I heard Curtis Martin of FOCUS make this statement during one of his talks:
"Culture eats strategy for lunch; we need to renew the culture; good culture makes it easy to make good decisions (and the reverse)."
Reflecting on his statement recently, I now have more clarification as to what he meant. We can make our elaborate plans. We can put on our programs for change. We can encourage, scold and prod people until they cannot take it anymore, but in the end, without a wide cultural shift, our success will be limited.
So what can you and I do? We are just one person. How can we impact the wider culture so that it becomes easier for our children to make good decisions?
Well, we may not be the head of a multi-million dollar corporation, but we do have--as Stephen Covey says--our "circle of influence."
Like that proverbial pebble making ripples in a pond, we begin where we are. The waves will carry our work out, further than any one individual can reach.
Here's an example. Let's say I want to "change the culture" around me ("my circle of influence") to help people understand why exercise is important. First, I must act on my belief, so I start exercising every day. What I discover along the way is that exercise makes me feel better. While I may not be moving the dial on the scale, I am moving the dial on my life. My movements come more easily when I exercise. I have a lot more energy. My clothes fit better. You get the idea.
As those personal changes begin to take place and begin to affect me, I notice that from my increased level of energy, I can actually be more productive. This ultimately benefits those around me, as I inspire and encourage them. This does not simply happen because I talk about exercise more, but because the changes they see in me testify that what I am saying and doing is true.
This can be applied to the moral concerns of today as well.
So we can see, then, inspiring the two (or ten) people around us by living out our beliefs can potentially change the culture, as others are moved to make change as well.
Admittedly, this may be a very slow process, but it is a place to start. What can YOU do today, in your "circle of influence" to move the dial on our culture?
I welcome your comments.