I really like your articles with life lessons so I hope you’ll continue to write them. It feels like a breath of fresh air in here.
In terms of impact, I think there can be an issue of breadth vs. depth. It might be that some of your articles reach more people but touch them in more shallow ways. In contrast, maybe these articles reach less people but are more meaningful to them?
I think our fast-paced culture (in particular in the US) values breadth over depth so it can feel challenging to go against the tide. But at the end of the day, making a real difference in the life (or even just in the day) of one person is more important than reaching thousands in a superficial way. So there really should be another metric for success than just numbers.
I read some of your other articles but I don’t really remember them, even though they contained great advice. Same for a lot of other articles on Medium in general. In contrast, this article I’m pretty sure I will remember.
Life is mysterious and so are the ways in which we impact people.
The movie Atlas Cloud shows beautifully how actions can have ripple effects that we’ll never know about. One sentence in a book can impact a person’s life a century later, which in turn might make a difference for someone else in the future.
In some fortunate case we do learn about it. For instance, I once facilitated a course which, at the time, felt like it had been a failure and a waste of my time. I didn’t think the participants really got a lot out of it or were too happy about how I had facilitated the course.
Months later I was at a meeting where a number of the former course participants were also present. Without asking for it, they described how the course had impacted them in extremely positive ways. A participant even mentioned how something I had said in a throwaway comment impacted their dealings with a foreign government.
Needless to say I was stunned. (And extremely grateful.)
A throwaway comment during something that I thought was a waste of my time had international ripple effects that I would have never known about had I not gone to that meeting. Talk about a learning experience.
And even though I got the praise from this participant, I wasn’t actually the one who came up with all of it. In my throwaway comment, I had referred to something someone had taught me, who in turn had learnt it from someone else… ripple effect upon ripple effect upon ripple effect.
I take two lessons away from that:
1) If possible, to ask people how my work has impacted them instead of assuming I know. It’s harder to do this with one’s writing but at least in personal interactions (coaching, facilitation etc.) is really easy to get direct feedback.
2) To let other people know if something they have done has impacted me. So that they get feedback on what impact their work has on others.
(Truth be told, I could be doing both of these a lot more often.)
So, I found your article super-encouraging. It focused my attention on what really matters. Knowing that there are articles like these on Medium (and not just the latest rah-rah article about how to become the most successful person ever blah blah blah) has me feel a lot more positive about the platform and makes me feel much more interested in jumping into the pool.
Thanks for writing it!