Looking for 2%
“So you’re a little weird? Work it! A little different OWN it! Better to be a nerd than one of the herd!” Mandy Hale
The feeling I have at collaborative round table meetings with influential people about influencing change is pretty special. I hear lots of great ideas and enthusiasm around the table and yet what I so often see is a painfully slow if any execution of the great ideas being shared.
At the end of the meetings I tend to cringe if the host goes around the table for a parting comment from each delegate as I’m always afraid that what I will share may not land well. I’m impatient and I like to see progress. I’m the first to admit that I’m embarrassed at the number of “positive change meetings” I go to that result in zero change, so these days I just look for the 2% just in case the group doesn’t get it together.
Let me tell you about the 2%.
One day in 1939 a man by the name of Nicholas Winton, a London stockbroker aged just 29 went on a ski holiday to Switzerland and visited a friend in Prague on the way. He sensed the danger on Nazi Germany and he became impatient. He could not wait for action by committee so he did what most people would consider impossible. He worked from his hotel room and made arrangements that saved 669 children from Nazi Germany. Needing a special British visa for each child he advertised and sought sponsorship from British families who were at the time allowed to sponsor one person. Every visa saved one child. He arranged and paid for special trains to move the children from certain death in Germany to safety in Britain. He then went back to his daily life making no mention of his initiative.
The 2% are those who live amongst the 98% of people who say no, and the 98% who need management by committee to be effective. The 2% are defined by helping other people in innovative ways, when everyone else either says it cannot be done or is otherwise fussing, waiting for the committee to agree and still trying to get organised.
Our world needs to grow the 2% to effect change and to help lead a massive result of actions that create a better life for others. These people create greatness, save lives and enable other people to live in much better circumstances. They can literally save lives and change generations.
Historically we have many examples of people who just like Winton have taken initiative to change the lives of others at pace, and without a committee. Some of course are incredibly famous like Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) and Martin Luther King (1929-1968). Then there are people like Australians Bruce and Denise Morcombe who set up a foundation and became educators teaching children about personal safety. Patricia Mowbray in the Australian Capital Territory who was unable to have biological children so instead decided to adopt special needs children. She has three Down Syndrome children and devotes her time to the care and education of special needs children in her city. And there are people who simply see what needs to be done and volunteer because they can. They are all in the 2%.
Becoming a part of the 2% is actually easier than most people think. You could start right now in what may seem like the smallest ways, and create life changing results. After the meetings I go to I deliberately step out and effect change as instantly as I can. And this is how I do it:
1. Random acts of kindness. Find someone at the train station begging for a dollar because that’s all their self esteem tells them they’re worth and give the $50 because you know they worth more even if you think they will spend it on something harmful.
2. Dare yourself to keep sharing your craziest change for the greater good ideas with 98 people until you find the last 2 who will believe, support and encourage you without rubbishing your apparent nuttiness behind your back.
3. Mentor someone in your office who would least expect the encouragement and esteem your care and attention will give them.
4. Treat the world as the round place that it is. Continually pay it forward by helping in areas where you can, because you know that what goes around comes around.
5. Be the leader and when you bring a committee together empower the follow through to make it happen and if it’s falling apart, have the courage to go it alone without concern for egos.
So what if this just doesn’t happen on such a grand scale and you know in your heart that you are in the 2%? Turn to the person behind you in the supermarket queue, smile, say something and make their day. You never know the impact a smile can have. Or take the time to look someone you really care about in the eye in a staring contest that allows you to see their soul. And if you are unsure about your own soul then have a staring contest with a mirror. You might just see such beauty that it makes you cry. 98% of people never do this. You can do something good everyday that 98% of people would never do.
After Nicholas Winton saved 669 children and continued his ordinary life he was so humble that he told no one of his actions, not even Grete the woman he later married. One day in 1988 Grete was cleaning up and going through some boxes and she found a scrap book with a catalogue of records on the children from 1939. Soon after this time Winton was in the audience at the filming of what he thought was a documentary on holocaust survivors and he was surprised to find the person sitting next to him had arrived on one of the trains. The broadcast host soon asked if anyone in the audience had arrived in Britain as a child on one of the trains and two dozen people stood up. Winton had been coaxed under false pretences and the documentary was actually an episode of “This is your Life” in his honour. His actions saved not only the 669 children, in 2009 their descendants amounted to more than 5,000 people.
Seeing life through the eyes of someone who operates from the 2% is humbling, special and incredibly inspiring. And yet all we each need to do is to tell ourselves that we are the change we want to see in the world. If you are telling yourself that you love the committee and are itching for the action then start in the smallest of ways to lead and feel what it feels like to do what 98% of people would never do.
Madelaine Cohen Author
Lipstick Learning is an initiative of Sydney based business leader, Certified NLP Trainer (ABNLP), entrepreneur and Master NLP Practitioner Madelaine Cohen. Sharing information and joining forces with people who choose to lead. Madelaine has more than two decades of inspiration from her businesses in consumer products, sports marketing, executive coaching and healthcare. She takes a leading role in mentoring executives and training business leadership in large and small enterprises. Why? Inspire people to lead and together we can create lifetimes of health and happiness. To find out how you can lead with even more authenticity and ease, contact Madelaine through Lipstick Learning.
Madelaine welcomes connection & networking so if you have something to ask or share, go for it.