I was probably about six or seven years old the first time I remember thinking that I was going to do something extraordinary with my life.
I was going to change the world.
Looking back now that I’m older and “wiser” I can see how I may have mistaken that feeling for the same one we all had as kids. You know, the one that had us dreaming about being a superhero or an astronaut instead of an accountant or a construction worker. The only difference was that for me, the feeling never went away. I carried it with me my entire life.
As I grew up and set out into the world, I did some pretty great things. I performed on Broadway. Recorded with Grammy Award winning artists. Wrote books and articles. Spoke on stage with some of the best there is. And founded two successful marketing firms.
It was a resume that any mother would be proud of. And yet, from my perspective, I failed. Miserably.
I couldn’t point to a single thing that made a difference for someone other than myself.
What It Means to Change the World
You see, my definition of “Changing the World” meant doing something big. Really big. Like walking across the country for a good cause. Or helping to build a school in a third world nation. Like running into a burning building to save someone you have never met. Or climbing a tree to help rescue a cat.
But I did none of these things.
And because I did none of these things, I saw life through the lens of “I don’t matter.” I could die right now and with the exception of a few people that are close to me, the world would continue to spin as if I was never here. As if I never existed.
Staring that in the eye was much too painful, so I did what any rational person would do. I ran away. I moved my entire family twelve hundred miles away to Tampa, Florida.
And That’s When Things Began to Change
These thoughts that were swirling around in my head began to surface on my blog around the time we decided to move. You see, this blog was originally about search engine optimization. And it was incredibly unsuccessful. I had roughly two readers at the time. And I’m pretty sure I was both of them.
But my voice began to change. I started to write about this “thing” that lived inside of me that I couldn’t seem to get rid of.
This need to matter.
And suddenly, I went from two readers to ten. Then from ten to one hundred. And then from one hundred to one thousand. With huge spikes in between.
Apparently, I was not alone.
And That’s When I Received the Letter
About a year and a half after changing the direction of my blog, I received an email from one of those readers. His name was Seth Eagleton. And he was a photographer.
Seth was inspired by one of those blog posts I wrote. Enough so that he quit his job in order to move his family into a cabin in Montana for several years in order to live out his dream of documenting the last of the twenty five glaciers in that region. They were melting and would be gone soon. And there were no documented pictures of them.
In his letter he told me his story and included:
“What you are doing does matter. At least to me. What you wrote almost a year and a half ago still rings in my head and encourages me to keep going.”
His letter was more than a page long. He told me all about his family and what they were doing. How he gave up a cushy job to live out this dream. And how I had somehow played a small role in it all.
He ended his letter by adding:
“I hope this helps you know that you are changing the world, even if it is only one little seed of wisdom at a time in lots of people’s lives.”
Attached to his email was a picture of what looked like a car covered in snow with my name written on the side of it. But it wasn’t a car covered in snow. It was one of the glaciers. And my name was written on the side of it to commemorate the role I played in this world changing adventure he and his family were on.
And That’s When I Got It
It was in that moment I finally began to understand.
You don’t have to walk across the country for a good cause. Or help to build a school in a third world nation. You don’t have to run into a burning building to save someone you have never met. Or climb a tree to help rescue a cat.
All you have to do to change the world is do one thing that matters.
One thing that matters for your family. Or one thing that matters for your community. One thing that matters for the Internet. Or one thing that matters for the world.
Hug a stranger. Hold someone’s hand as they take their last breath. Write a book. Deliver meals. Teach someone to read. Run a 5K for someone who can’t. Donate clothes. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Make someone laugh.
Or write a blog post that means something to somebody you’ve never met.
Because that is how you change the world.
Doing one thing that matters.
So, what’s your one thing?
Please share it in the comments below and let’s start changing the world!