Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday Talk - To be a Changemaker or not

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Where, precisely, do you go in order to get permission to make a dent in the universe?
The accepted state is to be a cog. The preferred career is to follow the well-worn path, to read the instructions, to do what we're told. It's safer that way. Less responsibility. More people to blame.
When someone comes along and says, "not me, I'm going down a different path," we flinch. We're not organized to encourage and celebrate the unproven striver. It's safer to tear them down (with their best interests at heart, of course). Better, we think, to let them down easy, to encourage them to take a safer path, to be realistic, to hear it from us rather than the marketplace.

In the post titled "Do you need a permit?" acclaimed blogger Seth Godin asked why most of us are more comfortable doing follow-follow or words to that effect. More worrying is the other side. Where people feel comfortable destroying a persons ideas or rubbishing their actions just because they think it's for the person's good. This person just wants to be the change they would like to see in this world and others, not just too scared to step out of their comfort zone, are also scared of change.

To be honest, it takes a lot of guts to stand in the face of such attitude not to talk of continue on that unbeaten path you've chosen for yourself. In some Nigerian circles, it is called the Pull-Him-Down Syndrome or PHD usually going hand in hand with Herd Mentality. So what Seth Godin is saying is not new but I think it is worth repeating. People who want to blaze a trail need to be encouraged because sometimes, it is impossible to be a changemaker unless you have a few good people around you. People who will cheer you on and not try to hold you back. People who will jump in and offer help and support.

So question to you. Have you been a changemaker before, seen someone try? How much support did you receive, and what opposition. Are you still on course with that vision?


  1. 1st
    I am a team player

    i am never with herd, always walking the road less travelled.

  2. The good thing also is that Life always brings people who will help you on your way. so there is no need to worry abt walking the less travelled road alone

  3. I tried twice but was left holding the towel at the end of the day! My courage had been deflated & i have withdrawn into my shell.The first one was in school, we went to complain about our law lecturer, unknown to me, our names were given to her & the others went to 'settle' while i jacked all night for the exam, i got a D...which affected my grade in first semester, while the others got B! It was later i knew what happened & my friend told me that was the reason she refused to join the delegates that went on behalf of the class!

    The 2nd experience was in my neighbourhood.... a residential property was to be converted to commercial use & being an estate surveyor, i knew the negative effect,i wrote the petition on behalf of the residents who all signed.....they won through bribery to the council..& i heard some come-back comments which made me cried. My friend Chima warned me not to trust anybody then but i refused & an elderly man advised me with a proverb; THE YORUBA MAN WOULD SAY, COME! LETS GO & FIGHT OUR ENEMIES, WHILE YOU ARE MOVING FORWARD WITH ENTHUSIASM TO WIN THE FIGHT, THEY WOULD BE MOVING BACKWARDS INSTEAD UNTIL THEY ARE OUT OF SIGHT,ONLY FOR YOU TO GET TO THE BATTLE FIELD & FIND THAT YOU ARE ALL ALONE!.

  4. Thanks for this post!! This is the sort of thing my mother needs to hear. She is always down on herself for not doing things she feels she was "supposed" to do, like get a degree and work full time, regardless of whether that's what she wanted. And then she acts like she feels sorry for me because I haven't exactly gone after the "American Dream" in all the traditional ways.

    I dropped out of graduate school when I realized I did not want that meaningless, highly paid desk job that would eat up all my time and energy. I chose to work part-time for two meaningful nonprofits instead. I make a lower middle class income, despite having a degree from a fancypants private school.

    Instead of sticking with my ivy league college boyfriend, I dumped him and married an eccentric friend who knows the true value of life and loves nothing more than spending quality time with loved ones--so also works part-time at a lower paying, but satisfying job that gives him flexible time off, despite having gone to Oberlin (and "wasting" his education in the eyes of many).

    We are expecting a baby now, and I would not change our lifestyle for anything--we don't have much money, but we both have time to spend with our child, and we can set a good example of living mindfully, seeking meaning and fulfillment above status.

    I dream of completing and publishing novels, and of developing my painting skills, after taking time "off" of these creative avenues to raise my babies. I don't care if these things ever make me rich or famous; it will be reward enough that I get to spend my time doing them.

    It has helped me and my husband greatly to find friends who feel the same way about life that we do--who do what feeds their souls and what is right for them instead of what is expected of them.

    It can be hard when other people don't understand our choices, but we have built a life that makes us happy, and most people close to us can tell that we're not missing out or failing in any way by forging our own path.

