Are you making an impact?

Is the work you do, or the content you produce, or the life you live impacting others in a net positive way?

That is the thing we’re all striving for isn’t it? A life that has meaning, one that changes the world. The difference for many of us is how we define ‘the world’.

For some, the world is their family. Building kids who become healthy, productive adults with only the regular amount of foibles is a quest that takes dedication. Doing that has impact on your kids, and on their kids and on their friends. Good parenting is tough but filled with great meaning.

Building up friends, helping them through tough times is impactful as well. It can help them and their families live better lives.

Unfortunately, way too often we strive to impact ‘more’ than just those in closest proximity.

More ‘fame’ = more impact…right?

Way too often, people believe that the number of people reached or touched translates to a greater impact. If you’re famous (even Internet famous) you clearly reach more people, but that may not mean you have more impact.

In fact, you may have less.

Think of all the blog posts you read. Even look at the ones I write. I put a great deal of thought into these, and even agonize over many of them. I try to create impact/change in your life to help you run a better business so you can live the life you want to live.

Do you think that if I poured myself to that same degree into a few friends that I saw a few times a week I’d have more impact on their lives? I’d be influencing a much smaller circle of people, but I’d have a much greater influence on those people.

What if I were truly ‘Internet famous’? Given the demands on my time that would create, do you think I would be able to carve out time for regular meetings with those friends? More likely, I would be getting back to my house at the end of the day with little left in the tank.

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That girl

The first summer I was married my wife and I worked at a small camp a few hours north of Toronto, Ontario. We were the off-site tripping directors which meant we took a bunch of kids on canoe trips.

One girl on our first trip was…we’ll just say less than excited to be sent to camp, and especially out on a canoe trip where there were outhouses for bathrooms and no daily showers. She made it very well known that she had been dropped off at camp and was not that impressed about it.

That summer, my wife and I got to impact that girl so much that she went back to school and went from barely passing to an honour student. The family she built with her husband now regularly goes climbing and camping and canoeing.

If I had been ‘famous’ would I have worked at some small camp in Ontario in the summer of 2003? It’s highly unlikely.

That means that the biggest impact I had on someone else in the entire year of 2003 would not have happened.

So would being ‘famous’ have been a net benefit that summer?

You have opportunities to make a big impact every day. Maybe it’s giving a book to someone at your local gym or going for coffee with your neighbour. Maybe it’s helping that neighbour build their fence, and engaging in conversation while you work.

Don’t think that you need to be some well-known name to really have impact. In fact there are likely far more unknown people out there who truly shape lives for the better than those ‘famous’ people. Those unsung heroes have huge impact.

photo credit: rstebbing cc