The Throes & Trajectory of Transformational Impact

Over 500 American-Africans—my way of describing Africans who have more recently in the last one or two generations become Americans—gathered in no less a place than the Lord Baltimore Hotel in the downtown of that Charm City of Maryland which bears the same name as the hotel. One of the interesting trivia that decorated the elevators at the hotel is that Martin Luther King Jnr. held his April 2, 1965 press conference at this same historic venue.

The theme chosen for this biannual national conference of these American-African professionals known as the African Christian Fellowship (ACF) USA was Transformational Impact. Yours truly was one of two keynote speakers, who both happened to be medical doctors who hailed from West Africa, Ghana and Nigeria specifically.

While my first keynote was an hour-long and had seven points about transformational impact—text, tales, theology, tracks, teleological definition, theory and tenets—I only seek to share the crux of the key note with you in this short write-up. I shall share the teleological definition of transformational impact which I came up with after reading many others online and found none fully satisfying my take on the subject. And then I’ll share my theory of change, theory of how transformational impact actually happens.


Definition of Transformational Impact

Transformational Impact is the process of deeply internally changing in one’s being and doing in order to have, or participate in an attempt at, external profound, authentic and sustainable positive change. If you are anything like me, when you hear transformational impact you’re thinking about doing some thing to change something or someplace or someone. The paradigm shift in this definition is that transformational impact has two points of change—first, of the person seeking an intervention and then of the circumstance or situation. That brings us to the theory of change.


Theory behind Transformational Impact

Why is this definition like this and super important? Because we cannot deeply change anything without being deeply changed ourselves first. Here is the theory of change that goes with the issue of transformational impact: Only deeply transformed leaders can deeply, authentically and sustainably transform society. 

This is not the first time I’ve written on this. I remember bringing it up when there was a massive trending in Twittersphere of the hashtag #fixthecountry in a certain West African state and a counter #fixyourself that was attempted to quench the fire. In the article, I share why both camps were wrong. It goes back to the theory behind transformational impact.

There cannot possibly be authentic transformation when the actor isn’t themselves in sync with what they’re acting upon. Besides, if there isn’t transformation of the protagonist themselves, their intervention wouldn’t last long—either their work will unravel with time or they themselves will be marred in no time.

You might now understand why this definition is important. One’s identity and character (being) and actions and activities (doing) first need below-the-surface transforming internally in a deep manner if the outward impact they seek will also be profound, real/authentic and last.

In fact, without going too much into the theology of transformational impact, let me state that God first shapes the people through whom He wants to shape the world so that they can reflect Him and reform His world by His shaping—in His image and likeness—to His glory.


Widening Circles of Transformational Impact

Above is an attempt to illustrate how it’s a DeepLEAD at the core which leads to WideLEAD, from personal transformation to public transformation. We can’t go wrong if it’s first our deep personal transformation that leads to family transformation, community transformation (from church to corporation) and then societal transformation.

Elsewhere I’ve written about how people like William Wilberforce, Zaccheus the Tax Man and Nelson Mandela transformed their societies and world because they had first been deeply transformed. In fact, the title of an opinion piece on Nelson Mandela in the Los Angeles Times which I really enjoyed captured the essence of transformational impact so succinctly: “Nelson Mandela transformed himself and then his nation.”

So did Martin Luther King, who first darkened the doors of the Lord Baltimore Hotel a whole 60 years before I  and the 500 plus American-Africans would a couple of weeks ago. Where any of these transformationally impactful leaders missed a step in the transformational impact process, they too paid for it in their personal, family, community or national life. Principles are no respecter of persons or personalities.


 Change First to Carry Forth Change

So now’s your turn. Your time has come. Change first personally to carry forth change societally. Former U.S. President Barak Obama and I differ when it comes to LGBTQI+ transformation but we agree on this: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” The astute Jewish lawyer who studied under revered Gamaliel once said, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” The whole world waits to be transformed by a people transformed prior and still transforming in the process. We are transformed to bring transformation. How’s that going?

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