Want to change the world? Fix yourself.

You should be a student of history.

One of the best things about living in the UK is access to BBC documentaries. Excellently produced, very educational, a lack of overt bias (though not a lack of bias).

I’ve just finished watching Royal Cousins at War. Three first cousins, all Queen Victoria’s grandchildren, all on European thrones, utterly failed to prevent World War I. Three very flawed human beings.

How?

Two of them were just plain weak: King George V, and Czar Nicholas. Neither of them had any desire for their respective thrones.

Neither had the guts to seize the reins to do what life had thrust upon them. Neither had the intellect to recognise the essential ideas that were at the root of the looming problems.

The Kaiser was both weak and arrogant, at precisely the wrong times. He appears to have been the most emotionally damaged, but I suspect all three had suffered some measure of emotional abuse at the hands of the establishments into which they had been born.

Historians have blamed the Kaiser for the war, but it is clear that all three men had opportunities to avert it. All three failed to recognise and seize those opportunities. Even King George, on the eve of war, when the Kaiser’s younger brother comes knocking in London, says “Excuse me, I’m late, this is most inconvenient” and heads off to a church service.

War is looming, your first cousin shows up on the doorstep, and going to church is more important? (Never mind that the cousin has the ear of the man you’re about to go to war with.)

All three failed to under the nature of power.

Power isn’t something you inherit. Nor is it, as Jock Ewing opined, “something you take!”

Power comes from who you are. From within.

From your character and intellect.

From demonstrating steel and velvet, at the right times, to the right people, in the right measure.

Power comes from Wisdom.

Want to change the world?

First things first: Fix Yourself.

Start asking questions. Step outside yourself, and ask.

Why am I behaving this way? Why am I reacting badly? Why am I fretting?

Who do I admire? Who should I be listening to? Spend as much time with them as you can.

Who should I be blocking out? Who should I be avoiding?

Why do I always strive for that person’s approval? Is their approval really essential? No? Then quit striving.

(Hint: Very often, the approval materialises after you quit.)

What’s really going on?

Copywriting guru John Carleton says that when he sits down at his desk in the morning, he will say, out loud, “OK. What’s going on?”

He’s talking to himself. To his own mind. What’s bugging me? Why is it bugging me? Should it be bugging me? No? Then shut up, go away.

Once he’s put his own mind in order, he gets down to work.

The thoughts in your head are not always your own. They may be unbidden, unwelcome visitors. If they are, show them the door.

They may bounce back, of course. Show them the door again, repeatedly if necessary.

It is your job to train your mind to do your bidding. No one else’s.

The ideas you entertain become part of your personal operating system. You have default settings. Each one is an idea. Like that idea? No? Switch it off, or better yet, delete the app from your head entirely.

The king, czar and kaiser failed to do this. We are still living today with the consequences.

Your job today, and every day, is to THINK.

Not feel, think. The feeling will happen regardless. Your job is to think, and let the feelings know who’s boss.

Do this, and you’ll change the world. For the better, and without even trying.

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