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21 Days to Change the World: Maria Reig Florensa
Maria Reig Florensa is a ‘hybrid’ culture, communication, and media production expert, and the life-force behind “21 Days to Change the World”. She is also a participant on our Executive MBA in Creative Leadership. As a Humanist, one of Marie’s pursuits is to uncover the underlying human actions behind the changes we see in the world, and apply this to her personal and professional projects.
In the past year, Marie’s eclectic career and lifelong thirst for self-discovery has led her to create “21 Days to Change the World.” In the interactive session, Marie challenges the audience to perceive the impact of even the most miniscule of daily actions and to scale out the potential 21-day-impact of making small changes in life, beginning with the self. Marie first presented the workshop at Reinvention, the festival of ideas, innovation and creativity, in Ecuador 2017. This year, she returned to the Berlin School to present her work to her fellow participants. We spoke to Marie about recognising the potential of each individual, particularly those in leadership positions, to make big changes in the world.
What is “21 Days to Change the World”?
The idea is very simple. Every single gesture is a weapon for mass construction. Anything: When you exchange a look with someone on the street, or help someone on public transport, or when you smile at your colleagues at work. All of these things build up. During my presentation, we go through the different mechanisms to understand how these gestures can be so powerful. It’s not simply about becoming a hero, and changing the world. It’s about yourself: Changing yourself, impacting others, and seeing the domino effect over 21 days.
Why 21 days, and not more?
The world is made of ongoing change. When I tell you there’s 21 days to change the word, it creates a sense of urgency. It contextualises it. Are we going to make it in these 21 days? Once the time is up, you review. You start again. You have to keep moving and evolving.
Was there a particular incident that triggered your interest in changing the world?
Since I can remember, I’ve been questioning: “Why is it that this world is unable to live in peace?”, “Why is it that this world cannot be better?” It’s an ongoing investigation. The “21 Days to Change the World” challenge is what I call a ‘temporary answer’ to these eternal questions that have been with me all my life. The final concept is actually linked back to my February Module on the Berlin School MBA. We were working on something called the ‘Best Self’ exercise, and it triggered a lot of questions about my own evolution as a person and how it impacts the world.
How did your own self-discovery lead to this final concept?
The ‘Best Self’ exercise put me in a position where I had to ask people around me, “How am I when I’m at my best?” I decided to use it as a chance to reconnect with people I’d met over the years and people I’d worked with. I had certain expectations about the answers I would receive. But of course, the answers were unexpected. I thought that they would reflect a kind of evolution. I was convinced that throughout my life, I had been learning and changing and growing. But looking at these answers, it was as though I hadn’t changed in 25 years. These people didn’t know each other, and I knew them through completely different projects and contexts, and in different moments of my life, but they were saying the same things about me.
Because I’m a Humanist, my pursuit is always to discover the underlying reasons for things. I decided to investigate not only my ‘best self’ but how exactly this ‘best self’ mechanism was working over time, and impacting and ultimately changing the world. After the module, I was invited by a fellow participant to present at another event, and this is when the final concept came together. I come from a very hybrid background. I’ve worked across media, the arts, communication, and production, involved in studies, professional projects and personal projects. I was trying to discover a common theme. One consistent theme is that my friends would say something like, “Maria is a naïve person who will try to inspire and convince you to change the world.” That was a common thread and long-term driver in my choices. I figured I might not get another chance to present about something like this, so I started to compile these defining moments and coincidences from my life, and the idea came together as if it was already written.
What is the mission of “21 Days to Change the World?”
It all starts with examining the impact of your choices and making small changes in your own life. If I can encourage other people to do this, then my mission is already accomplished. But it all starts with the self. It’s the only thing that you have total control over. Everything else is out of your hands.
Why is this important for creative leaders equip themselves with this mindset and implement it in their workspace?
Creative leaders often have to contextualise big ideas. We live in a branded culture; a branded world. And creative leaders are often the ones creating those brands and innovations. The moment a leader like that understands the positive impact and exponential change that they can make in the world, it’s very special. My core belief is that we are all creative and we are all leaders; every single citizen on this planet. But within this sphere, we have these creative leaders with the ability to generate and accelerate impact. When someone like this makes a personal change, you can see its domino effect throughout society.