Hi, friends! I loved Joseph Ellick’s article on “Make a Change”. Written primarily for a college-based audience, Joseph’s thoughtful words can also be applied to other life situations. I hope you feel encouraged today with Joseph’s encouraging advice on making a change in your life! Special thanks to Joseph Ellick for sharing his article on Good Life Detroit!
By Joseph Ellick
I’m a senior at Florida Memorial University one of the most historic HBCUs in America, located in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., Miami-Dade County. My first years attending FMU, I just wanted to play basketball, get my degree, and move on. I didn’t believe that I as an individual, I could make a difference in the school.
That changed after I met Russell Motley, a communications professor at FMU, who asked me something that hit me hard. “Do you want the time of your entire college experience to just pass by like the wind or do you want to leave a legacy?”
I thought about that question long and hard and I decided to make a change. Not only did I make an impact but now I feel like I helped the school improve in my own way.
Legacy is what we are remembered by after we are gone. It’s what we leave behind for people to enjoy. Part of the college struggle is defining ourselves and how we can make a difference so we can be remembered. We wonder if we are making a positive impact and if anything we’ve done will make a lasting impression beyond our departure. We don’t have to be the student body president or part of a sorority/fraternity to leave a legacy and to make a change.
A legacy is like a drop of water landing in a puddle. The drop never makes a huge splash but the ripples it creates will impact the entire pool of water. Our impact on our institutions will likely be greater than we imagine today, but there are some things we might start doing now that can ensure our tomorrow’s change and legacy.
Here are some things to ponder on:
The greatest way to make a difference is to have kindness, compassion, and love towards others. Commit yourself daily to taking part in the lives of those around you and to performing random acts of kindness. This will not only impact your legacy, it will also impact the quality of life you live around campus. We benefit when others are blessed by our investing in their lives.
Keeping a positive attitude.
Winston Churchill said at one point, “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” Only a positive attitude can have a positive influence. As we get older, we may have a tendency to be over-cynical about nearly everything. However, making a lasting impact requires us to believe that change is possible. Don’t let your legacy tainted with too much assertion of anger.
Change by being an Influence.
The definition of impact itself implies change. Influencing positive change is not a matter of simply performing your best but it is your ability to bring out the best in others. It is this influence that will be remembered by those who carry on your legacy and continue your work for change. Mentoring others as opposed to just focusing on yourself should more and more reflect your role in the University and the lives of your peers.
Do something meaningful.
Perhaps a better word is practical or productive. It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering in order to make a difference. Most colleges have numerous organizations that in some way benefit a segment of the University. And they’re often short of people who are committed to ‘the work.’ It could be your journalism club or event planning club. Search yourself, your interests, strengths, and experiences. Begin by simply finding out what is going on, talk to people and go to a couple of meetings.
Make your vision known.
Clearly articulating your vision will inspire those who follow you to take up the banner after you are gone. Great legacies and change are not the results of a single isolated event. They are the summation of your own accomplishments and the accomplishments of those you will influence over time. Martin Luther King had a dream, but if he had not clearly articulated that dream, it would have died with him. Take the time to clarify your dreams, however modest, and be willing to talk about them so as to be able to pass them on to those who follow you.
It’s going to get hectic at some point but that comes from the result of you making changes and having an impact. But there will be some days where the weight placed on your shoulders will be overbearing, and you may not your strong enough. Just remember “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t” (Rikki Rodgers).
I have been blessed to be given an opportunity to be heard and experience more than I could ever ask for but remember you have to put in an effort. Every great journey begins with a single step. A lasting legacy will influence action long after we’re gone. We may lament how we have spent our days at school to this point, yet it’s never too late to leave a mark and make a difference. Oh, and make sure to share laughter; it will induce pleasant memories and smiles for years to come.