If You Can Impact “Just One Person,” You Have Failed.

Today, another head-shaker pithy meme came across my feed asking: “If your book could make an impact on just one person, would it be worth it?” Predictably, an onslaught of “Yes!” “Of course!” and that little red “100!” filled the comment section.

For decades, we’ve been fed and continue to regurgitate some version of the “just one person” nonsense, and yet we continue to buy-in.

If a teacher impacts just one child they would be fired for utter incompetence. As a speaker, my audience of 800+ would feel cheated, and my client would be angry if I made a difference to “just one person.” In a real job, that level of effectiveness gets you fired every day of the week.

It’s a ridiculous assertion making excuses for mediocrity and instead attempting to safeguard the self-esteem of the ineffective person. “You should feel proud knowing that you did make a small impact.” No. You should be ashamed of your lack of preparation and step aside, making way for another who can make a greater impact.

I know, spare me the “you never know if the next Gandhi, Oprah or Steve Jobs is in the audience.” There is also likely the next Ted Bundy, Dylan Klebold and John Wayne Gacy lurking within earshot. So what’s your point?

I’m not discounting the importance of powerful inspiration and genuine impact. In fact, I support it. I encourage it and celebrate it! I’m simply offering a wholesale rejection of the ridiculously low standards of “just one person.” You should reject it as well. C’mon, you’re better than that. Aren’t you?

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