Is it the minority that drive transformative change, or the majority?

About a week ago, I visited with my family in Oregon. Nearly 2/3 of the way there, I finally got a call from my mom and older brother, informing me of the power outage that happened nearly two days prior. Ouch. When I arrived, I helped as much as I could and then visited with my dad for a brief hour on the 25th before starting the long drive back home to Redwood City. I had work the next day, so couldn’t stay longer. By the time I’d visited with my mom for a few days, the power came back on. However, while it was out, I learned a few things.

1. We’re all addicted and used to the conveniences of modern life. Heat, driving, lights, electricity, wifi, you name it. Without these things, we closely resemble American life of 100+ years ago.

2. For the two freezing cold days we had wood heat and zero electricity, every few hours, somebody would make a joke. “Stop playing, turn on the TV already.” That was a great one, as well as my mom saying, “Okay, I’m freezing. Can you turn on the heater?”

3. Life in the 1800 and early 1900’s must have sucked. 97%+ of society was a self employed agricultural worker, not very different from a 15th century peasant in England, China or Russia. I’m so grateful we have these things and that I like my family, stand on the shoulders of giants.

This experience, like so many others, drove home something very important. Influence is never the act of a village, it’s not the end result of committee. The few in society drive change, the rest, are forced to adopt to the new normal. My personal estimate is that the 1% drive change, the 60% resist, and the remaining 39% bring it to ‘normal’. Why more laggards than early adopters? To me, it’s simple. Those who are comfortable, warm and unused to exerting themselves wish things to stay constant. Those who like me were freezing for a few days, who care about their family enough to be willing to consider every available option and those people who are only willing to leave something once it is better than how they found it. For them, for me, nothing will ever be “good enough” it’ll always need improvement.

I’d like to improve. I want to wake up tomorrow to a better version of me. Today, I jogged more than Friday and to top it off, I did 60 pushups. I’m 5 pounds away from my goal and feel better waking up than I have in a decade. All that, despite the massive pain from lactic acid build up in my quadriceps.

This year, from my family’s holiday, I learned something very important. Every day, we have a choice. To ride the wave, or create our own. Sitting back, passively waiting for the next big one and hoping we catch it in time…that’s what people did 100+ years ago. Me, I’m all about inventing the future. At my job, I’m hiring. I am not happy with the status quo. I have amazing people I work with day in, day out. We’re looking for one more in my team, and I’m also helping the larger team hire amazing people. It’s probably easiest to get me on LinkedIn, just search for Jeremy Goodrich. While the CEO of LinkedIn used to give me never ending flack for my weekly SEO reports at Yahoo, I still think Jeff is a fantastic guy, a visionary and able to not only see the present, but see the future. In painting such a big, bold vision for what people can do and accomplish, Jeff has done what every CEO aspires to do. That’s to motivate, to reach beyond, to grasp that which is just out of reach.

When growing up, we did this fun activity in a theater class. The objective was to reach, arms extended, and measure the point where your fingers would just touch a book. Then after we measured the distance, the instructor told us to picture something we wanted, something wonderful, just a bit further out than that book. If we could grab it, we’d get it, and whatever that special objective unlocked, we would attain. The next time I extended my arms, my reach was at least six inches longer than the default state. Not all of us dream of attaining goals beyond our immediate grasp. Not only do I have this belief but I also believe that the single most important thing any of us can do is pass along this desire, this dream. Reach for your goals, your dreams and your ambitions. Even if you never attain them, the very act of reaching will extend your grasp far beyond what it is today.