Dear Changemaker

I recently wrote this letter to the co.space, a home for changemakers in State College, PA. Although this was written for college students, I think it still applies to all of us. I hope you get something from this, but more important: I hope you do something with it. If you know someone who might be a good fit for this co-living environment, please encourage them to apply–or to reach out to me for guidance. My door is always open.

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Dear Changemaker,

You’re on the cusp. The door of the airplane is open, your chute is packed, all that’s left is for you to jump. You may feel anxious, excited, or both. Regardless, there are 3 common things that co.spacers say or think when they kick-off the airplane and launch into their journeys for the first time. Understanding these thoughts will equip you for success in your time at the co.space and also in your career.

Read on, meditate on these, and apply daily.

“I don’t belong here.”

Believe it or not, this is one of the most common thoughts that can occur for new or returning co.spacer. The whole point of the co.space is to put mover and shakers under one roof so they can support and amplify each other. Strangely, it can also cause intimidation. It turns out, though, that this often happens when you start a new venture. It’s called imposter syndrome, and it’s totally normal.

Research is finding that many of those who experience Imposter Syndrome come from families where achievement is highly valued and pressurized. Go figure.

It’s also amplified if you’re a perfectionist or if you have a habit of brushing off your successes as flukes. One way to tell if this is you is by asking yourself if you have the thought “I must have tricked them into picking me.”

As stressful as these experiences feel, it’s part of the journey. It’s part of growing as a person, learning, and stretching your abilities. It might feel strange, but it’s normal. It’s your new normal.

“I don’t have a big idea.”

No one said this was a house for entrepreneurs or innovators. It’s a house for changemakers. Changemaking is about being the change; first. Making change in an industry doesn’t mean you have to have a software startup or a hoodie company that brings hoodies to communities that don’t have access to hoodies. Changemaking is about calling out what could be better about the world, looking inside yourself and evolving from there.

This conscious introspection and deliberation to constantly reinvent oneself is called: intention, and you’re going to hear a lot about it. Co-living in co.space will give you many opportunities for intentional growth, and the fun part is that it will almost always happen right under your nose, without some big red alarm or fanfare.

For example, new co.spacers often feel the massive importance of taking on the whole world, but may fail to clean and put away their own dishes. How you do anything is how you do everything. That’s just how your brain works.

“My idea is too big.”

Brace yourself; here come the inspirational quotes about “every marathon starts with one step,” and “slow and steady.” These can be helpful in the short term to spike motivation, but they’re not effective at alleviating the long-term, water torture of incapacitatingly huge dreams.

When you ask an effective changemaker how they’ve made such incredible impact, you’ll almost always hear the same story. “It didn’t start this way,” or “we had no idea what we were doing 10 years ago.” It turns out that big, hairy, audacious goals are actually made up of lots of small, incremental goals. The key is action.

You have to start without seeing the end. Action begets answers to your questions.

We often overestimate what we can achieve in one year, but massively underestimate what we can achieve in 10 years. The formula for change is small, consistent, incremental improvements multiplied by time–not wild, overnight paradigm shifts. And the cool thing is that 1% compounding interest doubles every 72 days, not every 100 days. 1% change is a much more practical and statistically likely goal. If your mission is change, you can’t ignore this implementation reality.

Finally, there are a few other things that will happen you move through the co.space and on your journey:

You’ll have to decide which advice to take. You’ll have to forgive yourself for making stupid decisions. You’ll have to forgive yourself for taking bad advice. You’ll have to get up early in the morning and put your gym shorts on without hitting the snooze button. You’ll have to come home to a messy house talk to your housemates head-on and refrain from passive aggression. You’ll have to clean someone else’s dishes so you can eat your breakfast. You’ll have to forgive others when they break your things.

You will have to love people before they’re perfect.

Especially yourself.

There are only two things that will hold you back from your wildest dreams: fear and oppression.

You already know what you can control and what you can’t.

While you’re at co.space, you’ll be given all the tools you need to build something bigger than yourself. So pay attention. Go to house dinners. Raise your hand in house meetings. Pitch an idea that considers others first.

You’ve got a community of changemakers, past and present, ready to come to your aid. All you need to do is show up. All you need to do is bring yourself. All you need to do is care.

Do that, and you’ll have an army of changemakers with you wherever you go.

 

Welcome to the tribe,

Chris Danilo

 

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A note to my readers: If you’d like to take more action and get closer to our own tribe, join the private, Relentless Community Facebook group, here. 

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