This question may lead many to answer no. How can one person make a difference in a world so big and complex. I’m glad you asked. The answer is certainly yes, but not so fast. There is a formula at work here, one where the steps have to be completed, or at least started, to take who you are and propel yourself fully into the MAD campaign.
President Kennedy once said “one person can make a difference and every person should try”. Try what? Well, that’s for you to decide. Let’s look at a few steps to help you with that decision.
The first step is to jump into something you’re already passionate about. Passion is a driver for most of us. Once you have passion regarding something you will find obstacles less difficult to overcome, not because they are now easier, but because you are less likely to quit easily. Sometimes we have little connection with our passion, but something in life can bring it to the surface quickly. For example, the quick passing of a loved one from a disease or accident. Many times the emotions and experiences associated with this life event awakens something in us we did not know existed. Once awakened, we must act on it because we cannot stop thinking about it. Whether the thoughts are happy or sad at this point is somewhat irrelevant, since we see our ability to make the situation have a happier ending because of our efforts.
The second step is to start small and locally. Why? Because it is here that you have the most current influence. Influence is a big thing, so don’t discount the impact you already have. You will need to be able to persuade others to help you along this journey, for many hands make a heavy load lighter. A team of many who can do is always a compliment to the one with vision and passion.
Step three is to ensure you set goals that are stretchy, but achievable. Easily achieved goals will derail the effort oftentimes. Why? Mainly due to the quickness of accomplishment. If you truly want to make a difference, the task should seem outside your capabilities, which is where the stretching comes in. Two examples come to mind here. One example is yoga or professional sports. Before you take the field or get on the mat, you are encouraged to stretch the muscle groups to make them more limber and ready for activity. The second is from a friend, who is a minister. He has often said that God expects us to take on things outside our own abilities, so we see Him at work, not just out own talents. He contends we all have greatness inside of us, but few are willing to take the risks to achieve greatness. His favorite quote, “let go and let God”.
Step four is simply putting the plan into action. Moving forward with purpose. Leading the team into the fray. Doing our best to find the way, eliminate the obstacles and hit our stride. Momentum is a powerful force, so keep the eye on the prize in the early days, for it takes time to build momentum. Once built, get out of the way, for it will propel you to new heights.
Here are some quotes from “one person” who made a difference in the world we live in (this list could be expansive):
I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.
We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
Mother Teresa collection
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert F. Kennedy
The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
What? You didn’t think I would sneak in an athlete eh? Ali did make a difference in his time, and changed the sport of boxing forever. There are so many others that were the catalyst of incredible movements, wonderful non-profits and associations that we take for granted today. Programs like the Peace Corp, Salvation Army, Goodwill and Alcoholics Anonymous are just a few that come to mind, and all were started by one person will an idea and passion to change the world for the betterment of mankind.
So, what are you passionate about? How are you going to change the world? If your not sure where to begin, let me repeat Mother Teresa once again…Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.