I have always lived my life a little different than most of the people I grew up around. Not better, not worse, but different. I remember in high school someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. A very common question, to which I was told I gave an uncommon answer. I said I wanted to change the world.
Even today, such an answer tends to elicit surprised stares and perhaps even a few behind the back chuckles. On the surface, it sounds like arrogance, or the vanity of an idealistic fool who has read one too many biographies of great leaders or on the flip side, a few fairy tales. At its core, the idea of changing the world seems so large to most people that it stands not only too big to grasp, but even unnecessary. To me, it is a voice that just won’t go away.
My parents tell me I was always an overachiever. At the ripe old age of three or four, sitting on an exercise bike that was far too tall for me, I insisted on figuring out how to ride it, even spurning help from an uncle who probably got a good laugh at my attempt. In elementary school I learned about government, and inspired in myself a belief in the principles of freedom and the spirit innovation that I have held onto ever since. In high school I dreamed big, aspiring to be a lawyer, a senator, maybe more. Beyond there I worked hard, grew my career in a completely different direction, and established myself as a success in my own right – with more to come. There have been changes in course, changes in expression, and more than a few stumbles.
But along the way I never lost the yearning to change the world.
I am not an idealist. I lost that some time ago in the never ending quest to top my own achievements. But I do harbor a single ideal in that I believe in the fundamental greatness of Man, including my own. I sincerely believe that anyone can leave a legacy to this world that is both amazing and fruitful to future generations. Not everyone needs to cure disease or invent a new innovative product that changes lives, but everyone can leave a lasting mark on human society that can be remembered.
For me it manifests itself in changing the dialogue around me. Too often, we reside in a place where today’s normal must be tomorrow’s as well, and while it feels comfortable, it remains self-limiting. I think back to a world not too long ago, during my lifetime, when we were told there were likely no planets around the billions upon billions of stars in our sky. Today we find new ones, perhaps some not dissimilar to our own, every week it seems. That is a metaphor for possibility in my eyes. When we limit our own ability to think outside of our own small scope, we limit our ability to progress and to grow, and it crushes our ability to develop that legacy our children deserve to inherit.
My vision is to invest in and promote the ideas that make people grow and believe in their own inner voices and the dreams they chant to become great. By empowering each of us as individuals, we create power beyond imagination. When that power is harnessed, there is nothing we cannot achieve. In a small way, or perhaps not so small, that hearkens back to the small child on that bike who didn’t believe in the word no. My goal then has to be to engender that same spirit in others. That will be my legacy.
There is a lot of work to be done. I have a baby idea – a few books, some articles, and a philosophy I have incubated in these pages and in my dialogue with others. But it is still a baby idea. The more I write, the more people I hope will start to believe along with me that we can change ourselves, lead more fulfilling lives, and pay it forward to those we know and those we care for. The catalyst lies within me, and within you. The choice to activate it is uniquely our own.