Make a Difference

Outward-focused accomplishment and what we can do for others is not just a nice idea. It is essential if we are to achieve our BIG goals. What can you accomplish that will move you forward AND help other people to move forward, too?

Title Photo by Artem Podrez

Making a Difference?

This is a tale of two people – Gene and Jeanne. Both are motivated to achieve and are working on some BIG goals. But they have two different perspectives and two different approaches and, while they both may reach their objectives, the end results will be far different. Let’s take a look.

Meet Gene. Gene is driven to achieve. He is the first person in the office every day and the last one to leave. He is productive and efficient — he knows what his priorities are and he doesn’t let anything (or anyone) keep him from doing them. Gene is laser-focused on accomplishment and plans to be VP by the time he’s forty.

Now, here’s Jeanne. She is the first one up every morning so she can help her kids and her husband get a nutritious breakfast and be ready for work and school in plenty of time so they aren’t rushed. On the way to school, she converses with her children, listening to their plans for the day and gently offering guidance if they’re having any problems. At work, Jeanne is a team player and she always has time to help her colleagues if they ask her. Because of this, she is gaining a reputation as an expert and a “go-to” person in her company.

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Admittedly, these are two extreme examples but I use them to delineate two different views and approaches to accomplishment. Both our friends are making a difference, but Gene is primarily making a difference in his own career, while Jeanne is making a difference in the lives of her family and co-workers (and most likely in the lives of many other people).

How about you? What kind of difference are you making?

Another Perspective on Accomplishment

Today, I invite you to try another perspective on accomplishment. This type of accomplishment is outward-focused rather than inward-focused. It’s how you make a difference in other people’s lives, as well as your own.

Perhaps you’ve heard the acronym WII-FM: what’s in it for me? But there’s another, and I think a more important question to ask: what’s in it for them?

Be a Hero

In fact, I am asking you to consider being a Hero. But we need to be clear about the real meaning of hero.

Hero, as one of my mentors, Brian Johnson, has said does not mean “killer of bad guys” or slayer of dragons. The original meaning of hero in ancient Greek was Protector. A hero has strength for two, and love and compassion are the hero’s tools.

A hero doesn’t ask “What’s in it for me?” but “What’s in it for them?”

What’s In It For Them?

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” (attributed to Theodore Roosevelt)

Here are some ideas to consider if you want to make a difference to others.

If you want to accomplish things with and through other people, you must show them you genuinely care about them. You show them not just with your words but with your actions. In fact, what you say accounts for very little when put up against what you do.

“If you can’t say something good, don’t say nothing at all.” ~ Thumper (remember Bambi?) Don’t get in the habit of criticizing and complaining. And it will become a habit if you indulge in it. It may give you a little boost at the time, but is damaging to your brain and to your
relationships with others.

Practice active listening. Don’t be that person who is simply waiting for the other to quit talking so you can jump in with your opinion. Listen to what the other person is saying. Pause before you reply. Repeat back what you think you heard. If necessary, ask questions for clarification.

Acknowledge the accomplishments of others. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” (attributed to Harry S. Truman) None of us can do much by ourselves. Even the most independent person cannot achieve anything on his or her own. Let people know what’s in it for them by praising them and their contributions.

The Ripple Effect

I know I’ve shared this before but it fits here so well. This is a parable of stones thrown in water.

A young child sat by the bank of a pond. She held a number of small stones in her hand. The child tossed one of the stones in the water and watched as ripples went out across the pond in ever-growing circles – larger and larger. She tossed in another, then another, and watched in delight as the ripples grew and ran across the surface of the water, sometimes overlapping, sometimes converging and then moving away from each other. The ripples moved all the way across the pond, much further than the child could have tossed one of her stones.

When you shift your focus from your own accomplishments to helping others achieve, it’s like throwing pebbles in the pond. The fact is you’ll probably never know the full extent your help and encouragement have in the world. But hopefully, you’ll come to realize even small endeavors can result in big changes.

The smallest deed has a ripple effect [Browne] so show kindness and share your wisdom, knowledge, and love. Remember, there is always something you can do to help, and even a tiny effort ripples out into the world. [Browne]

make a difference

How To Make a Difference

Now, since we are speaking about accomplishment, we naturally want to make sure our BIG goals are outward (rather than inward) focused. If you recall, one of the requirements for a SMART+Plus goal is that it is generative, that is there is a concern for promoting the well-being of others. This type of goal content leads to happiness. Power-themed goals – a bigger house, bigger car, promotion at work, more money – do not. This isn’t to say you should not have those types of goals, but be aware that they often detract from happiness, rather than enhance it. It is difficult to make a difference to others when your goals are inward-focused.

In addition to getting your BIG goal right, here are some other smaller ways accomplishment can make a difference. These are ways to toss pebbles into the pool and create ripples.

Share positivity. [Winter] Don’t get mired in the muck that is frequently shared on social media. Instead look for the uplifting and inspiring stories that are just as plentiful, but harder to find. One way to share positivity is to share the Excelerated Life™ with your friends.

Clean up. [Winter] A small but significant action to make the world a little cleaner is (1) don’t litter, and (2) pick up litter where you see it. If you’re walking in your neighborhood or in a store parking lot and see trash lying about, pick it up and deposit it in the nearest trash can. Keep a pair of rubber or latex gloves handy if you don’t want to touch it and know that every tiny effort helps to keep our living spaces cleaner.

Be kinder. [Winter] Practice doing small, anonymous acts of kindness for others. As a bonus, acts of kindness benefit both the doer and the people who observe the kindness. And, as Martin Seligman tells us, “scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.” [Seligman]

Use your skills for good. We all have different skills, things we have learned and practiced and perfected. How we use our skills can have a positive effect on others, may not affect others at all, or may have a negative effect on others. It’s a choice we make, sometimes unconsciously. Pay attention and engage your skills for good.

Right Here Is a Good Place to Start

I have this quote on a sticky note affixed to my laptop: “Right here is a good place to start.” I got the quote, as far as I can remember, from reading Pema Chodron. The idea is simple. Start where you are with what you have and you will be given what you need.

Are you ready and willing to make a difference in your world through your outward-focused accomplishment? Right here is a good place to start.

Make a Difference

“We need to smile more, speak to people, go out to people. Everything in the world we want to do or get done, we must do with and through people.” ~ Earl Nightingale

Outward-focused accomplishment and what we can do for others is not just a nice idea. It is essential if we are to achieve our BIG goals, as this quote from Earl Nightingale makes clear. Everything we want to do, we must do with and through other people. Or as Zig Ziglar once said: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

So begin where you are to ask and answer the question: what’s in it for them? What can you accomplish that will move you forward AND help other people to move forward, too? The world needs “people who have come alive.” Be the Hero the world needs. That’s how you embrace your Excelerated Life™!

Think about some of your accomplishments that were outward-focused achievements that helped others as well as yourself.
Share your experience by leaving a comment below.

Excelerated Accomplishment™ — achieving meaningful objectives — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life.


Browne, Sarah. “4 Simple Ways to Make a Difference And Make This World Better.” Lifehack. Lifehack,. Web. September 3, 2022.

Nightingale, Earl. “Lead The Field.” PDFDrive. Asaha Inc., . Web. Date July 17, 2020. PDF file.

Seligman, Ph.D., Martin E. P. Flourish. New York: Free Press, 2011.

Winter, Catherine. “10 Things That Even You Can Do to Change the World.” Lifehack. Lifehack,. Web. September 3, 2022.

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