How to change the World

November 2019 · 1000 words · 5 minute read

To change the world requires three things; Vision, Optimism and Resources.

You need Vision because you need to know what you want to do. Without Vision you’re swimming in an ocean of uncertainty. Every option looks just as good as every other option. You have no filter and no judgement, no ability to distinguish between viable alternatives. Vision breaks the deadlock and provides a lodestar to guide your actions.

You need Optimism because most things fail. Optimism is the secret superpower that prevents you from dwelling on this fact. Changing the world, even in a small way is hard. It requires you to fight against entropy to shift the world from its natural state. Optimism is the juice that lets you push the rock up the Sisyphean hill for the hundredth time in the hope that this time is different. Most people truly aren’t optimistic even if they try to pretend they are.

Finally, you need Resources because they magnify your capabilities, or, in other words they give you leverage to effect change. Your resources are everything that you can use to effect your vision. Financial, social, spiritual, personal, knowledge. The more resources you have the more likely you are to achieve something, regardless of what it is.

Something special happens when these three things come together. Something horrible happens when one, or more, of them are missing.

Finance is the world of pure Resources, it has no Optimism and no Vision. The Efficient Market Hypothesis states this clearly. Hence, it tries to invest in everything in order to make a “return” without understanding where that return comes from. Most people are left cold by Finance but it has control over the majority of the world’s resources. Mastering finance ultimately means mastering your control over resources.

A Zealots has both Vision and Optimism but no Resources. They see the future that could happen and they’re incredibly optimistic about trying to change it but they tend to lack the resources to do it. This can be a good thing. Some Visions should never see the light of day.

Vision and Resources is a dangerous combination, this leads to unhappiness. Seeing what the world could be but not having the personal willpower to bring it into effect tends to instil depression deep in your heart. Avoid this. Cultivate your Optimism.

Suckers have Optimism and Resources. Someone with a Vision will latch on to a Sucker and try to take advantage of them in order to build their Vision. Most people are Suckers. You don’t want to be one.

Having Vision, Optimism and Resources gives you the levers required to change the world. You must cultivate them and avoid letting others take them away.

People will tell you that your Vision is no good, they’ll bring you down because they don’t have a Vision. Lacking a Vision they become upset at anyone who does. They’re crabs in a bucket ripping to shreds anyone who tries to escape. They’re the people at social occasions who bring down others achievements to their own level. At the moment of your greatest victory they make the snide comment that reminds you of your failures. Never fight with them, they bring you down to their level. Your only hope is to ignore them.

Thus, having a Vision is lonely.

Pessimistic people will tell you that you will fail, continuously and relentlessly. It’s the only thing on their minds. “Why would you do that? You’ll never succeed!”, “Don’t bother, nothing is going to change”, “Why do you care so much?” I mean, if you believe the pessimists why even try in the first place?

You need Optimism to beat these doubts. Without optimism the oppressive and smothering doubt from others will bring you down. You’ll become one of them, wondering what might have been as life passes you by. Once pessimism enters your heart you’re doomed to fail because you’ll never start. Or, worse, you’ll self sabotage because you don’t want to stand out from the crowd. The pessimism will kill your wonder and joy.

Finally, you need Resources. An Optimistic homeless guy with a Vision is merely a crackpot screaming at people about religion on the morning commute. An Optimistic billionaire with a Vision will try to remake the world in their image.

What separates them is the ability to effect change, their Resources.

You must husband your Resources carefully, others will try to take them away. They’ll suck up your time in meetings, they’ll want you to invest in their initiatives, they’ll want you to march to the beat of their drum. To husband and cultivate your resources you must recognise the opportunity cost of every decision you make. Doing something means making a choice, not doing something else. Most people don’t recognise this and they let others abuse their resources.

Investing in someone else’s vision means not investing in your own. This can be okay, their vision might be better. But is it really? Who knows your vision better than you?

Finally, the missing link is to pull these together and to start something. Try it. It’s easier than you think. Starting something means applying your Resources in an Optimistic fashion to your Vision. It can be small, it can be large, I’d recommend starting small though.

Changing the world is hard but what do you have to lose? Trying to change the world and failing just means you’re in the same place. Success on the other hand. Well, fortune does favour the bold after all.