Causing change and making a difference starts with one person and their behavior: You. That knowledge can feel both overwhelming and empowering. On one hand, putting your focus on yourself can feel easier than believing the whole world must change for something great to happen. On the other, it can feel like a huge mountain to climb all by yourself.
Take heart; it’s great news to learn that the best and easiest way to make a change in the world is by making changes in yourself first. Being responsible for your own actions is plenty to manage on the way to influencing others.
When tragedy strikes, there are usually two reactions: depression, or an urge to make certain this doesn’t happen again.
Two people can face the same loss and have radically different reactions. One person may fall into a deep depression and retreat from life, and the other may use their issue as a starting point for making a difference.
People tend to make their biggest impacts in areas that mean a lot to them. A child who struggled with not having enough food to eat growing up might work as an adult to end hunger. Someone who didn’t have access to education might spend their time promoting literacy.
There are as many unique ways to make a change as there are people on this planet. Let’s look at ways you can make an impact. Ask yourself these easy questions:
- What is something I feel strongly about?
- In what ways do I naturally give my time and my resources to help others?
- What am I gifting of myself in my relationship to my community?
- In what area of my character do I receive the most compliments?
- What events have happened in my life to create space for concern and empathy for others?
- How to make life easier for others?
Asking yourself these simple questions will get you thinking about what matters to you, and what personal and unique experiences you have had that can help you make an impact. You will realize that you already have the tools in your arsenal to do something, somewhere, that will ripple forth and make a change for the better. Move forward with confidence that you can make an impact, and that no matter how insignificant you feel in the grand scheme of things, you are vital and very much needed.
Why What You Do Matter
Everyone makes an impact – whether they are acting intentionally or not. Everyone is always making an impact on one another. Your actions, my actions, and the actions of others are influencing the world. What you do matters in more ways than you may realize, and your efforts may create chaos or lead to grand achievements. The key is being intentional with your actions.
There is a principle of chaos theory called the Butterfly Effect. It states that a minute first action can cause a reaction of epic proportions. The metaphorical example is that the simple movement of a butterfly’s wings over time can cause a wave that results in a hurricane.
This is an illustration of how important even the smallest of actions are in the grand scheme of the world. As someone living on this planet, you too have an effect everywhere you go. What you do and how you do it matters. You matter. You are as vital to the success of the human race as the most powerful influencer you can imagine. Have you ever considered this?
The set of people and places where you make the most impact is called your sphere of influence. This is where your presence will be the most. Your sphere likely includes your family, work, and the local community.
How are you making that impact?
- Consider how you parent your children makes an impact
- How you manage your marriage makes an impact
- Consider how you engage as a son, daughter, sister, or brother makes an impact
- What you contribute to your workforce makes an impact
- If what you create makes an impact
- Your wisdom makes an impact
- How you vote makes an impact
- Consider how you spend your time and money makes an impact
- How you pour yourself into others makes an impact
We could go on and on, but you’re starting to see the point. In all that you do, you matter. How you do things matters. It is all tied together. This may seem like a big responsibility – and it is – but it isn’t too big when you break it down into manageable bits and pieces, in all the different areas of your life.
The most important thing to realize is that you have influence and impact wherever you go, and by being intentional, you can leave your mark on this world in a favorable and meaningful way.
Looking Back – Who Have You Influenced Already?
Have you ever attended a retirement dinner or funeral? These events are marked by speeches, given by grateful people recalling the impact and influence the retiree or deceased person had on them. In the case of retirement speeches, the retiree gets to hear their accolades and the influence that they had on those around them. In the case of the deceased, there is hope that the stories of gratitude can transcend the here-and-now to be felt despite the separation of death.
Looking back, who have you influenced? Have any ever told you the impact you had on someone else? Have you kept a record of the times you’ve volunteered, or actively tried to make a change – even in a small way?
You have likely had a greater impact than you realize. Take a moment and ask yourself some questions:
- Have you ever honored by a group organization for your contributions?
- Ask yourself if have you been written about in a newspaper or magazine concerning your success in business or the community?
- Has anyone interviewed you about your work, your art, or your ministry?
- Do people refer to you as a good example of certain traits and values?
- Have you volunteered for your church, synagogue, or a community project?
- With whom have you shared your knowledge of a skill or trade?
- Have you ever received a personalized “thank you” for something you did for them that made an impact?
- Was there a time you have written a blog post, book, or other work that someone told you “changed their life”?
- Have you donated your time or resources to a cause that you felt led to support?
Chances are, you can think of times you’ve made a difference. Even if you later forgot about it, it still counts! Make a list of the times you can recall, and reflect on how it felt to be able to have that experience. Think about the people you’ve had an impact on, and how they have benefited from you taking time for them. Even if you originally had no intention of making a difference, chances are that you did – and that should feel great.
You don’t have to wait until you retire, or – heaven forbid – pass away, to discover that you’ve made an impact on the people around you. Own up to your greatness, and celebrate how your selfless actions and the Power of One can fulfill some of the world’s many needs.