Winning Words

Waking up each day knowing we are making a difference


The inspiration for this week’s column comes from a movie I had watched over the weekend, “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” It is the story of Charles Dickens and how he came to write his book, “A Christmas Carol.” If you are looking for a great movie to watch, I highly recommend it.

The book was written in 1843. And since its initial publishing, there have been more than 2 million copies sold here in the United States alone. The book has never been out of publication. More than 170 years later there have been hundreds of cartoons, movies, plays, and musicals that retell the story. As I finished watching the movie, I had the realization that Charles Dickens could have never known the lasting impact that his book would have on the world.

How do we view the work we are doing today? How are we thinking about every conversation and interaction we are having with our family, our friends, through social media, and with strangers that we encounter? Our actions and behavior, what we say and how we say it, could very well have a long and lasting impact on the lives of those we live with, work with, or who we are connected to in some way. And they in turn could have a positive influence on the people in their own circles for years and generations to come.

In a virtual meeting that I was a part of this morning, I found myself being truly inspired by a young man who was a part of the call. As we greeted one another and introduced ourselves, the young man, his name is Jimmy, also included his own personal “why” behind what he does for a living. He shared that he wants to wake up each day knowing that he is making a difference in the world. The sincerity of his words was underscored when he shared with me a diagram that illustrated his priorities, values, and virtues that he aspired to be, do, and have. I firmly believe that Jimmy’s impact on his own business, co-workers, family, friends, and customers will be felt for many years.

Being a difference-maker rarely happens accidentally. In most cases making a difference is a direct result of someone who was intentional about their actions and the words they chose to provide others with hope, encouragement, a hand up, or guidance. When we are intentional about the words we choose, we recognize that we can build others up by what we say. And we also understand that if we are not careful, our words can also cause great harm, tearing others down. Unfortunately, the lasting impact of our thoughtlessness can last for years and generations as well.

At this time of year, many of us show our gratitude by doing our best to make a difference through acts of generosity. We search out opportunities where charitable contributions of our time, talents, and resources can make a difference for a family, an individual, or an organization. It doesn’t matter what we call it, at the end of the day it is about changing lives and doing our best to change or impact people and situations in a positive way.

We are all Charles Dickens in a way, aren’t we? Each one of us can leave a lasting impression upon the earth, bring happiness and joy to another person, provide a much-needed smile, or give a hug, even if it is a virtual hug, to someone who could really use a hug right now. And as we do, let us never minimize our ability or our capacity to make a difference, a difference that will be felt for 170 years or more.

How about you? Are you intentional about the impact that you have on others? Have you thought about how grateful others will be generations from now all because one day you changed someone’s life for the better? I would love to hear your story at and when we start waking up each morning to be a difference-maker, it really will be a better than good life.

Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.

Michael Norton


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