Wielding Influence Is Like Carrying a Greatsword…

…it’s heavy, powerful, an aid in battle, and very sharp…

This is my 125th post and I’m shooting for my 10,000th visitor today. Let’s make it happen!

That’s not very impressive compared to other popular blogs or major news websites, but considering before February 14th, 2011 I had zero visitors, I find the whole thing very cool.

A lot has happened since 2011, mostly exciting things, but of course I’ve had my share of uphill battles and mountain climbing to do too. I have severely underestimated the impact that both triathlon competition and my MBA program would (and have) on my life, and it’s really neat to experience.

As with all good blog topics, this was prompted by actual experiences, conversations, and events that tickled my gray matter into action. It’s almost as if my supply chain management professor tricked us into to becoming engaging, interested, self-educating professionals instead of mindless piles of goo sitting through a course just for the sake of earning our paper wall mount that says “I’m more educated now.”

I have learned so much about the world, so much about myself, and so much about the impact that we are capable of having. Awareness is great, it gives people warm, fuzzy feelings and looks good in writing, but it’s the actions that we take that really have real, viable impacts.

  • Sustainable – The word sustainable is being thrown around so much it makes me sick. It’s used in political campaigns to try and sway voters to one side or the other. It is used by companies to get you to buy their products. However, our way of life as Americans is very clearly unsustainable! Thank you to the great recession for the wake up call, but the world is a different place. We cannot live extravagant lives while fighting wars across the globe or while driving giant, gas-guzzling SUVs. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with doing any of those, but trying to do all of those while refusing to sacrifice just won’t cut it. Sustainability is the practice of being able to support or uphold, something we are quickly seeing is failing.
  • Global citizen – Theoretically, we are some of the best educated people in the world (Americans) and yet we have narrow tunnel vision that keeps us from really broadening our horizons. It’s great to get up in arms about global issues, but how many people actually take the time to get involved internationally in issues important to them? Yes, there are many who do take steps, but there are so many more who just complain and do nothing.
  • Perceived value – I have always treasured education and learning (it’s a strength of mine) and it always irks me when people say degrees are just pieces of paper. Not to say that people who don’t go to college aren’t educated or capable of making it, but highly educated citizens are what keeps country machines churning. Where is the value in education that used to be so coveted and pursued? We can only coast for so long before other countries surpass us in not only quality of workforce but also education, technology, and many other areas. It’s true that value is very subjective and hard to measure, as we discovered in our semester project for this course, but as a society there have to be certain things that we all agree are valuable.
  •  Calls to action – My absolute favorite thing about this class is that people want to take action. I have a styrofoam box in the back of my car from one of my classmate’s presentations. Working for a pharmaceutical company, there is clearly a ridiculously huge number of similar, non-biodegradable boxes that are created and that take up space in landfills for 500 years. Talk about depressing… the point of their presentation (and of giving everyone a box) is that certain things are inconvenient or a hassle, but we are empowered to take action on them. And so the real test will be to see if I mail this box to the recycling center or not. Now it’s on me…

We’re supposed to be leaders. We’re supposed to be influencers. What are we really? We’re a society plagued with political apathy (seriously, who thinks our bi-party, uncooperative, mud slinging system is actually working), and citizens who prefer griping instead of taking action, myself included. I don’t have answers. I don’t know the solution to our problems. I do know that as Americans we are positioned to help the world achieve great things… we aren’t the gift to the world, but we are in the position to help.

The takeaway is this: Our perspective needs to change, and the sooner the better. The economy may improve, but we cannot sustain the quality of life everyone assumed we would always have. It’s time to get outside our comfort zones and accept that the world is changing…

How do you engage the rest of the world?

Picture credit 1. Picture credit 2.

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