Being extraordinary: Being an agent of change

Feb 8, 2008 by


How can you make an impact in this world?

Being extraordinary doesn’t mean that we stay idle and passive. I have posted before the reasons why you are no ordinary! that each of us have successful story, has something to teach to others. It’s the responsible of being ordinary, as what being quoted in Spiderman movie.

With great power comes great responsibility.


Being extraordinary comes with greater responsibility, it’s the responsibility for you to give back to the society, in whatever profession you’re in. Extraordinary person makes impact to the world. It’s no excuse not to start right now, because you can even start by being an agent of change right now, impacting or influencing a person one at a time, from where you are right now.

This post is about how you can make an impact, one person at a time, how you can give input or feedback for him/her to learn and grow becoming a better person.

It’s something you need to do when you are extraordinary.

The inspiration

I am in Indonesia this week, it’s been a week off from my work in Singapore, celebrating Lunar New Year with my family. The inspiration came from a book I borrowed from my big sister, Vira Agustin, who is a CEO in her late 20s. The book title is “How to Manage Performance” by Robert Bacal which talks about 24 important points, very practical points to increase the performance of your staff or subordinate.

This book sounds pretty much for manager, CEO or someone who is a big position, but I do believe we can start leading wherever we are, it’s about a decision you can make right now, to be extraordinary and make impact around us, one at a time.

It’s about how you can become an agent of change…

1. Observe

During my working time, I was immersed fully to my work, looking at my computer while listening to my favourite music with my earpiece. I’m pretty much ignorant about the people and anything that happens in my workplace. Until one point of time, my sales director told me to be observant, in a way he told me to be smart, observe and pretty much judge a person’s character from their behaviour, understand them and watch the situation and politics that is going around the office. You need to start with being observant before being an agent of change. It’s a habit that you can start right now to observe people and situation around you. Without awareness, hardly you know anything to be changed from the other person.

2. Evaluate

What you need to do after observing is evaluating, basically you start judging, forming an opinion about what goes wrong and what needs to be done. BUT, it’s important not to stop our evaluation at judging a person’s attitude, something like “he is difficult”, “she is lazy”, “he is not cooperative”, “she has bad temper”, and so on. Inspired from the book, many are easily trapped into judging a person based on their attitude. Few things about evaluating attitude

  • evaluating attitude is subjective, which depends too much on our own judgement,
  • evaluating attitude is relative, no exact measurement of how good or bad a person attitude is.

Instead of evaluating attitude, evaluate the behaviour! Find the behaviour that makes you come to the opinion about a person’s attitude. Finding the behaviour is very important for the next step you need to do, which is…

3. Communicate

No matter how good your intent is, or how great your input is, without being communicated, and more importantly, communicated well, hardly you will be able to change and influence others. Points to be remembered…

  • mention their behaviour not their attitude, attitude is subjective, hence it will easily make the other person to be offended and defensive. On the other hand, behaviour is facts, hence undeniable.
  • don’t use hyperbolic or generalization statement, something like “too much”, “very”, “never”, “everyday” will only cause a person to be more defensive.
  • wrap it like sandwich, a technique I have shared before in my post, Dinner with Dreamers, wrapping the hard content with the soft parts, such as complimenting their achievements, their efforts and so on.
  • focus on the purpose of the criticism, remember that you are doing constructive criticism, means that your critic is meant to make the other person better, not to bring them down, give input instead of simply judge.
  • meet face-to-face, even in the modern living right now where people are more comfortable to communicate with email or IM. Meeting face to face will allow you to read the non-verbal signal and it will be better in understanding and listening to them.
  • show that you are open-minded and willing to listen from their own perspective, when you are willing to listen, they will be much more comfortable to share more information that you need.

What if we are wrong?
Being an agent of change requires courage to confront and communicate, many fears that their idea being rejected, finding the fact that many will criticized their input as mistakes or irrelevant, here is a quote to encourage you to dare to be wrong…

If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will not come out with anything that is original.

Ken Robinson @ TedTalk Podcast

It takes courage to come with something authentic or original, prepare to be wrong, the reward is great at the end.

Dare to shine, dare to change!

Have you ever become an agent of change anywhere, anytime in your life? Do share in the comments!

For your success,

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  1. Robert,

    As usual, an inspiring post. What resonates with me most is the part about being an agent of change in the world. I feel that call. In particular, my inner voice is telling me to write more, to share my story. There’s a new blog that’s beginning to percolate – that’s about conveying something very important that I have learned. I’ll let you know about the blog when I get it launched.

    Robert – we’ve never met and yet I consider you to be among my friends. Keep writing, my friend.

  2. Robert A.

    Hi Sol, thanks so much!
    Great to know you in the blogosphere as well, I really look forward for your new blog!
    Keep me updated!

    Thanks so much for all of your encouragement and comments,
    Many times it really touches me and encourage me more to write and share.

    Thanks for the inspiration, my friend!
    Keep shining too,

  3. I have been an agent of change for individuals on occasion.

    It has mostly been by helping the person encounter themselves, especially the parts of themselves that want to fight each other. With enough support these can usually be reconciled. Which is a big change.

    Wrapping the hard with the soft I have heard called a “compliment sandwich” – that is three remarks: one compliment, the feedback on what is difficult, then another compliment. This image helps me keep it in mind.

  4. Robert A.

    Hi Evan, I agree with your statement that most of the fight can actually be reconciled, When people fight, deep inside their hatred is actually fear, its core might be love and it’s important to understand that if the people is willing to communicate deeper, revealing their fear and needs, the fight can actually be resolved.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

  5. Robert,
    …..Dare to shine, dare to change!…..
    I think most of us are afraid to shine. We all have immense light within, but hold back for fear of coming across to arrogant or selfish. When we are living our lives for ourselves, shining our light and sharing it, then we can give so completely that the opposite happens, .. we become the light – charismatic and inspiring.

  6. Robert A.

    Hi Michelle,
    Yes, as what your blog message, we need to unleash the divine purpose we have, we’re created to shine, for God, and for others to see!

    I second your opinion that many times we’re afraid to be considered as arrogant or selfish when we shine, but in fact, it actually will inspire others to shine as well!

    Thanks for adding in your thoughts!


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