Look around you and you’ll see three kinds of people. There are those who hate their life and work, and complain bitterly, those who just tolerate their life and work and see it as their “lot in life,” and finally, those who love their life and work, and relish it. That’s because it’s their “life’s-work.” The third category is a small subset of all professionals world-wide, but this group stands out because these are often the people who change the world for the better. They never stop trying to improve the lives of others… no matter how small the change.
In my work as a writer, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world. Each and every time I have met and written about them, it has been an honor. However, among this group of what I shall call “influencers” there are also many everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level. It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch. Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances, and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above their circumstances (and often their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them. I have become aware that there are often similar key behaviors that set them apart from others. They dedicate themselves to what gives their own life meaning and purpose.
Many people don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to pursue in their own life. While others believe in a life purpose, but won’t take the risk to identify or honor it. Those with positive influence feel otherwise. They have found that there is a purpose to their life and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “gifts” into a message or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others. People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and light up a room. They are unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this particular time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path. They commit to continually bettering themselves.
People who impact the world for the better know that they are not perfect. They understand how their knowledge isn’t “complete.” There are always going to be gaps, biases, limitations, and prejudices. But… they keep at it anyway; they are inexhaustible!
People who positively shape the world come from a “beginner’s mind” and a loving, compassionate heart — with an openness to see, learn, and experience new things on the way to being a better “servant” to others. They engage with people in open and honest ways.
Those with huge positive influence understand the power of relationships, connection, and engaging with the world openly. They’re not afraid to get “out there” connecting with others, sharing their knowledge and talents, offering their authentic and often contrary viewpoints and opinions. They know that positive, supportive, and authentic relationships are the necessary building blocks to anything and everything they want to achieve. They invest time and energy not in what is “wrong,” but rather in what “can be.”
The people I’ve interviewed who’ve made a positive impact on Society, don’t settle for conformity. When they see something that agitates and disturbs them, they strive to know more, get to the root of the issue, research and understand the contributing factors, and arrive at new solutions. They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted. They want to affect change because they believe change will bring a better way to live. They spread what they know.
We’ve all met “experts” who keep their knowledge secret, close to the vest. They’re afraid to let it out for fear someone will steal it or make money on their ideas. This is the opposite of the positive influencer’s mindset. Those who make a true positive difference can’t help but share and teach what they’ve learned. They don’t see their knowledge as just some commodity to sell… they see it as information that has to be shared with the world for its betterment. They live the universal principle: “The more you give, the more you get.” They use their power and influence well.
Sadly, it’s a common occurrence in the world… and Politics of late… to witness power and influence being wielded as a weapon. It hurts and destroys. Positive influencers use their power well and wisely. Those who impact the world for the better are careful and wise with their words, actions, and behaviors. They operate with open heart and care deeply about their leadership, communication, and the influence they have on others. They take it seriously, as a special honor and responsibility not to be flaunted or misused. They understand their special role, and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.
Here’s to all of us changing the world for the better. No task is too small.