How To Make All The Difference In
The World

 All the difference in the world

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.

“Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are fresh water turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

Photo by: Shoebappa

An Idle Truth About Our Idols

The Idle Truth About Our Idols

I met a self-made, multi-millionaire for drinks and dinner last night.  Chris is the owner, CEO and principal engineer for a private software company that nets 20 million dollars a year in profit.  He’s an elite businessman with a big heart.  The compassion and chivalry he shows his employees and clients is unmistakable.  He has been an idol of mine for many years.  And as we sipped wine and chatted, he carried himself with the refined composure and confidence you’d expect from a man of his stature.

Then his wife joined us.

This was the first time I met Victoria, and she was a bit different than I had envisioned.  She was beautiful, yes, but she complained about everything.  According to her, the waitress was too slow, the centerpiece on the table was ugly, and her brand new Lexus doesn’t drive as smooth as her girlfriends’ Mercedes.

Chris grew increasingly irritated with each negative comment that rolled off Victoria’s tongue.  His expression turned sour, his posture deteriorated and his cheeks blushed with frustration.  After just fifteen minutes at the dinner table with her, Chris, the man of power and prestige whom I idolize, had completely lost his poise.   

“Where’s the waitress?  This bread is stale.” Victoria huffed under her breath.

“The only stale thing I perceive is your incessant bitching!” Chris yelped.  “Will you please stop whining and just allow us to enjoy a pleasant evening for once?  For heaven’s sake!”

She gave me a wide-eyed glance, as if to say, “Do you see the crap I have to put up with?”  He gave me a similar look a moment later.  The tension between them stirred my nerves.  I wanted to excuse myself, but I didn’t want to be rude.  Needless to say, the remainder of the evening was rather uncomfortable.

My Brain Malfunctions

Chris called me this morning and gave me some ingenious advice on how to solve a contractual business dilemma I told him about last night.  He then proceeded to apologize for his behavior at the dinner table.

“The work involved in running my business comes naturally to me.  I love what I do.  I’m successful because I understand all the inputs and outputs, and I can precisely tune the production gears to acquire a set of desired results,” Chris said.

“Yeah, I’ve seen you in action,” I agreed.

He continued: “But when it comes to long-term, intimate relationships, my brain malfunctions… and I inevitably fail.”

Multidimensional Human Beings

All people, even our idols, are multidimensional human beings.  Powerful business men, polished musicians, bestselling authors, and even our own parents all have dimensions of success and dimensions of failure present in their lives.

Our successful dimensions usually encompass the things we love most.  We are successful in these dimensions because of our love, because we naturally spend the most time perfecting and nurturing what we love.

And this is the part of our lives we want others to see, the successful part that holds our life’s passion.  It’s the notion of putting our best foot forward.  It’s the public persona we envision as our personal legacy:  “The Successful ABC” or “The Award Winning XYZ.”

But behind whichever polished storyline we publically promote, there lies a multidimensional human being with a long list of unprofessed failures.  Sometimes this person is a bad husband, or fails to choose a suitable wife.  Sometimes this person laughs at the expense of others.  And sometimes this person takes their eyes off the road and rear-ends the car in front of them.

So Do We

The incident at dinner last night reminded me of this idle truth.

Our biggest idols and childhood heroes are just human… with all the flawed dimensions humans have.  And we shouldn’t feel let down when we are faced with the reality of these flaws, because they have always been there.  It’s just part of being human.

Sometimes our idols act like obnoxious, emotional, fools.

But sometimes so do we.

And sometimes they argue, cry, and fall flat on their faces.

But sometimes so do we.

Photo by: Mike Baird

8 Ways to Inspire Others

Ways to inspire others

This guest post was written by Mike King, the author of Learn This.

Have you ever looked up to someone or admired something about another person that really inspired you?  Well, there are certain qualities about a person’s character that enable them to inspire others, and there are steps you can take to awaken these same qualities in yourself.  Here’s how:

Stick With What You Love

Inspiring others isn’t easy.  The success rate of those who attempt to inspire is incredibly low when the measurement of success is based on the percentage inspired as opposed to the actual number inspired.  Huge motivational seminars with thousands of attendees typically make a real lasting impact in only a few people’s lives.  If you look at those same odds for yourself, you might easily be discouraged if you hope to inspire others by doing something you don’t truly love to do.

If, however, you do love something dearly, you won’t care how successful you are at inspiring others and you will continue to persevere (on many levels) no matter how many times you fail.  When people doubt you, and when people laugh at your failures, you will continue to do what you love because you love it.  So having that depth, that love and passion for something, will protect you from all potential failures.

