It seems impossible that a single person can make a difference in the world. And it’s true, no one single person can.
What does it mean to “make a difference in the world” anyway? From all of the startups in Silicon Valley to the average High School kid in the Midwest, we all “want” to make a difference.
Making an impact in the world can be from as small as taking out the trash, to as big as starting a company. You can also “change the world” by making a political movement, or scientific discovery.
When you’re young, take advantage of your dreamy wishful thinking and harness that into productivity to “try to make a difference”.
The longer you wait, the older you become, and the more jaded you will be. As time goes on, the less likely it is, that you will “change the world”, start a company, make a political movement, or a great scientific discovery.
Looking at all the historical events in the past, here’s what the famous all have in common.
1. Start With Yourself
Every great entrepreneur, scientist, and historical figure were problematic people before they became famous.
I love using Einstein as an example because his scientific discoveries have undiscovered ramifications for the future.
He was born with great intelligence, and through discipline and interest in studies, graduated from university and did great research.
Now of course we know the story of how he hated lower level schooling and often clashed with authorities. Einstein wasn’t exactly the model child. However, at twelve years old Einstein taught himself algebra and Euclidean geometry over a single summer.
Most people today, can’t even pick up a 100 page novel over the summer.
Yes, Einstein’s intelligence was 1 in a billion. But his IQ was not enough.
Without the interest, passion, and discipline for his studies, Einstein wouldn’t have amounted to anything.
Notice how from time to time, we get these online stories of 200 IQ kids, just to never hear about them ever again?
Additionally, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg did drop out of Harvard, but they got accepted in the first place. Through their academic discipline, they positioned themselves into a prestigious network and learned the technical skills to execute their vision.
Gandhi became a lawyer at 22.
So, to make a difference in this world, start with yourself.
Establish your education, career, or other goal.
Be disciplined, and proactive in the world around you. Read books, exercise, and proactively engage with the world (note that apart from Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Gandhi, and Einstein all speak multiple languages).
2. Develop a Skill
No matter who you are, or where you come from, you will only change the world by honing a skill (and by applying it to step 3). Some people are better at some things than others, but you must find your inner talent.
For some, it’s Public Speaking. For others, it could be Math or Science. It can be Business Sense, social skills, deal making abilities.
It can be a skill in doing, like scientific knowledge, or engineering talent.
Anyone can come up with ideas. But ideas are just ideas. Without a skill that you develop, that idea will never come into fruition.
You can have a billion dollar idea, but without becoming a Great:
- Deal Maker
any billion dollar idea is useless.
All of the famous people who have changed the world, did it by writing, speaking, business, or masterful craftsmanship.
So develop a talent or skill.
3. Scale Up
From the introduction, we are only one in 7 billion. This number will stabilize at roughly 10 billion.
In a population of 10 billion people, “making a difference” seems even more impossible than it does today.
No matter how great you are in your skill set, no matter how disciplined or intelligent, you will never make a difference in the world without scalability.
For Einstein to become famous, his writing and work needed to be distributed to various scientists. His discoveries needed to be tailored for the general public and presented as public knowledge.
For Bill Gates and other entrepreneurs, they needed to sell their product to billions of people.
Gandhi needed to travel to many places, deliver many speeches, and write many letters to become heard. His great acts of bravery were seen by many people.
No matter how great your invention is you can’t change the world without conquering Scalability.
No matter how talented your writing or speaking ability, if you can’t distribute it to the common person, it will only touch the lives of thousands — not millions or billions.
A thousand lives touched is only 0.00001% of 10 billion.
So when you start a business, think about scale.
How will you distribute this good or service? How many people can use or afford it?
When you write a book, how many people will be your audience?
When you make a speech, how many will hear it?
Without scale, you cannot make a difference.
The reason why “tech” is at the forefront of this decade is because it scales well.
This is because the internet has impacted the lives from your neighbor watching Netflix, to the Vietnamese Rice Patty Farmer. One uses the internet for entertainment, while the other uses it to arbitrate food commodity.
If you want to write a truly remarkable book, it must touch the lives of people from all backgrounds and colors. It needs to be translated in multiple languages and has to convey ideas in a palatable manner. It must inspire and empower.
Because of scale, you can’t do it all yourself either. Only teams can create change on the order of scale.
In a world filled with people, our individual contributions get smaller and smaller.
Starting small and scaling up is the only way to turn your young, passionate desires into reality.
So start with yourself.
What things can you do in your daily life to become more disciplined?
Cut out the bad habits, and cultivate the good ones. Be more interested in the world around you. Be proactively engaged in your surroundings.
Then, hone in on a skill, and develop it to mastery. Whether its speaking, writing, business, or creating, you need to become good at it.
Nobody who is incompetent is ever respected or looked up to. So be good at what you do.
Lastly, use your talents and ideas and scale them up. The most common way is to start a business and reinvest its profits. Others write great books and distribute them in many languages.
Even fewer perform great acts of bravery and extremely dangerous political action that is witnessed by many.
So start small, get good at something, and scale it up. Lastly, remember that even if you don’t “make a difference” in the world, you can have children who will.
Comment below: Where are you in your journey? What is your dream and what’s the plan to turn it into reality?