We are brought up to see success as having impacted other people’s lives in some way. Helped them improve, given them something they need, provided them a service. None of this is a bad thing!
We then compare ourselves to others and feel that we haven’t made enough impact. We know this partly because we haven’t been as rewarded financially. We know this because we haven’t managed to buy enough stuff.
So we aspire, we become driven, we set aside unimportant things like spending time with families or in nature in order to focus on making more impact, making more money, buying more stuff.
We then do this collectively as society. It is seen as an essential aspect of modern civilisation to be achieving progress, seeing things as wanting and needing improved, and then setting about making an impact on the world. We are encouraged to do this in our millions.
And there’s the problem. Our planet is suffering as a result of all our efforts, our industriousness, our busyness. We aspire to make an impact – but more often than not we end up leaving a stain.
Maybe it’s my age but I am less and less concerned with making an impact.
5 thoughts on “Making an impact”
I think there might be two types of impact: hard and soft.
Hard is the one I think you’re talking about – measured in statues and bank accounts and glittering prizes. And I would totally agree that that is pretty fruitless.
But soft impact I do think is valuable – and more easily achievable – in that it’s the impact we can have by simple things, like being there for nearest and dearest, or smiles, or small gestures of kindness. Kind of like the old teacher adage that students will never remember what they learned from you but will always remember how you made them feel.
As I said in a response on Twitter “It’s maybe dancing on the head of a semantic pin but these days “influence” seems gentler and less dogmatic to me than impact or control. It assumes people will find their own ways, albeit perhaps with a little help.”
The sustainability pendulum needs to swing … perhaps so far as to say having zero “impact”, particularly on our planet … influence is a good word … though making a positive difference to people’s lives is perhaps how we should express what we are trying to do.
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Euan, I am hoping that younger people will still want to make an impact. I also hope it is a different impact and not personal but societal and environmental. The few I have spoken to seem to display this intent.
That “impact” is already provoking its own pushback and reactions. I was hoping to convey the idea that it is in thinking that the world, and more importantly “other people”, should be the way that we think it should and that this justifies us using enough “force” to have impact that causes the endless to and fro between groups and factions that in the longest term doesn’t get us very far.