Do I Matter?

I think most of the people in the world are not big picture people. If they were, they'd all be advancing quickly from high school student to CEO of a large corporation. They'd all be competent. They'd all be overworked and underpaid. They'd all be making strategic plans or starting their own side businesses.

Most people in the world are only comfortable knowing their relative importance in relation to a scope that lets them BE important, without having to grow or change or do anything uncomfortable. You know? It's the idea that if most people looked into Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide series) slice of fairy cake and saw their relative importance to the whole universe, REALLY, they'd go insane. People need to feel needed-- on some level, in some area of their lives. It's part of what makes us human.

For a lot of folks, this shows up as a complete lack of interest in business practices or advances that occur in a business other than their own office. An administrative team might set a goal that only takes into account their position relative to similar businesses in the same geographic location (the same town, the same state). Or a coworker becomes so preoccupied with looking good compared to YOU that he/she doesn't realize that when you BOTH do a good job and look good doing it, the company benefits, and therefore you BOTH BENEFIT. It's the driver who doesn't care if he causes an accident so long as he (or she) gets to be the one in front. The fastest. The coolest. The one getting the most attention. And that is one way to feel important.

But it is a limited view. The reality is that we can each make a big difference in the world-- be needed or be valued for our contributions at work or at home-- but we have to work at it. We have to take risks. We have to keep learning and growing and stretching. We have to keep giving to others. And we have to change our perspective.

Look around. Who do you respect for what they gave? Not for how much they got, not even for how much they gave-- but for the quality of the thing they gave away to help someone else. I see doctors who have a day job, and a free clinic for people who could not otherwise receive quality medical care. I see teachers who start college funds for every child who passes through their classroom, creating an expectation and a sense of possibility in each child. I see a teenager who volunteers at the local retirement home on a regular basis. I see the big brother who shows respect and appreciation to his younger siblings for their accomplishments.

Now, look at yourself. What do you have to give that would make you feel good about your impact on the world? Do you want to get active in a city-wide committee to improve living conditions or parks or to change bad laws? Do you want to devote a certain number of appointments or products in your work week to folks who couldn't afford what you do or what you make otherwise? Do you want to bring flowers to a stranger who never gets visitors at the local nursing home once a month? Do you want to start a carpool for soccer practice, to save gas and reconnect with your child's daily life? Maybe you just want to work on being a safer and nicer driver when you're on the road.

Believe it or not, the littlest things make a big impact on the world. If it is given freely, and with an honest desire to do something to make someone else's life a little better-- you will feel better about your place in the world for doing it. Take another look at that piece of cake. See that tiny speck that is you in the universe? See how it's tinged with purple? Now look-- there is a spider web radiating out from you of glistening purple gifts. The good feelings you gave someone else. They show up. They show up in the universe long after you cease to exist.

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