You Can Make A Difference
Catherine Pulsifer, © 2009
A story I heard many years ago, tells of how one person can
make a difference.
Early One Evening . . .
Early one evening a man was walking along a beach when he saw a boy picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. The man asked the boy why he was doing this. The boy explained the starfish would die if left to the morning. The man asked the boy, "What difference will your efforts make when there are thousands of starfish on the beach?" The boy stopped and looked at the starfish he was holding and said, "It will make a difference to this one."
To Make A Difference
The above story reveals that you do not have to influence the world,
or a country, or a state or province, or city, or a town, or even a
neighbourhood. It means, instead, that you can influence
one person at a
time over time. Why is this an important life concept?
The idea of one person influencing another is analogous to a small snow ball
resting at the top of a tall hill. If the snowball continues to remain motionless
nothing happens. The snowball remains stationary with absolutely no
momentum or influence on anything around it. But, when the snowball is
nudged forward, it starts to pick up momentum. This momentum affects
the snow around its' path as it slowly starts to move. As the snowball picks
up a little more speed, it impacts the snow that surrounds it and starts to
grow in size and stature. The faster it grows as it continues its' motion,
the bigger it gets. Its' size impacts more and more snow within its' path.
As its' size increases, its' affect increases drawing more and more snow
within its' sphere of influence.
Each motion forward of what was once a stationary snowball has literally
impacted or affected more and more snow to cling to it and thus,
becomes an even bigger force to recognize. Such is the impact of one
person's decision to influence someone around it's sphere of influence.
Influence is the ability to effect change in the actions, beliefs, and
choices of others. One action, one behavior, one comment can
each shift the thinking, actions and beliefs of another. This influence
of one can snowball and affect the thoughts, beliefs and actions of another,
and that other person can continue the cycle of observed or experienced
actions or behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes.
And, if you think that only a
certain type of people have this influential impact on others, let me clarify
and dash this thought. The act of becoming influential is not dependant
on personal intelligence or how much money you have, or the visible
display of possessions or your career.
Your Personal Arsenal
Let's now apply this notion, this sphere of influence to your own environment.
Let's start off with your own family. If you are a parent, you may already
know how strong your influence is to your family members. This impact starts
at the very beginning of your day and ends just before everyone goes to bed.
In fact, sometimes your influence travels with another family member into
their sleeping hours and continues well into the next day, week, month and year.
How is this possible?
One of the most powerful weapons in the world is readily available to you.
No, it isn't that you have your finger on a nuclear weapon, or the command
to mobilize army battalions, or even to mobilize a group of people who can
demonstrate publicly for your beliefs. In fact, it is your tongue. That's right,
your tongue. Your mouth speaks every day, week in week out, month in and
month out. The very essence of your being is most often reflected by the
words you choose to verbalize. And, if you think you do not choose your
words, you're wrong.
Your influence, through verbalization, impacts each member of your family.
These can be words of encouragement,
good will, compassion,
motivation, inspiration, and constructive criticism. Or, and this is the big one,
words filled with anger, jealousy, blame, retribution and selfishness.
I'm sure you have heard the old saying that you can perform well for
most of the day but it is that one lapse in judgement that is remembered
longer than all the best actions you've taken. The same applies to the tongue.
To lash out in anger or jealousy or selfishness is to influence that recipient of
your outburst much longer than words of kindness or inspiration.
Similarly, words spoken constantly to defame, ridicule, offend, label, or
demean can lead to rebellious behavior, poor self-esteem and a perfect
candidate for membership into a gang. The appeal of gangs for those
who have heard and experienced constant scorn or defamation of character
are welcomed into a gang environment where deviant or bad behavior is
complimented and encouraged. The appeal for anyone experiencing gang
membership takes a good deal of time to erode often with many returns to
a pathway of gang acceptance. Basically, it boils down to this. If you can't
encouragement and nurturing from one side of
life, you'll find it on the wrong side of the tracks.
Positive Work Environment
Let's continue on to another part of the story. This part of the story involves
your work environment. Here you have the opportunity to become that little
snowball that grows and grows. Your specific influence need not have started
because it is never too late to begin. Some would say they are unable to
be a positive and influential person due to their limitations. But, you should
know that every person no matter what your educational level, the job you
hold from street sweeper to executive, from poor to wealthy, from a
restaurant server to an owner of a small business all have daily opportunities.
And, again, the most powerful tool you possess is your tongue. The tongue
expresses joy, delight, an enthusiastic good morning greeting, the verbal offer
to assist a colleague who is having a challenging day, or an enthusiastic
response to a request from a supervisor to do something you are not normally
asked to do.
No matter whom you run into whether that be on a daily basis or only once,
your positive behavior influences that person. Just like when you start to
paint a room with one brush stroke at a time, your positive strokes cast
out on san never ending beam of glad tidings will soon cover a space so
large you'll wonder who helped you. The answer is that you, a single
entity, did. One person saying one positive comment can be that much
needed singular response that can propel another person beyond their
sadness, grief, or poor self-image.
Each person you can positively influence can also influence others as
they go through life and soon you have an avalanche. Each person you
influence positively also has the ability to encourage and influence another
person, and that other person can also positively influence on other person.
As you can see, you only have to make a difference one person at a time
to make a huge impact. It all depends on what your attitude is in making a
Wisdom Said By Edward Everett Hale
"I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something I can do."
There are a countless number of opportunities where we can make
a difference every day. At times, however, we do not take action
because we think we can only do a little and it won't make a difference.
However, the story contains wisdom
that reminds us that even if we can
only do a little, we can make a difference. It is all in your own attitude!
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"One life can make a difference,
You see, it's up to you!"
"If you want happiness for an hour - take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day - go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month - get married.
If you want happiness for a year - inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime - help others.
"You can make a difference in the lives of others. Be a doer - don't only be
"A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops."
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