Tips on HOW to Make a Difference
Tips – August 2018
HOW to Make a Difference
Small enough to manage, big enough to matter. . . the simple phrase delights us with the nudge/promise of personal impact in a world with so many issues to tackle. How can I help, you ask. What can one person do? Where do I start? What “appeal” emails should I delete or take to heart?
Following on last month’s blog post (read here) about the Butterfly Effect (small actions can have unanticipated big effects), we wanted to describe in TIPS a process anyone can use to get past the paralysis of “I can’t possibly make a difference” thinking. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Begin with identifying what matters to YOU, rather than what huge problems you want to help solve. What are you passionate about? Do you value peace and harmonious relationships? How about equality. . . everyone having equal voice, power, access to quality health care or education? Does time spent in nature mean a lot to you? Justice? Kindness? Helping others? Health?
- Write them down. Spend some time thinking about this list that is entirely of your own making, and figure out how these value points rank, for you. This is the beginning of the creative plan that will help shape your legacy, no one else’s.
- Pick a few values that rank at the top. Think about and write down things you are already doing that matter. Do you tutor ESL kids, or kids who are academically behind? Do you volunteer at a wildlife preserve or nature park, or make presentations about water conservation? Maybe you have read about Victim-Offender mediation, and submitted an application to a training program. Perhaps you have marched in support of restoring education funding to your state’s budget. The idea here is to affirm that you are already taking action in areas that matter, and matter to you. If nothing strikes you, acknowledge that you are at the beginning, and WANT to make things better. Everyone starts somewhere.
- Now, identify one or two new actions that you can take in areas you want to develop or promote more. Just remember, the steps don’t have to be big, they just need to be in alignment with who you are. Especially important is constructing self-talk that enhances, rather than diminishes, your personal effort on the issue. For example, rather than “I really doubt this will make any difference, but I’ll do it anyway,” replace it with “I’m excited to take this first/next step. . . I wonder where it will lead?” Or another version, “I am happy to be making a difference.”
- Remember, too, that what we pay attention to expands. Post an inspirational message about your subjects in a prominent place, one that will remind you of the BIG PICTURE. Tell others what you are going to do. Spend a few minutes each day thinking about your actions. Reflect on your actions weekly, and readjust if you need.
When we surround ourselves with the support of inspiring values, and couple that with a personal commitment and plan to make a difference, who knows what ideas will take flight and where they will land? Fertile soil, nourishing environments, remarkable results.
And consider nourishing yourself. Join us at the 12th Annual Leadership Summit, Being on Purpose: Small Enough to Manage, Big Enough to Matter, on Friday, November 9, in Phoenix, AZ. This event is co-sponsored by Thunderbird Leadership Consulting and BoxCar Intl. For more information, and to register, follow this link.