My colleague, author Randy Hain, suggested I do an exercise. He told me to write my clients’ names on a piece of paper (I added close friends), and circle them. Then, I was to write what each one cares most about next to their circled name. Randy predicted that I would see themes.
Did I ever.
Almost without exception, everyone I listed wants to make a difference in the lives of others. How they do it varies greatly. I work with leaders who, regardless of their actual job, come to work each day because they’re making a difference in the lives of those they lead. Many, including those in senior executive positions, care most about the impact they are making on the lives of their children, members of their community, or even the end-user of the product or service their organization produces. One, a CEO of a thriving non-profit, says that while she’s passionate about the work of her own organization, she does what she does every day to positively affect the non-profit sector overall, because of the enormous impact it has on the lives of those in her community.
There’s a reason why this commonality exists. Making a difference is a fundamental human drive.
Recently I learned of the death of a family friend. He was the owner of an independent grocery store in the small city in which I grew up. His obituary said the city would have been a different place without his compassion and the help he offered to his fellow citizens. He offered credit before it was the norm, and he helped many start small businesses. This man knew his purpose, and it was very different on the surface (selling bread and green beans) than in its depth (improving lives). He made a difference, though I’m not sure he would have known he was doing so at any given time. He just followed his heart.
And that is the point of my post today.
As you go about your full lives, it is easy to lose touch with your sense of purpose. It is easy to forget the impact of a small gesture, brief glance, or word of encouragement. But even as you lose touch, the energy of it lives on. Every single positive thought or action affords many reactions. In this very moment, as you read this post, you are making a difference. Your – our – power and influence are humbling.
Let the awareness of your impact fuel your future actions. We all need one another.