Have you heard the University of Texas at Austin graduation commencement address given by Admiral William H. McRaven? If you haven’t I suggest you take the time to. I know a lot of people have focused on his number one lesson of start the day by making your bed. It’s a great take away. In fact, all ten of his lessons that stuck with him from Navy SEAL training are absolutely amazing and definitely noteworthy. However, there was something else that stuck out to me.
Admiral McRaven quotes Ask.com saying that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime. And if each person changed the lives of just ten people – and those ten people changed the lives of 10 people – then in five generations that graduating class will have changed the lives of 800 million people. This simple fact jumped out at me. The huge impact of changing ten people’s lives can make on the world.
And I started thinking about it. Have I changed the lives of people in my life? Have I done enough to make that kind of impact on the lives of people that I have met?
Did the bag full of groceries I brought to the homeless man and his dog impact his life enough to make a change?
Did the time I paid for someone’s groceries in front of me impact their life enough to cause a change?
Does the coffee I pay for the car behind me every time I get coffee impact that person’s day enough to change the outcome of their day?
When I’ve bought memorial jewelry for my friends who have suffered a loss or a note of encouragement changed the lives of the friends that they’ve gone to?
Did the inspirational cards I sent to a group of amazing women change their outlook on themselves and their lives?
When I’ve done things for people I’ve never considered that it could change their lives. I firmly hoped that it would brighten their lives even if only for a day but never thought for a second that it would change their lives.
So now I have a goal: to change someone’s life for the better. I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to do this or how I’m going to do this, but I do know that if I can change just one person’s life in an impactful way, I’ll not only change their life but my own. I hope that I can be the change in at least one person’s life.
But more than changing a stranger’s life, I hope that my children seeing the acts of kindness I perform will change their lives. I hope that they will see the way I treat strangers and that they will do the same in their lives. I love to tell the story of when D was about four years old and gave his silver dollar from the bank to a homeless woman because I didn’t have any cash and he wanted to help her. I hope his heart remains big and he remains generous because in this world we need more people like that.
Won’t you join me in spreading the good? Even if it’s a small gesture, like buying coffee for the person behind you in the drive thru line. I hope that one day I have the ability to make one giant change…. But for now I’m going to keep doing the little things for people and hope that I can be the change in one person’s life.