  5. Myne, you're a write, so I'm sure you have heard - more times than you can remember - that writing is not a paying job, that you're wasting your time, that you should better get a real job and stop sitting in front of the computer all the time, and that you should study something else in school. I've heard it, too.

    Thanks for this post. It's not easy being us :-)

  6. I am still on course with that vision. It's not easy i tell you. Sometimes i feel like I'm just blowing hot air. But it takes the grace of God and supportive family and friends to remain strong. Personally, my dream as a young child has always been to be involved in the naija entertainment industry, advocate for children's rights and effect positive change in naija politics. But my parents, have always drummed it into my head that you need to have money to make change (which i totally understand). I do take inspiration from Seth Godin's "Tribe video". It's such a great encouraging video. It reminds me to believe in my dreams and keep working hard. Like he said, "you don't need everyone... change or positive movements are not for everyone." With time the follow follow people will come around, you just have to stay focused and remain determined. Fela best exemplified this reality.

    I can't stand people who pull others down because they do not conform to the norm or follow the herd mentality.

    @ Genie of the shell, that's so inspiring.

  7. @ genie of the shell: a thot crossed my mind as i read ur reply - ur life is a dream(a dream come through). i tink we all know the essence of going it alone but the reality of doing it cost so much more and cud b disappointing just like The nitty-gritty tales of a housewife said and u r right myne, it is virtually impossible to do it without a like-minded support system (except u r outrightly 'mad')

  8. Its never easy but in theory, its better to fight and lose than never try.

    Like that quote about love.

  9. Sometimes, we just feel that after so much hard work and achieving little we should just let go of it all. You know join the crowd and disappear. It is not easy to keep your head up and fight for what you believe in Myne. But we have to. It is the only way.
    Thanks for this post.

  10. I think most people have said it all..
    Lets take you for example:
    Not everyone with your talent and success would want to encourage the next person looking for just a little approval,direction and encouragement.
    They'd instead give you reason why you aren't so good. or that you lack the maturity or creativity.
    Sometimes, these people though good lack the confidence. They don't have enough belief in themselves and need to be given the right push but when crush with destructive words, they fall, they can't handle..

    My point?
    People like you are few.. Really.

  11. :) I'm glad I can inspire a few people just by doing what I want to do with my life, even without traditional markers of "success."

    I think the two keys are to know what YOU want, deep down inside, and to find people who support you, whether they are family or friends or any other kind of community. When you have a couple believers behind you, the naysayers don't feel so troublesome.

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  13. I am a very vocal person, so I try to effect change as much as I can.The memory that stands out to me now, was trying to stand up to some of those hopeless people we call professors when i was in Uni in Naija. I did not receive support from classmates (even those that where directily affected by the action of these professors). I was off course labeled a rebel. My action did pay off in the end concerning one of the professors.

  14. Btw, there is a giveaway on my blog, feel free to check it out.

  15. Thanks for all the comments, it has been an eye opener.

    @Tisha and Joanna, So true...

    @Nitty Gritty, that proverb is apt, and it's so annoying the people that actually do that. But don't be deterred.

    @Genie, thank you so much for sharing about yourself. I am also inspired by your life. If more of us will learn that simplicity can be rewarding in its own way, maybe our world would be less stressful.

  16. @Vera, Onyi, Shade, Lareine, thank you all so much, the truth is that while it may be easy to give up, one might not be able to live with themselves afterwards. SO we have to keep on pushing.

    @Chacha, thank you. I tell you, that little encouragement may be all that is necessary to birth a star.

    @Chic therapy, you go girl! I'll be coming over to check the giveaway.

  17. Is it just me or was there a Yoruba-Igbo undercurrent to nitty-gritty's proverb? Or maybe I don't understand who "they" and "you" refers to. Hmmmm.

    I re-posted the original blog post a few days ago on my page as well as it was just short and so apt. Perfect.

  18. @FOLAKE...hello...there is no under-current...it was a Yoruba man that said the proverb in Yoruba language to me & since i cannot speak or write in the language for the fact that i had been married to one for many years..*smiling*, i simply said it in English. It was Yoruba people that made me cry because i believed & trusted them against my friend's advice since i thought we were ONE. Alas, i realized it was not so...though we might share the same ancestry according to history... but we are still different..thank you.

  19. @ Nitty-Gritty anybody irrespective of tribe and nationality has the potential of stabbing the next person in the back.The only person you can 100% trust is yourself o.

  20. I doubt NG meant it as pointing fingers at a certain tribe. Glad she has explained.

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