Kevin Claiborne

Student - B.S. Mathematics, National Society of Black Engineers

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What makes you think you can change the world? & How?

What is the most effective way for a person to change the world by having a positive impact on a large amount of people?
Is it really possible for me to change the world?
I am young and very curious. is "getting a job" the only way to have an impact on people's lives? I apologize if this post is too vague but,

I am looking for idea or general comments on how I can:
1. discover my passion
2. do something I am the best at
3. help people learn how to help themselves
4. promote critical thinking and positive interaction
5. effectively change something about this crazy world we live in

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    Feb 29 2012: Find people who are ready for the change you envision and who are actively seeking it for themselves. Work with them. Become part of their community. You can't change what refuses to change, and all you'll do is lose your own passion in the effort. It'd be like spending your time and effort on establishing an oasis in the desert. An oasis can only form naturally. It can't be installed. Find your oasis and then your place within that oasis. You'll be much more effective, and much happier within a community of similarly focused people.

    The truth is that most people don't really want the change that they claim to seek if that change will not be a progressive development that is clearly aligned with the emotional/psychological trajectory that they are already following. This is the hardest lesson to learn as you strive to make a positive difference in the world. The average person is not interested at all in progressive change, and even the most strident seekers have already found what they seek, and are actually only interested in fellow acolytes that will give them the validation they need that what they've already determined to be the one true course correction is, indeed, the only course to pursue.

    Big change is extremely rare because what you're changing is people, and people fight change.
  • Mar 2 2012: Yes, it is possible for YOU to change the world. If a thing is possible for anyone, say that guy over there, then it is possible for you. Has anyone ever changed the world? Then it can be done again.

    You already know what your passion is, what you are looking for is a way to make your passion also sustain your living. Your passion is whatever fires you up. It's that thing you do and when you stop doing it, you realize hours felt like minutes. It's that thing that you put hours, weeks, years of effort into just because you enjoy it.

    Reading your question, I suspect your passion lies in teaching, possibly in a motivational way. Teaching does not mean you have to go work in a school. I think the best part of any management position is doing exactly what you described: helping people help themselves, helping them implement critical thinking skills - which develop because we think at all - and doing so in a positive way. I love training new employees. I can show them what has to be done, and then I can give them assignments that challenge them to find new solutions. They grow, and they get good at critical thinking, and then they innovate like crazy just because they discover how much fun it is.

    Whatever position you take initially, find the part of it that thrills you most and do more of that. And, no, getting a job isn't the only way to make an impact. You have to generate income, so you'll need to work at something, but you can work at your passion whether you get paid for that or not. Honestly, I find that people who do work involving their passion usually end up getting paid for it eventually. Just don't stop being passionate about IT just because IT isn't part of what you are paid for.

    Last, you can change the world by influencing a large number of people by influencing one person. Having this type of conversation with people, you might say or do the thing that inspires someone else to do great things, or you might give someone the key to solving a mystery.
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      Mar 2 2012: I appreciate your feedback. Your last comment makes me think of the quote, "I might not change the world, but I guarantee I will spark the brain that will change the world."
  • Mar 8 2012: Your post really strikes a chord with me, because I’ve been asking myself these questions for quite some time. At the beginning, the question at hand seemed really daunting, and the end result of “changing the world” so far away. But I think breaking it down in small pieces and taking it one step at a time can really have an impact.

    No one can tell you what your passion is, and you shouldn’t give up if you haven’t found it yet. The fact that you are asking yourself these questions shows that you are willing to try things until you find something you are truly passionate about. The experiences you’ll gather along the way can only help you.

    One of the things I found to help me, at least for now, is volunteering. It’s a relatively small thing, but it makes me feel that I am taking steps in the right direction, and the big question is less intimidating. Find a cause/an organization that you have some interest in, and see what you can do to help. No one will turn free help away.

    Hope this helps a bit.

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    Mar 2 2012: We are all in the same boat (on the same planet), so we should all be interested in making this crazy world into a better, safer place -- if we only knew how.

    Since certain people know how to make certain things better, and groups of people are good at self-organizing around improving things, you clearly want to work toward getting the people with know-how into groups with other like-minded individuals to share and implement the good ideas. This methodology is very successful in the open source software movement. Lately, with examples like Wikipedia and the easy group formation tools that Clay Shirky talks about, this approach has expanded beyond software into society in general. So to give you specific responses:

    1. discover your passion within some group of people
    2. do something you are the best at by doing it for a long time, always learning, getting better and better
    3. help people by actively sharing what you know (and learning from others -- see point 1)
    4. ask questions
    5. don't give up

    To facilitate learning and the sharing of knowledge, I've been developing a free and open source software system called SlideSpeech for the past two years. As Derek Sivers suggests, it needs followers (#2 leaders) like you. It can change the world by making the transfer of an idea (via a presentation that plays on a smart mobile device) as simple as sending an e-mail. Take a look at the SlideSpeech wiki at and let's see what kind of movement we can start together. YOU can be the hero of this story.
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    Feb 29 2012: Most people who are passionate about something change the world one person at a time.
    Those with great minds for ideas have change society....(automobile, telephones, lightbulb etc...)

    Perhaps you change a child's life as their teacher, perhaps it is an adult's life as their psychologist.
    Many here on TED are enlightened through listening to the TED talks and participating in conversations.

    The motivation that is the most powerful to bring about change is love.

    Today people seek money, power and prominence. They want to be "known" as the person who changed the world......very lofty idea if you ask me.

    This is my humble opinion. I am sure others will put in their two cents worth.
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    Mar 14 2012: I to am looking for my passion but I think I am in denial about being fearful of failure to realize my passion and take action towards it. I think we really know what we are passionate about but we make up stories that block us from realizing our dreams! I think the 2 sticks thrown in the spokes of the wheels of life are 1-fear and 2-laziness! Maybe you should become a great speaker, or life coach!
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    Feb 29 2012: I try to have make the best impact I can on every person I come in contact with...but I would actually like to see (I guess on a broader scale) the extent of my impact on those people.
    If I had God's eyes, I wonder how far the ripples of my presence extend >>>>

    - I love people, but I love making people think for themselves, and I love making people better than they were before they met me.

    - I want to change lives and make money doing so, my mother makes money, but it doesn't seem as though she makes enough to enjoy her life comfortably. I wish she did not have to work so much.
    - I think the reason everyone is so money-hungry is because it brings opportunity and power whether directly or indirectly.
    - thanks for commenting Mary M
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      Mar 1 2012: Hi Kevin,

      your reply is lovely.....sounds like you are on the right track.....give yourself some time and expose yourself to organizations and groups that practice what you are passionate about.

      Mr. Carroll has given you some wonderful advice.

      Much success Kevin!!!

      "Take care to do what you love, or you will be forced to love what you do"