This morning I heard something. Something I can’t stop thinking about.
A friend of mine attended a funeral, and he overheard a conversation. A man was talking about something he heard on the radio.
Apparently, on average,
we influence 10,000 people in a lifetime.
Now, I know that a good percentage of statistics aren’t true, and we aren’t sure what radio station this man was listening to or if he “fact checked” everything (yes, I’m an English teacher).
But all of that is beside the point, because I believe what that man heard was absolutely true. And if 10,000 is just an average, many of us influence far more than that number in one lifetime.
It was as if a bowling ball could bounce out of the lane past the pins, and hit my head square between the eyes.
Everywhere we go, we are leaving a footprint. Not just a geographical or geological footprint – thought we need to be cognizant of both.
We are influencing people.
At school, at work, at church, at the gas station, at our barber, while driving, while bicycling, when we’re angry, when we’re joyful – we are influencing people.
And much of the time, it’s when we least expect it.
A while back I wrote a post about My Oprah Appearance: The Perfect Moment.
A few years ago, I had the humbling opportunity to be featured on the Oprah Show for some of my teaching strategies in the classroom (read the article above for more details).
I rubbed shoulders with Oprah, sat near Jerry Seinfeld, listened to Simon Cowell, Will Smith, Tom Hanks, and Tom Cruise among countless others. But the most impacting influence of that day was a lesson I learned from the limo driver who took me to the airport after all the excitement of the show was over.
I don’t remember his name, I don’t remember the details. But I remember what he said, what it taught me, and how long I’ll hold on to that moment. Seriously, you’re going to have to read it.
And it solidified what I can’t stop thinking about today.
There’s not much time for me to be on this earth. Not much time at all. But in that time period I have the capability of averaging 10,000 people who I might be able to forever influence by my words and my actions.
That’s a tall order – but whether I like it or not, I’m leaving a footprint. There is no choice in the footprint leaving part. But there’s a choice in WHAT KIND of footprint I will leave.
That’s why I want to live every day by my two mantras:
Choose Joy – realizing each day I’m offered a plate. I can’t control what happens to me, but I CAN choose how I respond to it.
Best Day Ever – today is the best day ever – because if today were my last day, I’d want it to be my best day.
Hopefully, those two mantras will rub off on someone I briefly meet, talk to, or even sit next to on a plane or bus. But I have to LIVE those mantras, not just say them. Being cognizant of that influence makes me think about how I’m living my life, how I address my day, and how I treat other people.
So, I challenge you. Live each day knowing that you are in the process of influencing tens of thousands of people. Many of them you will never know their names. But they will remember how you made them feel – and it could impact the very direction their lives are taking.
Not to be taken lightly, eh?
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