Several years ago, my department came up with the idea of having behavioral standards based on values. Back then, we had the practice to send leadership thoughts among the leaders in order to develop ourselves. And in one of the writings I had posed the following question:
When people pass through your life will you make a difference?
Little did I know that years later I would be writing about intentional living.
Leadership experts like to talk about adding value to people when seeking to make a difference. But what is adding value?
I think the idea of “making a difference” start us on the practical path. It gives context. Making a difference is about leaving a lasting effect.
We must ask ourselves…
- What adds more value? Giving an order/solution or guiding someone through the process of solving it for themselves?
- Do you learn more from someone giving you the answer or someone helping you think through the problem?
Personally, I try to solve things on my own and only look for help when I’m stuck. However, it is important to recognize I don’t want a solution response, I want to learn by listening to a different perspective.
Let’s dig deeper and combine the concept of “adding value” and making a difference.
Here are a few mistakes I have made when attempting to make a difference in someone else’s life.
- Shared my expertise and wisdom any time I had the opportunity regardless of whether they wanted it or not.
- I was the first to jump with solutions without knowing the context.
- By treating others based on what I valued.
- Giving expecting something in return like prestige or respect.
Unfortunately, these approached rarely work. They don’t work because adding value is all about the receiver’s life.
Before we can make a difference in someone’s we must know the answer to questions like:
- What exactly is causing them to be stuck at this moment?
- What do they value most?
- What would help them long term?
- What are they dreams and passions?
- How do they think?
Granted, the answers to these question aren’t need every time but I think you get the message. Making a difference is about helping someone else take the next step in their journey.
The “step” could be…
- Sitting quietly beside your grieving friend
- Listening intently to your coworker’s personal story
- A word of encouragement at the proper time
- Challenging someone’s self-deprecating habit
- Helping a colleague brainstorm solutions to their problem
- Cutting your neighbors yard while they are out of town
These are all relatively small acts. What makes them special is the fact they are addressing a specific need for the receiver.
Adding value is about investing the time and effort in others, in order to help them solve life on their own.
I’ll end this note with a simple question: the next chance you get to make a difference, will you give a quick answer and check it off the list or will you take them on a journey?