The following is adapted from The Standout Experience.
Albert Einstein once said that we should not strive to be a person of success, but instead we should work hard to be a person of impact.
Our heroes and the people we admire most are not looked up to because of their fame, money, or titles. Rather, we look up to them, want to be like them, and remember them because of their impact on others and the world.
At times, you may feel small and insignificant, incapable of having the kind of large-scale impact you desire, but you matter far more than you think. Even the smallest pebble can have a huge ripple effect on the vast water around it.
When you do the math, you discover just how wide your impact can be.
Do the Math
Most of us have more impact than we realize. Simple math would suggest that if you live for eighty years and have an effect on at least two people every day, that equates to almost 60,000 opportunities to create positive impact in your lifetime!
And this is a conservative estimate. You could also do something extraordinary today that impacts not two, but thousands or even millions of people.
Even if we look at the worst-case scenario, the potential impact is impressive. Sources suggest that even the world’s biggest introverts will influence at least 10,000 people in a lifetime.
That’s already a lot of people, but let’s take it a step further. Let’s say that as a direct or indirect result of your impact, each of those people goes on to influence their 10,000 people of their own. We’re now up to 100 million people!
So don’t ever think that you don’t make a difference or can’t have an impact.
Take a moment and imagine how many people you have knowingly and unknowingly influenced in your life so far. It’s likely already an impressive number, but by making a conscious effort to positively impact others, you could multiply your impact many times over.
A Long-Lasting Impact
You can have an exponential impact on the world not only in terms of the number of individuals you’ve influenced, but also in terms of the length of your impact—that is, an action that takes you X amount of time to complete can have an impact that lasts for far, far longer.
Think about the best compliment you’ve received in your life. For the person who gave that compliment, the action took just a moment, but for you, the impact has stuck with you. It may last your entire lifetime.
Seconds of effort for a lifetime of impact. Where else do we get such good returns on our investment?
This exponential effect applies to larger actions as well. Think about Elon Musk. His impact will last for more than a lifetime. It will be felt for generations.
If you can achieve a lifetime of impact with seconds of your time, imagine what you could achieve by dedicating months, years, or decades of your life to creating a positive impact on the world.
Impact With Intention
Regardless of where you came from or who you are, you have the ability to affect and be affected by others. Even if you don’t intend to have an impact, every person you come in contact with is impacted in some way.
Just being in a particular place at a particular time can have an impact. Once, while leaving work one late summer evening, a car was trying to get in front of me at a traffic light and I let it go. She was the last person to go through the light and she sped through just in time.
Right after she went through, a warehouse delivery truck came speeding through the intersection, completely unaware of the traffic signals. Had I not let that other car in, I might have been T-boned, and there is no telling what might have happened. In some way, that seemingly inconsequential act of taking up space might have saved my life.
The point is that everything you say, every action you take, and the overall experience of you is a potentially powerful input for someone else psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, or even physically.
There is no question that your presence in this world will have some impact on others, even if it’s just a few. So, why not be intentional and make that impact as meaningful as possible, or at least enjoy trying?
For more advice on impact, you can find The Standout Experience on Amazon.
John Walsh is an inspirational and successful executive, entrepreneur, author, husband and dad with a passion for impacting the lives of others. John faced many challenges, uncertainty and failures early in his life but he created a purposeful and happy life with a lot of hard work and help from others. Over time, he created a playbook that allowed him to make the journey from homeless in high school to a senior executive with Disney and Madison Square Garden. He is also the founder and CEO of a company whose mission is to inspire and help millions of young adults stand out in their own lives and careers.