There are two major ways to make impact: one is to shine as light and the other is to spread as salt. Your passion will make you act as light while wisdom requires behaving like salt.
Story was told of Henry Ford, who on the 5th of January in 1914 announced the startling news that the Ford Motor Company was doubling wages for its workers to the unheard of $5.00 per day. This was based on Ford’s concern that many of the workers were underpaid and never handled sufficient income. This led him to establish a department at the company to oversee his new emolument plan for his workers but with the condition that each worker would exemplify good character both at the workplace and at their homes. To be eligible for the raise in pay, Stephen Watts writes in his book ‘The People’s Tycoon’, “…employees had to demonstrate that they did not drink alcohol, did not physically mistreat their family, did not keep boarders in their home, maintained a clean house, and demonstrated good savings account.” The department did all they could to transform the moral fiber of the workers. Not until late 1920, it became clear to Ford that his attempt to fix the character of his workers had failed.
We can easily point to one or two other similar attempts by great leaders to change others which ended up as a disaster. A good example is the former US President, Richard Nixon who resigned after the Watergate scandal in 1974. The lesson from his story is that it is seldom possible to use our powerful position to influence the moral string of others, especially when done the wrong way.
We can impact others either as light or salt.
Light is a condition of awareness. The presence of light is unmistakable. Light naturally draws attention to itself as it fights darkness. Darkness cannot remain in light’s presence. If you want to change a system as light, you need the endurance to stand different from others as they try to comprehend your perspective. Most likely you need to stay humble as you dish out those ideas of yours. Being light is admirable but sometimes it is not always the best way to go about bringing change. It could have some devastating effect on a person. It could lead to job loss. It could draw reprisals. Even with your good intentions, it could easily lead to rivalry and misunderstanding.
John Beckett, as president of R.W. Beckett Corporation, shed the light of Christ on his company before a watching world during his ABC’s prime time News broadcast, where he vowed to lead his company in an unmistakably Christlike manner. This led to rebuffs and criticisms from the media which he barely survived.
As a community leader, you do not always have the freedom to openly practice your belief. And neither should you force others to believe in what you believe. To begin a business meeting with an innocent opening prayer for example could draw reprisals in some settings. We do not need to pass a policy (no matter how good it may be) to change others.
Change is a personal thing and must be mutual. Don’t change people if they don’t want to change who they are. Although sometimes needed, but really it is not compulsory to always shine as light. If at all you want to, better have the stamina and get ready for the outcome of your audacity.
However, the most effective way to impact and change others is to be salt.
As powerful as salt is, it does not radically announce its presence nor draw attention to itself. Overtime, it diffuses and impact desirable quality. Proximity to salt can lead to drastic changes. There are times when wisdom requires that we behave like salt. Doing what needs to be done in silence and conducting ourselves in character; yet waiting for that opportune moment to explode with all the quality deposits and potentials in us. We can bide our time and be sensitive to how and when we share something precious with others. Do not share something precious to people who are not yet ready for it. They will only make mess of your pearl.
Are you a light or a salt? Salt enriches, builds, and preserves. While light on the other hand illuminates, frees, and distinguishes. To be light however, we must be ready for the outcome of our courage and stand for that which we believe is right especially when the feedback we get may be discouraging.
For some of us, we have been salt far too long and need to be brave for once in our foggy lives and shine as light before others to bring change in our community.
Move when you need to. Be still when you have to.