‘I have an idea that could actually change the world–but I’ll wait’

How often do you hear this? I hear it a few times a month. It’s often my own voice.

I think we’d be better off if we try our ideas out, right now. Two reasons:

  1. Get feedback and reactions sooner
  2. No disappointment if it doesn’t work out well – because if we ‘bank’ it we’ll build expectations which might not be met.

Imagine what the world would be like if you try the idea right now, even if not perfect.

Then imagine what the world would be like if you never get to try it.

My generation has one big problem: too many opportunities. We have too much choice – everything is possible; we have no constraints, no limitations. We can do anything we could possibly imagine. There’s no hurry – most of these choices don’t pose a threat to our lives / health / everyday habits. But exactly because there’s no constraints, nothing ever happens. Because there’s no urge to act – and we never act.

We’ll probably be remembered in history as the generation of inaction. There’s a lot of ‘busyness’ and ‘activity’ going on, but not enough real action. Nothing gets done, nothing ever changes. The ‘status quo’ generation.

You’re passionate about it today. You think it could change the world today. It could still be valid tomorrow, but if you don’t act soon, it becomes yet another burden you are carrying in your life, and you become more and more resistant to doing it – because you won’t have the same spark as when you had the idea – it would now be just ‘Yeah, I need to do that at some point’. You build anxiety, instead of passion.

See what you can do today, see what limits you have and work within those limits, or even better, try to challenge them.


10 thoughts on “‘I have an idea that could actually change the world–but I’ll wait’

  1. Hi Rumi….

    Well, in general seems that there is no hurry, no constraints, no limitations. But they are and history tells us what happens when we don’t pay attention to those constraints and limitations. We are at the verge of huge changes economically, environmentally, ideologically and sociologically speaking. We, humans tend to give things for granted and not watch the signs of change, but they are there. The only needed thing to realize this is an inquisitive mind as yours 😛

    Ziggy 😀


  2. I agree that we have to give our ideas shape and weight.

    But I disagree that our generation is fundamentally different than others. In part because we’re at that age where the people who are doing are still in the process of doing. Scientists of our generation will have years before their work will have enough shape and weight to be seen for what it is. Artists, writers, actors, musicians and all of those are still creating and shaping. Politicians and activists are still in the process of becoming. When you look at when people of other generations were recognized by the older generations who form the status quo they were themselves much older than when they first began their work.

    Every generation has people who raise families, work jobs and don’t make ripples. The status quo people who sometimes dream about the things they wanted to do when they were twenty but never did because conforming to expectations is a clearer path.

    I don’t think our entire generation is doing that. But I don’t think we’ll know our historic identity for awhile still. Mostly because we still have many years to work to create that identity. But having many years left doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing. Just like any one who is ever good at anything we all have to practice. We all have to work. We have to sail the stormy seas and the calm ones in order to find our way to land.

    I’ve just read a lot of articles that claim our generation is less amazing than the rest but without the caveat that those generations took decades to crystalize in a pattern. But I love your rallying call to action because action is what crystallizes to form foundation.


    • Hm, interesting. I’ve been thinking recently about that.. maybe it’s not that less is happening, but it’s buried underneath all the information about ‘non-happening’. Another example: people are getting worried that today’s children are less educated / less competent with grammar etc. I think it’s not that people are becoming more ignorant – it’s just that more people are writing (Facebook, anyone?) so the problem is now visible.

      Having information and being able to generalise is the new thing. There’s always been people who can’t spell or don’t do things but now the scale is visible.

      This is very interesting… Maybe if we gather information it would turn out the same number or the same percentage of people are working on something ‘big’ as you said – but we don’t get to hear about them so we assume these things are not happening. We’re so used to having ‘real time’ information (‘a genius is growing up!!!’) that we can’t appreciate some things need time and cultivating.

      Thank you so much for this observation, it does give a much more balanced perspective to things (and makes them sound less apocalyptic!).

      Practice makes perfect 🙂 To be honest, I wrote the article more as a call to action for myself than anything. It’s just as I have ideas to change *my* world and I don’t act – but I’ve noticed I can help myself *after* I have articulated what *others* need to do.


