Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became an activist while working as an anonymous lawyer in South Africa. As an African-American born in Jim Crow Georgia, Martin Luther King, Jr. started his life in one of the most inherently powerless environments a 20th century American could experience. Albert Einstein began his career toiling away in obscurity as a patent clerk.
All three started their lives and careers with about as much formal power as the rest of us have:
Yet they changed the world anyway.
For hundreds of years, future generations will study Gandhi's and King's methods for empowering the dispossessed. Einstein's scientific breakthroughs changed our knowledge of how the universe worked.
They each had a powerful message--and no easy way to share that message.
Gandhi didn't have Instagram to share pictures of what a hunger strike actually looked like.
Martin Luther King, Jr. couldn't use Twitter to spontaneously organize a protest.
Einstein couldn't make a YouTube video to explain the Theory of Relativity.
In other words, when they wanted to change the world, these once anonymous, unknown, unlikely change agents and revolutionaries didn't have the tools you and I take for granted.
They had to spread their message the hard way.
If you believe our political dialogue sucks, if you are concerned about racial or economic inequality, if you think businesses are bogged down with too many taxes--whatever your concerns are, you have all the tools you need to spread your message.
When Gandhi first witnessed racial injustice in South Africa, he couldn't jump on his computer and start blogging about it. He couldn't take a picture and watch it go viral. He couldn't livestream it on Facebook.
Think about it: Today, right now, you are better equipped to change the world than Gandhi was at that moment. You're literally a huge step ahead of Gandhi.
So what are you going to do when you see something you don't like, or wish was different? Are you going to post a status update telling us how 2017 is already starting to suck as bad as 2016 did? Are you going to stay quiet and leave the hard work of shaping the world you want to see to someone else?
Or are you going to actually get out there and do something about it?
Are you going to be the person who complains to others about how much your job sucks, or be a leader and a voice for change?
You don't have to free an entire continent of people to make the world a better place. In fact, if Gandhi were an Inc. contributor, he would probably write an article titled 3 Things I Learned About Changing the World (And the First One is Begin in Your Office or Home).
You shouldn't try and change your workplace by posting a blog about how much your boss sucks (that usually turns out badly), but you still have tools to create change within even the smallest environments. For example, workplace communication is a perpetual challenge--but I've seen office environments where using technology to facilitate casual conversation changed an entire culture.
Whether it's the whole world or "merely" your work, stop complaining, and start making things better.
Unlike Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Einstein, you don't have to hope people hear your message.
You're one step ahead of them.
You have the tools to make people listen.