Want to Change the World? Focus on the One

Focus is powerful force for change. If you want to influence a lot of people, focus your actions on the small minority who will magnify your influence.

Principle: As You Treat the One, So You Treat the Many

Focus Your Influence

John C. Maxwell has said that Leadership is Influence. The greater our influence, the greater our ability to lead.

Knowing this, it is tempting to try to develop influential relationships with large numbers of people. The problem with this approach is that we can spread ourselves too thin, trying to do too much for too many people. Following this approach, we risk becoming ineffective as leaders and achieving little of lasting worth.

In contrast, good leaders know their limitations. They focus on a few key relationships, an “inner circle” to whom they give the best of themselves. By adding value to a small number of people they empower those in whom they have invested to invest in others. In this way, they multiply their leadership capability and have a greater impact that they could otherwise achieve.

See this Principle in the Bible

Jesus story isn’t really the story of the crowd, but the story of a handful of disciples. Jesus came to the few so that the many could be saved.

Start Close to Home

Now, a circle of influence is fine, of course, but if you want to change the world, don’t try to change the world. Start with one. Change yourself. It is a lot harder, but a lot more productive.

A former United Nations Secretary General once said:

Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build for man a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice, we must be just. And how can we fight for liberty if we are not free in our own minds? How can we ask others to sacrifice if we are not ready to do so?Dag Hammarskjöld

Focus Your Care

You have most influence where you care the most, but if you try to treat everybody well, you end up neglecting all. But if you focus on the needs of the few, everyone is touched by your care.

It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labour diligently for the salvation of the masses.Dag Hammarskjöld

It is easy to say you care for everyone, because such a nebulous statement can never be dis-proven. It takes courage to say you care for one person, because it is easy to see if your actions are congruent with your words. So, don’t tell me that you love me because you love everyone. Tell me that you love me because you love me.

People invariably observe your treatment of others, and will naturally assume that you would treat them in the same way. Of particular importance is the way you treat the weak, the hurting, the confused and the fearful. If people observe you treating those people badly then there may come a time when they become fearful and distrustful of you, leading to conflict and broken relationships. On the other hand, if you treat those who are less fortunate than you with gentleness and compassion then you set yourself up for good relationships with everyone.

How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one. Stephen R Covey

See this Principle in the Bible

People say they find a lot of comfort in the Bible. One of the reasons for this is the way that we often see priority given to individuals over the masses.
When the psalmist when he says,

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

That “me” at the end of the line is significant. The statement would have been just as true if he’d written “you are with us“, but the impact just wouldn’t be the same.

Start Close to Home

There’s an old saying that goes, “You cannot please all of the people…”. But I suggest that you can meet the needs of the few. Not many of us will change the world, but all of us can change someone’s world. The best people to start with are those who are close to you.

  • Your own family – your spouse first and then your children
  • Your neighbours
  • Your friends
  • Your colleagues
  • The people that serve you in shops, restaurants…

So, start small, and start today.

If there are nine rabbits on the ground, if you want to catch one, just focus on one.Jack Ma

Further Reading

During my research for this post, I came across this post that expresses similar sentiments:


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