The Power of Just One

(Original Post here)

In his 2015 keynote commencement address at Dillard University, Tony Award-winning actor Denzel Washington said: “Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.” This is a driving purpose in the lives of great leaders – to bring value-added change to the world and the people whom they touch.

They have internalized and understand each person’s unique potential to create meaningful change – in how they uniquely perceive the world and how they become inspired by its infinite possibilities. They proactively embrace these beautiful opportunities with a passion to contribute something greater in everything that they do. This is the magnificent power of one.

It is beautifully captured in Maryam Kazmi’s poem, 

Just One:

One song can spark a moment

One flower can wake a dream

One tree can start a forest

One bird can herald spring

One smile begins friendship

One handclap lifts a soul

One star can guide a ship at the sea

One vote can change a nation

One sunbeam lights a room

One candle wipes all the darkness

One laugh will conquer gloom

One step must start each journey

One word must start each prayer

One hope will raise our spirits

One touch can show you care

One voice can speak with wisdom

One heart can know what’s true


One life can make a difference

You see it’s up to you.


It is the responsibility and challenge to all great leaders to make a difference. As importantly, they are responsible for helping those whom they serve to realize that their life can make a difference. Yes, “One life can make a difference. You see it’s up to you.” Joyfully embrace this message remembering the words of Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” As an unknown author once wrote: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” Be that power of one in the life of everyone you touch… “you may be the world.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!



Professor Michael M. Reuter is the director of the Gerald P. Buccino ’63 Center for Leadership Development, the Honors Program at the Stillman School of BusinessSeton Hall University. His passion for leadership and understanding of its operational application is reflected in his work with senior executives in co-authoring papers that document their career learnings and experiences.