Maybe it’s the Curse of the Aquarian generation: I’ve always been cause-driven, always trying to somehow make a huge difference in the world. A child of the universe, modern-day Don Quixote. A good deal of frustration at not making the impact I wanted and needed to.
I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do.
So I’ll leave it up to you.
(Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, 1970)
Twenty years ago I was fortunate enough to take part in a personal vision and values identification workshop. A lot of soul-searching left me with this: “make an impact, leave a legacy”. But I needed an adjustment for this holdover-from-the-1970’s Vision to survive. I needed a shift in strategy.
I’m a firm believer in individuals’ ability to impact the greater good, even through small actions and by impacting seemingly insignificant numbers. It’s similar to the Butterfly Effect and “pay it forward”. And it holds true for not just social media (certainly greater reach) but for daily actions and person-to-person interactions.
No one can pick up boulders and heave them into the ocean, but I can drop one little pebble into the small pond in front of me. The ripples travel outward, and I may not even be aware of those who feel the ripple. Some of those others may be influenced to drop their own little pebbles, creating ripples in their own little ponds. And on it goes.
Brings to mind an old parable, many versions of this have been around.
An old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir.”
The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “It made a difference to that one!”
The privilege of influencing others is not bestowed like a position or title; it must be earned. It’s starts with me, and it requires the highest level of integrity.