2 min read

Let's talk : When does anything make a difference?

At the desk, 9:31 a.m.

I asked yesterday, while I was up to my eyeballs in stuff for the online store, if anyone had anything they would like to talk about. My buddy Mark, the walking man, asked: "When does anything make a difference?"

This is a question I've spent a lot of time hovering around. It's a question that has a lot of pat answers, and at the same time, no real answer. I think it's a question that all people who want to use their lives well ask in the middle of the struggle, the battle to make a difference. In fact, I had a similar conversation with Stanley Jordan after a concert.

Here's how I break it down:


There are three people involved in the idea of making a difference. First, there is you - trying to make a difference; Second, there is the person or people you're trying to make a difference with; and third, there is the person or people or beings that get to decide that a difference was made. All three positions are inherent in the question itself.

If I am in the first position, the person doing, then I will never ever know within my own experience that I made a difference.In a real sense, I can only know and understand what I do. For example, if I am an author, I can only know what I write. People might tell me one thing or another about my writing, but in real time, I only know my own efforts.

If I am in the second position, the person who needs a little change, I only understand the change I make myself.  Mark the poet, Claudia the author, or the amazing Stanley Jordan can inspire me, but they cannot make me change. Only I can make my own change.

If I am the third person, the one who decides, I'm most likely someone far ahead in the future. I might see what you did or what I did and point a finger at it to say, look you did something. Or, like most people, my efforts and your efforts will be washed away in a tide of change. Take for example the Tsunami's in Japan. Did you know that every 800 to 1,000 years, there is a massive Tsunami in Japan that kills thousands and wipes out entire cities?  This is simply a fact and one that's well known to Japanese. And still they placed a nuclear reactors on the ocean front. The person who installed and started up the reactor was probably a hero to those who had inexpensive and reliable energy. The people who are cleaning up Tsunami's wreckage of the nuclear reactor, once hailed as a wonderful innovative tool, are heroes saving the day today. Who gets to decide who was right? Without inexpensive energy, Japan would not have become the industrial powerhouse it is today. Without clean up, there is no future for Japan.

So the question is: when does anything make a difference?

My answer is this: Everything makes a difference every day to everyone. This is my answer for myself.

I only have control over what I do, over the efforts I make in this world. I cannot control how my efforts are received. I mostly don't understand how those efforts are received. I can only do what I do and let go of the outcome. The outcome belongs to the receiver and history.

What do you think?