OK, perhaps the title is a little dramatic or morbid, but a funeral is exactly what started me thinking about this.

Recently Patrick, a very good friend of mine died suddenly. It was a shock to everyone as I’m sure you can imagine. His funeral was arranged: a local crematorium and a buffet lunch at a local hotel. I was close to him,  so I really wanted to make sure I could get there early. Also I suspected it would be a fairly busy affair. I arrived a full 25 minutes before the ceremony was due to start, only to find that there was already a very long queue of people waiting to get into the chapel.

By the time we got in, we got the last of the almost 200 seats. However, before we went in the building, I could see that there were at least the same number of people again queueing behind me. Therefore, there were at least 200 people standing outside during what was a wonderfully touching service.

As I listened to the service, I realised that there were people there from his large family, but also loyal friends from his many jobs and hobbies (current and past). He had colleagues and friends from an incredibly wide array of places and interests. In pondering this, I realised that one of the things that defined him most was that he made an impact in people’s lives.

So as I decided to write this post, I wanted it to come from a position of trying to understand what he had and what he did, that meant he made such an impact; I wanted to figure out how I could make a similar impact.

The key things that defined the man, and made such a difference are as follows.

Live life with passion

For me, this is one of the most important things. It is what affects other people most. The level of enthusiasm, commitment and zeal you show enthrals people. It makes people sit up and listen. Sure it can have people disagree with you, but they will remember you. So throw yourself into whatever it is you are doing. Find the spark in the subject that ignites your passion.

Say what you think

This is a tough one as it can often lead to saying things that people don’t want to hear. Also, I’m not saying “say things regardless of how they might affect people”. I guess I’m saying, take what’s in your head about a person or situation and let it out. In my experience more relationships are adversely affected by things that are not said, than things that are.

Be fascinated by all things and all people

A child-like fascination for the world around you is an incredibly infectious thing. When you find a new subject, or you hear someone talking about something, your fascination makes you soak up what they are saying like a sponge. The impact this quality of listening has on other people cannot be over exaggerated.

Follow your heart

Find what it is you want to do and do it. However, know that if you live your life with passion, and you are fascinated by the world around you, you will have a vast array of interests to choose from.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of what it takes to have an impact on people, but it is a list of the things I think most defined Patrick. So what is there about you that makes you have a positive impact on people? What do you need to work on to have more impact in the world?

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