  3. I agree with “busyness”. This busy people maybe think they are changing the world.

    I don’t like this mindless mantra “change the world”. Many people and their ideas still valid today have changed the world but for the worse. Here comes in handy a quote from Ghandi “be the change in the world” not “change the world”.

    The “status quo” is challenged daily in my opinion. Here comes handy again a quote about a small committed group of people can change the world. But the forces of the “status quo” are more subtle and powerful then ever. It is impossible to defeat an enemy you don’t see. Talking about the majority of people.

    About the passion this post about determination http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/05/you-can-see-the-determination-in-his-eyes.html is more true to me.


    • Very important distinction! Thank you for that.

      You’re right, a handful of determined people have brought lots of harm to the world (not that they were necessarily aware their actions could cause these results).

      Interestingly, when I first read about Edward Bernays (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Edward_Bernays), I thought: ‘These things could have become apparent to many more people before him (and they could have taken advantage of it), but they could have decided not to act because of their morality / their system of values or whatever reason – lots of ideas cross people’s minds but they don’t act because they see a potential problem.

      Also, quite right, ‘changing the world’ can’t be an end in itself and doesn’t always mean ‘changing the world for the better’. Plus, what *you* think is ‘better’ isn’t always the same as what *I* think it’s ‘better’. Each of us sees different things as ‘good’ and ‘bad’.


  4. I actually think you hit the nail on the head about being “so used to having ‘real time’ information that we can’t appreciate some things need time and cultivating”. My suspicion is that real time culture has given us false expectations. I can’t recall what I was reading or where I was reading but there was an actor talking about how everyone else saw him “pop” onto the scene as though his first job made him soar to the top. But that this was not the case at all. He’d been working for years and years before he made it big. This is true of the majority of people who become visible through their work. They’ve been doing it all along, the surprise is just the visibility.

    The other day I spotted an article about more syphilis experiments coming to light from the past. One of the commenters said “so much for the greatest generation”. Basically they were speaking of the generation who is termed as such because they rallied to action when they needed to. They are touted as having been “can do” spirit and so on. But our generation grew up with a lot of the glaring errors of previous generations. I think we are cautious because we are probably the best formally educated generation (more of us finish high school and continue on to college than in the past). So, we do try to take an “educated” approach to problems which other generations may have just looked at a problem like syphilis and said “we just need a solution”. We’re thinking in a globally connected world so we have other considerations. It is a lengthy issue of history but it has great impact.

    Funny you bring up kids being less educated and this grammar competency issue. We do not speak or write Latin. The language we speak and write is living! Many of the changes to language are reflective of the type of culture we’ve been living in since cars, planes and phones became commonplace. The internet has made this sort of speed of information more visible. Like we’re looking at the nuts and bolts of the life we were born into. Sometimes people forget that language is a tool to connect minds so that thoughts may be articulated as closely as is possible to their meaning within the mind. And technology is also a tool to acquire what is needed. Education is only as good or bad as how prepared you are for the world you are entering. At this moment in time the world is convulsing and the best education is one that prepares you to be flexible. Which is something youth is excellent at dealing with and age sometimes takes away.

    But mostly, with all the information and all the education, the most important thing you can do is to take chances you believe in and learn from the results of those actions. This has worked best throughout history. If you can act on your beliefs but be flexible enough to learn when you belly flop then you will not be paralyzed by failure.


  5. “My generation has one big problem: too many opportunities.” Yep, yep – exactly 🙂
    It’s so nice and easy to say it, but it’s still hard to do it … Please wright about it, when yo do your thing, it’ll be inspiring for sure 🙂


    • I think I am doing this already – one baby step at a time, but all in this direction 🙂 If you come round to the newer blog posts, you’ll probably notice the trend. I think if we want to change something the world, we need to start with ourselves – and I’m trying to do it in my every day life, the people I surround myself with, the work that I do, the projects I start. As C.R. Lanei said earier in the thread,

      ‘But mostly, with all the information and all the education, the most important thing you can do is to take chances you believe in and learn from the results of those actions. This has worked best throughout history. If you can act on your beliefs but be flexible enough to learn when you belly flop then you will not be paralyzed by failure.’


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