Monthly Archives: November 2015

Influence and Impact-Avoiding Driving Yourself Nuts

Within the past week friends have voice their frustrations, and that has always been really worrisome to me. I’ve lost friends due to the ultimate acting out on frustration that had grown into hopelessness when nobody was looking, self included. Not beating myself up, it’s just that you don’t easily forget that kind of thing. Nip this one in the bud!

I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do (Ten Years After, 1971)

This is a free-flowing quick-hitter for my friends and anyone else feeling a little extra frustrated with the holidays upon us (a statistical reality!). Some is recycled from earlier posts. This is also some much-needed self-talk. My frustration level has been climbing the charts because of my inability to make progress on a long-term (years!) project that is very close to my heart—an avocation I don’t get paid for but I’m passionate about it, still intrinsically driven. The physical and emotional investments have both been significant. But you can’t eat passion, Jimmy.

“We are stardust, we are golden. We are billions-year-old-carbon”. Maybe it’s the Curse of the Aquarian generation—perpetually cause-driven, trying to somehow make a difference in the world. A starchild, modern-day Don Quixote. A good deal of frustration at not making the impact I want and need to make. Still….

You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take (Wayne Gretsky)

The shots I take and miss are disappointing, some a whole lot more than others. The rumor is that falling down and failure will make you stronger, if you get back up. Running around with skinned up knees can get really old but it doesn’t stop me from skinning up my knees over and over. Not stubborn, not stupid. I’ll take committed and persistent.

I usually won’t take a shot if there isn’t a slight chance I may score. I’ll take the long shots without false expectations—that way I’m pleasantly surprised if I do score. Even though it seems like a shutout lately, skinning knees up is a tiny thing compared to wondering “what if” when I don’t take a shot, even a long shot.

What really helped me survive is to understand the difference between influence and control. The latter is the ability to directly change someone or something, for better or for worse-your choice. You can still impact things and others just through influence, which can be a double-edged sword:

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. (Jane Goodall)

I can’t pick up boulders and heave them into the ocean, but I can drop one little pebble into the pond directly in front of me and watch the ripples travel outward. I may not even be aware of all those who feel the ripples. Some of those others may be influenced to drop their own little pebbles, and create ripples in their own little ponds. And on it goes.

I’ve mellowed out. Now I only need to drop pebbles—lots of them. I still have a crazy, destructive urge sometimes to tackle a boulder like A New Model of Human Development, 35 pages (so far) of stuff I shouldn’t even be messing with. Been spending a lot of time and energy on it, tossing pebbles in the meantime to get by. But I always go back to putting my shoulder to the boulder, feelin’ kinda older…(HEY, that rhymes! It should, it’s a song lyric). I need companion pebble-tossers to help get that job done though.

We all need someone we can lean on (Mick and the Boys)

Many versions of this old parable are out there.

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!”

Be thankful, even if you have to move a lot of big-assed rocks to find one gold nugget hiding. And go save a starfish or two, toss a few pebbles. It feels good!

My pebble for the day.