If you had the choice, would you rather know you made a difference or feel you made a difference?
I’m pretty sure that most of us would pick knowing. We’d rather have some evidence that our actions made a difference. We like it when results are assured and outcomes are predictable.
However, I’ll bet that in practice most of us would rather feel we made a difference. That’s the feeling that we have worth and value. It’s the feeling we get when someone lauds us for our efforts or the feeling inside that we made the right choice and did the right thing. It’s hearing that heart-felt thank you. It’s a happy feeling.
Tonight, as I changed the school’s reader board, I knew I made a difference. I know for a fact that everyone who comes to school tomorrow will be reminded of the upcoming concert. I know my efforts did some good.
Yet, I didn’t feel like I made a difference. No one was with me to say thanks. I won’t be able to hear any conversations that are generated as moms and dads drop off their children. I won’t learn who made a change in their plans because they read what I wrote.
Plus, the weather was abysmal. It was windy, cold, and wet. In fact, when I got done I was thoroughly soaked and felt downright lousy until I got into some dry clothes. It was not a happy feeling.
Our feelings and emotions are powerful, so powerful that they drive us to do things that make us feel good instead of doing beneficial things. (Ask a dieter about his favorite chocolate, or a gambler about her problem) It’s easy to make up reasons why we don’t volunteer more, but it’s probably that we really want to do something with our free time that makes us feel good.
That’s not bad, but if we we want to make a difference, it’s important to know that our feelings can keep us from doing more if we let them.
When we give our time, especially when we volunteer, sometimes it doesn’t feel like we made a difference and we don’t always know we made a difference.
But know this and feel this.
Changed the school’s reader board. It was windy, cold, and wet.