Looking back, who have you influenced? Have you ever been told about 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?
When I was 13 my foster parents told me I was a bad influence because I was doing what a lot of teenagers do – experiment with things. But I can also tell you that there are a few times throughout the year where I am reminded that I have influenced people (for the good of course) and that my sharing of my story and just showing up in how I do impacts people.
But what about you? 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.
You have likely had a greater impact than you realize. Take a moment and ask yourself some questions:
- Have you ever been honored by a group organization for your contributions?
- Have you been written about in a newspaper or magazine concerning your success in business or the community?
- Have you ever been interviewed 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 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?
- Have you 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.