Over the last couple of days, I’ve been engaged in various conversations with people about how people revert to form when under pressure and that you have to put in a concerted effort to really change who you are.
In one particular instance, someone I work with explained this to another person using the tale of the Scorpion and the Frog.
If you’re not familiar with it, it goes like this…
A frog and a scorpion are sitting on the edge of a river. The scorpion asks the frog to carry him across the river on his back, but the frog refuses, saying that the scorpion will sting him as they’re crossing. The scorpion tells the frog that his objection is silly because if he stung the frog, they would both drown.
The frog relents, the scorpion climbs onto his back and they set out to cross the river.
As they get to the middle, the scorpion stings the frog.
The frog says to the scorpion, “Why did you do that? Now we’re both going to die!”
The scorpion says to the frog, “It’s just my nature.”
I think this tale is really valuable because it addresses the fundamental element of humanity that we always act according to our most basic programming and the only way to really change, is to change your underlying nature.
That’s hard and it takes a lot of effort.
To make that kind of change, I think you have to go through not just a transformation, but a full reformation of yourself as an entity.
And like all good reformations, the best way to start is writing a manifesto and nailing it to the front door of your personal church.
There’s a bunch of historical references in those last two sentences so I’ll quickly unpack those if you’re not familiar with them.
The “Reformation” was a movement that started in 16th Century Germany to change the way that the Roman Catholic Church operated. Corruption was rife and despite being the wealthiest person on Earth, the Pope had escalated his selling of indulgences to pay for grand monuments and the upkeep of Cathedrals around Rome.
Like any good organised crime racket, the middlemen in the chain, the bishops and archbishops all hand their grubby fingers in the pies, so the whole system was geared against the common man.
But then a German theologian and priest, Martin Luther, wrote his 95 Theses which basically was a document calling out some of the practices of the Church that he didn’t believe were in keeping with the Scripture.
The rumour is that Martin Luther translated his theses from Latin into German and then nailed it to the door of his church for everyone to read.
For reference, this was 1517 and the Gutenberg Printing Press had exploded into the world nearly 100 years earlier. Within two years, Luther’s 95 Theses had spread across most of Europe into France and England, being translated along the way.
The 95 Theses were effectively a manifesto on how the Church needed to change and should operate.
Martin Luther is one of those people who changed the shape of the modern world.
Manifestos are powerful things.
In the entrepreneurial world, people talk about “your mission” and “your purpose” a lot, but I find that whole notion kind of weak.
Understanding your “why” isn’t really enough.
A goal without an execution plan is just an aspirational pipe dream that’s destined to fail.
That’s where your manifest comes in.
When you sit down and write your own personal or business manifesto, it’s not just a statement of what you believe or what’s important to you, it’s a way of signalling your intent to take action and even outlining the plan you’re going to follow.
This isn’t about creating a vision board and having woo woo playtime. I’m not giving you an excuse to talk about how you’re a unicorn and the world is going to realize you’re special.
That’s BS nonsense. We don’t do BS nonsense.
No, your manifesto is about why you’re doing what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, what you hope to achieve and how you’re going to do it (at a high level).
Importantly, your manifesto has to align with what you believe.
Probably one of the greatest manifestos ever written is the United States Declaration of Independence and as I’ve said in other emails and posts in the path, I think it leads with the greatest line ever written in English:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As a political manifesto, that line just basically encapsulates the fundamental belief that drives the rest of the document.
After some indictments of the behaviour of the Crown, the document ends with a conclusion that has a call to action (the Colonies declaring themselves independent) and then a solemn commitment by the undersigned that reads, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Imagine if you sat down and decided to write your own manifesto, what would your foundational belief be that drives the way you operate moving forward? What truths do you hold self-evident?
You don’t have to write something as eloquent and powerful as the US Declaration of Independence, but you can do something similar.
You can detail your purpose, what you believe and how you’re going to commit yourself to executing that purpose. The power of the internet means that you can act like Martin Luther and nail your manifesto to your own virtual door on your website.
I’m going to do this in the coming weeks. I’m going to find some time and sit down to write my own manifesto.
Why am I doing what I’m doing? What do I believe in at a fundamental level? How am I going to act in accordance with that to achieve the outcomes that I believe should be entirely self-evident?
I guess my challenge to you is, if you’re sitting there unsure of what you want to do or why you want to do it, then why not craft your own manifesto. State your purpose, explain why you believe that to be true and outline what you’re going to do to make that a reality.
When I finish mine at some point over the next few weeks, I’m going to share it.