Get Excited and Change Things


If you’re trying to figure out how you’ll leave your imprint on the world, start by thinking about what bothers you.

What do you not like about the world? What is irritating? What is unfair?

Keep calm and carry on was the message for people in Britain during World War II. I like get excited and change things better.

As fun as that is, though, the thing about change is that when it gets personal, most of us don’t actually like it. That’s why it’s easier to work on change in small doses. How can we take one tiny step towards something new?

Be aware: if something bothers you, you’re probably not the only one. Mobilizing people to improve things is powerful. As mentioned before, this is my personal year of scale and reach… but I’ve also been thinking over and over about the theme of empowerment.

As I consider it, empowerment is helping people to consider new possibilities and take courageous actions. This is the essence of leadership, as John Quincy Adams said —

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

Few leaders are appointed anymore. Instead, leadership comes through influence—when you influence someone, you’re an instant leader. If you look around and can’t figure out who the leader is for something that bothers you, step up! Followers need leaders. We’ll follow you when you give us a direction and an action plan.

By the way, if you don’t like thinking about what bothers you, you can also think about what excites you. Then you think about what you can change so that other people can get excited too.

What are you excited about? How can you create some kind of change around that?

P.S. “Get excited and change things” is also a good business plan. If you’re struggling to create something, leave the 65-page “target market analysis” behind and adopt this five-word strategy. See what happens.


Image: Vintage

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  • Jeffrey Tang says:

    I wholeheartedly agree, Chris. Get Excited and Change Things – a simple, powerful mantra. And I don’t think it needs to get much more complicated than that. Passion and excitement get you started and keep you going – most everything else can be figured out along the way. Paralysis happens when people forget that and imagine themselves powerless or overwhelmed.

    “Because I want to” is a damn good reason to change the world.

  • Eric Normand says:

    I am excited that we have the resources and understanding to be exceedingly happy, if only we would apply ourselves to that end. And when I say “happy”, I don’t mean in a selfish way. I mean we can be healthy, wealthy, and help each other learn and play.

  • Eduard says:

    Totally. Inspiring others to be better people seems like the ultimate legacy to leave behind.

  • Cameron Hurd says:

    I like the target market analysis, though! 🙂

    But really, though. Great post, Chris. I can see how one might get set in navigating the market as it is currently, and brush the things that they might want to change under the rug.

    That mindset won’t ever create a leader out of you. Leaders are excited!

  • Joel says:

    “If something bothers you, you’re probably not the only one”

    So true Chris. So many times the people are out there, they’re just waiting for someone to take charge and lead the way. My goal? Be that person.

  • Chris Mower says:

    I love the “Get excited and change things” mantra. It’s much better than the “sit down and shut up” one. I love it because it challenges the status quo, it requires you to stretch, and it makes a difference in your own life and a difference in the world.

    Great article, thanks.

  • Rebecca in Switzerland says:

    Amen. Where can we get the poster?

  • Chris says:

    Good question. I’m not sure where you can get the revised one – maybe check the link at the end of the post.

  • Joesphe Stiles says:

    Interesting–one caveat, though. Remember Jung’s great quote: “What you resist, persists.” Being, say…, “anti-hunger” doesn’t accomplish much, it’s being “pro-everyone fed” that has the real power in it, etc.

    I’m new to the site; but very much like what I see. Keep up the good work!

  • Monica says:

    I read this, and the first thing that comes to mind is grassroots. That’s how change happens, from the bottom up. Sure, we have the large institutions to help out with the process of making a difference. But things really change when it’s from the bottom up. That’s what gets me excited. Sometimes its hard to believe that one person can get together and change things. But there are so many examples of that going on around us. We just have to look a little closer. It just takes one person to start something, and before you know it, it’s a huge organization working to change that one thing that bothered you in the beginning.

    Thanks for your post! I completely agree!

  • Tory says:

    Excellent and timely! Just do it…
    We’ve got a groundswell of courageous community and feisty abundance going on.
    In the face of challenges everywhere, more and more people are saying hey! I can make a positive difference being who I am with dignity and delight.
    Chris, you have so consistently been one of the visible leaders in this.
    You inspire others to be indispensible themselves. Thanks!

  • Mars Dorian says:

    Chris, your posts are so damn short, but sometimes, I’ll find one like this that’s so freaking awesome it almost blows my mind.

    I have a lot of things that bother me – internet-wise – and throughout my blog I come up with ideas for changes. It’s rocking, and I want to leave my own light.

    “Get excited and change things” is becoming my new mantra from now on !

  • Laura Lee Bloor says:

    I think you hit on a major point when you talk about empowering people. Few actions unleash more impact than when you open someone’s eyes to what’s possible and/or his/her capabilities.

  • Raam Dev says:

    Fantastic advice! It’s all too easy to assume that nobody else feels the same way and that our frustrations or dissatisfaction with the status-quo are unique to us.

    By recognizing that there’s a very good chance a lot of other people are feeling the same way, we can use that energy to lead others and create real change.

    If you do not believe, you cannot achieve!

