Making a Dollar or a Difference

“Yet making a difference in the lives of others is that for which you will be remembered – not your money…” — Rick Cox”

If you were to take the time to think back through the years of all of the opportunities, accomplishments, and additional compensation you could have had or made, would these things really be as important as the positive difference you could have made in someone else’s life; not to mention the satisfaction you would have gained by it? I doubt it. Oh, I recognize there are the few that will choose the dollar over the difference, but for the majority, making a difference in the lives of someone else is by far the most rewarding. As a matter of fact, making a difference in the lives of others is truly the only thing you will forever have; for it is quite obvious you will not pass from this life to the next with any material things you have been fortunate enough to obtain during your life on this planet.

With that being said, the fact it is easier to make a dollar than to make a difference in the life of someone else is one of the fundamental reasons people target dollars over difference. It is by far a much greater challenge to make a difference than it is to make a dollar. Making a difference requires getting involved with someone’s personal life, rather than dealing with them on the surface much as we do at work. To do so, requires that you give a great deal of your time and, more often than not the time given is given without the slightest material return. The only return is that which comes from seeing a life changed from average to extraordinary; from downhearted and distraught to happiness; from defeat and failure to success. A good parent, grandparent, relative, coach, teacher, friend, or volunteer can often help make that difference.

When looking back at my life there are many times I chose to help, but there were also times I chose to make a dollar rather than get involved in someone else’s personal life. When my wife and I were first married we were fortunate enough to have our own home. The four bedroom, two and one half bath, two car garage, corner lot with patio and formal entry was quite the home for a very young couple of nineteen years of age.

Having your own home affords one the opportunity of “lending” a room to someone in need of a place to stay while recuperating or taking the time to regroup; especially when there are only two of you and no children (yet). From a few months after we were married until a couple years after our first child was born it seems we always had someone living with us. We were doing our best to allow these people to get back on their feet. At our young age we knew we were blessed and wanted to be a blessing to others so, we chose to share out of our blessing.

The fact we would all live under the same roof meant my wife and I could be a positive influence on the lives of those we were helping. In all actuality, the fact these people had a place to stay as well as the time to recuperate was one of the things that helped to make a big difference in their lives. The reality of our situation was that those staying with us were adults, not children. There is a huge difference between the impressionability of adults and children; that is until adults are in trouble (more on this below). There is also a difference between friends and family. We will often treat, show, and give our better side to friends over family; with the hope and expectation that our family should understand. Truth is, the family usually doesn’t understand nor do they know why they are being treated in such a manner. We often do more to make a difference to our friends than our family. The reason for this is we believe we already “HAVE” the connection with our family, but we may not yet have a real strong connection with our friends so, we do what we can to ensure that connection by giving them our best.

Most often adults are pretty set in their ways until they are in trouble. At this point the majority will open to the wisdom of those around them. In that it is true we can offer insight as well as advice to an adult, this advice, seldom has the ability to influence the life of the adult in the same manner it can in children. The reason for this is the mind and heart of the adult is no longer a blank canvas in the same manner as a child. The child has no previous experiences or knowledge of anything to preclude what they are being told. Therefore, as parents, we have our biggest influence on our children YET, we often give more of our time to friends and less time to our children even though, they are the ones with which we can make the largest difference.

Unfortunately, my scenario has been no different. Did I consciously and purposely choose to not get involved with my children or wife? NO! But I have learned when one chooses to work rather than be home they are choosing the dollar over the family. One can justify it any way they want however, this does not wash away the facts. It will not change what has already happened. The time has been spent and cannot be brought back or relived.

Like most, a review of my life makes me wish it were possible to turn back the hands of time and thus, take a good part of that time and invest it in my daughters rather than spending it with a business colleague, friend, or neighbor, I was trying to get to know or perhaps impress. As previously stated, we often give more of ourselves to others than to our family doing so, because we expect our family to understand and hang with us. We expect family to allow us the freedom of using our time to influence others. How much better would it be if we were to use our time to influence our family to the point that our children knew they were loved and grew up with a healthy self-image and hearts of gold? If we all did this then trying to impress a business colleague, friend, or neighbor, would not take as much effort. The reason is the overall outlook on life would change from the inside out instead of the outside in. We would all have healthier self-images and not need as much coddling or encouragement from those around us.

Before I wrap this up, it is best to let you know my daughters turned out fantastic in spite of my devotion to work. Must have been the prayers of their grandma’s, their aunts, and especially the work and prayers of their Mom for she has been quite the example. The girls are now grown, with both living their own lives. Now it is just their Mom and me at home. I suppose I could start spending more time with her, that is, if I want to make a difference. Oh wait, fortunately both of our girls now work with us in the family business, allowing us more time to spend with them, which I could, that is, if I want to continue to make a difference…

How about you – what are you going to do to make a difference in the lives of those around you – especially your family?

Best of LUCK as you
Labor Under Correct Knowledge…


Rick Cox