Do you ever question whether you make a positive impact on the world? If you do, I want you to stop wondering (or worrying) about this. Because everyone makes an impact on someone. And that impact has a ripple effect.
And this impact is made regardless of whether you’re even aware of the difference you’ve made (I’d actually argue that the most powerful impact is made when you’re completely unaware).
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The Power of Everyday Interactions
What I’m talking about today doesn’t include those moments when you intend to make a difference. I’m talking about your everyday, sometimes subtle, and oftentimes unintentional interactions with those people you come across every day.
Maybe you’ve offered a smile or a kind word to a stranger in an elevator or at a gas station when they needed it most. And, unknown to you, it made a huge different to that person. Or perhaps you had a conversation with or said something to an acquaintance that helped them to make a big decision (without you even knowing about it). Yet something you said had a big impact on them and helped them to make up their mind.
These type of interactions go on all the time (without your even being aware of them).
Now, you may be saying to yourself that you aren’t important or powerful enough to make a difference or have a positive influence on others. But I call BS on that, my friend.
Here’s the truth: whether you make an impact on others’ lives has nothing to do with what you do for a living, how much money you make, or how “powerful” you are. Because, at the end of the day, that’s not what matters.
What matters is that you make a connection (however brief) with a fellow human being. It’s about showing someone your soul simply by being 100% you and engaging in an act of kindness. That’s what makes it so powerful.
The High School Experience that Changed My Life
When I was in high school, I had an English teacher that gave a writing assignment I found truly difficult. So I put it off. This was totally new to me (I wasn’t one to procrastinate anything – especially school).
Unfortunately, my one-time procrastination was set up perfectly for a life-lesson that I wasn’t prepared for. I got the flu about a week before my paper was due. Not only did I feel terrible, but I had to write this paper that I had no idea how to write with a fever of 101+ while drugged out of my mind on cold and flu medicine. And the paper I turned in was complete crap.
I kept telling myself that I’d be given a “pass” on this one. After all, I’d been sick (plus I was a teacher favorite). But it didn’t turn out the way I imagined. Not only did I fail the assignment (which was a first for me), but she called me out in front of the entire class. This experience was mortifying and humbling at the same time. And I promptly (thought that I’d) erased it from my memory.
My Ripple Effect
Fast-forward several years and her voice started to come back to me at the most interesting moments (and still does to this day). Any time I’m tempted to give up because something is really difficult for me, I can hear her voice calling me out. This voice has pushed me when I’ve needed to be pushed – ensuring that I don’t give up, but instead give it my all. It even helped me get through my chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy sucks (and didn’t agree with me at all). There were many days during my last 2 months of treatment when I wanted to give up. I was in a ton of pain and cried a lot (which is saying something because I don’t cry for myself).
When I had only 2 treatments left, I came to a moment where I was convinced that I couldn’t do it anymore. I was done. No more treatment for me. But then a funny thing happened. My teacher’s voice came back to me and I knew that I wouldn’t (no, I couldn’t) stop treatment. She pushed me to finish it.
Every time I share this story I get feedback about how “inspiring” I am – and how I’ve inspired others not to give up on something too.
How to Make a Real Difference in the World
It’s strange to think that this one event has had such a powerful effect on me and my life (and has even helped others too). Even more so when you consider that I don’t remember the exact words that were said to me (nor do I remember my teacher’s name). And I’m certain this lady has zero idea that she’s made such a difference in my life. And yet it’s made a HUGE difference (and even rippled through to others).
So, how can you make certain that you too make such a difference? It’s pretty simple.
Just follow my teacher’s lead. Care about others and connect with them. Be honest (yet kind). And when sharing (even if criticizing, like my teacher did), do it from a place of caring and wanting to help the other person.
When it comes to connecting with other people, don’t over-complicate what that means. This doesn’t require you to ask for their life story (or give them yours).
Say “hello” to people when walking by them. Smile. Talk to others when waiting in line at the grocery store. Make eye contact. Be honest yet kind when speaking. Basically, treat everyone you come into contact with as you would like to be treated.
It’s truly that simple.
The people that you touch will touch others. There is a ripple effect. And it makes no difference who you are, what you do for a living, how “powerful” or “successful” you are, or how much money you make.
Until next time…