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How to Make a Truly Great Impact on the World

What makes a person great?

I think most of us are taught that a great person is someone who has an “impact” on the world.

And so we go around trying to have an impact, trying to change the world, trying to make a difference.

There are lots of ways to do this. Some people try to shout over all the noise, just to get some attention. Other people try to gain their 15 minutes of fame through the Internet. Maybe we stomp around and just try to create controversy.

It is clear that just setting out with the goal of having an impact is not enough. Because there have been lots of lousy ideas foisted on humanity. There have been people who have made a difference, sure. But it didn’t make us better. There are plenty of people to whom a legacy means conquering the airwaves, invading our collective consciousness and just saying, Look at me!

The thing is, a meteor makes a big crash when it hits the earth. It leaves a big impact. But that impact is not useful. It doesn’t make things better. It’s just a big rock that makes a lot of damage, pushing everything out of its way.

Jesus said that the best impact we can have, the best things we can do, will be the things that no one notices. It’s not about stomping around, making a lot of noise, building a platform, getting attention through retweets and likes on our Instagrams. It’s tiny little unnoticed things that make a true impact.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Bhuddist peace activist and was a close friend of Trappist monk Thomas Merton, and I think he says it pretty eloquently: “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”

What if today we didn’t worry about making something that was seen by a whole bunch of people, but created something that made actually made a good difference to just one person?