Change the world, 10 people at a time

Photo by Jake Weirick on Unsplash

If you’re like me, you can get a feeling of helplessness when confronted with the problems of the world. What, in practical terms, can I do to affect Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? Or, how do I help eliminate homelessness? Racism & bias?

Yes, one can lend one’s voice of support. And donate some money. And model our behavior. If all of us do these things collectively, yes……perhaps……something will change for the better. And we should do that.

But I started thinking differently about making the world a better place; what if each of us tries to make the lives of just 10 other people better? That seems like something within our control and ability, and a lot less intractable of a problem. And if all of us did this, surely the cumulative effect would be widespread. Every person in the world could be affected.

I started by making a list of people that I care about most.

Next question I asked: what can I do to change their lives?

I got to that answer by taking stock of how other people impact me for the better, and made a recipe from that. What emerged was something pretty straightforward.

  1. Check in on people regularly. Isn’t it great when we hear from someone out of the blue, that they are thinking of us and our well-being? Can we keep a regular cadence of these check-ins?
  2. Listen. People want need to share their stories with others. Not in search of solutions so much as to simply be understood. Can we give people our undivided attention such that they’re heard?
  3. Be vulnerable. I’ve written previously about the transformative power of vulnerability in relationships.
  4. Tell people you love them. Perhaps we tell our romantic partners and maybe our children that we love them. Can we tell our friends that we love them? Our colleagues?

What this is really about is how we use our time. When we use our time on others – quality time – we can absolutely change how they feel about themselves.

So how do we find the time to spend on others? By giving less time to other stuff, of course.

In this regard, I’d say our devices and media are the greatest sources of time savings that could be otherwise allocated to our loved ones. For example, I gave up social media a couple years back. I suspect I saved an hour a day for something else. Ample time to attend to my 10 people, and beyond.

Maybe you think this post is obvious, or naive. Maybe you’re right. But I know that for myself, making more intentional investments in relationships has deepened them and rewarded me. Maybe those people on my list felt it too.

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