The Power of One Person
Now for a subject near and dear to my heart. It’s funny where writing ideas come from; if we are receptive, ideas are everywhere. The idea for this article came from a comment I received from Bruce Cogerson; in the comment he mentioned that our words have an effect on other people, and that led to me thinking about the general effect we have on the multitude of people we meet during our lifetime.
When you actually think about it, we literally meet thousands of people during our time on Earth. How do those people perceive us? What lasting impression do we give to people? Are we a positive or negative influence on others? That, my friends, is the subject of this article.
I have kicked around an idea for several years now, about how we are remembered after we die. What will people think of our time spent? Every single person we come in contact with leaves with a general impression of us. That impression may be formed in seconds or, in the case of those who know us well, the impression may be formed over years of contact.
With that in mind, I thought I would take you on a journey through my life. Let’s see what kind of impressions I have left on others. We will also get a feel for how many people I have affected through my words and actions.
We had a lot of neighbors who we interacted with daily as I was growing up. There were probably fifty people I knew, by name, in our little neighborhood. In school, counting grade school, high school, and college, I probably knew three hundred students who I interacted with on a regular basis.
I was active in sports, most notably baseball and bowling, so I would say over those pre-adult years I competed against five hundred and possibly more.
I also had contact with people who worked with my mom at the local Dime Store and my dad where he worked. Toss in another fifty people just to be safe. Then there was church; I played the organ at funerals and weddings, so holy cow (pun intended) I probably met another hundred at least and most likely more.
We can really hit some dizzying numbers when we talk about brief, casual meetings with strangers, at the store shopping, at recreation sites, at the movie, etc. What would be a conservative guess? At least hundreds but more likely thousands were met over the span of twenty-one years.
Every single one of them came away with an impression of me. What was that impression? Most likely a good one since I was a friendly, likeable kid growing up. I was courteous and helpful, and I was raised to be polite and sociable.
Okay, so far so good!
ADULT YEARS 21-30
Oh goodness, how many people did I meet through my jobs and social scenes? During those nine years I had five different jobs and also went back to college. I taught high school for two years and probably was in daily contact with 500 students daily. My other jobs took me on the road, meeting with customers. I can tell you that the students loved me and my customers and employers thought I was hard-working and reliable.
I was married when I was twenty-eight, and those early years of marriage were good, so the report card at this time, although incomplete, was still showing positive marks.
ADULT YEARS 30-50
I call these my dark years because alcohol slowly began to affect the way I dealt with people. No longer was I Mr. Reliable. No longer was I Mr. Happy Go Lucky! No longer was I a person who could be counted on for a kind word or deed. These were the selfish years, fueled by alcoholism and characterized as a slow descent into a personal hell.
How many people did I meet during those twenty years? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m sure a few would say they enjoyed knowing me during that time. I’m also sure that quite a few, including my wife, would say it was not a pleasurable experience being in my life.
Easily hundreds met and without a doubt I receive low scores for this twenty year period of my life. Garbage in/garbage out….I infected a great many people with my personal garbage and negative attitude.
Something to think about
- Lifestyle Choices: What Will Your Legacy Be?
The choice is ours what kind of legacy we will leave after our deaths.
ADULT YEARS 50-63
The recovery had begun, but it was slow at best. Most of this time was without alcohol, but still, the stinkin’ thinkin’ dominated my life and outlook. Consequently, I get mixed grades during this time. I taught a lot of kids over this period, and most of them were positively influenced by me, and of course I knew their parents. I dated a few women, got engaged, got married a second time, and struggled often.
People met? Thousands! I’m guessing a 50/50 split on positive and negative influence during this period. Without a doubt the last six years have been 90% positive as I learned to live a life of recovery; I am a completely different person these days.
WHAT’S THE SCORECARD LOOK LIKE BILLYBUC
I am willing to bet that during my sixty-three years I have been in contact with at least ten thousand people, and that may be a conservative estimate. I would also bet that of those ten thousand, 80% have positive thoughts about me, so 8,000 people have had their lives enhanced in some way by knowing me.. The flip side, of course, is that 20%, or two thousand, have not had their lives enhanced by knowing me, and I am not fond of that number. Much too high!
I have conflicting feelings and thoughts regarding those figures. It is heartwarming to realize I have had a positive effect on so many people. It is also slightly depressing to realize how many I affected in a negative way. 2,000 people who I could have helped or who I could have given happiness to but didn’t, because of my own short-sightedness and selfishness. Far, far too many in my opinion!
SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Well, happily I still have some time here on Earth. I have made amends to those people I hurt in the past. For those who have been adversely affected by my actions in an indirect way, there is nothing I can do.
What I can do is make sure from this day forward that I am a positive influence on all who I meet. How much time do I have left to get it right? One day? One month? One year? Twenty years? There is no way to know, but there is a way to know how I am going to treat others in the time remaining. I make a commitment to be a positive influence from this day forward. I will be the best friend, neighbor, father and husband I can be daily. I will have my stumbles, as we all do, but the general theme for this boy from this day forward is to be Mr. Positive.
My Ebook on Lifestyle Choices
- Lifestyle Choices: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
Lifestyle Choices: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
PIPO...Positive In/Positive Out
Take my poll please
What percentage of people have you had a positive influence on during your life?
THINK ABOUT IT
I believe it is so important for us all to understand the impact we have on other people. I am a firm believer in paying it forward, and also in kismet. I believe our positive actions towards others multiply and spread out into the world, like ripples on a pond. One act of kindness creates other acts of kindness. None of us live in a bubble separated from the world, and yes, what goes around comes around.
I can be the creator of a positive revolution in my immediate world, and so can all of you reading this. When I smile at a stranger on the street I may brighten their day just enough so that they, in turn, smile at someone else. When I reach out a helping hand to someone in need, they in turn will do the same when they meet someone in need. It is the gift that keeps on giving, but it has to start with us. We cannot sit on the sidelines and expect someone else to start the Kindness Revolution.
These are tough times. I am willing to bet that for most reading this article, these are the toughest times they can remember. The economy is struggling, people are out of work, people are grumpy and/or depressed….when will it end? How will it end? I rely on loved ones and myself to make changes that will be positive in nature. I cannot bemoan the current situation and do nothing about it; that would be the ultimate in hypocrisy.
How many people will you affect during the remainder of your days? Thousands for sure! Think about that fact for a second. You can bring positive vibes to thousands of people, who in turn will do the same because of your acts of kindness and compassion. That, my friends, is a revolution by any definition of the word. That, my friends, is a goal worth living for.
We all make a difference! We all matter! We all can be the flame that illuminates this world!
Will you join me? I can’t do it alone. My days are numbered and I want to know that my vision for a better world is shared by others. Here is the torch of kindness. Here is the torch of compassion. Here is the torch of empathy and here is the torch of love. Carry them with me and let’s brighten this world!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)