  • linda esposito says:

    I’m excited about changing! Seriously, I can think of few things more empowering than being open and embracing of thinking, doing, and believing differently.

    Stuck bothers me, and I’m grateful of the opportunity through my work to challenge those who are stuck.

    Change is so under-rated a remedy, and so overly scary for a lot of folks…

    Thanks Chris!

  • Devin says:

    Hey Chris,

    Nice thought for the day. As always, change starts with me but I have a fairly long list of things that suck with the rest of the world.

    For today, I will take it easy and cut myself, and others, some slack. I will work but just stick to the basics.

  • Ande says:

    The only action that leads to truly awesome results is inspired action, which comes from excitement or exuberance or passion (choose a word). Acting from a place of annoyance or “I don’t want” or “I gotta do something” creates a journey that doesn’t lead to a happy destination. So YES, get excited and do something is the blueprint to making what you do truly matter.

  • Jan Richards says:

    I love this!

    I work with people who are involved in various aspects of change, primarily in businesses. “Get Excited and Change Things” is a great frame for the work of change, whatever that change is.

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Chris.

  • Elizabeth Williamson says:

    What interesting timing of this post. I have an opportunity to quit my job and move to Mexico City to do volunteer work there for six months. And just like your post says, it’s hard for me to swallow the idea of that much change at once. Part of me wants to cling to the safety of a paycheck and certainty. Another part of me wants to say “to heck with it all”, make the leap into the unknown and hope I land on my feet at the bottom.

    I want to make the world a better place. It’s just hard to do that sometimes when facing the prospect of no income in return.

  • Brandon says:

    I wrote a whole book that effectively discussed how to be a leader when you’re taking on an entrepreneurial venture. The principles apply here. Titled “The Leading Entrepreneur: Taking the helm of your small business and leading it to success”, the book discusses the research behind entrepreneurship, business failure, and the leadership techniques necessary to “get people on-board” and excited about your project. In short (very short), the leader needs to create a clear vision of what they want to change and accomplish; then, they must clearly *communicate* that vision to potential followers. Find the part of the vision that connects with their goals and show them how following you will help them with their goals.

    FYI: This isn’t a pitch for my book. Don’t buy it unless you enjoy dry, academic research reviews and analysis. I do, however, plan to boil it down into a practical and more accessible guide, soon.

  • Stella Stopfer says:

    I like the “get excited and change things” message, too. But sometimes, if we start with what irritates us, we have to have in mind that we have to make a change from a very different place then the people who did it in a way that irritates us. And we shouldn’t try to convert those followers, but focus on the ones who believe in what we do and then maybe others will follow us too.

    @Rebecca in Switzerland: you can get it on etsy

    Thanks Chris for sharing interesting ideas.

  • Happy Little Atom says:

    Chris – I love this. It’s part of what I love about Portland – it’s a city of people doing things. People are excited and passionate, the two things you need to incite change. If you feel deeply about something, you can put it into whatever you do. Whether it’s writing novels or traveling the world or knitting the world’s largest ice cream sandwich, you can do it. All it takes is a little step that eventually turns into a million big ones. Thanks for the post.

  • Gio says:

    Thanks so much for this post. It feels great to know that you can start a revolution and change anything if you are up to the task to lead. I hope to find something I am dead on passionate about and lead others to make a difference.

  • Mike Willner says:

    You can also get excited and be a follower, so long as you are following an inspiring leader with character, vision, energy, enthusiasm, and a worthwhile cause or goal. For example, Chris is helping (following) Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity:Water, and in turn, many of us are following Chris follow Scott. So while you’re trying to figure out how to become a change leader for something that bothers (or excites) you, you can help a leader who’s already figured it out, is making a difference, and with your help, will make a bigger difference.

  • Wyman says:

    Hi Chris,

    Basing your business on something you love or are passionate about sure fits this motto, “Get excited and change things.” Awesome.

  • Julie Q says:

    Posts just get better & better.
    This is so relevant to me in my work as a NFP fundraiser!!! My entire life is built around change and action for good, supporting those leaders who want to make a difference – I need that poster!!!

  • AnthonyQ says:

    When I think of the antithesis of this message, it is “stay bored and accept the status quo.” It has quite an impact on me to say this as a mantra. I’ve spent more of my life in this place than I care to admit. When I think of it, the act of complaining is a way to stay complicit with the status quo. Complaining assumes one doesn’t have the power to change something. So, I’m making this public commitment to pay attention to my complaining and to get excited about the possibilities for action. Thanks Chris.

  • Ayhtnic says:

    Awsome! I was feeling kind of hopeless… trying to change old schemes is such a hard thing to do, sometimes you really feel disappointed, but your words arrived just in time, so I won´t give up. Hope you read this message.

  • Susan says:

    I think what’s wrong with the world is often just a lack of focus, or focus on the wrong things. Focusing so much on work, instead of lifestyle or meaning (ie: making a difference) really throws so many things out of whack. Anything without meaning is usually destructive. Materialism, career, food, shelter — all those things are just ‘things’ but meaning behind it can turn it into effective purpose and change.

