Don’t Underestimate Your Impact & Ripple Effect
“If you can’t feed one hundred people, then feed just one.”
I recently spoke to a Winning Weeks participant who expressed frustration that surfaced for him after watching a movie about human trafficking. He felt powerless and angry that he wanted to help and didn’t know where to begin. It’s a pretty big industry to fight and it’s easy to feel like your contributions and efforts would go unnoticed and have little impact.
This brought to mind very specific moments in my own life where I felt frustrated with my perceived inability to make a difference. During my career in corporate America at Showtime Networks, I rarely pursued my desire to make an impact because I didn’t think I was capable or have any idea how.
Fast forward three years from that time and I’m stepping onto the TEDx stage with the opposite mindset and a hope that my efforts would reach at least a million pairs of eyes and ears. “Finally,” I thought. “This is going to be my chance to make a world-changing impact, and in turn, catch my big break.”
Note: While the talk has been viewed 15,000 times so far and people continue to tell me that it made them re-think how they use social media (or have started sending personalized videos), I still sometimes get lost in my attachment to the virality I wanted – and wonder if everything I am up to is worth it, versus accepting and being proud of both the direct and immeasurable impact.
In both of these situations, I was focusing on and holding a magnifying glass up to the problem. I was being short-sighted and was not acknowledging the possibility that a small action could actually create the ripple of change I wanted to see.
Have you ever had someone ahead of you pay for your meal at a drive-thru?
Have you ever felt down and had someone greet you enthusiastically with a smile?
Have you ever had someone do a secret act of service for you?
If not, how do you imagine it would feel to experience this?
I’ve been the recipient of similar acts and it’s made my day. I’ve felt uplifted and left with a desire to do the same for others.
Our actions, big or small, have the potential to affect others in ways we can’t even imagine. Instead of letting our success be determined by the end-results that we see, perhaps it would better serve us to focus on sowing the seeds of action and trust that there will be a ripple effect. If all we can do is help one other person today, then celebrate! You could be making all the difference in the world to that person (even if we don’t know it).
As many of you know, I’ve been sending personalized videos messages to every single one of my FB friends on their birthdays for the past 2 years (which was the subject of my TEDx talk), and one of the best parts of this uncommon amount of outreach is that I get in touch with and hear back from people who I would otherwise not communicate with. In many cases, these are people I’m FB friends with but haven’t spoken with in years or decades – and who don’t “like” or engage with any of my posts/content.
For all I know, these people could have no idea what I’m up to or forgotten my existence, but I’ve literally received hundreds of messages from people who fit this description who respond to thank me for the video message, and to let me know they’ve listened to my podcast, appreciate my work, and/or have shared it with their friends. In other words, they’ve shown me that my impact extends further than I am aware of or have led myself to believe.
Today, I’m still pursuing my dream of impacting millions and still want the message of being real to reach far and wide. Some days I get to speak to a full room of eager listeners. Sometimes it’s one person at a time. Sometimes I can tell I’m making a difference, and sometimes I don’t see any tangible results at all.
But regardless, I do my best and remind myself that being in service to others and being proud of my efforts (no matter what immediate results I see) is all that really matters.
So as we enter into a new week, I wanted to ask you…
How do you want to make an impact, and how can you be in service to that vision this week (even if it only directly affects one person)?