Will you make the most of failures and continue to drive your passions?  Will you inspire others even when you don’t succeed at first?  What do you love?

Think Big and Noble

Once you establish a foundation for which you have great passion, start thinking big.  How many people could you potentially inspire based on your niche of expertise?  Are there ways you can expand your impact?  Don’t look to inspire one person, look to inspire hundreds!  Remember, this goes back to the low success rate percentages, as you will likely not succeed with working to inspire at a very small level.  You need to think big and have many people available to inspire.  Fifty people out of a thousand is only five percent, but it’s still fifty people.  Share your ideas with as many people as possible and allow them grow your influence beyond your initial ideas for inspiration.

Thinking big is not only about inspiring more people, but also about the impact you have on each person.  Don’t settle on making minor changes in a person’s life if they need a total makeover.  Instead, aim to change everything.  Look to inspire in many areas instead of just one.  Think big about the positive impact you might have and this will give you a much better chance of leaving some kind of impression.  If you promote a hundred ways for someone to change or heal and they take on just one, you have still helped them!

Another useful way to inspire others is to support an established noble cause or practice, such as saving the environment or feeding the poor.  It’s much easier to gain attention, followers, and support for noble causes than it is for individual gain or what some might think are more selfish reasons.  An offer to change something that has a positive impact on the global society is far more attractive to onlookers than some short lived, localized venture.  So keep those areas of influence as big as possible!

Be Expressive

Passion is something you must have and be willing to express it if you really want to inspire others.  You can gain a lot of influence just by publically expressing that you are excited and passionate about a topic.  You make it much harder to inspire others if you are boring an unenthusiastic.  Expressive passion is contagious because of the curiosity it stirs in others.  You’ll get people wondering why you love what you love so much.  Naturally, some of them will take the time necessary to understand what it is about the topic that moves you.

Practice What You Preach

You need to remain actively involved in the field in which you intend to inspire others.  It’s the age old saying of “practice what you preach,” and it holds true for anyone trying to inspire others.  Ultimately, if you really want to inspire others to do something then this ‘something’ should be a big part of your life.  You don’t necessarily need to be an expert at it, but you do need to be passionately involved.

Keep an Open Door

You must always maintain an open invitation to everyone you encounter.  Personally welcome others, and listen to their needs.  Once you are involved with them, keep it personal and always maintain a healthy line of communication.

Offer a Guiding Hand

The best part of inspiring others is to have interest in not only what you do, but to also recognize your followers and have an opportunity to see them grow and change as well.  Offer to share your personal stories, teach them things you’ve learned along the way, talk about your failures and achievements, and ask them questions about their own progress.  Help them avoid the mistakes you’ve made in the past, and always maintain a positive outlook on their forward progress.

Be Consistent

Consistency in actions, information, and moral standards is also extremely important.  If you constantly change your methods, your interests, and the field in which you hope to inspire others, you will have little success.  People want to see and associate your ideas with a reliable plan that they can follow.  You need to demonstrate this consistency through your actions, but you can also compliment your actions with inspirational story telling.  Story telling allows you to reproduce important past experiences as a means to guide and inspire others.  Make sure use stories that embrace the consistency of your actions.

Stay Positive

The process of inspiring others comes with no shortage challenges and negative naysayers.  To get past this, you must stay positive, work past failures, and present optimism openly to others no matter what the circumstances are.  Doubt is a very contagious disease, and if you show any of it, you can easily destroy any positive influence you might have instilled in a person.

And there you have it: My thoughts on how to inspire others.  I’d love to hear your feedback, thoughts and comments on the subject.  Which of these points have the biggest impact to you?  Have I left something out?  Do you have any personal experiences or inspirational stories to share?

Also, check out these great books for more ways to inspire others:

Mike is the author of Learn This, a productivity blog for self learning, career leadership, and life improvement tips.  He writes articles about finding passion in life, goal setting and positive thinking.  Please subscribe to his RSS feed here to read more of his articles.

Photo by: Giampaolo Macorig

The Unwritten Love Poem

Almost ten years ago, I wrote an unsigned love poem to a girl I hardly knew.  I told Brianna, among other things, that life was a blaze of magnificence, that she made it even brighter, and that someday I would spend everyday with the prettiest girl in the world.

When she read the poem she got goose bumps, smiled from ear to ear, and daydreamed about the gentleman behind the poetic prose.  She showed it to her sister who sighed and said, “How romantic… I wish someone would write me a poem like that.”  Then she showed it to her parents.  Her mom smirked, but her dad frowned and said, “Don’t waste your thoughts on a foolish boy hiding behind a silly poem.”  Finally, she let her new boyfriend read it.  In a grim voice he said, “Let me know when you find out who wrote it, because I’d like to give him a piece of my mind!”

