Written by: Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
According to a 2020 Ipsos survey, the majority (86%) of the world wishes the post-pandemic world would change to be significantly more fair and sustainable. It’s easy to absolve ourselves of responsibility for this change because it can feel too overwhelming and complex. We might then resort to magical thinking: “if only” someone else would change, become more sensible, and less self-serving, and/or do something about it.
Others may take the opposite extreme, such as feeling guilty for not solving the world’s problems which often leads to paralysis.
Both approaches keep us stuck, failing to seek and implement solutions within our sphere of influence. Even world leaders cannot immediately solve complex global problems. Simultaneously, even the least powerful among us can make small changes and influence those around us. In other words, potential solutions exist along the entire spectrum and if all 86% of us made small shifts, it could add up to a sea change.
What kind of shifts can we make? Here are five things you can do right away to create the change you wish to see.
First, listen with openness, empathy, and humility. Think back to how many conflicts and disagreements in your life occurred because of misunderstandings and judging others. Having the humility to realize that we can only know a fraction of the possible viewpoints and solutions means that a better idea or approach may be available to us if we keep an open mind. If we seek to truly listen to understand while assuming positive intention, we have a much better chance of finding commonality and collaboration.
Second, balance discussion and planning with action. Venting, and discussing ideas, situations, and solutions have their place. Sometimes we need an emotional outlet, or a forum for discovering and honing ideas. However, at some point, we should begin to change creation with a baby step. If that baby step seems to be going in the right direction, we can take toddler steps, evaluating as we go. Before long, we’re making real progress. An example of an important baby step might include surveying a variety of sources to learn about different perspectives and brainstorm possible solutions.
Third, be inclusive. The most persistent problems do not have simple solutions. Therefore, do not rush to assume you know the easy fix. Though it’s possible that others have just not identified a logical and workable solution, it’s also possible that the issue is more complex than you realize. Instead of rushing to overly simple solutions, discover the complexity of the issue by seeking perspectives from across the spectrum of culture, identity, discipline, and geography. Recognize that all views, including your own and that of the experts, have opportunities and limitations. Those that represent the most divergent perspectives are the ones that can potentially provide the greatest insight.
Practice holding all the perspectives simultaneously and coming to your own conclusion. The most viewpoint that integrates multiple is more likely to be agreeable and logical to others. From there, determine your sphere of influence and your own action plan. You are the person that you can most powerfully influence. If you are not moved to action by your own beliefs, who will?
Fourth, become part of the solution. It’s easy to criticize and complain about those who are working to make the world a better place. If you can do better than they can, then put your money where your mouth is, or offer ways to help improve existing efforts. Offering help along with positive regard for the other is an invitation more likely to open doors than negativity comments devoid of realistic solutions.
Finally, access and employ resources that help you develop such skills. The Foundation for Family and Community Healing offers relationship skill development modules on a gift economy, so that you and your community can create positive change together.
Change is not easy but it is feasible when done one step at a time. You are more powerful than you think, so be judicious and proactive about planning and implementing change. You may surprise yourself around your ability to create impact.
Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dr. Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert, MAPP, PhD is a leader, coach, speaker, entrepreneur, educator, and writer who inspires and enables others to make our beautiful future a reality. She is the Founder and Convener for Mission and Vision at The Foundation for Family and Community Healing, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that helps all to develop the skills needed to create healthy, rewarding, and resilient relationships with ourselves, each other, Earth, and the loving force that unites us. She is a blogger for Psychology Today and hosts Finding Our Fit, a radio show on WRWK93.9 FM. Her mission is to help individuals, organizations, and communities to become their highest selves and fulfill their deepest, most authentic purpose – our spark within that creates ripples throughout. Learn more about her at SusannaCalvert.com. Photo credit: Rebecca D'Angelo