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Making a Difference: A concise guide to making the world a better place

By Ian Hope
 
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher, lecturer, essayist and poet who lived from 1803-1882.  One of the most often quoted speakers and writers of all time, he described success this way:
 
“To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others,
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, 
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know that even one life has lived better
 because you have lived… this is to have succeeded.”
 
With that in mind, I like to provoke people by asking what they are doing to make, or to leave, the world a better place.  Take a few moments now before reading further and think about that. Better yet, jot down a few notes to stimulate your thinking.  
 
In my case, I share this column and my insights about how to get along well with people in the hope that it will bring some light into the world of my readers. My thinking is that perhaps it will improve my reader’s outlook and improve the results they are experiencing in their lives, both at work as well as at home and in the community.  
 
I look for other ways to make a difference also. For example I have been a volunteer on the Capital City clean up for the past ten years or so and have found a great deal of satisfaction in keeping the ditches clean along a two mile stretch of country road in Sturgeon County.  
 
There is something about a clean neighbourhood that is good for the soul and I am hoping that it lifts the mood and spirit of my neighbors and other citizens.  I was rewarded the other day as I drove by.  A young lady who resides with her parents not far from me was walking down the road, a good sized plastic bag in hand.  Thinking she might be in need of a ride home, I inquired and she said, “No thanks, I’m just picking up some trash along the road to our place.”  I was warmed with the awareness that I am not alone in my thinking and that maybe, just maybe, her efforts followed partly from an example I have tried to provide over the last decade to the young people along our street. 
 
I’m determined to find more ways to give back in the future and want to encourage everyone to consider what they too might do in the spirit of volunteerism to create a better world for others.  There is huge bonus in this process, folks. While putting the needs of others ahead of your own and attending to those needs, you actually make the world a far better place for yourself as well! Pretty positive and powerful, and if you’re a volunteer now you already know the truth in that.  
 
Let’s just say that I will continue in my efforts to live up to Emerson’s compelling message and I hope that many of you will feel the same.  
 
There are so many great opportunities in your own community to make a difference by volunteering and helping others.  Check with schools in your area, your church, hospital, one of the men’s or women’s clubs, or simply call one of the many local charities.  The truth is there are never enough volunteers to meet all of the many challenges in society.  That shouldn’t cause you hesitation, but rather highlights how much your strong back, youthful legs, experienced hands and your smart ideas might otherwise be missed in an important and much needed volunteer role! 
 
Ian Hope is the Executive Director of the Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association (AARDA) and in addition maintains a professional practice training others on highly valued people skills. He provides articles on topics that will help collision repair shops and auto recycling yards, among other businesses, to raise individual and team performance. To enquire about Ian speaking or training at your event, send an email to ianhope@albertacom.com or go to his website at ianhope.com.
 
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