Today I helped film the final event of an accelerator. Nine business start-ups pitched to potential investors, family, friends and other entrepreneurs. It was a staged experience with music and visuals, awards and introductions, hopes and dreams. It was the graduation of an inaugural cohort for a new accelerator. Everyone put on their best face and brought their best game.
During the event I was interested how many times I heard the phrase, “Change the world.”
“Go out and change the world!”
“We believe our new technology will change the world.”
“Our innovation will change the way business is done. It will change the world.”
What is it in us that needs the world to change? What is it in us that assumes the role of world changer? I hear this phrase daily. I’ve used it myself most of my life. When I was younger I wanted my art to change the world. I’m an idealist so I had (and have) a laundry list of what would make life better. I’m also aware that my list is not universal. In fact, much on my list would seem heretical to many of the people on the planet. What is “better” for me is worse for others. What is the world I wish to change?
On the most superficial level when the entrepreneurs said, “the world” they actually meant “people.” So, they want a change for people. And, by the word “change,” they actually meant “to improve.” Rather than change the world, they want to improve the human condition. Joe once told me that the universe tends toward wholeness and I thought of him today as I listened to the pitches. In order for our work to matter we need to know that it is serving to make things better for someone. We tend toward wholeness though grow blind to it in the routines of our day. The road crew is making my life better. So is the barista, the grocery store clerk, and the woman who tends the amazing flowers in Pioneer Square.
In most cases the entrepreneurs had a unique story driving their innovation. We didn’t hear their stories today but I’ve been paying attention. Each saw a human need or experienced a frustration and wanted to improve on what currently is possible. They want to make things easier for shoppers. They want to make doctors more efficient. They want to help people acknowledge the contributions of others. They want their children to be safe. They want their families to prosper. They want a better world and they want to help create it. They tend toward wholeness though it might not have been apparent in the selling of their idea and the cocktails that followed.
As I watched the pitches I recognized how each person had grown personally through their time in the accelerator. They worked endless days and sacrificed more than sleep in their march to creating a better world. Although this is cliché it occurred to me that the world that they changed was their own. Just like you and me, when we identify our gift, when we see what is ours to do – and actually do it – our world changes. We experience our tendency toward wholeness and are changed because of it. It’s never “the world” we want to change, it’s our world, it’s ourselves.
[898. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.]
For a humorous look at the wonderful world of innovation and new ventures, check out my new comic strip Fl!p and the gang at Fl!p Comics.