I feel the need to start this blog by stating that we deliberately choose to live and work in smaller regional communities. Each one is different, has unique attributes, and offers the potential opportunities for both my partner and I to make a positive community development impact.
However, some things are the same. There are some people in every community I've lived in who seem to take delight in trying to shut down [or get rid of] positive people, new initiatives, passionate energy for change, or any poppy who is trying to stand up tall to inspire others to take positive action …the ones daring to be different.
What I've learned from years of personal experience is it’s often better to just walk away from these people ... those who find their significance by feeding off negative energy. No matter how positively you respond, some people will keep searching to find further fault and delight in fuelling a conflict … like there’s a freaking reward in it for them!
Walk away … the battle isn’t with you … it is with themselves.
I don't understand their intentions ... they don't understand mine, nor do they care to. That's absolutely OK. I like who I am, proud of what I do, absolutely clear on why I do it, and deliberate about choosing where I do it. My purpose is always focused on making a positive difference.
Now, there’s lots of blogs and quoted advice about freeing yourself from negative people … like all you need to do is flick them off, or choose to not hang around with them. Instead, the suggestion is to only spend time with nice people who are smart, driven, and will lift you higher. You know – surround yourself with like-minded people … because apparently, we become like the 5 people we spend the most time with.
Really? … Nice if you can. Sometimes it’s not as easy as that. Sometimes like-minded people can be few on the ground.
This week, I enjoyed an after-hours chat over a few drinks with a like-minded visiting professional consultant, who, an hour into it, asked me; "how do you fit in with 'the people' here, Jilinda?" I laughed and answered; "why do I need to? ... how do you inspire and lead positive change, if you are the same as everyone else? … to make a bigger difference, you have to BE the difference ... BE the change you want to inspire in others".
More progress occurs when people dare to be different.
When you are passionate about driving positive change, an active disrupter of mediocre status quo, intentionally showing a different way, suggesting new solutions to stuff that is clearly not working, encouraging others to play a bigger game … you have to be prepared to come up against the nay-sayers; those who are challenged by your message and positive actions. They will always be there.
Negative people don’t want solutions. They will always try to brick wall them as solutions to problems means they have to work hard to find something else to be negative about.
Retreating back into a box in the corner, or playing smaller to blend in, or allowing negative thinking to dilute your positive outlook, is exactly the impact these people hope to achieve … to disempower or demotivate you.
Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult …
You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.
Sometimes you have to dig deeper into your own resilience bucket, to bravely step up, stand out and speak up, with deliberate intent to change the negative aspects of a situation … by perhaps:
~ questioning negative or narrow thinking of ‘the way it’s always been done around here’ … like, ‘how’s that been working out?’
~ suggesting and continually pushing for better, bigger picture solutions – if it’s someone else’s decision to make
~ pouring more energy into those who are showing interest and willing to try new ways, and reducing the time spent responding to the negative ones
~ providing factual responses that addresses others incorrect assumptions and sometimes malicious statements
~ just doing it differently and simply BE the change you want to inspire in others.
My point is, I really don’t see why I should or would choose to be the same as everyone else … the world has more than enough followers and those wanting to play small. For me, there is no passion, personal growth, or achievement of any 'making a difference' goals in choosing to do that.
Like my signature zebra branding, why be black and white - when you can be brightly coloured? Why blend in, when you can stand out?
To lead change, you have to BE different to what’s already out there … that is the intention :)