Austin Gunter's Blog

December 3, 2009

Changing Minds to Change the World

Filed under: Uncategorized — Austin @ 8:19 pm

Everyone knows the accomplishments of Mohandas Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.  Gandhi freed the Indian nation from British imperialism, and Nelson Mandela peaceably brought South Africa out of Apartheid and into a beautiful multi-cultural nation.

Change Minds to Change the World

Change Minds to Change the World

Big Deal.

These stories are known and celebrated throughout the world, and to be honest, they are stories that I have ignored in the past.  When a conversation turned to Gandhi or Mandela in the past, I’ve gotten that glazed look in my eyes that resembles my look after eating a huge plate of turkey and dressing at Thanksgiving; right when the tryptophan is kicking in.

However, (Hooray, a however!) last night I had a breakthrough in how I understand these stories.  Last night was the first time that I could break the stories of Mandela and Gandhi into meaningful chunks.  It was the first time I understood how these men sought to change their communities and ended up changing the world.

I’ve been reading a book called Changing Minds by Howard Gardner.  The book takes a cognitive (as opposed to behaviorist, I didn’t know that one either…) perspective on the traits shared by world changing leaders like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

The book analyzes how their actions affect prevailing opinions and worldviews.  Gardner outlines that in order for leaders to change the world they must always change peoples’ minds first.

Sometimes great leaders change a few powerful minds, and sometimes they change the minds of millions.  Gardner shows how this happens.  Mohandas Gandhi peacefully effected the mind change of the British imperialists in India, and the entire world felt the ripples of this change.  Nelson Mandela also used peaceful methods to change minds, and the state of South Africa in the process.

Gardner boils down the changes of Gandhi and Mandela into two basic elements.  The elements are meaningful to me directly at Tech Ranch Austin and with the growing BarnBuildr process.  Gardner illustrates that Gandhi and Mandela had compelling stories revolving around the better world the envisioned, AND each man’s life was congruent with the stories that they told.  Both showed the world that changes on a national level are possible peacefully.  Both sought reconciliation of disparate populations by accepting the past and moving to a new future.

Change Minds to Change the World

Change Minds to Change the World

Gandhi’s insistence on peace nearly cost him everything, yet he pressed on through hunger and the risk of death.  Mandela spent 27 years in prison, but in his belief in reconciliation was so strong he elevated his one-time jailor to a position of prominence.  Both men’s lives resonated with the story they asked their nations to believe and participate in.  Their lives had to resonate with their stories in order to make the difference.  They lived it.  Without hunger strikes, Gandhi is a run-of-the-mill dissident.  Without his jailor sitting on the front row for his presidential inauguration, Mandela has no credibility.

I’m going to be spending my cycles in December establishing the story that BarnBuildr tells.  Part of the story is in place already.  We have established a program that connects entrepreneurs with free help.  This represents an opportunity for Austin-Area entrepreneurs to build their ventures forward, so to speak.  As we move to the next level, we will have to change the general perception about how business is done.  The story of how we do this together is being written.  The title is called BarnBuildr.  The epilogue shall begin: Austin drove the success of entrepreneurs by connecting unique opportunity to the Tech Ranch community of entrepreneurs.

I invite all of you to join the BarnBuildr cast of characters.  I can’t wait to meet you as the plot thickens.

I hope that helps.

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