Read a Change Agent’s Biography

I recommend everyone reads a quality biography of a social, political of business change agent that they admire. A good biography will highlight both the achievements and the extent to which much admired figure fell short.

Getting to know our heroes and heroines as real people matters to make change more accessible. The vast majority of admirable change agents are not exceptional people for their talents or virtues. In some cases, on closer inspection they lack the talents and virtues one would think necessary for success in leading change.

Change Agents are exceptional for their actions. They acted differently when others did not or would not act. They led when it was dangerous. They spoke up when it was unappreciated. They connected others to change when change was thought pointless.

We don’t need to be personally exceptional to act to lead change. Many change agents were surprised that their small first actions made them into opponents of a system that they were trying to help with a small fix. The response of the system made them change agents and gave them a focus for further change.

The path to change begins with action. We see a need to change the world and we start to do something about it. Don’t worry about whether you are the right person to lead the change. The fact that you have seen it and are prepared to act is start enough. Don’t worry about whether you will succeed or whether others agree. Often change agents lay the ground work for others or a larger coalition. If you see the need for change, your actions are needed.

2 thoughts on “Read a Change Agent’s Biography

  1. Any specific change agent biographies you have gotten value from reading Simon?

    1. Michelle, There are many that come to mind. I just finished reading a book on Vaclav Havel which in part prompted the post. I often recommend people read books on social change leaders. For more business oriented books, take a look at Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, Louis Gerstner’s Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, Do Purpose by David Hieatt and Ricardo Semler’s books.

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