A social impact mindset is all about being aware of the society you live in and the power of your individual decisions to have an impact. It is about accepting your individual responsibility to make a positive contribution to society, from the basic way you treat people and your environment, to seeking more active ways to make a difference. This mindset is not limited to any one element of society, social status, or a particular career choice.
Take for example the Harvard educated architect Liz Ogbu who sees herself as “an architect that designs for social impact, not buildings” . It makes perfect sense. Architecture is a fundamental driver of the environment we live in. Architects have a huge opportunity to deliver meaningful social impact through the development of cities, workplaces and homes that promote sustainability. It is about finding innovative ways to lower the ecological footprint and creating an environment that can improve human well-being.
Juan Mata, a footballer who plays for Manchester United and the Spanish National team, has recognised the power of football to make a social impact around the world. In 2017, Mata and Streetfootballworld created the organisation Common Goal, “with the aim of using the immense power of football to generate social change and improve people’s lives” . The charity supports global football initiatives for disadvantaged children and is funded by Mata and other members who contribute 1% of their incomes. “What we’re trying to do is define a shared social agenda for football”, said Mata.
Juventus and Italian footballer Giorgio Chiellini, who also joined the initiative following Juan Mata’s call to action, sees his own contribution as a way to encourage the next generation to think about social responsibility: “By joining Common Goal, I hope I can encourage the younger generation of players to think about social responsibility in their lives”. Liverpool legend Jurgen Klopp is also now on board.
A social impact mindset is also about valuing time and people over possessions. The essence of the minimalist movement is about adopting a social impact mindset. It has encouraged people to think for themselves, to break free of a consumption driven culture and to focus more on life and experiences.
It is not about rejecting economic development or shunning technology, rather a more socially conscious form of development. We can only have an inclusive self-aware society when individuals realise the interconnectedness of the world we live in and the power of small changes at an individual level to deliver a significant social impact at a collective level.
Degrees of Separation
For the pessimist who says that individual decisions do not matter, think about this quote from Dr. Jordan Peterson, a nice reminder of how connected we are:
“You’ll know 1,000 people at least over the course of your life and they’ll know 1,000 people each and that puts you one person away from a million and two persons away from a billion and so that’s how you are connected. And the things that you do are like dropping a stone in a pond, the ripples move outward and they affect things in ways that you can’t fully comprehend and it means the things that you do and the things that you don’t do are far more important that you think…”
The spread of the coronavirus has reminded people of just how interconnected we are. When we emerge from this crisis, we need to remember the positive ripples all of us can set in motion, and the much larger impact they can have on society through the individual network effect.
None of us are perfect, but we can all make a difference at some level.
Vincent McCarthy, CFA
 “Why I’m an architect that designs for social impact, not buildings.” – YouTube