How to Make a Difference in 60 Seconds or Less

Earlier this week, my friend Norma Doiron shared this with me:

“Every one of us is either a plus or a minus in people’s lives,” says John C. Maxwell. The positive people usually know it — wake up each day and consider, “Who can I add value to today? It’s an intentional lifestyle…”

And it got me thinking about how easy it really is to make a difference in other people’s lives.

IF you live intentionally.

With most things in life, we get feedback.  And we’re usually motivated by some external outcome.

We publish a newsletter for our clients because they will read it, benefit from it, and do business with us.  We fix dinner because we’ll hear about (and potentially feel bad) if we don’t.  We excel at work so that we’ll get a promotion or a raise.   And so on.

To make a difference in someone’s life requires intentionality because it often comes without much, or any, feedback.

Let me share a story with you.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the baseball game with my kids, who are 3, 4, and 7 years old.  My boys (3 and 4) were anxious to see the fireworks, a St. Louis Cardinals’ tradition when a player hits a home run.  My 3-year-old, Justin, had asked the man sitting in front of us where the fireworks were before the game even began.

When the first home run came, of course the crowd came to its feet.  I lifted Justin up in the air so he could clearly see what he came for.

When the next home run came, we had just returned with food.  My hands were full of nachos and ice cream as everyone around us stood up.  The man in front of us, who was on a “guys’ night out” with three of his friends, had been tolerant and friendly to my overly social little ones.

Seeing my predicament, he lifted Justin up high so that he could again experience the colorful night sky.

The experience lasted less than 60 seconds.  But no less than a dozen times since then, Justin had told me about how “that man lifted me up in the sky.”  His memory of that small gesture is so vivid and important to him.

I have some regret that I’ll never be able to share with this stranger how he was able to make a difference to my 3-year-old that night.

And so too can YOU make a difference . . .

The sparkle in Justin’s eyes when he tells me about the man makes me think about times when a stranger smiled at me at just the right time, or a friend extended a helping hand just when I needed it most.  Even among friends and family, these small gestures go unnoticed or at least unrecognized.

There’s generally no external reward for small and often random acts of kindness.  Which is why it requires an intentional practice.

Always striving to be a “plus” to everyone you encounter can make someone’s day.  It can help someone change her life if done consistently.  It can establish you as someone people just feel good being around.

The benefits to the other person are clear.  And while such service to others is motivation enough to work to make a difference, you will find that the benefits to your personal life as well as your business make it worth the small effort.





  1. Wow. What a GREAT question – “Who can I add value to today?” How would my life be different if I asked that question every morning for the next month?

    I have stories like that where something a stranger said 20-30 years ago is something that is still vivid in my memory today – it made that much of an impact. You never know how you might affect the people around you – your words could be the very thing that keeps somebody going for the next month – or year!

    • I know exactly what you mean Kelly. I have those little bits of kindness from people that I will never forget, which is exactly why I try to go out of my way to make a difference to people. You never know what impact it will have, or whether they’re having one of those days when they really need your help! I also find that it helps me if I’m having a tough day – being nice and helpful to people makes you feel better no matter what.

  2. I loved your story! I try to add value to as many people’s lives every day, as I can. I love using my social networks to do so. When I am out, I love going out of my way to make someone’s day special. Yesterday, while I was at the post office, an elderly lady asked me if I got the Ronald Regan stamp on my letter to be mailed at that location. I said, I did…when she got up to the counter, she asked and they didn’t have any more. So i went up to her and handed her one that I had and smiled at her. She was grinning ear to ear 🙂 Thank you, Jennifer for a very inspiring post!

    • That’s a great story Susan, thanks for sharing. It’s always amazing to me that people (myself included) are so touched by such small yet thoughtful gestures. Makes me think we all need to be nicer to each other!

  3. Jennifer! (-_-) I’m really honoured that my quote produced this awesome reflection on your part… See? I did NOT know that this less than 60 seconds would bring about this great article… would touch your heart. Wowsers! Isn’t it too cool how God uses this one and that one to nudge & inspire us…?

    Sometimes, we ask ourselves why we do what we do, not really seeing the result of our hard work. But we will never know this side of heaven WHO our words, small gestures or deeds have touched & made a difference.

    I Know this stuff – in my heart. Yet I’m always still in awe when it happens. Thank you my friend for this article. You brought tears to my eyes… x0x0x

    Norma Doiron @ the LEARNED Preneur! ╰☆╮

    • Thank you, Norma! I try to live intentionally, because I then find that inspiration is all around me. You are a particularly wonderful person to connect with – always bringing great advice and inspiration for healthy living in body and soul.

  4. Great article and I loved your story too! Like Susan, I try to add value to as many people’s lives every day, as I can (online and offline). Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Anastasiya. Your mission to add value to others is clear to me, and you definitely succeed! I love connecting with you for this reason, you are an inspiration and your positive energy shines right through the computer!


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