Will you do what is right? Even at the risk of looking silly?

I was having dinner with a few colleagues and friends over the weekend and during the course of the evening’s conversation, I noticed the distinct change in people’s stance when it came to NaMo, our Prime Minister. From an all out show of strength by the same set of people for him less than a year ago, the mood in the room seemed to be one of ‘cautious optimism’.  Guarded voices saying the jury was still out on his performance and ability to change anything much.

Reflecting on that conversation later, I wondered about this thing called change.

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Who doesn’t want some change in their lives? We all wish things could be improved in some aspect or the other of our lives. In our work, in our homes, in our personal lives, relationships, fitness, you name it, we can think of things that could do with some change for the better.

And where we are most vocal about our desire for change, is in the general state of affairs in the world outside our homes. We let our dissatisfaction with our city, our country, our governments be known to anyone who will listen – friends, neighbours, the hairstylist, the shopkeeper, the taxi-driver, and of course on Facebook and twitter, complete with hashtags to let anyone seeking it out find it too!

We all fervently hope these things will happen. It would be so convenient if it did indeed happen, wouldn’t it? That too with such little effort on our behalf!

Actually, in my not so humble opinion, it is this hope that is the real problem. Because, this hope is more for magic than for change! We do precious little, and big things happen – that’s magic, surely!

The problem is that for us to contribute to change, we need someone else to take the first bold step. To take the risk of looking silly. To try and fail, if that’s a possibility. And bear the brunt of ridicule.

But imagine if we allowed ourselves to be free of this fear? What if each one of us acted the way we’d want others to behave? If each one of us did what we knew to be the right thing to do, independent of what the majority was doing?

Imagine what would happen then! Actually an old spectacled, far sighted Gujarati man knew over a century ago what would happen then. And that’s why he said “Be the change you want to see.”

Can we? As people, as marketers, as brands? Or will we continue to whine about the water getting heated like the frog in the water on the stove*, in that forwarded story we’ve all read?

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* The frog jumps out when dropped into hot water, but when it’s put into cool water on the stove, it stays in there and eventually dies when the water is heated slowly.

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