Living a Life of Positive Impact

What kind of life do you live?

I have been extremely busy for the past four weeks. There were various commitments with my full time work. As a result, I haven’t had any chance to write anything.

I am glad though, that at least I kept writing my diary. There are plenty of things that I would like to share with you from what I have learned that I hope may add value into your life.

As part of a product launch of my company, I have been tasked both as the interpreter and hospitality team for our guests visiting from US. One of them, a white-haired middle-aged man, has been traveling with me around Indonesia to visit our branches. Having travelled together for a week, we had talked about all kinds of topics. Other than work-related issues, we also converse about many other things. He was about the age of my dad so I was able to relate to him on many things.

One of the things that he talked to me about was related to mentoring. He believes that, as an older generation, he is responsible for the lives of the young people he meet. We both saw an incident where a drunk middle-aged man began swearing at people, making everyone around him uncomfortable. As we discussed what had happened, he commented that the man was being irresponsible and was not setting a good example for young people to see. It was not because of his drinking. It is more because he did not drink responsibly.

I resonate with him to a great extent. Since we were young, we have been blessed with meeting all kinds of people who either set the right example, or have made a positive impact in our life. They may be our parents, our elder siblings, our teachers, our managers, our bosses, our spiritual leaders, or if we’re lucky to have at least one, our mentors. These people, some voluntarily, some by profession or due to obligation, may have made a big dent in our lives. Directly or indirectly, there are people whose lives have changed us and made us the person we are today.

When it comes down to it, therefore, we will make an impact into people’s lives eventually. That impact may be good. It may also be bad. The question, thus, is not whether we made it or not. The question should be, are we being intentional about it. Without being purposeful and making a conscious effort to add value into our younger counterparts, we will only bring about unintended impact, which is of no value at best, or negative consequences at worst.

You may be thinking that you have nothing to offer. You may think that your life has been uneventful and there’s nothing you say or do that is of value for anyone. I have come to the conclusion, however, that you should never underestimate how big an influence you can be to someone. The words you say and the action you do may change someone’s lives without you realising it.

I believe it is crucial to carefully pick and choose the words you utter to someone, even if that person is a complete stranger. Don’t ever think that the words that leave your lips are vain words. They can either hurt or heal. They can either create or destroy. They can either encourage or discourage. They can influence people, in a positive or negative way.

Your actions give birth to greater consequences than you ever thought they did. Some of you may already believe this, but let me repeat this again, in a slightly different form. Believe it or not, the lasting impact of your behaviour on the lives of those around you are immense beyond imagination. Your behaviour continues to impact others beyond the people you meet towards others they meet in their lives. I call it the “domino effect” of your behaviour. Let me give you an example. How often have you find yourself getting angry and telling off people because of what someone else did to you earlier in the day? Maybe someone else stole the parking spot you want in the mall. Or maybe someone curses at you unreasonably. The person who offended you probably did not realise that what he did has unintended victims, through you. He probably had a bad day himself because he had an argument with his wife in the morning. That may not seem unusual on a minor scale. But on the major scale, especially for people in the position of power or influence.

Jane Goodall summarises it well, “It’s awfully sad that with our clever brain capable of taking us to the moon, we seem to have lost wisdom. And that’s the wisdom of the indigenous people, who would make a major decision based on how will this decision affect our people seven generations ahead.”

All the above is especially true and applicable for people who hold a particular position of influence. If you are a leader, or if you are the older one in the group, you are inevitably thrusted with the responsibility to look after the members of your group. They will come to you with questions. They will come to you for advice. More often, they may not come to you with questions but rather they will observe your behaviour. If you did not behave responsibly, you may find your bad habits replicated in those around you. This is a decision only you can make. Will you choose to make a positive impact through conscious decision? Will you choose to take some young men or women under your wings? Will you make a commitment to only do the right thing? I encourage you to make that decision and commitment today.

You’ll be glad you did.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Cindy Harjatanaya

    Suwandy, your writing is insightful and it invites
    your readers to be contemplative. Very well described (: So, here is my share.
    I can totally relate to what you have written. As a school counselor,
    I am obligated to care for my students’ overall developments, academically and
    personally. Most often than not, my daily activities are spent with caring
    for tantrum toddlers, impulsive children, emotional teenagers and overwhelmed
    teachers and parents. They challenge me, stretching and testing my boundaries.

    How do I get this by? I tell myself over and over again that I have to put myself in their
    shoes. As a famous quote says, “Seeing with the eyes of another, listening
    with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.” Empathy is my
    most important tool. By having it, I practice to be very mindful with things I say and do.

    Having to experience a lot of people’s negative emotions, I learn that if I block or do not recognize and process them internally, I ain’t helping- not only to others, but myself as well. The challenge here is that their fear, anger, disappointment and sadness subconsciously evoke (not-so-wanted) memories or experiences from the past, present and possibly the future. If I can’t handle them and me well, in addition to my already existing thoughts, their problems become mine and for sure it is
    self-destructing. Thus, I can not care for anyone no more, not even myself.

    But on the other side, when I am aware of and accept that those negative feelings exist and they are REAL, I do not only able to assist people overcoming their concerns but I am helping myself too. It is a funny yet amazing feeling – that by the end of the day I, too, get helped by my students, their parents and the teachers. They help me grow personally and professionally. This is what I call
    blessing, my version of living a life of positive impact.

    Hope this sharing is useful, and thanks Suwandy for providing this forum. You engage people to become more reflective and grateful for what life can offer. Well done, Keep writing! (:

    • Suwandy Tjin

      Dear Cindy,

      Thanks very much for your long and very thoughtful comment.

      Your take on empathy and how you apply it in your life is very insightful and is something I can benefit from.
      By taking a step back and internally process the various kinds of emotions that I see and feel in my relationship, I find it easier to accept and understand why people behave the way they do and thus, less judgmental.

      It is indeed as you said, in my own words, that you can’t help others until you help yourself first.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, and looking forward for more of your insightful comments in the future.