There once was a man who was a very good archer. He traveled far and wide going from village to village demonstrating his skills.
He could do incredible feats like shooting one arrow, hit the target, and then with a second arrow, split the first arrow.
Everybody would gather and cheer and applaud as they had never seen anything like it.
One day he arrived at a little village and started his usual routine of shooting arrows from his bow with great precision. As usual, everybody applauded, “Bravo, bravo.”
This time though, after everybody had finished applauding, a voice in the back of the crowd called out, “Meh, it’s only a matter of practice.”
The archer did hear the voice, and although it disturbed him, he continued on. He took another arrow, shot it, split an arrow he’d already shot, and again everybody yelled, “Bravo, bravo, bravo.”
And the same voice said, “Meh. It’s only a matter of practice.”
As he finished his show the archer was upset.
Here he was, demonstrating his greatest skill, and this man kept saying, “Only a matter of practice.”
He decided to go the back of the crowd and search out the man that had been calling out.
He found the man, who was carrying a bamboo pole, with one pot of oil hanging from the front and another from the back. He was selling oil.
The master archer look at him and said, “Who are you to say it’s only a matter of practice? How dare you? What do you do? You sell oil. Seriously, look at me. People come to see me from far away because my aim is so good.”
The man with the oil gazed at the archer quite unimpressed and said, "Meh, it’s only a matter of practice. Here, let me show you.”
The oil merchant pulled out a bottle and placed it on the ground. He then put a coin that had a hole in it on top of the bottle, and poured the oil from his pot through the small hole without spilling a drop. Next, he turned to the archer and said, “Now, it’s your turn.”
The archer didn’t even try. He understood that it is a matter of practice.
I believe that anything can be learned and mastered given enough practice and enough time.
What are the skills that you’ve identified you need to develop to be a successful changemaker?
If you haven’t already, I invite you to spend some time reflecting and writing down what skills you need to acquire or develop to take yourself to the next level of creating positive impact.
I’m asking you this because I know various changemakers who play small by telling themselves that they aren’t good at public speaking, or at networking, or fund raising, or that they aren't a people person, not a business person, and the list goes on and on.
Being a changemaker doesn’t mean you have to be an expert at everything, but there are skills that will help set you up for success and become a leader.
It’s useful to understand that skills are a combination of your mindset and your practice.
Many people give up too early pursuing something because they say this is who I am this is how I’m born.
They are stuck in what Stanford researcher Carol Dweck called a fix mindset. These people believe their qualities and skills are fixed traits and therefore cannot change.
With a growth mindset however, you have an underlying belief that your learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. You believe you can get smarter. You realize that your effort has an effect on your success, so you put in extra time, which leads to higher achievement.
The invitation is there to believe in your ability to grow and learn and develop yourself.
We’ve got science on our side which has shown that our brains can be retrained and reorganised and change depending on how we use it. It’s called Neuroplasticity.
So, decide to want to master something and then apply yourself.
The more you’re able to do this yourself the better you’ll be able to inspire others to do the same.
If you’re after transformation you need to believe that people can change, and understand the process which makes growth and transformation happen.
A good start is by telling yourself: “I can grow and learn and with practice anything can get better.”
As a changemaker you want to develop the art of speaking and building relationships. You do need to network, and fund raising will sooner or later be a likely skill you’ll need.
But what about kindness, selflessness, and giving? These are qualities as well as skills. And they too can be practiced.
What about the art of telling transformational stories, the art of captivating people’s attention and connect them with their higher purpose?
Would you benefit from developing the skill of being able to inspire hope in people’s hearts?
These are all examples of skills I believe you want to have in your changemaker toolkit.
So, do create that list of where you see opportunity for you to grow and develop yourself and create a golden plan of skill building.
Seek out role models and mentors that can support you in your journey.
Believe that you can acquire any skill that you need to thrive - remind yourself: Yes I can.
Seek out the best, find out what really works and learn.