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,
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 Business, Seton 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.