“It is easier to reach fame than impact.” These wise words were shared by the great Hans Rosling, global health professor and economic development extraordinaire, in a recent interview. For someone who has had such an impact on a variety of fields and influences in ways that are too many to count and are applicable across so many different disciplines–we should heed these words.

What are you striving for? It’s so easy to get distracted, disillusioned or just discouraged from the full potential and possibility of what we as individuals, teams and communities could achieve. And achieve isn’t the right word–but more so: experience, live, build and share.

We get comfortable. We feel as if, because people know who we are or rely on us–that means we’re having a long-term impact. We start to feel stress, pressure and anxiety to get X deliverable done–and expend energy focusing so much on the little things–we lose sight of the greater impact that’s possible. Sometimes I just wonder what would happen if we just took more time to talk to our neighbors, to hold the door open, to listen to people’s hurts, to encourage people to chase their dreams with purposeful abandon–just how much we could truly accomplish.

It’s easy to get lost in these thoughts (and I apologize if you feel I’ve rambled)–but this is why Rosling’s quote resonates. It’s simple and direct. So the next time you find yourself rushing, impatient, tired, proud, accomplished, rich–ask yourself if you’re feeding your desire to reach fame–or your desire to have an impact.

So How Do We Align with Impact?

Here are some initial thoughts:

  • Be a team player–not a team slayer. Words of encouragement go so far–and all it takes is one harsh criticism, look or experience for someone to be completely cut down.
  • Self-Awareness. Realize that how you walk, act, speak, listen (or not listen!) all communicate to others how you value them, their work and yourself.
  • Encouragement. The more I realize how much people are isolated anymore, the great need I see for a culture of encouragement. My mother is the ultimate encourager–she calls me, writes me, emails me, posts on my Facebook wall–words of encouragement. Encouragement can change lives, build bridges of understanding, create common ground and develop a deep sense of trust.
  • Take time to reflect. You can do this however you prefer–running, driving home, in the shower, before you go to bed. Reflection provides time for us to assess our actions and learn from them.
  • People matter. This might seem obvious, but people–no matter their gender, age, race, creed, income, education-level, etc. matter. We are all members of the global citizenship–let’s not overlook anyone.

Please share your experiences in the comments–let’s learn together and kick fame’s butt–by reaching (living!) for impact.

flickr credit: Kate’s Photo Diary