Gen. Colin Powell, the first African American to serve as the US Secretary of State, once told of a story about the immigrant vendor selling hotdogs in the streets of New York. Being a New Yorker and an immigrant himself, he understood the challenges of being an immigrant, much so as an African American. Every time he has an opportunity to go back to New York City, he always takes time to grab a hotdog from one of the immigrant vendors in the streets of Manhattan. In the past, every one seems to recognize who he is because of all the security staff and police accompanying him anywhere he goes. After returning to private life, he went back to New York City, this time on his own and without anyone accompanying him. As he was about to pay for his hotdog, the vendor recognized him and refused to take his money. After which, the vendor replied, “America has already paid me and my family because I was able to have my own business and make a living.” That statement struck Gen. Powell that he goes about telling this story every time he delivers a speech.
Whether we like it or not, the things that we do every day do make an impact whether you’re a manager leading a team or a stay-at-home mom. It’s not a question of whether or not we’re making an impact but rather how we want to make an impact. Executives and celebrities tell stories about how their parents encouraged them to pursue their dreams, teachers who didn’t give up on them, supervisors who believed that they can accomplish far beyond what they can think of. The list goes on and on. I get to tell the story about how my mom exemplified honorable work ethic and hard work, how my pastor friend Alfred taught me that excellence must be a lifestyle and how my wife’s wise words of “your time will come” kept me going.
How we make an impact on someone else’s life may not end up on tomorrow’s newspaper or the next New York Time’s best seller’s list. But I’m pretty sure they will end up as stories getting told by your kids, the next generation of leaders or potentially as a story embedded in a TED talk.
Question: Do you have a story about someone who made an impact in your life? What about something you did for someone that is worth sharing to others. You can leave a comment below.