When I was a teenager in high school I would occasionally go to kegger parties with my friends and drink exactly one cup of beer. I truly wanted to be able to drink like my friends and have fun as they did, but something in me just couldn’t do it. What they saw as fun, felt like chaos to me. The funny thing is, I felt as though there was something wrong with me, that I couldn’t join in the drinking parties like everyone else. And it took me a good number of years to discover, that even as a young lad, I was not interested in intoxicated mayhem.
Entering the world of business as a young man there were many things that just didn’t seem right to me, and just as I questioned myself as a teenager for not drinking more and letting loose, I felt I just didn’t yet know enough about business to fully understand it. There were times in which I even compromised my values to go along with the crowd, and then felt completely wrong about it afterward.
Now we have this new class of emerging business leaders called “social entrepreneurs”—people starting, building and succeeding in business based on a different premise than the world I grew up in—the premise of the triple bottom line, or the three “P’s.” Taking it a step further, international NGO Ashoka coined the term “Changemaker,” to refer to those people (of all walks of life) who are endeavoring to do things differently so as to usher the change they wish to see in the world.
This is different than approaching business merely to make money and “succeed.”
For so long, I judged myself for not being able to fully embrace the standard business practices, and for not feeling right about how things were done. I judged myself, just as I had as a teenager for drinking my one cup of beer and then walking home alone late at night to escape the party.
By giving a term to what I have felt all along, “Changemaker,” I can now give rise to feelings that have brewed in me since I was seven years old and felt confused about our throw-away society, or as a teenager dismayed at the party scene, or as a young man in business disheartened with the tactics and culture.
Being a Changemaker can mean walking a lonely path at times, and that lonely path can insight us to question ourselves in ways that are not healthy.
Recognizing that we have the ability to “Be the change [we] wish to see in the world” means that we must first acknowledge that we are the Changemakers, and as Changemakers our job is to own it, be it, and live it.
Not an easy task, but necessary and important. It is also the path that will lead us to the greatest personal fulfillment we can imagine.