At the end of the day, every decision you make leads you along your life’s path and, when you finally arrive at its destination, hopefully you’ll have changed the world for the better. Hopefully every person you meet will be better off for having met you.
But what we learn from the greats is that changing the world for the better, touching the lives of millions, doesn’t come without sacrifice.
You may lose friends along the way, but how can you change the world while being everyone’s best friend? While changing the world doesn’t mean you need to become antisocial, it does mean you can’t worry about what your friends think and you can’t worry about what society thinks either. Change is always met with resistance. You have to do what you feel right, no matter what the cost. And sometimes what you think you’re sacrificing never really existed anyway, as your real friends will never abandon you no matter what.
With every great deed comes an even greater struggle. This struggle can prove to be the ultimate challenge of your life. The ups and downs are severe. Relationships strive on stability, but to change the world, you have to throw normal out the window. You may have to buck every trend. You may have to isolate yourself from the ones you love the most, for the greater good of society.
You would think making the world a better place would be a solid career move, but this isn’t always the case. In the corporate world, climbing the ladder often requires cutthroat decisions that improve the bottom-line, but not the greater good. But the exceptions stand out. Have you every heard of lawyer representing a condemned man who the lawyer believed to be innocent? Or of a politician who voted for a law he believed in despite it being massively unpopular with his constituents?
Many people will pay any price to maintain their popularity, yet one of the easiest ways to make enemies is to be a leader of change. We all want to feel loved, so sacrificing your popularity to see the changes you want in the world is never easy.
We don’t have a lot of time on this planet, so you better use your time wisely. While you’re sleeping, you’re not accomplishing anything; it’s perhaps for this reason that sleep and death are called cousins. This doesn’t mean you should starve yourself of pillow time, which is needed for a healthy life, but rather you should get the shuteye you need and no more. Have you ever noticed how excited you are to get up in the morning or how late you stay up when you feel like you’re on the righteous path? Have you noticed the reverse? How long you want to sleep in when you’re depressed or feel like nothing matters?
Success can sometimes take a toll on sanity. This doesn’t mean you will go Clockwork Orange, or become Jack Nicholson in the Shining, to make things right in the world, but along the path to change, you may often question your sanity. It may prove very difficult to sacrifice friendships, loved ones, your career or other things you hold dear. Do you think van Gogh may have lost a few screws in route to building masterpieces that would forever change art and popular culture?
Greatness may cost you happiness. In theory, we’d all love to feel joy all the time. We’d love to constantly go out with friends and enjoy life to the fullest. However this may come at the expense of productivity. And, if in the end you don’t reach your life’s goals, think how much worse you’ll feel if you traded that success for a few nights on the town.
8. Your Life
The last thing any of us ever want to sacrifice is our well being or life. But did Martin Luther King Jr. concern himself with would-be detractors? Did Abraham Lincoln care how many feathers he ruffled? While sometimes the pursuit of greatness won’t cost you your actual life, just your social one, it may just come down to how great of a change you’re willing to contribute to.
Not every person is willing to make these types of sacrifices, nor should they. We weren’t all meant to go the moon. We’re not all revolutionary scholars, groundbreaking scientists, superstar athletes or blockbuster celebrities. Nor do all of these folks actually change the world for the better. Some of us are meant to be teachers, parents, firemen, people who make a difference on a much smaller scale, but who are just as important in the lives of those they’ve touched. To change the world, though, you may have to give up everything you hold dear. You might never receive any credit for doing so, any gold medals, or any other accolades, but when you look at yourself in the mirror, you just might see who you’ve always hoped you would become. You may have just changed the world for the better!