"One person can make a difference. In fact, it's not only possible for one person to make a difference, it's essential that one person makes a difference. And believe it or not, that person is you." Bob Riley.
The United Nations observes International Volunteer Day on December 5, 2013. It is the time for us to think about volunteerism and nonprofits to make a difference to the world. There are many people who are born and dead everyday but we remember great leaders like Florence Nightingale, Frances Hesselbein, and Mother Teresa to name a few who made a significant difference to the world through their valuable contributions and sacrifices.
Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp served the wounded soldiers in the war and brought great respect to nursing profession. Despite being born rich, she contributed her best and served people and lived like a legend beyond her times. She was a very cool and calm leader, with a pleasant disposition, which helped patients to forget their sufferings and pain. She made a huge difference to the lives of the wounded and sick soldiers. More than a century ago, she proved that women were not the "weaker sex" and that they were capable of great acts. She became a nurse despite stiff opposition from her parents. In those days, nurses were not treated with respect. It was believed that drunkards and people with little merit joined the profession as a last resort, when they had no other means to earn their livelihood. If the nursing profession is respected today, it is due to her dedicated services.
Frances Hesselbein was the CEO of Girl Scouts of USA, the largest organization of girls and women in the world, from 1976-1990. Besides being an outstanding leader of non-profit organizations, she has a continued commitment to develop leaders of all ages. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America's highest civilian honor, in 1998. She is the President and CEO of The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. She has received many honors for her contributions to Girl Scouts and leadership, such as USA's Lifetime Achievement Award and the International Leadership Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. She is the recipient of over 20 honorary degrees, and her work on leadership and management is respected globally. She is a remarkable leader who made a difference to the lives of others through her contributions. She is a gracious woman leader, a servant leader, and a thought leader. Her actions will inspire all of us to work and contribute without looking for rewards.
Mother Teresa, who was the mother of compassion, is another leader who made a significant difference to the world. She served the poor, sick and orphaned for four and a half decades in India. She dedicated her entire life towards society. All these leaders stand out from others because of their valuable contribution to the society. They never lived for themselves, they always lived for others.
Gift Your 'Time'
You can contribute your best by helping people when they need your care and attention. It may not be in terms of money. It can be through various means and ways. The biggest gift you can give to others is 'Time'. Hence, invest your time to the needy and hungry. Make them special to bring smiles in their faces. In fact, that is the need of the hour to the global society. Remember, what goes around comes around. If you give your best you get the best. Hence, invest a part of your precious time to uplift the people around you to make a difference in their lives.
My Passion and Vision
"Lives of great men all remind us. We can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
In my personal life, I spend a reasonable amount of time to accomplish my lifetime ambition to build one million students as global leaders to provide meaning to my life. During my teaching and training programs, there are students who follow my ideals and ideas, and seek my career guidance and counseling. Whenever I find students with a positive and right attitude and passion for learning, I invite them for discussion, clarify their queries about career and life, and provide leadership training programs to inspire them. In some cases, I include their names in the dedication list of my upcoming leadership books to make them special and inspire them to be great achievers.
I have tentatively created a blueprint to build global leaders through 5 levels. In the first level, I invite students who are interested in my passion and vision for discussion and counsel them. I share with them my passion and vision to build one million students as global leaders. If I am satisfied, I include their names in the dedication list. I will look for their contribution towards my cause and their commitment apart from their performance. If I find that they contribute to society through nonprofits and Non-Government Organizations (NGO), I will promote them to the second level. In the third level, I provide them free leadership training programs depending on mutual availability and time. If I am satisfied, I will elevate them to the fourth level where I intend to feature their interviews with photos in my authored book outlining their aspirations and expectations; and principles and philosophies. At the fifth level, I will take 50 best brains who contribute with a heart to serve society and introduce them into my international connections to enable them to grow as global leaders. At the fifth level, all the 50 students must take a pledge to build 50 more students as global leaders during their lifetime without any consultation fee. In this way, I want to make a difference to the world as a volunteer.
Society is a collection of individuals. When all individuals think collectively to contribute to others, they can make a difference. Margaret Mead rightly remarked, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Hence, you can make a difference in the lives of others as an individual by leading from the front. Be a giver and always contribute something to others with a big heart. Your contribution helps the society prosper, and you stand out as a legend thus providing meaning to your life.
Make a Difference
Many people want to make a difference in the lives of others, but don't know where to start. Here are some small things you can do to start with.
Compliment people by highlighting their earnest efforts. It boosts their self-esteem and self-confidence. Don't indulge in artificial praise or else you will lose your credibility. Your compliment should be objective, specific, and should be given as soon as you notice the positive behavior.
Gift something to others such as stationery, flowers, books, chocolates or other small things. It makes them special. They will develop a positive attitude towards others.
Have patience, care and respect for others. Give something back to society either through money or through your services.
And, above all, develop an attitude of gratitude towards the good others do to you.
In today's world, most people are caught up in the "I, me, myself" syndrome and "What's-in-it-for-me?" mindset, despite the fact that giving has been deeply ingrained in our socio-cultural psyche. Hence, it is essential to work hard to cultivate the attitude of giving something to society. Whether other people acknowledge your efforts or not, you must deliver your best as an individual. Just as many small drops make a mighty ocean, many small efforts can make a major difference to the society and to the world.
If leaders had not sacrificed in the past, our world would have been worse off than what it is now. If we want our future generations to live in a better world, then we must contribute our best to the welfare of society, without expecting anything in return. We must believe that making a difference is an investment for the benefit of our future generations. Hence, on the eve of 'International Volunteer Day', let us take a pledge to contribute our best to make a difference to the world.
"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." Nelson Mandela.
Prof. M.S. Rao
International Leadership Guru
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