Despite reactions ranging from enthusiasm to aggravation, she kept the poem and still has it in her possession today… nearly ten years later.  Her younger brother, Jose, recently found it neatly folded and tucked between two pages of a photo album she keeps in her den.

I know all this because Jose told me.  He and I met in school ten years ago and we have been best friends ever since.  He was, frankly, the reason I wrote the poem.

A Second Glance

“Your sister is pretty,” I told Jose during my first visit to his home.

“Forget about it,” he said.  “Brianna has buff guys fighting for her affection everyday.  You couldn’t hold her attention long enough to get a second glance.”

“I could if I wrote her a poem,” I replied.

“She has guys writing her romantic crap all the time,” he said.  “She’ll just toss it out with all the other failed attempts.”

“Not mine,” I insisted.

“You’re crazy,” he chuckled.  “Go ahead and try.  Make me laugh!”

I wrote the poem that evening and mailed it anonymously the next morning.

I Thought I Was Special

The poem I wrote Brianna wasn’t genuine, at least not in my mind.  I wrote it because Jose doubted me.  Sure, I thought Brianna was pretty, but I didn’t want to settle down with her.  At the time, I didn’t even know her.  And as it turns out, she and I have almost nothing in common.

The last genuine love poem I wrote went to a girl I met a month before I met Brianna.  She was on the varsity soccer team, and her beauty was majestic.  I wrote Sara a poem and slipped it into her locker the same afternoon.  I confessed my desire to be a soccer ball, and risk being kicked around, if it was the only way I could catch her attention.  She caught up with me the next morning and told me I didn’t need to transform into a soccer ball to catch her attention.  I asked her out on a date a few minutes later.

Our first date went well.  But the next afternoon Sara spoke to a few of her teammates, two of which I had previously dated.  She was appalled when she found out that I had written Jackie a poem about innocent kisses blown her way in the breeze, and Carol a poem about the lucky sunshine that glistens off her skin.  Needless to say, a second date was not in our future. 

“Stupid me…  When I read the poem I actually believed you were being sincere!  I thought I was special,” Sara screamed!

“I was… and you are,” I mumbled as she walked away.

But Sara had a point.  Although I had never summoned the desire to be a soccer ball in any of my previous poems, I did use similar analogies that carried the same fundamental connotations of flirtatious affection. 

I wasn’t trying to hurt her.  I thought she was gorgeous.  I thought she carried herself with amazing grace.  I wanted to be around her.  I wanted to be hers.  She was the most perfect girl in the entire world… and I felt this way a hundred times before.

No Two Words Would Rhyme

Roughly six months after I met Brianna, I met Angel.  I realized shortly thereafter that she moved me in a way the others had not.  I couldn’t consciously pinpoint it, but I knew our relationship felt special.  Even after the initial excitement fatigued, she kept me captivated in awe.  I was wide awake in the second inning for the first time in my life.

Angel and I have been together for nine years now and I appreciate her more and more with each passing day.  Yet despite my love for her, she’s never received a love poem. 

It’s not that I haven’t tried.  I tried, once, to write her a poem about the depth and beauty of her hazel-green eyes.  I stumbled over my words.  Another time I tried to write her a poem about the mornings I wake up early just to watch her sleep.  I failed again.  And just last month I tried to write her a poem entitled “Amidst an Angel.”  But no two words would rhyme.

Nine years and not a single love poem written.  Of course, Angel knows I love to write, so she has periodically questioned my motives for never writing her a romantic piece.

Yesterday afternoon I found myself trying again.  I tried to poetically recreate the story of our first encounter.  I wanted to make it cute.  I wanted to make her smile.  I wanted to make her cry.  I wanted to typify our tale in exquisite prose.  Nothing came.

The Most Profound Affirmation

I fell asleep last night thinking about my predicament.  Have I lost my touch?  Has someone cast an evil spell on me?  Or is there a more profound, philosophical explanation?


I dreamt I was sitting at round table in a dimly lit room.  There was a man sitting across the table from me.  He looked a lot like me, only his hair was peppered with silver and his skin was worn.

“I’m here to answer your question,” he said.

“What question?” I asked.

“The one you’ve been asking yourself for years,” he replied.

“What’s wrong with me?” I huffed.  “Why can’t I write Angel a love poem?”

“Perhaps you can’t write her a love poem because you realize, subconsciously, that leaving it unwritten is the most profound affirmation of love you can make.    Because you truly do love her, and true love cannot be translated into words.  Because words alone could never do her any justice.”

I nodded in agreement.

He went on: “The sad truth, of course, is that this affirmation of love will always remain unnoticed.  Because there is no visible output to notice… no poem to read.”

