How much of an impact do I have to make before it counts?
Deep inside, most of us want to make a difference. We want our lives to count for something, to be noticed, to hear some applause. We want somebody to point at us in a crowd and say, “Hey! There’s the person who made a difference.”
We want to create a legacy.
I think it’s hard-wired in us. We know we’re not here by accident, and we have something unique to offer . . . because we’re unique.
That’s probably why Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life became one of the best-selling books of all time. People read the title and thought, “Yeah. I feel that way, but have given up. Life has gotten in the way. But maybe there’s hope.”
The problem is, we see other people who are making a difference in the world, and we compare ourselves with them. We think, “I’m just a stay-at-home dad, or a line manager, or a waitress. I have a private practice, and only see a few people every day. I’ll never make the impact others do.”
Maybe that’s the problem: We’re comparing ourselves with others.
And we’re not others. We’re us.
Celebrities attract a crowd because they’re famous. People ask for autographs – which is like getting a signed document that says, “That famous person noticed me.” But having an autograph doesn’t change anyone’s life.
Famous people are visible. But that doesn’t mean they’re making more of a difference.
Impact takes place one person at a time. We impress groups, but impact individuals.
“So, how many people do we have to impact before it makes a difference?”
And then another one.
And another one.
It might be your cranky toddler. It might be your hurting spouse. It might be a talkative friend. It might be your boss, your co-worker, your customer.
Your encounter with that one person will do more to change the world than the concert you give at the largest arena.
Legacy isn’t about being famous. It’s about making a difference. It happens when someone can genuinely say, “I am who I am because of you.”
Making a difference rarely happens in mass gatherings. A few people have that platform, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. It’s just different. When you influence one person, they change. That impacts the way they interact with others. Like the ripples of a stone tossed in a pond, the smallest influence spreads farther than we’ll ever know.
- It doesn’t take fame.
- It doesn’t take time we don’t have.
- It doesn’t take tons of energy we don’t have.
- We still have jobs to do, diapers to change, and responsibilities to fulfill.
- We want to make a difference, but we want to be home for dinner.
All you have to do to make a real difference, right now, with whoever you’re with . . . is to be fully present with them. Eyeball-to-eyeball, undistracted, “in the moment.”
When you’re gone, they won’t say, “I have their autograph.”
They’ll say, “They changed my life.”
How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.
How do you change the world? One encounter at a time.