When I hear people talk about wanting to be engaged in meaningful work, they’ll typically say something along the lines of I want to do something that makes a difference.
It’s almost become cliche’ – this whole idea of making a difference. I will often follow up by asking about the kind of difference they want to make. Typically, they’ll say they want things to be different (insert Captain Obvious reference here). But then, they struggle to communicate how they want it to be different and they have no idea how to make that happen.
Most of the time, when someone says they want to make a difference, they actually mean they want to make something better. But better how? Better in what way? Better for whom?
In math, there’s a character called delta ( ∆ ). It’s a triangle that’s placed between two values. It means difference or change. The delta is the space between one value and another.
The delta may be the best symbol to describe the necessity of leadership. Because leadership is always necessary when we want to move from where we are right now to wherever we want to be next. If there is no next, there is no need for leadership. But next (whatever that may be) always looks different than what we’re experiencing right now.
Think about all of the ways the delta comes up in your own life:
- Job I have right now ∆ Job I really want
- Discontentment ∆ Contentment
- Lack of purpose ∆ Meaningful life
- Frustration ∆ Happiness
Whatever you come up with, your life today, at this moment, is on the left side of the delta. If you want to keep it just like it is, that’s great. Move on. Nothing to see here. But when you want to make a difference, in any form or fashion, it will require leadership to move to the right. That starts by getting crystal clear on a few things:
- What does the right side look like?
- In what ways is it truly different than the left side?
- What is your first step into the space (the delta) between right now and what’s next?
- What’s your responsibility in this?
Let me encourage you to spend time with those questions. But there’s more you can do as well. Those who are most successful at this process have engaged the help of a personal coach.
Most of us want things to be different (better), but we struggle to get clear about what different looks like. Plus, we’re not sure how to get from here to there. A personal coach can come alongside and guide you through the process of making the kinds of changes you truly want to make.
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