2022 has been a strange year. Between severe weather events, divisive politics and elections, economic inflation, the war in Ukraine, protests in the streets of China and Iran and a lagging response to climate change (the real threat to our planet) – the disruptions seem to just keep coming at us. Our workplace habitats and relationships with our employers are continuing to shift and the pandemic won’t go away. All of these changes continue to cascade into our lives, our families, and the people we love. 

I thought 2020 and 2021 were disruptive years, but I thought that somehow 2022 would be calmer. This was clearly a miscalculation on my part. So, if the disruptions are going to continue then we have to ask ourselves, “How can I make a positive difference in the lives I touch in this strange world?”  

Lessons from my father 

Most days I believe our actions can create a positive difference for ourselves and all living species on the planet, including nature. I call it intelligent optimism. This is where you see the challenges and problems clearly, but still maintain optimism in the way you approach life. I learned this habit from my dad. He had faith in people, and even while he was sometimes disappointed and hurt, he believed the good in others was rewarded. His orientation towards the possibilities kept him moving forward and engaged in his life, work, retirement and even as he was approaching the end of his life.  

I learned from him that it usually is a waste of energy to spend time worrying about what might or might not happen. At the end of the day, worrying instead of acting doesn’t make a positive difference. When you see a threat or challenge ahead and move toward it, you are choosing to act and make something better – to make the future better.  

My dad believed that we should always leave a place better than we found it. I have heard that phrase in my head many times throughout my life and now I bring it into my consulting practice and my relationships every day! It is a measure of the way I evaluate my day. Here are some of the questions that I ask myself at the end of each day to assess how I have helped make people’s lives better around me.  

  • Have my coaching conversations made a positive difference in the lives I have touched today? 
  • Did a concept, insight or piece of wisdom help give perspective or meaning to another person today? 
  • Did I connect authentically with the people I touched today? 
  • Did my actions make this place a little bit better today? 
  • Did I connect in a positive way to my own and others’ spirit, purpose, and emotions today? 

What questions help you assess the quality of the impact you have on the lives of others or the ecosystem around us?