By Didrik Strøhm
Why trying to change people is a waste of time
Power / ˈpaʊə/:
The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events.
Yuval Harrari, the author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, wrote (2016): "History is often shaped by small groups of forward-looking innovators rather than by the backward-looking masses." He is not saying that a few people create big innovations, but relatively few people created, for example, the iPhone. It's widely regarded as a radical innovation, shaping the lives of billions. What Yuval is saying might make it sound like there were just some guys that created it, but the truth is more delicate. Inside of the iPhone, you find a lot of disruptive and incremental innovations – what Apple did was putting them together into a fully-fledged computer, not a phone. The GPS was from Darpa, the touch screen was already in use, Nokia was better at storage power. It didn't matter, a few people figured it out and changed the game forever. But, it was NOT the masses making this innovation, or any other for that matter.

Let's take a couple of examples, such as recycling and becoming vegetarian. The reason for these examples is because it's the typical «I want to change your behavior» topic, where on the one side someone tries to influence people to change their behaviour, and on the other side a person has to struggle with listening to a person trying to change them.

"While I `ve had the perspective for years, it`s not until recently that I have started eating less meat."
From our earthpreneurs event in 2017. Photo by Vilde Media
This often ends up in a meaningless discussion where both gets angry. You see, just because your reasons are both moral and great, it doesn't really matter when you want to change people. Personally, I can empathize with the vegetarian cause, as much for the sake of animals as the well as the climate. While I have had the perspective for years, it's not until recently that I have started eating less meat. The reason is not because of climate and animals, the reason is that I have found alternatives that are just as good or better than meat.

For years, people have attacked people who don't get it, done petitions, and done rallies – but here's what I believe should be done: At a point where most people are aware of what's going on, the petitions, rallies, and attacks need to stop. People need alternatives that makes them «want to change» based on their own personal needs and wants. So a great veggie burger, a system for throwing garbage without sorting it (but at the same time it's sustainable), or a plain that doesn't pollute is the way to go. However weird this sounds, there is only up to a certain point that rallies, petitions and attacks can get us.

Choose your cause

Find out what you want to change, let's say the food industry, textile industry, or the oil industry. If you spend your time on researching, testing, and creating solutions to the problems you can make wonders happen. By being a driving force for change without attacking people, but rather showing another reality – you can inspire others to shift other realities as well. When you are focused on problems rather than solutions, you will not win. Yes, social movements do need petitions, law-suits, and attacks, and maybe even businesses – but when it comes to the masses, the people, or the individuals – there is simply no proof that a solution comes from putting up a law, or telling somebody to what you want them to do. At best it's trying to fix a situation, at worst it's making people want to change less. If you look at the same problem from multiple angles, then we might find what drives change faster than the current efforts.

Text author: Didrik Strøhm

Further reading:

Nassim Taleb
Jonny Schneider
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