It’s striking in my coaching how many people have expressed the desire to ‘make a difference’ – and then become immediately stuck about how, where, and to whom.
We all want to contribute, to leave a legacy, something to be remembered for.
But finding out what that is can be taxing.
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that asking the question “where can I make a difference?” is already off target – and prompts a lot of fruitless casting about for causes or problems or broken things.
I’ve discovered that focussing on positions to defend or things to mend or situations to fix not only invites overwhelm, it also assumes that there IS a solution – and that I must be the only one to offer it. Or, that I better be the only one to offer it, otherwise I will have failed.
Then, OMG, the pressure! The massive burden of responsibility as I not only bust a gut trying to solve the problem, but also trying to be seen to be solving the problem AND making sure that there is enough perception of the problem for my solution to be appreciated.
It is exhausting, soul-destroying and utterly ineffectual – largely because it’s an approach totally concocted by the ego-mind wanting to prove itself and demonstrate its worth.
In some ways I think this explains a lot of what is awry in the world at the moment. Lots of people are so busy making a stand for this and that, running themselves ragged and getting bogged down trying to convince everyone that there are MASSIVE PROBLEMS over which we all need to stop everything we’re doing and give ourselves a good hiding.
Now I’m not saying that there aren’t massive problems in the world. Nor am I saying that none of us need to bother taking any responsibility.
What I am saying is that zealously pursuing the compulsion to be the one to make a difference isn’t the optimum approach.
The truth is we cannot and must not nurture the delusion that there are ‘things that are to blame’ and that nominating ourselves as the attackers of ‘things that are to blame’ will solve the problems. Besides. once you start on the blame game it’s a short step to directing it inwards and then you’re stuffed.
So how can you contribute more? How can you make a difference – as surely every single one of us can?
The first step is to determine what’s driving you. Is it your ego or your heart? One way to figure this out is to pay attention to how much rationalisation and justification is going on. If there’s a lot of problem-related outrage, or any kind of reasoning about ‘what’s in it for you’ to help ‘solve the problem’, then it’s definitely not going to be a heart-based motivation.
When we make decisions from the heart they tend to be very quiet, very certain and very clear. They tend to announce themselves to us fluently in a single sentence, or a single word, with no explanation or logic. They feel like Truth.
If however you can identify an overactive ego calling the shots then the wisest thing to do is pause and quieten it down. Go for a walk or a run, get out into the garden or the park, sit next to a tree or a stream or a fire, meditate, write in your journal, reflect on what’s pushing you. Don’t listen to the persuasive justifications and seductive spin-offs.
How easy it is to talk ourselves out of our heart’s desire – and how often we do it. How often we put more words and excuses and reasons ‘why not’ in its way. All this is is resistance of our Truth. It is the efforting of ego as opposed to the appreciation of heart.
If you can drop the resistance and allow your heart to speak instead you will be amazed by how quickly you will become inspired. The next right step will immediately reveal itself to you. And you will understand an intrinsic, hidden logic to your action, rather than a grandiose, super-imposed rationalisation.
So when you are moved to want to make a difference, don’t follow the usual script. Instead do something different – and focus on your heart’s desire.
It could be that the biggest difference to be made is to yourself.