The Power of Change (And Believing in It)
I’ve been thinking a lot about change.
For such a short word, it’s so loaded. For many people, it’s scary. For others, it’s exciting. I’ve always identified myself as someone who craves change, who looks forward to change. I don’t know if that’s accurate; I’m uncertain if I’m actually someone who looks forward to change. But I think it’s healthy to tell myself that it’s part of my identity. We can’t change the world around us, but we can change the way we view the world and our place in it. Looking forward to the inevitable change is the best tool I’ve found to embrace myself and those around me.
Over the past six months, I’ve changed quite significantly. For one, I’ve changed my profession: I left a Connecticut-based hedge fund for an African-based startup. Even more profoundly, I’ve changed my belief on the changeability of our values. Six months ago, I argued with my now-boss, then-prospective employer about how values are innate and largely impossible to change. Today, I am energized by creating a framework for people to transform themselves — completely and beautifully — into the person they want to become.
For most of my life (or at least that which I can remember), unlocking potential has been on my mind. What stops people from achieving greatness? What causes people to give up? Or go on? What is the change — psychological, sociocultural, financial — that is needed to transform? This obsession with understanding why people do the things they do weaved through my life, perhaps most noticeably throughout my college career. I studied neuroscience to understand human behavior from a biopsychosocial approach, and African studies because it was the furthest thing I knew from my everyday life.
I sometimes complain that I didn’t study computer science and economics, but who knows where I’d be now and I’m a firm believer of not regretting the choices I’ve made. I am excited about the path I’m on, the path that’s led me here today. I never thought I’d write a blog post, even more terrifying was the idea of publishing it.
All my studies and conversations and struggles and epiphanies have led me to this really simple belief: humans are really powerful. Of course, humans are also mean and foolish and beautiful and smart and silly and annoying. But I think at the crux of it is this very simple belief that we’re powerful — and that that’s a good thing. I want us to stop being passive. I want us to be power-hungry, perhaps that in and of itself seems provocative, or uncomfortable, but what I mean is that I want us to be hungry to take control over our lives. I want us to feel ownership over who we are, who we want to be, and who we’re on the path to becoming. Most importantly, I want us to use our power to help unleash others’, to support them through their change, and to change the world with them.
I’ve recently evolved my beliefs about what unlocks potential, what drives transformation. “Esteem” was the first thing that popped into my mind. Believing in one’s worth. I amended that phrase shortly thereafter: Believing in one’s and others’ worth. The first step — a genuine belief that you’re worth it — is seemingly difficult enough, but the second piece — a genuine belief that “he” or “she” is worth it — is fundamental to living in a transformed society.
A few months ago, my now-manager told me about this mantra that he had recently learned about:
“I’m not better than anyone; No one’s better than me.”
I’ve thought about that mantra every day since, it’s what clarified for me that believing in others’ potential is a necessary step in unlocking oneself. Those 10 words have challenged me, frustrated me, and ultimately accelerated my transformation more than any single instance I can point to. Not to say that I’ve been able to fully hold that belief. We’ve all been socialized to group ourselves, to calculate who is better than us, who we’re better than.
The Power to Change
What if we change that? What great things can we achieve — together as we believe in each other’s worth and ability, and alone when we’re freed from the psychological shackles of constantly comparing ourselves to those around us? Let’s lean into the vulnerability of perseverance as we pursue our path to becoming our best selves. Let’s share our ideas openly, without hesitation of embarrassment or guilt for wasting someone more important’s time. Let’s explore things open-mindedly, without an itch to prove who’s right.
Here’s to the first step of living in the world I want to be a part of. Here’s to the power we have in making that change.