All of us can name at least one way we’d like to change the world.
But most of us stop there. Affecting the course of history is the purview of heroic humanitarians like Gandhi or Mother Theresa, or of inventors like Thomas Edison, or of ingenious entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, right?
In fact, with an understanding of the wave theory of change. anyone can change the world. Change is like a wave: It starts with something small – one person deciding to act – and ripples outward, influencing people as it goes, writes Patti Johnson in Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work and in Life.
Change starts with questions. You look at the world or even at how your company does things and ask, “Why must it be that way?” “What’s the alternative?” When Apple founder Steve Jobs and Netflix’s Reed Hastings asked questions like that and pursued the answers, they revolutionized technology and entertainment.
Visionary entrepreneurs and world leaders aren’t the only ones who can change the world. Anyone at any level of an organization can question the status quo and rewrite the rules. You just need to spot an opportunity for change and take ownership. Don’t wonder, “Why doesn’t someone do something about that?” Instead ask, “What can I do about it?”
And be prepared to hear this answer: Nothing. Few embrace change, and many organizations are designed to prop up, not tear down, old ways of doing things.
“The mother of all conventional wisdom is the belief that no matter how great the idea, it can never overtake the way things have always been done,” Johnson writes.
Successful change agents usually share four attitudes and traits:
1. Flexible persistence
Wave Makers are tenacious and adjust their plans in the face of changing conditions or new information.
2. Thirst for knowledge
Wave Makers never stop soaking up data. They are comfortable with uncharted waters because they are confident they can learn what they need to know to adapt to any situation.
3. Goal orientation
Wave Makers care more about achieving their goals than about gaining personal recognition. Focusing on the “greater good” makes it easier to handle difficulties.
4. Instinct to collaborate
Wave Makers see working with others as essential to reaching their goals. Their passion for change attracts people to their cause.