I need your help because I really can’t decide if I dislike “leave your mark on the world” or “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” more! I think they were both written by someone who simply wanted to “leave their mark on the world” with an inspirational quote.
It’s most often said to young people in an attempt to inspire them to do something great with their lives. You can leave your mark on the world by creating a billion dollar social media company, becoming a reality TV star or a professional sports player.
Leaving your mark on the world can’t be done by the normal accomplishments that most of us will conquer, but must be something greater. You graduated from college? Big deal, so have 2 million other people this year in the US alone. You had a kid? Well, there are over 7 billion people in the world… soo…
[Just kidding, I think you can be very proud of both of those accomplishments, along with all the other great things we can do.]
But, I still don’t think those examples meet the often quoted measure of “leaving our mark on the world”. Some more suitable and super-realistic examples are overthrowing a tyrant, creating a global brand or being the envy of all other people.
The quote is usually said by those who are trying to be helpful, but instead it usually sets us up for impossible standards or expectations. That’s why I moved into a van down by the river, to blow up all expectations. My wife expects very little of me now, it’s amazing.
All low expectations aside, I understand why people say it, I think it’s just a little bit flawed… or maybe it’s just backwards. Instead of trying to figure out how we’ll leave our marks on the world, maybe we need to realize the world will leave marks on us.
The outward signs of negative marks can be obvious, with scars, deformities, anger issues and what not. However, the inner marks the world leaves on us can be harder to see. Maybe it’s the wisdom gained through experiences or the good memories from events.
The world will inevitably leave marks on us, and we should embrace them. In fact, maybe we should even encourage them. We have some freedom to choose the types of experiences we have, or we can try and stay in a bubble and let life force new experiences on us – which don’t often turn our great.
The world has already left more marks on me than I’ll make on it. There are physical scars from broken bones and torn tendons and mental scars from… well, lots of stuff that we don’t have time to get into (I’m looking at you, Doug).
The best marks that have been left on me have come from proactive experiences. They’ve come from leadership activities in school, “stretch assignments” taken on at work, convincing an amazing girl to spend her lift with me [even if it’s in a van], spending time with friends and family, adopting a dog, moving to New Orleans, traveling the world in 2013, renovating an Airstream and traveling North America in 2017.
If it’s ever determined that I’ve made a mark on the world, it will only because I first let the world leave many marks on me. In the meantime, I won’t worry about leaving marks, but will instead focus on finding new experiences. On that note, we have a new adventure possibly coming up… I’ll update you shortly.