Last week, one of my readers asked a great question.

In reference to a post that talked about standing out from the crowd so that we can make a difference, Linda asked, “How do we know if we’ve made a difference?”

I’m not sure that there is a definitive answer to this question as different circumstances would give different indicators, but here’s my attempt at identifying some of the indicators that we are making a difference in the world around us:

  • People you work for and with regularly thank us for the contribution that you’re making.
  • The individuals that you are mentoring make measurable progress in their endeavours.
  • Benjamin Zander measures his positive influence by the number of “Shining Eyes” that are around him.  How many shining eyes are around you?
  • Fewer children are starving and dying from preventable diseases in developing countries as a direct consequence of your actions.
  • You hear people start to use your stories or positive sayings in the office to influence others.
  • Your audience wants you to keep talking and invites you back for more.
  • Your children grow up aspiring to be just like you and everyone else thinks that’s a good idea.
  • You have just as many assists as goals.
  • Friends bring your books back, thanking you for sharing your resources.
  • Readers leave nice comments on your blog explaining the impact of your work.
  • Every time others come to you with their shoulders slumped, they leave with their head held high.  When they come without hope, they leave positive about the future.  When they come to feeling terrible, they leave feeling as though someone else cares.  When someone comes to you to celebrate a great achievement, they leave feeling validated and ready to do more great work.
  • Your ideas are implemented.
  • Your ideas aren’t implemented, but they inspire other ideas that are.
  • People start to see you as an expert in your field and come to you to learn more.
  • Finally, if you were to be hit by a bus tomorrow, there would be a large room full of people (starting with your spouse and children) specifically outlining the positive influence that you had on their lives through your actions.

These are my thoughts, do you have any other ideas on how we know if we’ve made a difference?

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