The One Reminder That Makes Change Happen


(3 minute read)

“Be the change you want to see.” Okay, yeah, yeah. We’ve all heard that quote a million times. “Why should I stop and listen to it now” you may ask. Maybe because we are all desperate for it to actually happen. 

How many of you have watched someone walk right past some trash on the ground, you do the same, and then later find yourself complaining that you can’t believe someone would throw their garbage on the side of the road?

What about driving through the city, noticing a pile of blankets with people huddled under it next to a brick building, feeling a stinging in your heart that they have to live outside, yet never taking time to give coats for the local drive at the kids’ school. Not because you didn’t want to, but because you didn’t get around to it.

How about closer to home - when was the last time you complained about the disorganization in your home or the way the kids speak to one another, but do you take time to check whether or not you model the behavior yourself?

It’s not just you. It’s me, too. I think if we are all honest, it may be most of us. 

Why is that??? How is it that we can hear the phrase, “Be the change you want to see” over and over, nod our heads in agreement, even pump our fists and rally behind it, yet we don’t make the strides to make it happen? In so much of life it seems the natural thing is to just sit back and “let someone else do it”. Is it because we feel unqualified? Maybe we feel insignificant. Maybe it’s that deep down we don’t want to do it ourselves because doing it is actually the stretch and that is just too far out of our comfort zone. 

I’m not talking about going out of your comfort zone in the sense of doing something “scary” necessarily, but rather the comfort zone that is complacency and just being unaware that stretching ourselves will even make a difference.

But guess what? It DOES make a difference. YOU. “Little” you and your “little” actions will make a difference. A BIG difference. 

A friend recently asked me what I needed when I had to be with a close family member in the hospital. I said that I needed help with child care for my three year old because it was a hospital rule that he could not come visit and I had been trying to juggle this for two weeks of visits. She didn’t hesitate and told me what time to drop him off.

I went to visit. I was less stressed trying to find a sitter which made me a better mom and wife that day. My children were happier to come home from school and have a pleasant mom. We got to activities on time, which made pleasant car rides, which led to good conversation, which helped us grow together as a family a little more that day. All because my friend offered to change her plans for a few hours one Monday and help babysit for me. 

Would life have gone on normally for both of us that day if she had not babysat for my son? Of course. Would I have figured out a way to get to the hospital and still been able to have good conversation with my children in our carpool? Maybe. Maybe not. You may think that’s such an insignificant example, but it isn’t. I know that it took only one small act of kindness and one step out of my friend’s comfortable Monday to multiply the joy I received and what I was able to transfer to other people throughout my day because of it. 

Just one stretch out of the comfort zone of her daily life. What if we all gave one stretch a day? Pick up the trash. Remember to send the coat to school. Fix that dinner for the friend who needs help this week. Send the card. Take time to listen. Just be the change you want to see. Be the change you want others to be for YOU.

You are NOT unqualified. You are NOT insignificant. Neither am I. We have all got to stop being so comfortable and so complacent. It’s the little things that add up to the biggest changes and it’s a lot of small acts from people who incorrectly think they’re small that turn our families, our communities, and our world into the change we want to see. Reread that and repeat it out loud if needed. It’s the “SMALL” acts that become the change.

Isn’t it about time we all step up, step out, and stretch ourselves beyond our borders? Isn’t it time that our actions are used to multiply the good in someone else’s day? The answer is YES. Over and over, “YES”. Today is the time. The world will be better for it. 

Jennifer Zumbiel