What Difference Do You Make?

It’s said you will only be remembered for one of two things: the problems you solve or the ones you create.

Abraham Lincoln made a difference that changed the world forever, but so did Hitler. Both men are equally remembered, but for which problems do you want to be remembered? The ones you solved or the ones you created?

In our November issue of SUCCESS (on newsstands now!), we are discussing the theme Making a Difference. You don’t have to make a global impact in order to be remembered for making a difference. I also don’t believe making a difference is something you do only when you reach the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, or when you volunteer at the local soup kitchen or write your check to public television.

I believe you are always making a difference, every day and in every moment. As soon as you walk out your front door, you become the cause of a series of ripple effects that will forever affect the direction and experience of much of the rest of the world. And your impact will be problem-solving or problem-creating.

Think about a former boss, colleague, college roommate, old neighbor, past love relationship, childhood friend, previous business partner, high-school math teacher, etc. Each person either solved problems or created them for you. They either helped you and improved you or caused you grief and brought you down. Now get on the other side of that list: How does each of these people remember you? For the problems you solved for them or the ones you created?

With every door you hold open, car you allow to merge, smile you flash, encouragement you offer, you are making a deposit into someone’s life. The best part of this form of giving is that your ability to give is limitless, and in the end, the feeling of fulfillment you get makes you the greatest recipient.

In my interview with Joel Osteen (on the CD inside the issue), Joel said it beautifully when he said, “The key to becoming blessed is not to think about your blessing, but how you can be a blessing to someone else. In that act you will find your blessing.”

Read about companies like TOMS Shoes (page 34) and the Acumen Fund (page 28) that are founded on giving back, and learn some tips for making a difference with your own business no matter the size (page 46).

You don’t have to be a president or a tyrant to make a difference in the world. For all the people you touch every day, you make an indelible difference in their world.

I encourage you to set a goal each day: How many blessings can you dispense? How many worlds can you make a positive difference in? The world most affected by this giving will be yours.

Challenge: What one thing will you do to make a difference in someone’s life in the next 3 days. Just one thing, anything… come on just try it! Tell us in the comment section below what you intend to do.

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