The Difficulty of Sustained Impact

It is fairly easy to make a difference. Especially in this day and age as we are spoilt for choice.

If you want to volunteer, there are millions of organizations that need your help. If you’d like to contribute to a not-for-profits, there are websites like Catchafire that enable you to do just that. If you think you have something of value to contribute and would like to do so from your home, you can start a blog, participate in an online community… you get the picture.

I don’t think this has changed much over the course of history. I think it was always fairly easy to make a difference. The number of options available today are just a reflection of this era of abundance. A couple of centuries ago, you might actually have to walk out to the street and do something good for someone yourself. Now, you can choose to build a website for someone who’s made doing good their life’s work.

Many of us talk about making a difference. My point is that making a difference isn’t the hard part.

Making a sustained difference is.

That’s the part that requires commitment, persistence, dedication and patience. And that’s where the magic lies.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s easy to forget that the TED talks we see online today that capture and share millions of ideas has been in existence for 30 years. Seth Godin has been blogging for 20. And there are many stories of those who stuck around long enough to be given an opportunity to make a difference.

I remember quoting a Jim Collins quote ages ago on a Fred Wilson post.

‘Greatness is not primarily a matter of circumstance. Greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline.’

To which, Fred said ‘I’d add ‘applied consistently over a long period of time.’

And he would know.

Whether you are at the beginning, the middle or the end of the journey, let’s keep chipping away, one day at a time. It’s not a 100m dash. It’s a long marathon but one where we get to pick the sights, sounds and people we run with.

It doesn’t get much better.