How Do You Encourage Change?

We know changing other people is not only impossible, it’s not how you want to show up.  Who wants to hang out with someone who’s trying to change you?

Yet, we can all admit to ways we notice where change is desperately needed, and frankly how do you just sit back & watch as people suffer unnecessarily when you can see what would be helpful?

A wise coach once told me..

You don’t really help anyone as a coach.

I don’t?

No.

Everyone chooses whether to listen, follow, and decide what works for them. As a coach, you empower people to change from the inside out. Helping isn’t transformational.

Change comes from within.

But aren’t there ways to encourage positive change in people? And how do you do it without offending or alienating someone?

On a family vacation last week – something got my attention.

We were visiting Washington D.C., and the story of Lincoln’s ability to abolish slavery happened in a swift 3 year period despite little support, and a widespread highly racist  consciousness.

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Did you know that between 1525 and 1866, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million African slaves were shipped to the New World with only 10.7 surviving the journey?

Of those, only ~450,000 or 4% ended up in the U.S.

Brazil received 4.86 million or 45% of these African slaves! Mass prejudice existed worldwide where an entire continent of people were regarded as ‘less than human’.

People bought, and sold like goods.

How did that epic amendment get ratified to begin shifting this global ignorance for the better?

The story goes that Lincoln felt the hypocrisy of a constitution that stood for the “blessings of liberty”, but watched uneasily as blacks were sold into slavery.

What if he could free slaves by creating an ulterior motive people could get behind like winning the civil war. If blacks could enlist in the Union army, it would be a ‘war measure’.

He proposed the emancipation proclamation in the summer of 1862 to his cabinet that changed any ‘enslaved person’ from the status of ‘slave’ to ‘free’, but only in the Rebellious states.

You can’t antagonize everyone, even with the right vision.

Baby Steps.

His own cabinet wasn’t behind him suggesting he wait until a key battle was won so his proclamation didn’t look like a desperate measure, or one that couldn’t be enforced.

Be Patient.

Lincoln waited. By September 1862 with a key battle won, he issued the proclamation first as a warning.

Be Committed.

With no sign of surrender, it became official on January 1st, 1863.  Approximately 179,000 slaves  joined to help keep the country together. A moral element was now integrated in the war effort. Freedom.

What do you imagine happens when you put opposing people together to fight for a single cause?

Shift Attitudes.

Though Lincoln was morally opposed to slavery, he couldn’t see giving blacks equal rights, and didn’t fight to abolish slavery initially.

On closer examination, his ideal confronted an opposing stark reality. Blacks were not regarded as equal human beings. For whites, and blacks to live together in peace, and on equal footing at that time was unimaginable.

The only viable solution seemed to be colonization or sending slaves back to their own country.

To this day, some still condemn Lincoln as a racist.

You can’t please everyone.

The idea of freedom for ALL was now stirring in the minds of more people, and Lincoln’s ideal gathered momentum when he was re-elected for a second term.

Having a higher vision can change you in the process to make the impossible possible.

By 1864, Lincoln seemed to realize that amending the constitution was the only way to avoid returning blacks to slavery after they’d given their life to the cause.

He proposed the 13th Amendment effectively abolishing slavery for the 4,000,000 enslaved living across the country. It didn’t go through.

Stay committed to your dream.

He was re-elected for a second term in 1864, and the amendment eventually passed with seven votes above the necessary two-thirds majority, and this famous Amendment came into effect December 1865.

What was once acceptable became unacceptable.

I believe it helped influence Brazil to follow its lead when it became the last country in the Western World to abolish slavery in May 1888 for its 4,000,000 slaves.

Lincoln was quoted as saying on the signing of the Amendment, “If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.”

Speak to enough people’s souls.

Last week as I caught glimpses of the American election, I wondered where people’s souls were today. With Candidate Trump’s growing popularity in the polls – opting for a wall to be paid for by Mexico no less? Banning all Muslims? Blaming other countries for poor trade deals?

It felt like the world was going backwards.

As a neighbouring Canadian, frankly it’s scary because the “fear side” is still such a strong force today. As our prime minister Justin Trudeau shared a few months ago

fear does not make us safer, it makes us weaker…painting a group with a broad brush is not just ignorant, it’s irresponsible.

Is being a billionaire, and a celebrity so blinding? Since when did the controlling, and condemning stances on every issue become acceptable? Isn’t this how a certain Chancellor rose to power? Playing into vindication, blame, and prejudice?

It’s a dangerous combination – $$ from a “conquer at any cost” combined with political power to make laws other people must follow.

Led by someone who has to keep reminding everyone

I’m a nice guy…

in case you forgot.

It reminded me of the way some private equity companies go into fledging businesses.  Bulldoze. Toss. Win-lose.  Behaviour where $$ is the only bottom line driver, and people are thrown.

It’s an attitude I saw firsthand as I watched one past friend turned multi-millionaire shockingly become condemning, and irresponsible in her business dealings when too much $$, and trusted power got into her hands. A growing arrogance, and spoiled nature seems to be consistent traits of something I began to notice.

Their souls aren’t in it.

There’s a lack of ability to listen to others, a lost capacity for compassion, and plenty of judgment.

The opposite of Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and I believe Lincoln.

Their souls are in it.

It’s what I believe is the best way to encourage positive change.

Follow your soul.

How will you live more from your soul in your own life today?

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