Make a difference in someone else’s life today!

Make a difference

A while ago someone sent me this powerful story about making a difference in another person’s life and it is worth sharing. It is a true story by Helice Bridges. Below is the story in its entirety. Click here to watch a video version of it.

Make a difference

A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in high school by telling them the difference they each made.

She called each student to the front of the class, one at a time. First she told each of them how they had made a difference to her and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon imprinted with gold letters which read, “Who I Am Makes a Difference.”

Afterwards the teacher decided to do a class project to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a community. She gave each of the students three more ribbons and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom and report back to the class in about a week.

One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon and put it on his shirt. Then he gave him two extra ribbons and said, “We’re doing a class project on recognition, and we’d like you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person to keep this acknowledgment ceremony going. Then please report back to me and tell me what happened.”

Later that day the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down and he told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, “Well, sure.” The junior executive took the blue ribbon and placed it right on his boss’s jacket above his heart. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said, “Would you do me a favor? Would you take this extra ribbon and pass it on by honoring somebody else? The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people.”

That night the boss came home to his 14-year-old son and sat him down. He said, “The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I’m a creative genius. Then he put this blue ribbon that says ‘Who I Am Makes A Difference'” on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you. I want to honor you.

My days are really hectic and when I come home I don’t pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school and for your bedroom being a mess, but somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You’re a great kid and I love you!”

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn’t stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, “I have been contemplating suicide, Dad, because I didn’t think you loved me. Now I know you care.”

The boss went back to work a changed man. He was no longer a grouch but made sure to let all his employees know that they made a difference. The junior executive helped several other young people with career planning and never forgot to let them know that they made a difference in his life. The young boy and his classmates learned a valuable lesson.

Who you are DOES make a difference!

Make a difference in someone else’s life today!

RECOMMENDED READING: Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell

Categories: Personal growth


  • What a fantastic story!

    Dr John Maxwell also tells a story where he was sent one of the ribbons from a boy in school. It made a wonderful impact on him, so much that he invited the boy and his mother to an event where he was speaking. At that event he honoured the boy from stage and provided everyone at the event with a a ribbon too! Over 2,000 of them!

    Many years later when the boy had become a man he came to another event where Dr Maxwell was speaking and told him all about the impact that had over his life!

    We all need to “Pass it On” and honour people where ever we can!

  • You’re a regular at my blog so you know how I love this kind of story – just so inspirational! There are so many simple things we can do each day to make a difference in someone else’s life … thanks for the story Kevin and the reminder.

  • Ella Callahan says:

    Thank you so much for showing this as I have not come across this story before. It really is a powerful subject and I guess that we are all guilty of not letting others know what they mean to us. It shows how just a few simple words can transform someone’s life. It also shows that it is powerful no matter what age the person is.

  • I love this story more every time I hear it. Thanks Kevin.

  • Steve-Personal Success Factors says:

    That’s one incredible story! What is so encouraging about this story is that we never know how every act of kindness toward another fellow human being will ripple out across the universe. Thanks for sharing!

  • Yorinda says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I feel touched, moved and inspired by this story!
    The ripple effects an action can have are amazing!

    Who You, Kevin, are makes a difference!

    I am so glad I found this article!

    Love and Joy

  • Rick Lelchuk says:

    Paying it forward has always worked. Great lesson in the story. We never know if we make a difference in another’s life, be it good or bad. Be mindful of what you do and say as it makes a lasting impression.
    Thanks, Kevin.

  • Have you ever read The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom? While the book is not true, you would never know it. The idea is that everyone you touch or pass…no matter how insignificant..can be affected by just a word or a nano-second encounter. Thanks for the reminder, especially at this time of year when we are so caught up in our own to-do lists, we can be impatient, short-tempered and self absorbed. You hit the nail on the head Kevin!

  • Awesome story, Kevin! I had not heard it before tonight. Our words and actions are so vitally important, especially for our children. They never forget. And we don’t know exactly WHAT they will remember forever, so we’d better protect them from the negative by filling them with the positive in whatever ways we can!

    Willena Flewelling

  • Loren says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for posting this wonderful story, powerful beyond words! Communication has so much value… all we have to do is let people know that we value them and the difference they make in this world; and, by doing so, we help to create a world of love, hope and opportunity. There are so many ways to make a powerful difference but simply acknowledging and respecting others for what they do is by far the easiest and quickest way to see results! Thanks again for your inspiration.


  • Lynn Sanders says:

    On Sunday when i went to church i noticed someone looking really sad standing at the entrance. I only had about $10 on me because i don’t take a lot of money with me to the church, but the happy expression he made when i gave him the money is something i’ll remember for a long time.

    I try and do small acts like this from time to time, hoping they’ll be making a difference.

  • Brandy says:

    What an amazing story! I joined on someones link of 31 days on their blog and I chose 31 Days of Doing For Others. I came upon your article when i was looking for an idea on how to do for someone else. Today I am going to link this story on my blog. Even just reading it makes you want to tell your spouse, your child, anyone, how they have made a difference in my life…Powerful story!

  • Katelega says:

    I came across this story after watching CNN heros, I then typed on Google how to make a difference in someone’s life. This is how I came to this story. This story has brought me to tears. Thank God to the school assignment, this man would have lost his son for no reason. Lots of people make a difference in people’s lives but they do not recognize it.

    It is always good to let someone at some point know that you make a difference in their life.

    Thank you so much for sharing.


  • lisa says:

    Seems God places people in my path to help. I do all that I can to help this person out but am always sad when they leave and move on. But for some reason I think just maybe I made a small difference in their life and at some point they will remember me. :o)

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