Leaving Your Mark

How you present yourself can stay with others for a second or can be engrained a lifetime. You are the one that determines that.

Grabbing my daily standard fare (hazelnut white mocha) in line at Starbucks a recent morning, a lady in front of me turns around:

"I remember you! I was starting medical school (at the University of Kentucky in 1994) and I heard you speak. At that time, I was debating if med school was right for me, but hearing your drive and determination encouraged me all throughout med school. Thank you."


Myself (left, front row) — with other fashion designers. (Image credit: Lexington Fashion Collaborative)

During my middle and high school years and a tad into my undergraduate tutelage, I was on the speaking circuit, sharing about living with a disability though not letting disability get in the way of whatever I wanted to accomplish (and I still do not). I loved the interaction from speaking, soaking the accolades and praises after, though as a young adult, did not realize I could be empowering, leaving an lasting impression on another person.

I did not attend a “Be a Speaking Guru in a Day” seminar or join the speech-debate squad (I was cut from tryouts) or donate six-figure sum to a feel-good charity. Just walking out of your house, at the office, in the grocery or wherever , you can leave a lasting impression — simply your actions, presence at one moment or many, to one person or one hundred, you can leave your mark on this world.

There is hundreds of ways to leave your mark, I’m grateful I had a village my mother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors and teachers to watch how to. There is no perfect way, though here is a few actions I attempt to live by daily.

Be yourself.

You can’t fake authenticity. Being that genuine person radiates strong self-esteem, where others around will feed off yours. Always do what you say and say what you mean. Practice what you preach.

Treat people the way you want to be treated

(Image credit: The White House)

To get respect from others, you must show respect to them. The easiest way “to be treated how you want to be treated” is to show by example. Even if an individual treats you in a unpleasant demeanor, step up and be the better person and treat them with kindness. It may take time though every encounter you have treating them with kindness, they’ll see the example you are leading by and eventually reciprocate back with kindness.

Savor Life’s moments

The connectivity of the 21st century with smartphones, social media and other avenues of technology has taken away that moment of just savoring the moment. I admit I’m guilty of this too sometimes.

Savoring life’s moments can be simple. Listening to your kid’s daily adventure of life’s comedies and tragedies, or the smile of your significant other. Even setting your smartphone aside to savor a latte, listening to music in the coffeehouse. Take a moment to savor that moment of something you accomplished and received no fanfare — though you know you rocked it!

Dream big

If something has your gears going — an idea, a solution , go out and grab for it. Let others know what you want to do, you never know who’s out there with the resources out there to bring the dream to reality. Dreaming big drives creativity, works ambition harder in accomplishing goals and encourages to aim higher.

Accept failure

As all of us know, roads of life has it’s potholes and roadblocks. Accept failure though don’t accept a fear of failure. Failure, it’s going to happen, probably more than you like.

“Try to fall on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up.” — Author Juila Hare

Above is one of my favorite quotes. If failure comes knocking you down, bounce back up, dust yourself off and start again. Find another path, a new solution, take a another leap. Fail a few times, one day success will be knocking!

Build your “Love Circle”

Find people who are going to be your go-to, your constant circle of positivity, encouragement and empowerment though can give constructive criticism and be honest delivering the criticism. Find people who can show you how to continuously gain on your strengths while making your weaknesses irrelevant. Use the people in your love circle to keep negativity out. Learn what’s negative in your environment and how to best avoid it — use your circle to bump up your positivity.

Love & hug on somebody today!

Love on somebody. Take a moment to wrap your arm around somebody that may need it. You never know what somebody is tackling at the time , simply a hug, with words or without — a hug can change one’s mood.

Remember, you determine how your mark is made in life. Be yourself, all day, everyday. Be genuine. Take that moment to savor what life provides. Just grabbing a few of these actions will help you leave your (positive) mark engrained in others for a lifetime.

Lamin is a a designer, social entrepreneur and speaker/facilitator. You can connect with him at laminswann1977@gmail.com

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