    Connecting and relationships are also hugely important to me, and I see how often they take a back seat in everyone’s lives.

  • Farouk says:

    i really like your definition of a leader, that’s an inspiring post 🙂

  • David says:

    Question for everyone – how much success do you see with people REALLY changing the world? Significant, long-term change?

    Who needs more “war on this” or an “anti-that” movements? Instead of changing the world, why not create a NEW world – that would be a real legacy.

    Leadership has flaws, let’s all be builders.

    I also think that inspiration has had it’s day – it’s not sustainable, and it makes people dependent on others. People need to get past their roles and possessions defining them and realise that THEY are part of something bigger. Not the person they’re following.

    Let’s ALL build a new world! Vive la révolution!

    Imagine: world peace and free wi-fi…. 😉

  • Abhishek says:

    Hey Chris. I’ve been following u for some time now. Ur article is fantastic. But the thing is nothing seems to excite me anymore. and nothing seems to bother me. i have become too inert. that is the only thing that bothers me i guess.

  • Tanya Monteiro says:

    Again, you bring me back to what’s important to me. I’m producing a documentary based on 10 people from around the world that were sexually abused by a family member and are Thriving now. I’m excited to know that I stand for the ability for us all to Thrive, we truly get to choose how we live regardless of where we come from or our education. Thanks for bringing me back to my core today,

  • Julie Anna says:

    Have I told you lately I appreciate your writing? Yep, keep it up please. 🙂
    Today I started my 5th around the world trip with an outreach team in Manila. As we weaved through the traffic and often were forced to stop, little hands (or in some cases stubs of arms) came through the open windows begging for money. Children of poverty – face to face. Watching my team of 19 and 20-year-olds from comfortable first-world nations attempt to process the this new reality was awesome. Tears brimmed their eyes as I saw seeds of change planted in their compassionate hearts. It was like watching in slow-motion the very moment that lives are changed such that they can’t NOT do something. Change is good.

  • Alan Nash says:

    Change, sometimes, does come at a snails pace. Editorial Cartooning is my “therapy” and it does bring about change…not always the change you want, but at least it sparks thought and thinking sparks change. The transformations are inspiring. Even if you reach only one person it’s worth the time and effort. They say a picture is worth a 1000 words…the result…100 times that 🙂

    And as an Editorial Cartoonist we thrive on what ails us !!

    Thanks Chris…this may very well be what I needed!!

  • Linda Gabriel says:

    Great post. Getting excited and changing things doesn’t always mean you have to be opposed to something. It can mean a brand new vision that includes and transforms. Those are the ideas that inspire and excite me.

  • April says:

    I love that quote. I look at my life and wonder how I can get there. It is not a big deal to claim that I have inspired someone. The big deal will be when someone catches me off guard and says it to me…”You inspire me.” This is the reason for me to keep going even during times like this when I’m flat-lining spiritually.

  • Kris Costello says:

    Looking forward to reading the rest of this website.
    This article made my day.
    Thanks, Kris

  • Emily says:

    Fabulous post Chris. I think that’s a great mantra! Often when things aren’t right it’s all too easy to be negative. Much better to look at it as a positive opportunity to change something! The John Quincy Adam’s quote is inspiring too!

  • ian anderson says:

    Hey Chris,

    What bother me is how ‘ignorant/indifferent’ lots of people are about the lives of others in poorer countries.

    I am thinking of starting a quest to make volunteering the new ‘national service’.

    How much better do you think the world would be if we all understood a little more about how it is to live as others do?

    Still lovin your stuff Chris!

  • John Christopher says:

    I’m very pleased you’ve taken inspiration from my letterpress print “Get Excited and Change Things” and how people have responded positively with their posts. On the subject of change, here’s how the print came about: about seven years ago I was happily running my own graphic design business, largely designing books. Sure it was stressful but the ‘deadlining’ was addictive and I enjoyed it. However I fell ill with M.E/CFS – it was like hitting a brick wall and it soon became obvious life would not be the same again. It took a few years to return to some form of ‘health’ – I’m still not 100% – but in the meantime I have embraced change, I don’t ‘deadline’ anymore, I work part-time and I follow my passions, one of which is vintage letterpress – enjoying being creative with my hands. So follow your dreams people – get excited and change things.

  • D.esigner says:

    I think this idea of finding one thing that sparks passion and pursuing it relentlessly is at the core of many movements, businesses, and successful people. Enjoyable post.

  • Peter Paluska says:

    Spot on! “Keep calm, carry on” is catchy but somehow not overly inspiring.

    I like your phrase better, too, Chris.


  • Jen says:

    A smart version of the classic. Another AONC gem. Thanks, Chris!

  • Jonathan says:

    Funny how change seems to scare people so much. Once they change its almost always for the better. Evolution, Education, Growth, Maturity all require change.

  • Elissa says:

    This is an inspirational version of it. You can’t look to others to make change happen. It starts with you and if you want it done stop looking for excuses and make it happen.

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  • Jon says:

    Make change by making change. Find solutions and put them into action. The world is filled with talkers and the successful and productive ones are those who do rather than talk about doing.

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