Have you ever had someone surprise you and tell you that you made a huge difference in their life and yet you had no idea of your influence? This has happened to me a number of times, and the older I get the more I realize that, when you are following your passion, great things happen–not only for you, but for those around you as well. I think this happens more often than we realize, and, unfortunately, many people live their entire lives never knowing how they helped to shape others’ lives. One seemingly small encounter sends into motion a ripple that touches others who then go on to send out more ripples, and, pretty soon, one encounter has become a wave.
When I reflect on the great influencers in my life, they are all people who were following their passion with clear values, and a desire to make a difference. In healthcare, when people are focused and driven by a passion to create a patient and family-centered experience, phenomenal things happen. One good example of this was a mentor I had while working in critical care. Paula wasn’t officially designated as my mentor (or even my preceptor for that matter), but she took me under her wing and showed me how a great nurse is a courageous patient advocate, an intelligent decision maker, and a tender, compassionate caregiver. It was many years after we had worked together that I told Paula she had made a real difference in my approach in nursing. She was shocked and said she didn’t think she had done anything out of the ordinary. That’s the beauty of it. She had used her gifts to make a difference–not only in the lives of her patients and their families, but in the lives and careers of other nurses she influenced.
We all have gifts to share. But when those gifts are combined with passion and a servant’s heart, great things happen. How did you share your gifts this past year? What gifts will you share in the year ahead?