05/26/2010 02:40 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

World Change Starts with You

How can a single individual effect change, and in what way? Typically, true "change" is viewed at a macro level, such as ending world poverty or finding cures for diseases. While these are pursuits that must be encouraged, what is lacking is a focus on individual, day-to-day lifestyle changes that, collectively, can make a world of difference.

When we examine issues facing society on a macro level, it often leaves us overwhelmed by the responsibility or magnitude of change needed. However, true change doesn't have to come from one person setting out to tackle a major global issue on his/her own. In fact, it is historically and will always be the collective efforts of the many that often fuel a difference in society.

Take the broken window theory, for example. Publicized in a 1982 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, the theory states that if we make the effort to have clean facilities and streets (and fix small problems before they grow larger) in our cities and towns, it will serve as a deterrent for further crime. As a result, people respect and do not vandalize property because others do not as well.

People in communities and towns can fuel this by simply making an extra effort in their daily lives. Instead of leaving trash out, make the effort to throw it away. Better yet, if you see some trash lying around, throw it away yourself. This extra effort extends far beyond the broken window theory. If someone, for example, has done something that means a great deal to you, make the special effort to thank him/her for it.

Little do we realize just how much our individual efforts collectively make a significant difference. The mentality of "I'm just one person, I'm not enough to make a difference," or "There are smarter people out there than I who are more qualified to take on societal issues," must end. Change must start with each and every one of us making a little bit of extra effort in the name of a better world for all.

It's unlikely that one blog post such as mine will make a difference on its own. But if you are reading this, I hope it motivates you to take that extra step. And someone else may see you take that extra step and do the same. And so on. If we all made the effort to do so, we'd all be amazed by how much the world has changed overnight.

Daniel Arrigg Koh is a second-year MBA candidate at Harvard Business School. He holds a B.A. in Government from Harvard College. He can be reached at