From The Ground Up

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Why Saying “I’m Going To Change The World” Is Overrated

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It’s a popular phrase, “I want to change the world”. Some scoff at the phrase as mere platitude. As a guiding principle, “changing the world” can be an effective mantra. Everybody’s definition of changing the world is different. There are two sides to this though.

The first side of this coin is that you should pursue goals that make you happy, that give you fulfillment. Steve Jobs said “Things don’t have to change the world to be important”. If you are happy doing what you’re doing you have a better shot at being successful and eventually, maybe changing the world.

Changing the world in and of itself can not be an objective or a goal. It is too difficult — no matter that path taken. The bigger the goal, the more treacherous the path. Heck if it were easy, everybody would be doing it. Large goals are also difficult to define precisely, but become more achievable when a set of smaller objectives are defined that lead to the larger goal. Even then success is not guaranteed, the path towards the goal can change due to external and internal circumstances.

The other side of the coin is that any path taken towards a large goal is rife with challenges, obstacles, and technical details, whether the individual is an entrepreneur, a lawyer, a doctor, a monk, a performing artist, a DJ or the President. To those external to the individual or goal, these and other goals seem exciting and even glamorous. However, and this is my main point, in order to change the world or achieve a large goal, a person needs to have the determination and perseverance to forge through the challenging days, of which there will be many, and grind through the long hours and technical minutiae and details that come with almost every job and every goal.

While loving what you do and ambition are helpful in achieving your goals, several healthy doses of hard work, determination, perseverance, and elbow grease will give you a better chance of achieving your goals, no matter how big they are.


Whether someone “changes the world” is not a binary function. It is continuous. Has Steve Jobs changed the world? I think so. Has he changed the world to the extent of Gandhi or Mandela, or Hitler? Probably not.

People change the world everyday by doing their daily duties. Parents, friends, teachers, they all change parts of our world everyday. These impacts should not be diminished.

Life is too short to chase someone else’s world-changing dreams. Do what you love. If you happen to change the world in some way during the process, all the better.


Written by Girish Rao

August 18, 2011 at 19:54

Posted in Uncategorized

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