Creating change

I hear this from people all the time, “I want to change the world.” And then they tell me their plan to make the world better, and it is always changing the things that already exist (and invariably it is some ridiculous unformed pie-in-the-sky plan, like “make the world by creating awareness”).

You really want to change the world? You change the world not by trying to alter what already exists, but by building new things that are better than what currently exists. This is true from everything from governments to restaurants to art. If you are tired of eating crappy fast food hamburgers, you don’t petition McDonalds to change the Big Mac. Why would they listen, Big Macs sell great. If you want better hamburgers, you have to make a better burger, and let people vote with their wallers. You change the world for the better by giving people a better option than McDonalds, not by changing McDonalds.

So few people get this. I know I didn’t in the past. I thought the way to create change was to identify the problem, and then fix it. That doesn’t work. You can’t change the institutions that already exist, except at the margins. They were created to solve some problem that may or may not still exist that you probably don’t understand, and they are now run by someone who is now more powerful than you, and they’ve created interest groups that benefit to much from their existence. It doesn’t matter how right you are about the good it will do for mammals, no dinosaur will ever buy a meteor.

I cannot stress this enough: Power does not cede anything without a fight, and if you try to fight an existing system to change into something else, that is nearly impossible in all but the smallest battlefields. The better avenue is always to create something new the replace what is old and broken.

Apply this to your life, even at the micro level: Are you fighting a hard battle by trying to fix something that is probably unfixable…or are you building something new and better to replace it?