Don’t discount the impact you have on others. Even in difficult times, a single word of encouragement can change someone’s life. Something that comes as second nature to you can make a radical difference to another person.
Oprah Winfrey once wrote, “One of the defining moments of my life came in fourth grade—the year I was a student in Mrs. Duncan’s class at Wharton Elementary School in Nashville. For the first time, I wasn’t afraid to be smart, and she often stayed after school to work with me. … As a child, I hadn’t even considered that Mrs. Duncan might have had a life beyond our class. It was in her class that I really came into myself. After all these years, I could say thank you to a woman who had a powerful impact on my early life.”
Whether in your professional life, personal life or spiritual life, be cognizant of the way you treat people, of the way you react to situations. Don’t strive solely for your own success but strive to help someone else, as well.
The result can’t be measured nor the reward collected at the time of the transaction. The true value is revealed days, months or even years later when someone you’ve impacted impacts another person’s life – or many lives. As Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect, says, “Small actions add up to positive results.”
The “butterfly effect” is real. I’m planting the seeds because I believe in people. Great people have left their mark on me. Many have no idea of their impact on my life. A school teacher, a deputy sheriff, an NFL player, a public speaker, a family member… I can never repay any of them for the positive effect they had on me as a human being, so I’m focusing on paying it forward, on investing in myself and others.
One of the passions I have discovered is working with people who have placed themselves in “undesirable circumstances” due to their choices. As Jim Rohn would say in his trademark voice, “They messed up!” Helping them to think differently, to see different possibilities and options, and to start making better choices is something I believe in.
Over the past three years I co-developed a gang diversion class for in-custody adults. The program finally got funded and I spent several months co-facilitating the class to inmates. I saw the change that some of them went through in those three months. Unfortunately my time there came to an end and I was moved on to another area. That was several months ago. Recently I learned that some of the inmates have been asking for me to come back to the program.
I knew we had reached some of them, but it seems I made a bigger impact on some than I expected. Regardless of whether I work with that program again, I hope they’ll carry that further and turn something good into something great, and make choices that will keep them off the path of incarceration and onto the path of a successful life “outside” of the system. It feels good knowing that at least some of them see their own potential and may do just that.
Do you want to know how to get more out of life? Do you want to improve areas of your life? Find ways to enrich others’ lives. Giving back is one way to pay it forward. The more you give (of yourself) the more you will receive in life.
Originally published in JoinMeForSuccess.com