What Does Making an Impact Mean to You?
I don’t know about you, but 2020 was the most challenging year of my life. There was so much uncertainty about what lay ahead in terms of my family’s health, my career trajectory, and overall fulfillment from life’s basic pleasures.
My most important lesson from the longest year ever has now become my personal mantra: intentionally focusing on what you can control enables you to make positive impact possible.
Like many of you, I consumed as much news and information at the beginning of the pandemic as I could, to inform my daily routine (i.e., leave groceries outside for two hours, wipe down every packaged item with Lysol wipes, etc.).
Frankly, our ability to isolate in Rehoboth was my saving grace. While many Americans were required to stay home for months, we in Delaware were allowed to walk our dogs or exercise outdoors—which included Cape Henlopen State Park and Gordon’s Pond—thanks to a mandate from Governor Carney.
I remember feeling so blessed as I walked our dog, Bailey, every morning with friends Doug, John, and their pups, Zeus and Olive. The smell of the ocean and the freedom to be somewhere gave me so much joy and shifted my attention away from typical daily activities which were not possible at the time.
To help manage my mental health, I stopped watching the news; the visuals from overflowing emergency rooms triggered my anxiety. Instead, I kept myself up-to-date on the day’s news by listening to NPR and hearing light-hearted human-interest stories which lightened my mood.
More importantly, my passion for giving back gave me a purpose and a reason to remain optimistic about the future. A perfect example is being a member of the board at CAMP Rehoboth, where we collectively focused our attention on what was necessary to get up-and-running as soon as possible.
When a crisis—such as a hurricane, earthquake, or pandemic—strikes, most people go into survival mode. They take care of close family and friends, and in some cases neighbors in the community. There were countless stories about people who went out of their way to help others in need.
Remember the clanging of pots and pans each night when frontline workers were coming home from an exhausting day of battling the COVID enemy? How about the drive-by birthday celebrations for folks who were forced to shelter in place to keep safe?
But there are those who may not have others they can lean on during times of trouble; these people are often the most impacted when support from nonprofit or government agencies is interrupted. CAMP Rehoboth recognized this Day One, leading the staff and board to work tirelessly to transition as many in-person services as possible to a virtual format.
Being part of an effort that ensured we supported those who needed CAMP Rehoboth the most was extremely gratifying, and humbling. It filled my soul with gratitude to work with other like-minded people to make a difference. At the same time, witnessing the dedicated staff come together to make this happen and receiving thanks from community members reminded me that they are the true heroes.
As 2021 draws to a close, I took time to take stock of what transpired, what I accomplished, and where I made an impact. I also looked at what I could have done differently to be the best friend, brother, husband, colleague, and board member possible. This included reflecting on what I had lost, such as the passing of important people in my life, and personal missteps that hurt someone.
With so much uncertainty in the world, I have recommitted to living my best life, doing what makes me happy, and determining how I can be more intentional about making impact. Here are the questions I am asking myself, accompanied by quotes that inspire me:
Purpose: What difference do I want to make in the world around me?
• “The purpose of life is not to be happy, but to matter—to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.” – Leo Rosten
Legacy: What do I want to be remembered for?
• “Legacy is not what’s left tomorrow when you’re gone. It’s what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you’re here that then happens to live on.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru
Fulfillment: When do I feel gratified?
• “Could anything be better than this? Waking up every day knowing that lots of people are smiling because you chose to impact lives, making the world a better place.” – Anyaele Sam Chiyson
Some might feel this is a doom-and-gloom approach. But to the contrary, I am excited about what is possible in 2022 because we are reminded daily that life is too short to think otherwise. ▼
Wesley Combs, a CAMP Rehoboth Board member, is a diversity and inclusion expert, executive coach, and a passionate social justice advocate. He is the founding principal of Combs Advisory Services where he works with clients who share his values of enabling equity, equality, and opportunity in the workplace and the community.