How can you make a difference?

Just hearing the phrase Making a Difference denotes taking action or making a change.  Change is difficult for most of us and getting others invested in making a change when it involves them doing something different can be even more challenging.  Why should you try to make a difference and why should you try to engage others in the same?

I can reflect back on many ways I have been involved in making a difference, but I'll try not to be too focused on my own efforts, but only use them to give an example. I got involved in Scouting when my sons were involved in Cub Scouts almost two decades ago.  The funny thing about Scouting is that my wife got involved first and I saw how much fun she was having with our boys, so I decided to get involved also.

Our work in Scouting crossed over into Boy Scouts when the boys each turned 11 and I had the pleasure to spend many quality hours with both of them and their friends in a variety of outings ranging from a simple campout to backpacking in the snow and even spending 6 days in the wilderness canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota.

The difference that was made was not so much the activity at hand.  The real difference was enabling these young men to do and try things they would have never done on their own.  Many of them had parents who were not involved and some of them had no father in the home to provide the same opportunity.  I can honestly say that these experiences provided a difference for me personally as much as it did for them.  The key ingredient in each experience was that I spent time and provided guidance, feedback and planning for each activity as an adult.

Making a difference in your life doesn't have to involve traveling to some remote location to canoe for 6 days.  It doesn't even matter if you camp.  What matters is that you have the passion and the interest to spend time with others in situations where you enable, inspire and motivate them to try things they might never have attempted on their own.

I suspect that each of you can think of a time when a mentor or supporter helped you try something you did not thing you could do.  When you were successful, or even if you were not, I am sure you experienced a great feeling at being liberated from your self thoughts of "I cannot do this" or "This will never work."  Making a difference involves working with others to help them achieve what they would not, or could not, do on their own without outside inspiration and coaching.

Your next ability to make a difference may be right in front of you.  The key thing to remember is that making a difference is typically about helping others grow.  If you pursue these initiatives to help others, you too will grow from the effort.

The bottom line is this: if you want to make a difference, you need to start thinking about how to help others instead of thinking primarily about yourself.

When you adopt this mindset, you will be unstoppable.