it, and teach our children to do it, for a completely different life - and world.

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