Change the World OR Change the World Around You

Wanting to change the world seems bold.

Wanting to change the world around you seems like shortchanging yourself at least at a first glance.

You read books about how people who have made it went after bold goals, big dreams and visions that would make jaws drop.

My very first job was that of a journalist several decades ago. One thing I know from that world that holds true even today is the fact that exceptions are what makes great stories. Think of those situations that are on the extreme right end of a bell curve.

In general, rarely do people start at the extreme right end of the bell curve. They begun at the middle and as they build on their successes, they start moving to the right end of the bell curve.

For instance, take a look at how Yankee Candle Company worth several billion dollars today got its beginning (source link):

On a cold, December night in South Hadley, Massachusetts, a 16-year-old high school student sat at his family’s kitchen table. Christmas was just around the corner and he didn’t have any money to buy a gift for his mother. Fortunately, his desperation led to inspiration.

He decided to make a candle for his mom because it would be a completely unique and personal gift – something she would really appreciate. He also knew she was a little nostalgic, too, and that memories and emotions were important to her. Best of all, she loved to celebrate the holidays.

So he created a simple candle from everyday materials he found there in the kitchen: household wax, a red crayon, some string for a wick and a milk carton for the mold. A neighbor happened to see the candle before he could give it to his mother and was so impressed, she convinced him to sell it to her. With his newfound wealth, the teenager bought enough materials to make two new candles – one for his mother and another to sell. And that’s how Yankee Candle was born.

The above story has a beginning in 1969 and the 16-year old boy is Michael Kittredge. 29 years later Kittredge sold the company he founded for $500MM.

As you can see, Kittredge didn’t start out by wanting to change the world. He simply wanted to change the world around him. Slowly, but surely, the dream got bigger and bigger. Rest of the story is not very important suffice to say that Kittredge has the resources and capacity to do make a much bigger impact.

A Better Model

Start by changing the world around you when it comes to taking actions. You will get a lot more support that way. Then, raise the stakes and repeat.


I am not suggesting you should drop the world-changing dream, but it’s hard for others to believe and support you if you don’t even provide a solid proof that you can at least change the world around you.

A series of progressively bigger wins will build:

  •  Your own confidence to take on even bigger challenges
  • Provide social proof about your ability to win
  • Build your personal brand
  • Expand your influence
  • Extend your reach
  • Boost your support network

In other words, if you stay on the path, your capacity to win goes up until one day you will be at a place where you can change the world in a significant way.