Want to have an impact on this world?

I want to have an impact on this world.

That was my motivation for a while. Impact was my measure, impact was my compass.

But as important as impact was, I didn’t stop to ask: what is impact?

First definition I found is:

“the striking of one thing against another; forceful contact; collision”

Impact implies suddenness. One moment, nothing; then boom, impact.

But that’s not how most impactful things happen, is it? Social change does not happen from one moment to another. The world doesn’t change its direction on the snap of one’s fingers.

Instead, change happens gradually. Word of mouth, one person to another, one message at a time; that’s how impact happens.

From a business perspective, we might think of the great innovators like Steve Jobs and the iPhone, representing an impactful technological advance, but not think of the almost 31 years of work it took Apple to get to the iPhone.

So, If I’m looking for impact, I ask: how can I have an impact today? No, now. I take the short-term view.

And I miss the crucial piece of the puzzle: the slow, gradual work, the process, the spreading of change through society.

“Human felicity is produced not as much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.” -Benjamin Franklin

Impact is imprecise.

Consistent work and determination aren’t. Those should be the aim, impact is only their by-product.

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