How Much You Matter

By Chris Palmer, M.A., Founder,

This is a story about a guy who changed the world.

But it’s also a story about you.

There’s this incredible truth about life. And most of us just don’t believe it.

It’s the idea that we all change the world in loud and quiet ways all the time.

We do.

You do.

But with seven billion people in the world, it’s easy to think we don’t, that we’re not strong enough or powerful enough to make a difference.

But that’s a lie.

So we tend to beat ourselves down and diminish ourselves in this self-defeating chatter that squelches out any chance we have at being fulfilled.

It’s the stuff we don’t talk about.

Worrying if we are good enough. Doubting ourselves. Comparing our lives to others.

And it eats at us.

Until someone steps up and talks about it.

Someone did that for me a long time ago.

When I was 13, I thought I was completely powerless.

The playground cruelty of kids. Adults who were violent. Everyone has their stories.

But mostly there was that smothering feeling of “I just don’t matter.”

Until a great coach saved my life.

He talked about the lies we tell ourselves. And how to fight them. And it changed everything.

His name is Brent Haley. He was my cross-country and track coach in high school. He’s revered as one of the best high school cross country coaches there ever was. But that’s only part of it.

I remember the first day I met him. I was 13 and just entering high school. I was so scared.

But then we have a team meeting before practice and he starts telling us how important we are. That what we do matters. That WE matter.

He tells us we can be great if we just give everything we have, every practice and every race. The guy was all about infusing us with belief and confidence and purpose.

I was hooked.

We must’ve had 30 guys on the team, running these amazingly tough workouts in 90-degree Florida heat.

Some kids ran 1000 miles over the summer because of him. And we won tons of races, just like he said.

But winning wasn’t the hook. It wasn’t the real lesson.

We won because we believed we had value. We believed we were capable.

And we believed we mattered, at least to each other.

That was the magic trick. That’s how he changed our lives, teaching us to believe in ourselves.

As I write this, I am 52.

He was my coach for only four years, back when I was in high school. Somehow he still affects me to this day.

And there are hundreds of his runners, and thousands of his students, who feel the same way.

One coach.

One person.

He changed the world by changing our lives with who he was as a person. And the ripples go out forever.

You have greatness in you too.

And he would tell you that if he met you. He knew everyone had something. Everyone has some kind of ability.

But none of it ever turns into anything until you tear away all that self-defeating crap and realize that everything is about what you do with what you have.

So many miles.

So many races.

I can still hear his voice yelling for us from across the field. And that look in his eye when he told you how important you were to the team. It’s a kind of magic I’ll never forget. None of us will.

So what will you choose?

Will you try to believe for a moment that your life actually matters?

It’s does.

You have something special in you that’s waiting to be shared. Something that’s important to someone else.

If you find somewhere quiet, somewhere still, I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Maybe it’s something you tried a long time ago and stopped because the world laughed at you.

Maybe it’s something you’re too afraid to try because of what people will think.

Or maybe survival just got in the way.

I get it. And this is your life to live whatever way you choose.

But I’ve never met a person who didn’t have some ability.

And my coach would tell you the same.

I wish he could talk to you even for a moment. Maybe then you’d know this isn’t just a story.

It’s your life.

Your choice.

And the clock is ticking.

I hope you choose to go after the things that make you feel alive. You deserve it.

And if you don’t, the world is less without you…

I talk, write, and speak about life and I coach what I know: motivation, confidence, and going after the things that make you feel alive. You can contact me at