In his terrific new book, Reinvent Yourself, prolific author, entrepreneur, blogger, podcaster, and serial reinventor-of-self, James Altucher shares a ton of wisdom. Included are lessons from business titans to historical figures; world-class athletes to top entertainers, and many more.
And, in his usual humble, self-effacing way, he shares golden nuggets of wisdom from…himself as he takes their lessons and serves them up to us through the filter of his brilliant mind.
While this is not a review of his book (though I recommend it highly), there’s a quote I’d like to share and then provide my own thoughts afterwards.
On page 168 James points out that Gandhi never actually said the oft-quoted, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” However, he did say something perhaps even more profound:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Rather than go through each individual line and thought in the Mahatma’s magnificent statement, let’s look at what I underlined, beginning with, “If we could change ourselves.” This informs us that we have a lot more potential to influence the world around us than we might believe. As we deal with others on an individual level, to the degree which we are in control of our own emotions, that’s the degree to which can positive effect—and yes, change—their attitudes.
In Adversaries into Allies I suggested the following:
“Expecting someone to be helpful doesn’t change them, it changes you. And that is what changes them.”
In other words, regardless of their natural or current state, if you go into the transaction believing they will be kind, helpful, and gracious…YOU will take on the corresponding attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. And, the chances are excellent they will respond to that.
Always? Of course not. This isn’t magic. There are all sorts of people. But…usually?
Yes, it begins with you. You and your emotions are the only element of the equation that you can control. Change yourself, and watch how the world changes for you.
So, you can indeed become the change you wish to see in the world.