“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The more I live, the more I see things I once thought were impossible, be accomplished. I believe one of the best ways to make a difference is to believe in yourself and others. You can do anything with God’s help. You can make a difference in the world in many ways, if you believe. I think belief is mentioned so much in the scriptures, because our beliefs guide our thoughts which in turn guide our words and actions.
Here are some ideas on how to make a difference.
How to make a difference
Believe you can do something no one else has done.
Your unique abilities, situations and desires give you opportunity to make a difference in a way no one else can. Mark Zuckerberg made a difference by believing he could create the best social media site in the world.
My life: This year as I began to learn to make websites, I realized I had a unique ability to relate the scriptures to just about anything. Having a brother and a friend who knew how to create websites, I decided to try to make a difference by creating Scripture News.
Compete with yourself, more than with others.
If you compete with yourself, you’ll continuously improve. If you compete with others you’ll never be much better than your competitors. Michael Phelps made a difference by training enough to win eight gold medals in a year. If Michael had compared himself to others, he may have stopped pushing himself a long time ago, after he won his first race.
My life: When I exercise, I try to grow stronger each year. It doesn’t matter to me how much stronger I get, only that I’m growing stronger. This has helped me push myself to do grow more than had I worried only about being stronger than others. For example, over this last year I’ve tried to do one set of pull-ups each weekday. Had I only exercised until I became the best at doing pull-ups among my friends, I may have stopped pushing myself when I reached 25 pull-ups. However, because I tried to continuously improve I’ve been able to grow to be able to do over 40 pull-ups (43 is my best).
Do good things, even if it’s awkward.
Sometimes people will not do things that lead to success, because it’s socially uncommon. The founder of Little Giant Ladder (Hal Wing) made a difference in the world, by going to great lengths to promote his company. One time he climbed to the top of a ladder wearing a Scottish outfit and yodeled in order to get people’s attention at a trade show.
My life: To market Scripture News, I’ve used a variety of uncommon tactics (at least among bloggers). For example, I’ve handed out hundreds of flyers, printed on t-shirts, conducted an in-class survey about the website idea and even held a homemade sign on a street corner in downtown Provo.
Be productive while waiting.
If we don’t use our time waiting, we’ll waste a lot of time. I remember hearing Dallin H. Oaks reads the newspaper at stoplights. My boy scout leader, who worked for a while driving trucks, listened to audio books as he waited to arrive at his destinations.
My life: One thing I’ve done while waiting for the computer to load is read textbooks. While waiting for something to start I find it productive to read, stretch or meet new people. I also try to read books as I walk home from school.
Worry what the Lord thinks, not what others think.
In the end, we will miss out on a lot of opportunities if we fear what others think. If the Lord inspires you to do something, go for it- He is in charge of everything. If you listen to His Spirit you can’t go far wrong. While attending Harvard, Stephen Covey made a difference by going to Boston Common to preach the Gospel. His fearless testimony helped him become the man he was.
My life: One of the reasons I’m working on websites is I feel inspired to pursue them. I may be mistaken, but as far as I can tell, these are projects I should do. Sometimes people say I should give up, but I plan to pursue these projects until the Lord tells me otherwise. My main concern is that the Lord is pleased with what I am doing.
Wake up early, even if you don’t need to.
Imagine having two more (productive) hours each day. That day can be tomorrow if you go to bed early tonight and wake up early tomorrow. Scooter Plowman, a BYU graduate, made a difference by completing three majors (240 credit hours) in eight semesters. I asked him how he did it- Scooter woke up at 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m. every morning and did homework for a few hours, the went to campus. He did school work until 6 p.m., spent time with his family from 6-10 p.m. and then slept until he repeated the process the next day. When I interviewed Scooter, he was taking 29 credits.
My life: I wake up around 4 or 5 a.m. There have been times I have written a scripture news article before going to work at 6 a.m.
Be kind to people even if it makes you late.
In the end, people matter most. There will be times when you will have somewhere to be and you will see an opportunity for service. Be a Good Samaritan and take time out of your schedule to help someone. I remember when the director of the Perpetual Education Fund, John Carmack was running late to an event. Even though his group arrived late, Carmack made a difference by showing kindness to those around him.
My life: In the summer of 2006, I felt impressed to talk with a student in my Music 101 class. I talked with him for about 15 minutes and found out he studied Broadcast Journalism. Because he took 15 minutes to talk with me, he made a major difference in my life by helping me discover what I majored in.
See the potential in others, even if they don’t.
Perhaps one of the greatest attributes of a leader is the ability to see the leader in others. People generally live up to our expectations of their potential. By putting our faith in others’ ability to succeed we give others the chance to succeed. Even if they don’t succeed, at least they will know we love them and we will know it was not our doubt that held them back. The Austin family (Lehi, Utah) made a difference by seeing potential in their children. They homeschooled their eight children. The oldest three children started college at 12 and graduated at 15. Timothy (about 17) is in medical school, trying to help paralyzed people control their limbs again.
My life: I will forever be indebted to my scout master, Anthony Osborne who made a difference in our lives by seeing great potential in us, despite our immaturity. After about 1.5 years of being our scoutmaster, Anthony helped almost all of us (about 15) become eagle scouts. Because he saw us as future leaders, many of us now strive to become such.
Choose to never act in anger.
Think this is possible? Of course it is. Anything is possible with the Lord. While we cannot live an entirely perfect life, we can learn to become perfect in our control of ourselves in choosing to never shout or yell at others. It just takes practice. I’ve heard of presidents of the LDS Church who were known to never raise their voice at anyone.
My life: My wonderful sister taught me that we can control our emotions (to a large degree). Since my sister taught me such a valuable principle, I have learned to not shout when I’m struggling with emotions.
“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people – your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way. ”
- Barbara Bush
Personal Notes: I believe the best way to make a difference in the world, is to focus on helping those around you, one by one. You can pray and be inspired to know how to make a difference.