The life you change could be your own |

The life you change could be your own

There is an old short story, written in 1955 that was part of a series authored by Flannery O’Connor titled “The Life You Save May Be Your Own.” And several years ago as the use of seat belts became mandatory, a slogan and commercial became popular that used this very same wording.

What if we modified the statement with just one word, “The life you change may be your own?”

Have you ever done something for someone else, maybe changed their life in a small or maybe even very significant way? And although you helped the other person, in some way you also recognized that a part of you had been changed as well. Some people have shared with me that when they actually did something for another person or helped them make a change, their own lives changed as well, and generally for the better.

The change may have been only temporary, but they noticed a change. And others have told me that the impact on their own life has changed them forever, just by helping someone else make a change in their personal or professional life.

I receive emails all the time from the community and the testimonies regarding this are really incredible. And the stories are very similar; people experience a positive change in their lives when they provide assistance to someone else. And the cool thing is that many of the stories include examples where the person was unaware that they were actually doing something to help out another individual and before they knew it their own life was transformed in wonderful ways.


Now being intentional about it is something totally different, offering assistance and aid because we are in a position to do so emotionally, financially, spiritually or physically is awesome. Whether I hear about the examples of success at a seminar or corporate meeting or through an email from someone, each story inspires me and fills me with the belief that there is so much good in this world and that gets done in this world by good people, including you.

The thing that I admire from each story or example is that the person who shared it with me never claimed to receive anything physical in return. It was not like they did something for someone else and were rewarded in some way, shape, or form. The gift they received was a just a “feeling” of change or being changed themselves. Some had a hard time explaining or articulating it, but I knew exactly what they meant. There is something inside of us that does change whenever we are able to help someone else, and again it is generally for the better.

It could mean helping them find a job, encouraging them as they battle an addiction, supporting them as they try to get in shape, talking to them while they are grieving, giving them a hand-up if we are in such a position to do so, just listening, offering a smile, giving a necessary and timely hug, enriching their lives with introductions to other people, defending them if they are wronged or just standing by their side. There are hundreds of other examples of how we can help change a life, but the only ones that ever matter are the ones that we take action on.

“The life you change could be your own,” and I would love to hear all about your story or example at gotonorton@ And when we help someone make a change and feel that positive change in our own lives, it truly will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach, motivational speaker and CEO of He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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