There is no doubt we are living in a time of increasing complexity and intensity. Whether it is the current tensions in “hotspots” around the globe, struggles in communities close to home, or businesses trying to navigate not just marketplace competition and economic trends, but the significant social and political changes within their areas of operation. Even though they don’t make the front page news, we also know there are underlying tensions in the home that then manifest themselves in actions we do see in our schools, communities, and workplaces.
With the increasingly complex problems around us we have a tendency to become overwhelmed and sometimes paralyzed with the sense that the challenges are insurmountable.
In a real and practical sense, the complexities we see are not the result of some “community” behavior, “society” behavior, “organizational” behavior, or even “family” behavior. They are the result of individual choice and the behaviors that stem from those choices. A community’s culture, an organization’s culture, a family’s culture simply and practically flow from individual behavior.
The only real individual behavior we have control over is our very own. We are free and accountable to behave in response to the situation around us. Our individual behavior is where change begins. When we look across the history of time, we see individuals that are the catalysts for change. Not technologies or mass moments, but individuals are the genesis of driving change.
There are the great examples we read about like Gandhi leading change in India without ever holding public office. Churchill galvanizing the British people during time of war. Ronald Reagan as the catalyst for driving change to end the cold war. On the business front, we read about Lou Gerstner turning around IBM in the 1990s, Steve Jobs coming back to Apple and driving the next great wave of innovation, and Elon Musk spearheading great technical advances with Tesla’s electric cars and space travel.
However, the most important actions of people becoming the catalyst for change are those we don’t read about in the papers or on the internet. They are the actions of individuals in the home. The individual behaviors of parents, grandparents, and children within the home has always been the greatest catalyst for change over time.
It is the behaviors within the home that day in and day out set the tone for the next 8 hours in the classroom, the workplace, the community. Those behaviors in the home, collectively over time, form the foundation for individuals to step up and meet the opportunity on a much larger scale and become the catalyst for the really big changes we will eventually read about in newspapers and in history books.
Driving major change around the world and around our community is about individuals being the catalyst and those individuals are first and foremost impacted by behaviors in the home.
We all have our roles to play. Some of us are playing direct, major roles right now in dealing with the complexities we see all around us. However, for the vast majority of us, our best effort to impact these large complexities can be brought down to clear and simple steps we can start in our homes and with our families.
Our character, the internal compass that drives our thoughts, decisions, and actions, is the starting point for those important behaviors in the home. As we build and strengthen our character with behaviors based on honesty, respect, understanding, courage, compassion, and discipline, we will create the foundation to encourage others in the home to act based on those principles in school, the workplace, and the community. Eventually some of them will drive positive impact on the world’s stage.
When the complexity of this world begins to feel overwhelming, we should all remember the role we can play to drive change begins simply and clearly in the home. As we guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions by principles, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to improve the world around us.