Not everyone realizes that. Most people grew up being told they could make a difference, not that they do make a difference. As a result, some people believe they can choose to be neutral, making neither a positive nor a negative difference.
In practice, that just isn’t so.
Have you recently encountered a person who didn’t seem engaged? Perhaps he or she seemed wrapped up in his own private world, and you were left with the impression that you weren’t important enough to gain admittance. Don’t you hate to be ignored that way?
If you were to press that person, he might tell you he was simply being “neutral.” He might not have been helpful or interested in you, but he wasn’t doing you any harm.
But to you, this person’s behavior came across as indifference, and that is the number one killer of business loyalty and damaging to all relationships.
In practical terms, neutrality is a myth.
You can’t engage the world in a meaningful way by being “neutral.” The perception on the part of others will be that they don’t matter enough for you to engage with.
I’ll state my point again for emphasis: everyone makes a difference. The choice we all have is whether we want to make a positive difference or a negative one. The important question isn’t, “Did you make a difference today?” The important question is, “What kind of difference did you make?”
For instance, have you made a positive or a negative difference to:
—Your client or customer, who was in a pinch and needed immediate attention?
—Your son or daughter, who wanted you to read to him or her when you were busy preparing for the next business day?
—The stranger on the way to work who said good morning to you without getting a response?
The positive or negative impact you have on each person above vary only in magnitude. The principle is the same. When you choose not to make a positive difference, you almost always make a negative one.
Our actions and behaviors matter more than we realize. What we choose to do can improve, even if only in some small way, the quality of another person’s day or life.
You decide what kind of difference maker you’ll be. Choose to make a bigger, bolder and better difference today in your personal and professional life.