BE different, BE the change … that’s the intention!


My Partner and I deliberately choose to live and work in smaller regional communities.  Each one is different, has unique attributes, and offers the potential opportunities for both of us to make a positive community development impact.

We also love change. It’s fair to say we’ve moved around a bit more than the average pair of beige bears; we love embracing new, challenging opportunities.

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 ignore 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 …wherever I am – while-ever I can.

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? … well that’s nice if you can. Sometimes it’s not as easy as that. Sometimes like-minded people can be few on the ground. Sometimes it’s best to mindfully and deliberately NOT become like the people we must spend the most time with [eg: some workplace teams?]

Recently 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.

As passionate drivers of positive change, active disrupters 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 … we should be prepared to come up against the nay-sayers; those who are challenged by our message and positive actions.  Yep. They will always be there.

Here’s what I know from experience:

 -          Negative people don’t want solutions. They will often try to brick wall them as solutions to problems means they have to work hard to find something else to be negative about.

 -          Narcissistic people don’t want YOUR solutions. If they didn’t’ think of it, initiate or drive it, they will spend their waking moments trying to sabotage the initiative; even if it is positive or heading the right direction. Blowing your candle out makes theirs burn brighter [or so they think].

 -          Worse still – insecure sociopaths cannot tolerate anything that comes from YOU. Innovative ideas, half ideas, concepts – nothing will be supported. Why? Because in their mind, everything you suggest or do is like a personal affront; a threat in some way to their unhealthy need for total control. They lie awake at night plotting ways to cut you off at the knees. It’s personal and malicious; wrong on so many levels but it happens [yes, I've met one or two of these].

Retreating 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; in some cases, to deliberately disrupt your greater-good intentions and plans.

 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; intentionally refocusing the negative aspects of a situation into opportunities for even greater solutions – a catalyst for wholesale change.

Here’s 5 ways we do that:

  1.  Question negative or narrow thinking of ‘the way it’s always been done around here’ … like: ‘how’s that been working out?’ … ‘why keep accepting such poor behaviour and outcomes?’
  2.  Suggest and continually push for better, bigger picture solutions – if it’s someone else’s decision to make. Encourage others to explore more broadly; to keep asking questions.
  3.  Pour more energy into those who ARE showing interest and willing to try new ways, and reduce the time spent responding to the negative ones [read: stop wasting time on those who won’t change]
  4.  Provide factual, truthful, well researched responses that address others incorrect assumptions and sometimes malicious statements.
  5.  Just keep doing it differently and simply BE the change you want to inspire in others.

 So, ‘does this work out?’ I hear you ask. Honestly: sometimes YES, sometimes NO, sometimes NOT YET. You have no control over other’s actions; just your own responses, choices and decisions [and patience levels].

 Perhaps the more direct question here is: ‘Given the uncertain, variable outcomes; would you keep doing these 5 things, and if so – why?’  Absolutely! Every chance I get.

 That is what being authentic and genuine is all about. Being clear on your values and sticking to them – no matter what. Knowing your purpose, believing in your abilities, and intentionally driving positive change.

 My point is, I really don’t see why I [we] 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 play a smaller game.  Choosing to be beige and blend in. That’s so ‘off purpose’.

 Like the colourful zebra pictured: 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 willing to BE DIFFERENT, and to DO DIFFERENT stuff to what’s already out there … that is the intention.

That is BEing the change.


Written by Jilinda Lee … Change Champion, Leadership Coach, OD Strategist, Writer, Speaker … Founder and CEO of Workforce Vitality and passionate inspirer of dynamic, game-changing leaders.

If you need a mentor to help you lift your mojo, so that you can make positive changes personally or professionally, contact Jilinda for a free 15-minute chat.

If you would like Jilinda to provide a lively, ‘tell-it-like-it-is’, inspirational talk at your next function, contact us for a chat about that.

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