On making a difference

I believe that most of us genuinely want to make a difference in this world. But we become overwhelmed. We see how big the task is before us, we become very aware of our own limitations and inadequacies, and we lose our nerve. We remember the pain of the last time we failed, the last time our work didn’t have the desired effect, the last time we were betrayed, and we shy away from taking the risk – we don’t want to feel that again.

This morning I was reminded that that isn’t an excuse.

We can make a difference, each one of us, and being human means we have the responsibility to do so. There where you are right now, you can make a change. You might not even know you’re doing it – it might be something you do every day or something you do on the spur of the moment because it just feels right – but your actions, if done with the right attitude, will create ripples that can turn into a tsunami that will change someone’s life beyond recognition.

Sometimes your mere presence is enough. Sometimes a kind word, or doing something that’s not your job but that needs to be done. Sometimes you have to take a leap, literally risk your health, wealth and sanity on something so big others will think you’ve lost it.

Do it.

“But what if I get hurt?” No ‘what if’ about it. You are going to get hurt. Embrace it. Pain means you’re still alive.

“What if I mess up and end up looking stupid?” It will remind you we all make mistakes. Keep you humble.

“I’m not strong/clever/skilled enough.” Ask for help. Learn. Grow.

“What if I never see the result of my actions?” What’s more important? That you make a difference, or that you see it?

It’s like the story of the man who took a walk on the beach one morning to find that during the night the tide had washed out hundreds, thousands of starfish. In the distance he spotted a small boy running back and forth between the surf and the beach. Coming nearer, the man saw the boy was throwing starfish back into the sea, one by one. When he reached the boy he asked him, “Why do you bother? You’re never going to save them all.” The boy responded by picking up another starfish, running to the water’s edge, and flinging the starfish in as deep as he could. He returned to the man and looked at him. “I saved that one.”

You’re never going to help everyone who needs it. But right now, out there in your life, is one person in whose life you can make a difference. It might cost you no more than a smile. It might ask a genuine sacrifice or risk. You might never know the impact you had. You might get knocked down. Do it anyway. Maybe, just maybe, you will help someone realise how precious they truly are, and I don’t think we can do anything greater than that.

8 thoughts on “On making a difference

    1. I can’t take credit for the “Pain means you’re still alive” bit. Someone once said it in a book, movie or TV show, I can’t remember. But the truth is indisputable: only the dead don’t feel pain.

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