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Updated: Dec 10, 2023

I would like you to go grab your phone, and see how many contacts you have. I’ll wait here.

How many are friends? Family? Coworkers? Acquaintances? How many do you have no idea who they are?

I have about 180. Roughly divided they are 15 family members, 10 people I would consider something in the range of close friends to more than acquaintances, about ten acquaintances and the rest are work related contacts. I have 20, now deleted, that I had no idea who they were. The brief description of them wasn’t enough to bring back a memory for me.

My point today won’t have to do with quality of relationships. It will have to do with the echo you leave behind on the world. It is the statement that you matter. Your actions matter.

I want you to picture your interactions with those people on your phone for a while. What single image comes to you first with each name. Really, go do this, and think about it. Those interactions that you have had with these people who comprise your life and are the bones of your world and interpersonal relationships.

I want you to think about the people you have never met but who your friends and family and close friends perhaps have told you about. Maybe it is a coworker with an anecdote about someone you have never met and how this stranger to you either bolstered or destroyed your coworkers’ day. Or your family’s, or your friends’.

These people from something like the meat of our world view. The additional layers that build up over the bones of close relationships. These people create our view of the world outside our close personal bubble, and who we think inhabits it. You are one of those people to someone else doing this exercise. You are a femur or rib, or vertebrae to some people close to you, an abdominal muscle and biceps to another further from your circle.

How much do you matter?

I have been told that I am not very social as people go, and maintain a small number of contacts. Let's take my phone and my LinkedIn profile and average them. That would be about a total of 300 people. If those 300 hundred have about 300 contacts as well, again a low estimate, I am in the perspective of life for about 90,000 people. That is a tremendous stadium full of people who my actions directly impact their viewpoint.

The same is true for you.

What kind of anecdotes spin around the world about you? Do people talk about you as reliable? Fun? Kind? Helpful? Haughty? Life changing? Forgettable? Mean? Selfish? Did you backstab that one girl that one time? Did you stand between a bully and her target? Did you pick someone up when they were down? Did you reject someone’s advances kindly, or degrade them for it? Did you give the impression that those around you matter, or that only you matter?

These small constant additions to the collective voice of humanity matter, because all those people who talk about you, even if indirectly, build their view of what the world is on your actions along with everyone else’s. You will influence tens of thousands of people in your life. Be careful you influence them the right way. Because you matter, for good or ill.

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