Do You Want to have a Positive Impact on Society? Here’s How

It is not easy to succumb to despondency when you are surrounded by positive people. And positive people inhabit rooms that have anything to do with the Partners for Possibility program. These are the people I met last week in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, when 8 school principals and 8 ordinary leaders from all walks of Midlands life, celebrated the end of their transformative, 1-year Partners for Possibility leadership journey.

Full disclosure:

This column is sponsored by Symphonia – the NGO that runs the Partners for Possibility program. So, I am going to start this piece again to avoid any conflict of interest.

It is easy to succumb to despondency when you are surrounded by negative people; people who are defensive and demoralised; people who only focus on the bad and have stopped seeing the good. Nothing changes when we get into this dark hole.

Getting out of the hole

In my experience two things need to happen for us to get out of this negative space and begin to affect change: We must actively flip our focus from impossibility to possibility and we must stop trying to impact the world alone. When we begin to practise what I call the “2 Magic P’s” – possibility and partnership – the world shifts.

As an example – and back to not talking about Partners for Possibility – when we partner possibility-focused, willing South Africans from non-educational spaces with school principals who lead in severely challenged schools – both people grow, lives change, and schools improve. The editor of this august publication Steuart Pennington was one of the 8 Midlands residents who partnered with a school principal for the year long journey. His eyes literally lit up as he spoke of the changes that he and his partner had affected at their local Midlands school.

But where do I begin, I hear you ask?

5 steps to success of course:

  1. Identify one or more people in your network that share your desire for change in your community/country
  2. Meet for coffee and have a conversation about what troubles you in your community
  3. Drink more coffee! And let that get you all fired up.
  4. Ask the question: What if this problem did not exist? What would the benefits be to our community? i.e. If the problem is litter, then the question might be: What if we had no litter? Answers: The community would be clean. Pride would go up. Crime would drop. Property values would increase etc. (This conversation is important because it releases feel good hormones that are the fuel for possibility.)
  5. Then ask: What small step can we take together to address the litter issue? Brainstorm some local stakeholders that you can engage to support your mission: the ward councillor; school principals; taxi owners; school SGB’s; your local Chamber of Commerce.

Finally, make like Nike and “Just Do It”.

Boom! Shiny happy, positive people changing the world.

This column is proudly sponsored by Partners for Possibility (