Making a difference is something I would say is the common desire of most of humankind. And that is not only because it has been a primary motivation for my own life and career. Extensive research, summarised brilliantly by Dan Pink in his book “Drive”, identifies Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose as the 3 innate primary motivational forces. Replace ‘Purpose’ with ‘Determination’ and change the order to M(astery), A(utonomy) and D(etermination) and you can readily see how, at the personal level, they together encapsulate the need to “Make a Difference.”
You may consider this to be ingenuous, and only a mental gymnastic exercise, but there is more to it. Our survival as a species has depended, and actually still depends, on our ability to collaborate and work as part of a group. This is hard-wired into the way we are made and, this physiological fact, means that we all derive our sense of well-being and hence our psychological sense of self-worth from our contribution to something outside of ourselves. The desire to make a difference is therefore a very real phenomenon.
Unfortunately it is not an easy goal to realize. As a species we are part of a great, inter-connected whole. In order to understand the world around us, however, we tend to simplify things by isolating them, categorising them – usually by means of arbitrary definitions, convenient boundaries and clear labels – and then studying them in isolation. This means that, all too often, we tend to overlook or misrepresent these inter-connections. National boundaries are a perfect example of this, where historical, cultural and even geographical factors, have been totally ignored.
Politics, sociology and economics are all fields – often even referred to as sciences – where this short-coming is particularly prevalent. The division of government administration into ministries such as health, education, justice etc. for example, creates silos of special interests and lack of “joined-up thinking” that leads to sub-optimal results for all as the result of limited perspectives, conflicting ideologies, restricted resources and bitter competition for what resources are available.
“The Democracy Delusion” is my attempt to illustrate how so many of society’s current woes stem from this failure to recognise the inter-connectedness of things. In doing so I have also attempted to offer solutions that take more account of this inter-connectedness and thereby to make a difference myself – at least as far as any one individual can. My hope is that you also feel a strong need to make a difference and that together we can create a shift in thinking that compels action and therefore that actually makes a difference.
Accordingly, I invite you to get hold of, and read, “The Democracy Delusion” and encourage others to do so too, and then to stimulate dialogue, discussion and debate around the ideas in it, that lead to action. That way we can ensure that together we do make a difference.