My 100 Changemakers Project: The Two Biggest Surprises So Far
I was on vacation for most of August, and before I left, I sent a mass email to nearly everyone in my address book – announcing the launch of my brand new website and proudly declaring the start of my research project to interview 100 changemakers.
Surprise #1: I genuinely had no idea just how many people would connect with my project. My inbox was flooded! I got messages of support, referrals to dozens of changemakers, and responses from friends and colleagues who – some shyly and some boldly – wanted to be interviewed themselves. It was all absolutely overwhelming, in the most positive way possible.
I now have well over 100 names on my changemakers list and am slowly working through them. Of course, not everyone says Yes to my request for an interview (I received a lovely, personalized “no thank you” letter from Nelson Mandela’s office – true story). So if you know of other changemakers, please let me know – I am specifically looking for changemakers outside of North America now.
Surprise #2: In the first 20 interviews, when asked about obstacles, almost every single person spoke about bureaucracy that gets in the way or the uncooperative attitudes of other people. What the what?!
Now I don’t know what I was expecting (perhaps a topic for another blog), and maybe my Pollyanna-ish-ness is seeping out (perhaps a topic for my next session with my coach), but isn’t that sadly regrettable? I mean, these are people who are truly changing the world, and of all the things that are stopping them up, it’s:
- red tape
- “conservative mediocrity” (Mr. George Brookman, CEO of West Canadian Digital Imaging and Tourism Calgary Chairman of the Board)
- “others’ self-satisfaction which leads to inertia” (Dr. Peter MacKinnon, President,UniversityofSaskatchewan)
- unresponsiveness from others
- naysayers, and so on.
Now this hasn’t been the only answer, but it’s certainly the most common one.
So it leads me to wonder:
- What attitudes do we hold that stop us from making changes ourselves?
- What impact does our outlook have on others who may be trying to initiate something new?
- How much time and effort do we give to really see and hear someone else’s vision
This I know: Talking with the first 20 changemakers has certainly raised my awareness of how I’m helping and where I’m hindering.
Next time: Look forward to a fresh post from a guest author!