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What is Social Impact: Unveiling the Essence

There are many definitions, but I'll provide two: one intricate and the other elegantly simple. The complex definition: Social impact can be thought of as the ripple effect that spreads through individuals and communities following a person's actions. It implies the presence of an actor who alters a process or situation in accordance with his goal, ideals of the good and better future. This may sound significant but is not very clear. The simple definition: impact is a bright intention and a clear plan how to overcome resistance to it. Defining impact is challenging because it's a trigger that simultaneously unleashes multiple meanings, much like defining human dignity. We may not always express in words what human dignity is, but we always keenly feel when it's violated. When we witness the abuse or humiliation of the vulnerable – women, children, anyone – our instincts trigger righteous anger as it is a flagrant breach of human dignity, an unacceptable treatment of a fellow human being. Similarly, with social impact, we always keenly feel and intuitively grasp when negative social consequences are at stake. Environmental pollution, infringement of someone's rights, a decline in quality of life, and so on. These deteriorations can be deliberate, conscious actions borne out of evil intentions (as in social conflicts) or unforeseen, secondary, and accidental. But they are always distinctly felt, discussed, and rapidly disseminated through social media. Positive social impact is more complex. It receives little attention and discussion. Try promoting positive news – it's an uphill battle. Often, such impact is perceived as self-evident and insignificant changes. Someone cleaned a stream – well, it was about time. Someone restored violated rights – isn't that how it should be? Someone donated items to a shelter – what's the big deal, they would have thrown them away otherwise. People rarely appreciate and give credit to those who create positive social impact. Society has come to believe in self-replicating and endless progress, assuming that tomorrow will be better than yesterday, much like the rising and setting of the sun. A team of engineers spends half a year developing and implementing a new technology – it's great, but could it have been done sooner, and the "wow" effect could have been more impressive. Public ingratitude is the bitter taste every changemaker lives with. Many people think that social impact is all about inner motivation. I want to change something, so I go and do it. That's not entirely correct. Organized mediocrity, social entropy, always opposes and will try to crush, engulf, or devalue anything with a bright intention and a clear plan. The larger your impact, the stronger the resistance it will face. That's why it's crucial for your plan to include not only a description of your actions but also how you will overcome resistance to them. Remember, even if you're just quietly living your private life, people still periodically come to say they don't like you. So, don't be surprised when you want to have an impact on someone else's life, and it encounters resistance, as per Newton's third law. People spend roughly 80% of their energy overcoming resistance, leaving only 20% for creation. Very little, isn't it? Are you ready for that? To genuinely help others, you must first prepare yourself and address your own issues. First, secure your oxygen mask, and then the child's – it's an ironclad rule. Again, I've encountered many individuals who ventured into volunteering, humanitarian missions, charity, etc., hoping to escape from dealing with their own problems. You see that their lives are a mess, but they refuse to tackle them. These people believe that by helping others, they'll help themselves. They will simply burn out in six months, and things will get even worse. Resolve your problems first, do not transfer or compensate for them through others. Only those who have faced their problems head-on can overcome them, and only they can genuinely help others. Real assistance to others was provided only by those who were confident, who had no issues with themselves, who could remain composed, who could abstract from emotions, approach the matter systematically, and offer truly needed help. If you want to help but don't know how, most often you end up fighting symptoms. You cut off one head of the Hydra, but two others grow in its place. Even worse, you may prolong the problem, creating the appearance of solving it. Oh, how many such organizations I've encountered that didn't solve problems but profited from them, attracting "helpful do-gooders" motivated by noble intentions. You're kind but ineffective. I'll remind you that impact is about a bright intention and a systematic process to overcome resistance. It's all Sun Tzu: a great commander is not the one who wins every battle but the one who triumphs without fighting. It involves studying the problem, dissecting causes and effects, analyzing existing solutions, seeking best practices, formulating hypotheses, creating prototypes, piloting, confirmed learning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and control. Most importantly, it's about seeking and mobilizing forces for cooperation, so that opponents don't even consider resisting you. Then everything flows effortlessly, almost like a game. Only whole and methodical individuals can succeed in social impact because they have to deal with unfair equilibriums. It's not about applause and rewards; it's about a clear goal and flexible methods. They have to change the system of social relations, which always fiercely resists even the most basic and evident good. Proving that you're good is much harder than proving you're not a villain. Moreover, you'll have to overcome resistance, not just from strangers but even from your people. You'll have to say no to those who ask because you know your limitations. You might hear curses now and no gratitude later. For this, you need strength, confidence, and knowledge. You must see beyond the horizon, break the rules, and to do that, you need iron... let's call them iron pillars. It's the only way to become strong and successful. You can't achieve social impact if you're just a well-meaning individual. Anyone who wants to engage in social impact must know how to bend the rules, work with uncertainty, set priorities, remain cool-headed, and be patient in grinding down resistance to their noble intentions. In this way, you'll bring about change. And here's an added bonus: you'll discover a part of yourself that you probably didn't even know existed. You'll be surprised by your own strength, ambition, and determination. You'll become the person you always dreamed of being, fully unlocking your potential. So, let the impact be with you!

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