Making a Difference

kindnessThe theme of wanting to make a difference seems to be a big buzzword these days. People have all types of advice on how to influence bosses, coworkers, dates, social scenes, and the universe. While these are all interesting, they miss the point of how to really make a difference with the most important person in your life. Yourself. 

Making a real difference in the world should begin with making a difference inside yourself. Making yourself someone you would like to get to know, work with, or hold out as someone you respect is not really that hard. Zig Ziegler said it best – “You will get what you want if you help others get what they want.”

Let me explain this using myself as an example. I now live in the 15th largest city in the USA. This has required some major adjustments in my life, but it has not changed the person that I am. I now must take my ShiTzu, Casey, down 18 floors for him to do the necessary, and this is where I started making a difference. I noticed that folks did not talk to me in the elevator, but they would always talk to my dog, who is a very friendly dog and loves people. I just began talking to people through my dog. This led to my fellow travelers to the ground floor talking to me, and then talking to each other. I made a difference in getting people who live in the same condominiums to talk to each other.

Casey still figures into my next step I took to make my new neighborhood a better place. When dogs do their bathroom business, good and responsible dog owners will PUP – pick up poop. This means that when Casey and I do our morning walks I need to take a plastic grocery bag to PUP. I also noticed that there was a lot of trash that was not picked up around my building and the streets I walked on, so I started picking it up and putting it into the PUP bag which was deposited into the park garbage cans. I did not say anything to anyone, I just started picking up cans, beer bottles, cigarette packs, and styrofoam food containers. People noticed. A lot of people noticed. And they started picking up trash as they walked into their office buildings. And they started saying hi to
me first as I walked Casey around the block.

The final thing I have always done since I was little is to hold doors open for folks coming in behind me. I still do this, and it is for everyone. I go to a grocery store that is located next to Ohio State which means we have a lot of college students in the store. Lots of heads down texting and not paying attention to their environment. I had one student stop in her tracks when she reached for the door handle as she walked into the store behind me and she met with no resistance. I was holding the door open for her, and then greeted her with “have a great day”. She just stood there for a few seconds, and them broke into a smile and said, “you too.” I have been going to this same grocery store now for six months, and guess what? I see other people now holding doors open for others and talking to each other. Did I cause this? That is not important. What is important is that I feel good about doing good, and it seems to rub off on people in a very positive way.

I am making a difference. It may be with just one person, an office building, or college students who are trying to figure out their direction and goals in life. Anyone can do this. There is no cost but there is an enormous benefit. The one who benefits the most from this is me. I know at the end of every day that I made a difference in someone’s life. I may never meet them, I may never know what I did, or how this made a difference in their lives. But I can see the difference I make, and I know it can snowball into something bigger than I can imagine.

Try it and see how it makes you feel.