Friday, August 14, 2015

We Have The Power To Make A Difference©

This is a blog about “living philosophies.” There exists a small, what many people may consider an inconsequential philosophy of life which has the potential for great good. It has to do with the power of small things.  Russell H. Conwell perhaps expressed it most succinctly when he said, “The power of little things [to build or to destroy] ... should be the first lesson in life.”(1) Bruce Barton put the same idea in other words: “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things ... I am tempted to think ... there are no little things.”(2)

Lots of people great and small have stressed the importance of little things in life. For example legendary coach John Wooden said, “I grew to love seeing little things done well, and I believe it is probably the greatest secret to success.”(3) Charles Dickens wrote, “There is nothing little to the truly great in spirit. It is not possible to know how far the influence of any amiable, honest-hearted, duty-doing man flies out into the world.”(4) And Samuel Johnson said, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything.  Life is made up of little things. True greatness consists in being great in little things.”(5) A man named John Cumming said, “Minute events are the hinges on which magnificent results turn. In a watch, the smallest link, chain, ratchet, cog, or crank is as essential as the mainspring itself. If one falls out, the whole will stand still.”(6)

More to the point of this particular blog are three statements referring to “small things” that smooth human relations. David O. McKay quoted with approval the following from Sir Humphrey Davey, “Life is made up not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things in which smiles and kindness and small obligations given habitually are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.”(7) And Richelle Goodrich spoke similarly, “Service is a smile. It is an acknowledging wave, a reaching handshake, a friendly wink, and a warm hug. It’s these simple acts that matter most, because the greatest service to a human soul has always been the kindness of recognition.”(8) American statesman Henry Clay seemed to summarize these ideas when he said, “In all the affairs of human life, social as well as political, courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones that strike deepest to the grateful and appreciating heart.”(9)

Many years ago I read a small book entitled The Power of a Penny: Little Ways Our Lives Can Count for Something Big, by Glenn Dromgoole. Recently I rediscovered it and found that I had not extracted for my files some important quotations and ideas, so I began to remedy the situation. Early in the work I came across the following statement which became the outline for the remainder of the book. It teaches us we have the power in a myriad of small ways to make a difference in life. I hope you not only enjoy it, but that it inspires renewed effort in you to find ways to “make a difference.”

We don’t have control over a lot of things in our lives. But it’s easy to let that be an excuse for not using all the power we do have. 
We have the power to smile. The power to be kind. The power to be courteous and pleasant. The power to be supportive. The power to say thank you. 
We have the power to lend a hand. The power to be thoughtful and considerate. The power to compliment. The power to listen. The power to encourage. The power to make others feel important. The power to watch what we say. 
We have the power to keep trying. The power to do what we can. The power to aim high. The power to do our best. 
We have the power to trust. The power to be truthful and honest. The power to participate. The power to give. The power to be unselfish. The power to vote. The power to read. 
We have the power to be optimistic. The power to be happy. The power to feel. The power to like ourselves. The power to be satisfied. The power to treat other people with respect. The power to be open-minded. The power to be civil. 
We have the power to make a difference. The power to amount to something. The power to make our lives count. 
We do not lack for power. We just need to recognize it and make the best use of it.(10)
Why not sit down for a couple of minutes and make a personalized list of “powers” which you possess which when exercised would bless someone else’s life? You may just discover some things you have heretofore over looked, but which would be easy for you to do. Give it a try.

Let's think together again, soon.


1.   Russell H. Conwell, in Richard L. Evans, Richard Evans’ Quote Book, Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1975, p. 218.

2.  Bruce Barton, in Richard L. Evans, Richard Evans’ Quote Book, Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1975, p. 189.

3.  John Wooden with Steve Jamison, My Personal Best: Life Lessons From An All-American Journey, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004), p. 105.

4.  Charles Dickens, in Ella Dann Moore, Life Illumined By Some of the Leading Lights of Literature, (Washington, D.C.: Ella Dann Moore, 1908), p. 83.

5.  Samuel Johnson, (1709-1784), in Gary W. Fenchuk, comp., Timeless Wisdom: A Treasury of Universal Truths, (Midlothian, VA: Cake Eaters, Inc., 2000), p. 164.

6.  John Cumming, in Bits & Pieces, (December, 2012), p. 2.

7.  Sir Humphrey Davey, cited in David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay, (Salt Lake City: The Improvement Era, 1953), p. 388.  

8.  Richelle E. Goodrich, in Bits & Pieces, (December 2013), p. inside back cover.

9.  Henry Clay, in Rob Reinalda, ed., Bits & Pieces on Leadership, (December, 2011), p. 22.

10.  Glenn Dromgoole, The Power of a Penny: Little Ways Our Lives Can Count for Something Big, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 23-24.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great message. I'm thankful for the reminder coupled with the truth that we are endowed with the capacity to act and not be acted upon. We know, through the small things that "great things come to pass."