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Change happens today; do not despair

A recent conversation in a tent 30kms away from the geographic North Pole led me to write this short piece.

In 2016, I went for a long run not very far from the South Pole. Earlier this year, I ran near the North Pole on an ice floe that was continuously drifting south. Whilst taking my businesses global, now operating in 13 countries (either directly or indirectly through partners), I climbed mountains and ran deserts.

These adventures to remote corners of the earth brought me closer to nature. They also brought me closer to a few folks who are very passionate about changing the world.

Our world needs changing, not any more than it ever did, only because change is the only path to progress. But somehow, the urge to change seems more urgent, thanks to the power of information dissemination of the internet. With urgency comes desperation and impatience.

I see people desperate about change making as changes never seem to arrive fast enough. And we know that desperation and impatience are hardly conducive to persistent high performance.

When impatient, we might fail to see changes already coming in small packets, rarely in a smooth linear fashion, but riding a rollercoaster like yo-yos. Sometimes we seem to go backward with things we need to change, but viewed over a long enough period of time, as a whole, we do tend to move forward.

In that tent near the North Pole, we talked about the facts that change comes about through a very complex chain of events, often requiring a perspective much wider than any single individual’s to comprehend. Whilst we sometimes pinpoint change down to such and such particular actions, it is rarely that simple.

We are desperate because we live too much in the future. We are impatient because we forget about the small changes we can make today.

I would like my children to be kind. So I do not send my children to “how to be kind in one day” types of schools, but treat them with kindness every day.

I would like my children to love continuous learning. So I do not set reading timetables for them. Instead, I read every day, and learn new skills every week.

I would like my children to learn the value of respect and the power of grace, so I go and hug my mother whenever I can and treat everyone with respect.

I would like my employees and mentees to enjoy being productive and to not treat work only as a means to earn an income, so I ask this question when I see them: “What can I do for you, so that you can achieve such and such?” We do not need to talk about leadership, yet these people invariably step up as leaders, first — of themselves, then — of others.

By shifting one’s focus to the Here and Now, the future takes care of itself.

It is that simple. By taking small meaningful actions today, change does not happen tomorrow. It happens all the time as naturally as the flow of water. And we shall not be desperate and impatient.

📸 Mark Conlon, Global Running Adventures, North Pole Marathon, 2018.