you don't need to change the world

Note: You can listen to the audio of this post in case you prefer to listen while you work or drive or run errands :)

 
 

When I was in India a few years ago, I met an artisan named Adulgafoor. He had a very rare gift. He was part of a long lineage (seven generations) of Rogan artisans. Rogan art is the process of dripping paint onto cloth with a fine command of hand precision (the result is a beautiful complex painting which is so detailed it looks like embroidery).

Adulgafoor's family was the only family of Rogan artisans left in the world.  As a teen, he couldn't make any money selling his Rogan pieces so he moved to Mumbai to sell vegetables for many years. He described that phase in his life as very dark.  

But one day, his grandparents called him back to their hometown in Nirona because they knew their grandson was the most talented Rogan artist that had come along in generations. They insisted he reconnect with the craft.

And he listened because he knew in his heart that they were right. The calling became stronger than his fear of scarcity or poverty. He headed back to Nirona and began living his dharma – his true calling. 

When I observed Adulgafoor making his art, I felt like it was the first time I truly understood the depth and beauty of craft. As he dripped paint onto cloth into incredible precise lines, he was in complete flow and mastery. He glowed like a child absorbed in play. 

He turned to me and said: "It flows from my heart to my head to my hands." What I loved about this guiding principle is that he didn't start with his head. The head is too practical. But he also didn't start with his hands. You think he might have because he's an artist. Many of us do. Many of us think about the means we want to use or the impact we want to have before we understand what lights our heart on fire. 

He started with his heart. 

From an objective standpoint, Adulgafoor didn't have a "big impact" mission. He was an artisan of a craft that very few people knew or cared about. But for him, the calling was huge: to revive and spread his family's languishing craft. To date, he has trained 60 women in the technique – 10 of whom have become independent self-sustaining Rogan artisans.  Again objectively, the numbers aren't huge. 

Don't start with numbers. Start with heart. {tweet this}

I live in one of the greatest innovation hubs in the world: Silicon Valley. Our culture is obsessed with numbers – big measurable impact. We value people who are making a noticeable difference. Social media tools, such as Twitter, have only amplified our emphasis on numbers. We continue to value highly visible and impactful people, which we call "influencers" or "leaders." I grew up believing I must become a leader who changes the world. 

But today I say no no no no. Too much pressure! You don't need to become a leader. It's far more simple and close to home: what's imperative is a return to Self. That's the biggest service one can make: come alive! Connect with whatever gives you flow and serve from that place. 

Yes, in that way, you must be terribly selfish. Service flows from that connection to Self. It flows from heart to head to hands. Define what coming alive and serving means to you. It might mean playing small in the eyes of society, like owning a local mom-and-pop shop or becoming an artisan of a virtually extinct craft. 

You don't need to change the world. You need to return to yourself – your Self. {tweet this}

The good news is that you probably will change the world in the process of journeying towards yourself. It may be big. It may be small. Or somewhere in-between. And it doesn't really matter. What matters is the journey towards yourself.

Anyways, that's how I like to think about "changemaking." When I say I work with women "changemakers," I don't mean leaders in the typical way the word is used. I mean I work with women who have the courage to look within and know that their outer world is a direct product of their inner one. 

Next week I'll be announcing my Fall program for women who want to tap into their wisdom & step into their power as true changemakers. Keep an eye open for upcoming details. 

I (and others) would love to hear from you. Leave a comment at the bottom of the post: Does this way of framing "changemaking" resonate or not? What does true service mean to you? And don't let your inner-critic get the best of you – your thoughts are valuable and add to the discussion. 

xo Majo 

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