The Ripple Effect - One Year On
Written by David Pullan
Just over a year ago my father died.
A few days later I wrote a blog entitled The Ripple Effect.
In it I looked at Irvin D Yalom’s theory that our only hope of immortality lies in our ability to generate feelings and memories in those we encounter every day.
Every action we take is like dropping a stone into a pool of water, and the effect is like the ripples that spread outwards. If we drop good stones the ripples are beautiful. Drop bad ones and…well you get the idea.
Often the effect of a dropped stone is felt way beyond our ability to see it.
Over the last year I’ve been thinking about this a lot.
It’s become more important to me as isolationism and nationalism have begun to dominate global political debate, and there is a danger that stones could be dropped which will surge like an ideological tsunami for generations to come.
But I’ve also realised that the daily stones I drop into my own life will ripple through the years and have far reaching personal consequences.
Today I want to look at that a bit more.
A common coaching tool is The Wheel of Life. In this exercise you draw a circle, divide it into segments and label each one with names like,
- Friends and Family
- Personal Growth
- Physical Environment.
After that you need to get honest with yourself.
Segment by segment you have to decide how well you are doing in relation to your goals and ambitions. Don’t be swayed by Facebook fantasy lives or air brushed celebrity. Decide how well you are doing by your own definition of success.
Then you need to reach for the pencil case and start colouring.
If you are very happy with what you’ve achieved and can see no room for improvement you should colour in the whole segment to the edge of the circle.
Of course the less satisfied you are the less you will colour the segment.
By the end you will have a visual representation of where you feel your life is at the moment. You will see the great effect of some of the stones you have dropped, and home in on any areas that need attention.
Another thing you might notice is that there are dependencies and knock on effects between segments, and that single changes won’t solve everything.
For example, after Dad died I made the decision to finally move beyond ‘Kumbaya’ on the guitar. I grew my nails, I stretched my fingers, I learned words like augmented and diminished and in the process I had great fun, made some wonderful friends, and even fulfilled a long held ambition to play in public.
As I look back over the work I did I am extremely grateful for the benefits and I can also give myself credit for the effort I made.
But let me tell you this: no one is going to employ me to do an acoustic set of AC/DC any time soon, and it certainly isn’t going to increase my pension pot.
So there are other things I am going to have to look at in order to get the wheel rolling down the road of my life. There are other stones I need to drop and will need to keep dropping.
So here’s my challenge.
Draw yourself a circle and divide it up into segments such as those I mentioned. Then get honest with yourself and colour those segments in. How well filled are they? If it’s to the edge of the circle then give yourself some credit and thank anyone else whose dropped stones may have rippled positively into your life.
But if there’s very little colour, think what stones you need to drop in order to make the changes you want to see.
Then drop those stones with kindness every day.
In a year’s time you might be surprised at the changes that have rippled through your life.
By the way, I have a warning for you all. When you play the guitar always double check that this isn’t the case.