So You Want To Change The World?

I believe most of us are wired with a goal of doing something really big with our lives. Write a book. Get our name on a building. Develop something new. Make a mark on the world.  Do something really big.

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Big goals are great. They stretch us. They make us see over the horizon. As I have grown older and gained more wisdom, I have learned that big is relative. Kathy and I have traveled the world on mission trips trying to help organizations make the big impact. And what we have found is that change is really about the one person that you encounter. One moment. A single soul. A single life at a time.

 

This has been our recent revelation. We don’t tend to look big anymore. The truth is you cannot place a price on a soul. A life. A legacy. It’s priceless. The value is infinite. A single soul can shake eternity.

The photo above is a group of life changers. No miracle drugs, new innovations or amazing technology solutions. No senators or mayors or CEOs. This is a group of teachers who had a profound impact on my life. I won’t pick them out or use names, but there are three of my elementary/middle school teachers in this picture.

First, my science teacher. He was well liked by me and my friends and he laid the groundwork for my leadership style. You do not need to be a tyrant to lead people. You can lead with your heart. Its ok to let your feelings show. You can truly care and its a good thing! While learning from this teacher, we were able to develop a friendship that was a positive influence on my life. This teacher even took me and two of my friends on a weekend ski trip. This was on his time. Not a school thing. Just a weekend of fun. Impact? Yes- a life changer!

Second, my geography teacher. She would give us maps to color and require that we memorize the capitals of obscure countries. At the time I thought it was a giant waste of time. But later I learned that this memorization exercise was a precurser to what was required in college and beyond. She also showed me a picture of a great big world beyond my corner of the world. She introduced me to different cultures and political structures. I have become a lifelong student of geography and this was only possible from the effort of this lady. She changed my vision of the world. Opened up my eyes and expanded my horizon.  Big impact!

Third, my english teacher. She would spend countless hours diagramming sentences, correcting poor grammar and building my writing foundation, that has been a strength for me throughout my life. (ahem- please don’t grade this!) She taught me about rules and precision. She taught me that being perfect was really hard. A small mistake counts. And if you can communicate effectively, your life will be better. I am a direct product of her work. I have often been tasked by my employers to write because it comes easy to me and I understand the power of one word. I learned this from my english teacher. She put me on a road toward excellence in communication. And for this, I am eternally grateful.

These three teachers changed my life. They had a direct impact on my skills, abilities and my attitude about learning. They were instrumental in my personal value and pursuit of life-long learning.

So you want to change the world? I say do it one person at a time. No giant programs. Just one-on-one. Soul to soul.

Change the world?  Be a teacher and be a life changer!

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Smile Power

My daughter was born with a smile on her face.  She was, and still is, always smiling.  When she was a baby we would get comments about what a happy little girl she was.  Her smile was contagious and helped her make friends quickly.  When our kids were young we would frequently go camping and, before I could get the camper set up, she would be asking me to unload her bike as she already had found a friend.  In like five minutes.  Her smile continues to be big part of who she is.

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I tend to go in the other direction.  My natural look is to sport a serious face.  This may sound weird to some, but I actually have to remind myself to smile, especially when I meet new people.  My wife has had to field comments like “Is he angry.”  And, “I don’t think he likes me very much.”  Comments that are not at all flattering.

I used to think that it was OK.  I am who I am, right?  I’m just focused.  They just need to get over it.  But I have come to realize that it’s not right.  I shouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable when all I need to do is smile more and be a bit more engaging.  Smile.  Seems simple right?

I have come to realize that there is real power in a smile.  Last week I was at the airport toting my bag and backpack and surveying the perfect spacing of seating in the boarding area.  As I walked down an aisle, a woman looked up from her phone and eyes meeting gave me a big smile.  A simple, friendly, warm smile.  The airport is not always a very “smiley” place so it really caught me off guard a bit.  I smiled back and continued my search for a seat.  Her smile was a little “pick me up” and a moment to refocus.  Or maybe even unfocus?

Smiling has power.  Scientists have concluded that smiling people actually live longer, have better marriages, are more successful in business, win elections, and have greater influence than the general population.

Smiling works.  It has a way of disengaging tense circumstances.  It is a powerful, yet silent, introduction.  It builds trust.  It communicates peace and contentment.  Are you using your smile?  Unlike other leadership tools, it’s always ready and available.

My father always had a smile on his face.  I don’t know anyone that didn’t like my Dad.  He was always lighthearted and positive.  How do you want to be remembered?  Serious and focused?  Or smiling?  I know which one I would choose!

So what do you think?  Click “Like” if you agree!  Do you have a “smiler” in your life?  Click “Leave A Comment” and let us hear your story!