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How to: Create the Ever-Elusive Ripple Effect

“I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa [Click to tweet.]

John and Jack BuckSometimes we don’t take action, stretch ourselves or take risks because we don’t think one phone call, one conversation or one person can make a difference.

We don’t believe that we can, in fact, change our own world, let alone the entire world.

This week I want to share an example of how one person, one conversation, one ripple can in fact create tidal waves of positive impact. [Click to tweet.]

If you’ve ever heard my presentation, you know that perhaps the greatest hero from my story of surviving a childhood fire is Hall of Fame announcer Jack Buck.

He repeatedly visited during my five months in the hospital, continued to deliver encouragement for years afterward and was extraordinarily generous to me always.

A question I am frequently asked by audience members is, “How did Jack know to visit you?”

The day I was burned the news of our fire and the seemingly insurmountable odds against a little boy’s survival spread like a ripple in the water. Years before social media, this tragedy went viral in our community. Neighbors, friends, and family members were the first to learn. They’d then share with others encouraging prayers and action for this family that lost a house and was likely to lose a child.

A family friend named Colleen Schoendienst got a call about the fire. She then called her dad and asked if he would keep a little boy from our community in his prayers.

That phone call changed my life.

Colleen’s father, baseball great Red Schoendienst, happened to be going to a charity event that night. He happened to be sitting next to his friend, a man named Jack Buck. And he happened to mention in passing that a little boy was not expected to live after being burned earlier in the day.

That was the extent of the conversation. But it was enough.

The following day, in a critical care room of a burn center, a little boy wrapped from head to toes in bandages, unable to move, speak, or communicate, was radically inspired when the voice of his childhood idol, Jack Buck, whispered into his ear, “Kid, you are going to live. You are going to survive. Keep fighting because John O’Leary day at the ball park will make it all worth while.”

It was a short visit, one that brought light into the darkest time of my life, and one that changed my world.

But it really wasn’t just Jack, was it? It was Red. Without his encouragement Jack would have never known, never visited, never changed me.

And yet, it really wasn’t Red, either. It was Colleen.

Without her making that phone call, her father never would have heard about the fire.

And yet, wasn’t the person really most responsible the unnamed individual who told Colleen? Wasn’t that really the person that facilitated the life-changing meeting between Jack Buck and me?

My friends, we have so much ability and opportunity in our lives to positively and permanently affect change around us.

You don’t need to believe that you alone can change the world.

Instead, my encouragement today is to embrace the truth that you can use your time, your words, your actions and your life to propel stones across the water. This simple action does in fact and always has changed the world. Starting with yours.

What ripple effect will you cause today through your words, actions, interactions? It can be big or little — but share with me and the Rising Above community below in the comments.

0 replies on “How to: Create the Ever-Elusive Ripple Effect”

John: I listened to your presentation this past weekend at
the State RE/MAX Convention in San Antonio, TX. and was
very moved. I finished reading “Overwhelming Odds” last
evening. My hope and prayers are that you continue to bring
your message to anyone who will listen. May God continue to
bless you and yours, John.
Take good care,

Positively and permanently changed! Thank you John for your words, and the life examples that you share. I believe you are a man who listened to God …who continues to listen to God. I too listen to God with eagerness, yet I get pulled away by the world frantically swirling around me.

Fortunately I find in front of me words such as yours!
The ripple of the stone goes on & on. It is our responsibility as you mention, to use the “ability and opportunity in our lives to positively and permanently affect change around us.”
Positively and permanently changed!

John — thx for taking the time to leave a note. You are right on: We ALL struggle with the world swirling around us. The important thing is that we refocus on God’s word and keep delivering the small, love-filled actions and words that will create the ripples and waves around us. Continue boldly. J

I know I am not nearly the person you have chosen to be John, but I am done using this an an excuse to do nothing. The first time I heard you in St Louis I decided I needed to step up my game. It is not something that comes easily to me. I normally keep to myself. However, in light of this challenge, I commit today to write a quick note of encouragement to 3 ladies that I know are struggling. I also commit to tell my husband I am sorry for being less than kind this morning. My stones my not cast much of a ripple, but I am hoping every little ripple counts:-)

April, you are the exact person God created you to be. Thank you for the ripples you have chosen to create today — you have no idea how far those ripples will continue roll…thanks for ALL you do. It matters profoundly. J

Today I will share your message in hopes that it will ignite or inspire at least one person to do something or connect to another person. Sometimes it is as simple as letting others know they are not alone in this world and that others are cheering for them to succeed. I have a special person in mind, so I hope she hears your message and realizes that she is creating the ripple just by reaching out to others!

John, I love the lessons you provide. As always, I’m inspired by you in this article about the ripple effect. It reminds me of the statement by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Anyone can be great because anyone can serve.” Thank you for sharing your greatness and that of many others whose ripples are still reaching millions through you.

Sandra — thank YOU for serving and for sharing and for all that you do. Honored to have you in the Rising Above Community, my friend. J

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