My eyes popped open. 

Inspired to Write

It was 4AM, but I was wide awake and inspired to write about the epiphany I had in my dreams.  I leaned over, kissed Angel on the forehead, and rolled out of bed.  I powered on my laptop and opened the word processor I use for blogging.  After gazing at the blank white screen for several minutes, I placed my fingers on the keyboard and titled the page “The Unwritten Love Poem.”

Photo by: DoUJa

How To Forgive Yourself and Others

How To Forgive

This is a guest post written by Nathalie Lussier of Billionaire Woman.
Nathalie writes about wealth, joy, and living a fulfilling life.

Pain, resentment, guilt, anger, and fear… all of these feelings bubble up inside of us when we think back on our mistakes or the mistakes of those dear to us.  Sometimes the only healthy way to move forward is to look back at our past and inject forgiveness into our lives.

Some say “forgive and forget.”  Others say “forgive, but never forget.”  No matter which path you choose, the act of forgiving is the first step.  Here are three simple ways to bring more forgiveness into your life.

Forgive Yourself

In general, we tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others.  If you’ve made mistakes in the past, it’s time to let your spirit heal by forgiving yourself.  We all do things we aren’t proud of.  Understand that you were doing the best you could at the time, with the experiences and knowledge you had accessible to you.

Self-forgiveness tips:

  • Pick an area of your life you would like to work on.  It could be failed relationships, family problems, or business mistakes.
  • Make a list of all of the people you might have hurt along the way.  This is the toughest part because we tend to bury some of these stressful memories.  So be honest with yourself and take your time.
  • After you’ve compiled your list, systematically go through each person on the list.  Think about the situation, validate the circumstances, and forgive yourself for hurting them.   As odd as it may feel, apologize aloud to yourself, “I forgive myself for hurting this person,” and take a deep breath.  Once you’ve completed this practice you’ll instantly feel a slight sense of relief.

Remember, the simple act of acknowledging your mistakes is always half the battle.

Ask for Forgiveness

Once you forgive yourself, it’s also important to clear the air with others.  A face to face apology is always the most effective approach.  Depending on the situation, you might be afraid to ask for forgiveness.  But if you don’t ask, you will never feel the relief of being pardoned for your mistakes.

If you absolutely can’t bring yourself to ask for forgiveness in person, I still recommend writing a letter of forgiveness.  The reason writing a letter works so well is that the process of writing the letter actually assists you in forgiving yourself by reducing pent-up, internal feelings of guilt.  It lets you express your thoughts and process all of the internal drama that has bottled-up in your mind. 

Tips for writing your letter of forgiveness:

  • Don’t do it out of spite, or because you think it will elevate you to higher moral ground.  No good ever arises from deception.
  • Realize that a letter can’t undo the damage.  A letter of forgiveness might not be enough to change your relationship with the recipient, but it’s a significant step in the right direction.
  • Explain your rationale, but don’t make excuses for your behavior.  Own up to your actions and take responsibility.  Offer to fix the situation, or find a way to make it up to the person.
  • Make a sincere wish for the well-being of the person you hurt.  After many years of festering emotions, you may have come to hate the act of thinking about this person.  Stop being selfish!  It’s time to be honest and compassionate.

Hopefully, just writing the letter will allow you to move closer to a positive resolution on all fronts.

Forgive Others

If you’ve been hurt in the past, you don’t need to keep suffering.  Whether or not you’ve gotten closure is irrelevant.  You have the ultimate power to clear the air by simply forgiving those who have hurt you.

You should make a list of all of the people who have done something that still troubles you to this day. The list might start out small, but as you unwind your memories you are bound to find more people and incidents than you were previously aware of.

Your mind represses these memories in an effort to preserve your conscious sanity.  The drawback is that you probably haven’t processed these events properly.  So while you aren’t actively thinking about them, they are quietly tugging at your consciousness and robbing you of mental energy.

Tips for forgiving others:

  • Close your eyes and picture the person standing in front of you.
  • In your mind’s eye, explain to them how you felt then, how you feel now, and what happened during those hurtful times.
  • After you’ve stated your views, let them acknowledge your pain.  Watch their reactions and wait for a response.  There’s a good chance they will understand your point of view.
  • Then hug them and tell them that you forgive them.  Yes!  Really do this with all of your emotional might, it’s a powerful process!  Release them from your troubled past and let your thoughts come back to the present.

After completing only a few of these processes, you’ll find yourself breathing deeper and interacting differently with these people.  Regardless of whether or not they are still a part of your daily life, you will forever see them in a more positive light… which will ultimately make your future brighter.

Photo by: Kalandrakas