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I’ve always wanted to be my own boss.  Part of the reason is because I have never been my own boss, and I am bitten by “the grass is greener on the other side” bug.  But the other part of the reason is wanting to prove to myself that I have what it takes to strike out on my own.  This dream has been alive ever since I moved to the Bay Area and started to mingle with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs-wanna-be’s (myself included) in social and corporate settings.

But something is holding me back.  Actually, a handful of things are holding me back — it’s money, it’s talent, it’s time, it’s this, it’s that.  In fact, ever since I’ve identified these barriers, I have been trying to conquer every one of them by rationalizing why I would be triumphant in the end.  But no matter how hard I try to make sense of my fear, I am still not able to take the necessary first step.

Today, however, I found the following passage that clicked inside me. Curious why the passage resonated with me, I decided to dig deeper.  Turns out one of my biggest fears is actually me not able to make a difference with what I do.  This passage makes it super clear that if I don’t do anything, I DEFINITELY won’t make a difference.  It’s such a simple concept to understand, yet I never fully digested the meaning until now.  Now I believe I am sufficiently inspired to do something about my dream.  I hope these words will do the same in inspiring you to do more with your life too!

“I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the sermon “But, If Not” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on November 5, 1967.

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I’ve been told on numerous occasions that I have a beautiful smile.  Many of the comments came from men who may or may not be genuine with their words, but I recently decided to smile more.  I figured if my smile really is that beautiful, then why not share more of it with the rest of the world?

I have to admit, smiling doesn’t come naturally to me.  I laugh a lot, but I don’t smile half as often as I laugh.  I am not sure why that is.  Furthermore, I noticed that I usually walk around with a stern look on my face.  I am not sure where I picked up that habit, but it must have been a long time ago because that stern look just feels so natural to me now.

In deciding to smile more, I consciously try to put a smile on my face everywhere I go (commuting, working at my desk, reading a book, watching TV at home, etc).  At first it took some practice because I didn’t want the general public to look at my smile and think I am a crazy loon smiling at nothing.  But after a few days, I started to get the hang of “smiling to look friendly”.

So it’s been two weeks since I started to consciously smile more, and I am in awe of what a difference that small gesture made in my life.  For one thing, I noticed my mood has been more upbeat.  I am happier than I would’ve been given my current difficulties in life.  My outlook on life has also changed — everything seems more bright, the future more optimistic, and I feel that I can conquer obstacles thrown in my direction.  I don’t feel as if I am on cloud nine or that I am invincible, but I do feel good, confident, and empowered to face life’s challenges.  And it’s all because I started to smile more! WOW!

After my experience, I highly recommend everybody to try to smile more.  Your result may or may not be as dramatic as mine, but I think you, too, will be surprised at the power of a smile — your own smile!

On Friday, July 25, I wept for a man I’ve never met. I am sure thousands did the same. The man was Randy Pausch, most well-known for the “Last Lecture” he delivered. I recently finished his book also by the same title, and that’s what prompted me to write this post. If you enjoyed his lecture, you will find his book equally if not more inspiring.

In the book, he talked a lot about reaching out and making a difference in people’s lives. He said one of his goals in life had always been to teach young students to think for themselves, and he gave examples of how he made that happen on a one-to-one scale as well as on a one-to-million scale. Reading those words in the book made me want to reach out and make a difference in those around me too.

It’s one thing to be inspired, but quite another to realize the task at hand is daunting. Not wanting to be discouraged so easily, however, I turned to the web to search for assurance that I can make a difference. The following clip did just that for me. Humor aside, it shows how a few persons can influence people who don’t even know them. I need to remember and apply that to my quest in reaching out and making a difference. I hope it, too, can convince you that everybody can be an influence — yourself included.

What have you done with yours lately, and what will you do with the ones you have left?

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I was watching a talk by Kevin Kelly on TED titled, The Next 5,000 Days of the Web, when it occurred to me that time, when defined by days instead of months or years, paints a different picture and affords a new perspective.  The thought started when I asked myself how long is 5,000 days, exactly.  It doesn’t sound like a long time, yet 5,000 days is the equivalent of 13.7 years!  Somehow, there’s a disconnect in my brain between 5,000 days and 13.7 years.  Did you do a double take too?

My next thought that follows was, “how long is an average human life as defined in days?”  If you assume the average human life span is 75 years, then it translates to be approximately 28,000 days long.  I don’t know about you, but 28,000 days seem like a very short time!  It is especially so when you imagine and grasp that EACH passing day is one less from what you have left.  I think the thought and act of the daily count down makes me feel very mortal!  It also alerted me to the fact that I haven’t done much in making a difference in this world, yet I’ve crossed off more than 10,000 days of my life already!  My life is more than 1/3 over, yet I haven’t accomplished much!  It’s a very sobering thought.  Perhaps this is the first time in my life where I feel completely vulnerable!

As solemn as the thought is, it also serves as a wake-up call for me.  From now on, I am going to make sure I accomplish at least one thing everyday that would make me proud to cross that day off my total days left.  It need not be huge, but it should definitely be something meaningful to me.  I don’t want to spend the next 10,000 days of my life in oblivion.

How about you?  How many days have you crossed off, and are you proud of the way you spent your days?  How do you intend to spend your remaining days?  Make them count — all of them!