You Can Make A Difference
Author: 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 dependanton 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 receive positive 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 difference.
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!” Author Unknown
“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 hearer.” James Strand
“A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams
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