You want to do great things, right? Who doesn’t?
Most of us dream of making a difference. Of leaving a mark, having an influence over others. Yet, too many of us — and yes, I’ll raise my hand here as well — don’t quite believe it’s possible.
Why do you suppose that is? Is it that you just can’t imagine that little old you has it in you? That the very idea of making a real difference and being able to do great things is something that only exceptional people can accomplish?
Or maybe it’s because when you think about what qualifies as something great, nothing you do is quite lofty enough.
If any of this rings true with you, believe me, you’re not alone.
For whatever reason, the vast majority of us think that being able to do great things is a pipe dream, that it’s somehow out of the reach of us mere mortals.
We think of ourselves as nothing extraordinary, and everyone knows average people don’t do great things.
But maybe your idea of what it means to do great things is skewed. Ordinary citizens, regular Joes, if you will, making a difference, in even the smallest of ways, are all around you.
They’re hiding in plain sight.
Surprise! You Already Do Great Things
If you don’t believe me that anyone, yes, even you, can do great things, what would you call these examples I’ve run across online? Maybe you’ve seen them too.
1. Stepping up in times of crisis.
Perhaps the biggest example of people doing great things is those who step up during times of crisis and work to save lives, both human and otherwise.
For example, as I write this post, Louisana is experiencing some of the worst floods since Hurricane Katrina.
And since I’m such an animal lover, seeing stories about people going into these flooded areas, risking their lives to get people, and their animals, to safety, totally restores my often floundering faith in humanity.
And lest you think it’s only individuals who are paid to do this as part of their jobs, think again. It’s just ordinary citizens doing whatever they can to help.
2. Doing something nice, just because.
And while we’re talking about animals, consider the 80-year-old man who built a little train so that he could give rides to rescue dogs. Seeing the looks on their little faces is all the proof you need that this small gesture is making a difference.
You may have seen the story. Eugene Bostick, the builder of doggie trains extraordinaire, started noticing that dogs were being abandoned and left to starve outside his farm. Over time, he began to take in more and more dogs, giving them shelter, looking after their health, and eventually deciding these pups deserved a bit of fun to make their lives happier.
And thus the doggie train was born.
Just another unsung hero who saw a need and stepped up to fill it in a wonderfully generous way.
3. Unselfishly giving to others.
Then there’s the story I saw today about a boy who, instead of birthday gifts on his special day, asked that people donate a new pair of shoes to children in need.
So far, he’s donated 600 pairs of shoes. No, this boy is not the child of a wealthy celebrity or business person. He’s an ordinary 10-year-old boy, who’s been doing this for the last three years.
Ordinary? Hardly. Making a difference? You bet.
When asked why he wants to give shoes to needy children, he said that at the start of every new school year, he gets a brand new pair of shoes. He wanted to see that those children whose families couldn’t afford new shoes got a new pair as well.
4. Paying It Forward
And then there’s the Alabama college student, Rodney Smith, Jr., who mows lawns, for free, for single moms, the elderly, and the disabled.
When a local TV station gave him $300 as a pay it forward gift, Smith used the money to create a non-profit service group called Raising Men Lawn Care Services.
Smith says he wants to teach teens “a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, moral value and purpose in themselves.” (Source: GoodNewsNetwork, College Student Mows Seniors’ Lawns for Free While Teaching Values to Youth, by Terry Turner, May 2nd, 2016.)
While most college-aged kids are busy with school activities, homework, and social lives, this extraordinary young man is making a difference with a commitment to do good things.
The Common Good
I could go on and on. There is no end to inspirational stories of people like you, like me, who seem so ordinary in every way, who do great things. The trick is to see them hidden amid the squalor and stories of cruelty and sadness that pervade our lives.
We’re bombarded daily from all sides, via social media, newspapers, television news, by horrors and sadness all over the world. If you let it, it can invade your psyche and affect the lens through which you view the world.
Take a good look around. Stop and read those stories of people helping others, risking their lives to save all life, human or otherwise.
You Can Do It Too — Maybe You Already Are
And the next time you think to yourself, I’m not doing a thing to make a difference to anyone, stop and take a look at the little things you’re probably already doing, without realizing it.
Whether it’s in your business or personal life, I’m willing to bet you’re making a difference for someone (or a lot of someones) on a regular basis.
As you raise your children to take on the world, you’re shaping their moral makeup, setting limits, teaching them boundaries while still allowing them to soar. That’s no small task. The little things you do day in, day out, help your child eventually deal with the ups and downs of daily life.
Or in your dealings with people in your business life, the smiles you give, the words of encouragement and guidance, those things matter.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re making a difference every single day. Those small differences have a ripple effect. What may seem insignificant and hardly worth mentioning, is flowing outward, touching the lives of countless people.
In Your Business Or In Your Personal Life, Small Acts Add Up
If you still want to do more, there are plenty of ways to make a difference. No need to think big.
Sometimes it really is the little things that add up to the biggest differences.
Write that online course you’ve been considering writing and help your audience reach its full potential.
Volunteer at your local animal shelter and brighten a lonely dog or cat’s day.
Light a fire under a passion you’ve kept smoldering, but have been afraid to ignite.
Reach out to others.
Do those little things that help others.
Those little things, they make a difference.
They leave a mark.
And everyone, including you, becomes a winner.