In January of this year, I began hosting a daily 30-minute talk show on KSL News Radio in Salt Lake City. The focus, as always for me, has been on principles — the principles that encourage excellence, fuel freedom, promote civil society and drive the dreams of individuals and families. At the close of a show early on, I searched for the right way to wrap up. Sometimes when speaking to or teaching others you learn or recognize something new yourself. I wrote down in my binder, “See something that inspires. Say something that uplifts. Do something that makes a difference.”
For the past six months, I have been repeating that phrase every day as I sign-off my show. While I hope it is impactful for listeners, I know it has helped me focus each day on the things that matter most.
On Tuesday this week my wife, Debbie, and I went out for a walk in our neighborhood. In the race and chase of the day, I hadn’t done any of the things I encourage my listeners to do. So I looked up — instantly seeing something that inspired me. The full moon had just emerged from behind the mountains near our house. It was awe-inspiring. Fifty years ago, the Apollo 11 mission had just taken off on one of the most extraordinary journeys in the history of the world.
The extraordinary view caused me to think about what had been said to inspire an entire nation to unite and rally to such a goal. Who had said something to uplift? Many actually. President John F. Kennedy had played the critical role of “inspirer-in-chief.”
At Rice University in 1962, he provided words to uplift: “Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it — we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.”
Kennedy concluded, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
Choosing to do something that makes a difference may well be the most important decision each of us make on a daily basis. As I reflected on what I had seen looking at the moon and heard in the inspired words of an American president, I was struck with the difference that had been made by some 400,000 employees, contractors and consultants along with the sacrifice, prayers and goodwill of millions of Americans. Doing something that makes a difference — a lasting difference — is the greatest of legacies.
Choosing to do something that makes a difference may well be the most important decision each of us make on a daily basis.
Neil Armstrong was once asked by "60 Minutes" reporter Ed Bradley what his inspiration was for him saying the now infamous phrase, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong replied that he knew the step itself was indeed small, but the effort of the 400,000 people who had worked so hard to give him the ability to make that step was great. It was the unsung doers, the difference makers, who he honored that day.
Below I have included a very small sampling of inspirational tales from each of the three categories, although I could fill volumes from just the last six months.
See something that inspires
I have seen so much that has inspired me in the first half of 2019 including world religious leaders from different faiths linked arm in arm in unity and solidarity; a new granddaughter, Savannah; statues in Rome; the exuberance of children selling lemonade; thousands singing “Goodbye dear friend” in Fiji; sunsets at a remote lake in Idaho; a young blind girl getting a tour of a temple through her keen sense of touch; the United States Womens’ National Soccer team winning the World Cup.
Say something that uplifts
While I strive to share words that uplift, I am usually the one blessed by the things others say. Here's what others have said to uplift me recently: A 16-year-old boy changed the way I think by sharing his experience; David Brooks lifted my vision to a second mountain of personal purpose; George Will showed how a conservative can be inspired and blessed by a liberal; Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints introduced me to “butterfly questions”; former Sen. Joe Lieberman elevated my understanding of the “integrity of compromise”; Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Bob Woodward lifted truth and trust to their proper place in the public square.
Do something that makes a difference
I often frame things in the context of “therefore, what?” Meaning, "What action will be taken, what task will be done, what effort will be begun as a result of what was seen, heard or discussed?" I love the doers who make a difference and have been blessed by many: A man from Washington who took the time to write me a note about his freshman year at Stanford with my Dad; Jennie Taylor who shows what grace, sacrifice, service, commitment to country and honoring a loved one looks like; Plain City, Utah, showed how a community can come together to save the Fourth of July; President Russell M. Nelson demonstrating, as he criss-crosses the globe, what blessing the many while ministering to the one really means; a guy on a plane who became a “travel-buddy” to boy with autism on a flight to the northwest.
“See something that inspires. Say something that uplifts. Do something that makes a difference,” has been transformed from a simple way to end a radio program to becoming the beginning of a better way to live. I hope you will join me as the journey continues.