What problem do you want to solve in the world around you? If you had a magic wand, what would you make better?
This is the key question for developing positive meaning and drive in our lives. It lies at the heart of values-driven businesses that want to change the lives of people they serve for the better. And it unlocks the door for our own sense of “passion“, “meaning”, and “purpose“. When we use these abstract (and often stressful sounding) words, this is what we mean.
The change our desire draws us towards. For ourselves, for those we care about, and for the wider world.
We’re going to spend some time thinking about this in the fourth part of the Serenity in the Trenches series.
Highly Sensitive Radars
As highly sensitive people, we are wired to be the lookouts, the philosophers, the prophets. Those who can sense the dangers, risks, and consequences, before they have done their damage. In this sense we are wired to inspire change in the world. To identify problems before they become problems, so that as a collective we can put our best foot forward.
Highly sensitive people may sense very subtle shifts in the environment, and are affected by the moods of other people. They are more sensitive to sounds, noises, and bright lights, which can lead to unpleasant arousal when lots is going on around them. Overstimulation from the outside world can have a frazzling effect on their nervous systems.
We’ve normalised a high speed, instant access, and get it done yesterday flow to life. A pace that shows little regard for slowing down, taking heed, or raising awareness of the ‘warning signals’ from impending dangers. Such a world can feel hostile for highly sensitive people, who process this important sensory information deeply. These are the people who know the cliff edge is there before the rest of us go hurtling off it.
This noisy, busy, fast-paced society doesn’t value the necessary and important gifts brought by the highly sensitive in our midst. We’d do well to bring them back to the forefront.
The Law of the Instrument
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow
The ‘law of the instrument‘ plays its part in our modern world. We use the same thinking to approach the complex, nuanced, full-of-grey challenges around us. We celebrate aggression, believe that loudness (and repetition) is effectiveness, equate rudeness with courage, and give way to a bulldozer style of leadership. This might give the perception of momentum, but usually leaves more long term destruction and collateral damage in its wake.
If this is what ‘strong leadership’ looks like, then that is the weapon/tool we will use in relation to every challenge we face. Blindly following brazen action over reflection. Insensitivity over compassion. And the drift of reactionary windswept momentum, instead of a meaningful considered path that has been intentionally selected as the best way forward.
You can’t build a house with a bulldozer.
Things feel broken, painful, and chaotic. We cannot escape this truth. But wherever there are struggles, we always find pathways to potential meaning and connection. As humans we are wired to contribute, to serve, and to engage in the hive. Not to simply sit on the sidelines and shake our heads at the state of things.
A Dream Of Restoration
And I dream of a world where the balance of sensitivity is restored. In fact, we should all dream of such a place. Because we are seeing the scourge of insensitivity prevailing today. And it’s devastating for our mental health, personal and collective values, and our ability as a species to maintain a climate and environment that has any interest in sustaining our existence.
Dreaming of such a place is just the start, and it lies at the heart of the question in this episode. “If you could wave a magic wand, what would you change about the world right now?”
This question might leave some people uncomfortable. True, there is no such thing as a magic wand, change doesn’t happen like that, etc. But it’s a powerful catalyst for building awareness.
Begin With The End in Mind
Stephen Covey uses this phrase in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It allows us to imagine a world where things are as they should be. This is how I start the process of coaching with my clients. To take them into the future. To wave the magic wand and travel through time.
Only when we know where we want to get, can we begin to make genuine and meaningful plans to move things in that direction. It’s the same for our personal lives (relationships, work, living situation etc), as it is for our collective lives (community, society, culture etc).
You Can’t Live Life in Reverse
Change starts when you know where you want to get (and with a clear sense of why it matters). This stuff is profoundly missing in the world right now. We are driven by reactionary, short term thinking.
Events beget events without any space for digestion. Social media trends reflect fleeting and exciting scandals, outrages, and public shaming. We don’t take any time to stop, observe, and reflect. This puts the brakes on thinking, learning, and growing. For the other key ingredient in successful coaching growth, is the ability to reflect, learn, and adapt, along the way.
Where are we trying to get to? Why do we want to get there? And is the ‘why’ justifiable and real? Or is it driven by that ambiguous sense of ‘lack’ that underpins dissatisfaction by scapegoating, outward blaming, and relinquishing our own responsibility for building a better future.
We can all fall prey to a toxic nostalgia that leaves us yearning for the ‘past’. For our health, our youth, our innocence. Back in the day when things were better. Well that’s not an option. And as we’ve explored before, the past utopia that you dream of now, was a dystopian nightmare for those who wished for the good old days, even back then IN the good old days.
It’s almost as if there never were good old days, and that it’s something we construct in our minds as we get older, to cope with our impending demise and death. don’t know…just a theory. But no matter what, when we wish we could return to an unreachable destination (the past), we become dead to the possibility of tomorrow.
So…what would you change with a magic wand right now?
This question is not a weapon to beat others with. It’s a tool to raise our own self-awareness around what matters most for us. If our answer is ‘I would get rid of such and such a group’ or ‘go back to how things were’, then we might be using it as a weapon.
Beginning with the end in mind is fundamentally hopeful and future focussed. The invitation to imagine the better place in front of us. The ‘what we could become’, rather than the ‘what I perceive once was’.
And that is what we are doing in this episode!
Over to You
If You Could Wave a Magic Wand, What Would You Change About the World Right Now? Please leave your response in the comments below. I’d love to hear YOUR answer to this question.