“Choices have a ripple effect – they matter more and for longer than we think.” – Bruce McIntyre, Choices Do Matter

Sometimes I wonder if what we do, or say, or think make a difference. People are so busy. Do they listen, or care?

In my heart, I think they do. Of course, it doesn’t always show up right away. It may take weeks, or even years. People may not ever realize that the ideas stored in their brain were planted long ago, waiting for the right time to emerge. They may not remember who said it, or did it, but that doesn’t matter. We are all influenced by things other people have said or done, things that caused a ripple that splashes up later to create inspiration in others.

The world evolves like this. At one time, most people agreed to a set of rules that felt “right,” and went about their lives thinking everything was normal. Then someone had a different idea and said, “Slavery is a bad idea. No one should own another person.” Or, “We can all drink from the same water fountain and go to the same schools … together.”

These ideas were big, and changed the fabric of our culture, but there is a much longer list of lesser events that continue to “vibrate in eternity.” Many of the smaller events are the ones that create the energy for the big ones. Everyday things that we each say and do, all matter.

I had lunch with a young friend one day. He was in college and thinking about his future. After our meal, we went our separate ways.

Years later, I ran into him and he thanked me. “For what?” I asked. “For what you told me. I wrote it down and I still have it.”

I am glad my friend saved his notes from our conversation on these four topics. I am also happy he thanked me four years later. “Ori Brafman’s The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations is a valuable read for those who would understand leadership.

He sent me this image of a scrap of paper, pieces of our conversation that continue to influence and encourage him.

I’m touched he saved it, and it made me reflect on how important it is to be careful and deliberate with the things we say, the things we do and the things we think.

All these things matter. I am glad our conversation was helpful to him then, and now, and I am grateful he took the time to thank me.

You never know how much what you say and do matters to other people.

So I think about all the things that others have said to me – along with all the things I have said to others. They all matter.

I hope I listened, but I didn’t always. I hope I am thoughtful in all the things I say to people, but I’m not.

Maybe if every so often someone walked up to me and handed me a scribbled note – “…here’s what you said, Bruce.” The good and the bad, then I would start to be more thoughtful.

That won’t happen, but what will happen is that our actions and words will continue to “vibrate in eternity,” even if we don’t feel the vibration.

Have other people’s words or actions changed the character of your life? Have you told them about it? Will you describe that experience for me?

Have you said or done things without thinking too much about how they matter and what ripple effect they will have? Have you just repeated some popular expression, current belief or similar notion even when part of you was saying something different? Can you explain?

Do you ever think that if everyone is going “this way” then maybe they are lost? That we should try a different way.

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran


I lived in Little Rock as a boy. I went to Pulaski Heights Junior High and would have entered Central High School for the class of 1959, had we not moved to St. Louis.

I could have been “that guy.”