I’m one of those people who believe that while there are many of us walking this great big ole’ world, we are all so much more alike than we are different.  Of course there are variations, but what I mean is that we all pretty much want the same things.  How we go about getting those things and the way those things look may differ, but the over arching theme is the same. For instance, we all want happiness, peace, understanding and love.  What it may take for me to have those things may be different from what it will take for you, but we both want those things.  Another area where I think we are all more alike than we realize is in our influence in life. We all want to matter.  We want to know that we have touched lives and made a difference in the world. We want to know that we are valued and that when we leave this place, we have left some kind of positive mark. I think we’re all also more alike because we tend to think that the only way we can is through some grand or large gesture. I think we tend to think this because we’re not comfortable with our greatness. We tend to question who am I when it comes to thinking of our influence or we downplay our influence.

I saw this at my father’s memorial service. If I’m not mistaken, there were about 7,000 people in attendance and thousands more outside of the facility (House of Hope on Chicago’s southside) where the service was held. We received letters and cards from all over the world.  What a reach! It was overwhelming.  I remember feeling so proud that my father had touched that many lives that these people felt moved to send condolences to my family during our time of grief.  But the truth is, he was always Bernie Mac–even when we were poor living in my great-grandparents home, or getting evicted from one of our apartments, or living in a one bedroom apartment on 87th & Ashland.  He was Bernie Mac when he worked for Wonderbread (a job he hated). He was touching lives then through his comedy and his warmth and compassion.  So if the world never came to know his name, if only 700 or 70 or even 7 people only showed up to his service, he would have still made a difference. He still mattered. And most of all, he mattered because he was my father–the first man I ever loved; the one who taught me all I’d come to know about life.

Oprah Winfrey received the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes the other night.  She gave one of the most moving speeches I’ve heard in a great while. It was so moving many have called for her to run for president in our next presidential election (in the year 2020).  I’ll admit that I had chills throughout her entire speech. I felt inspired. With her speech, Auntie O did what she has done for decades, which is inspire and motivate the masses. However, I disagree with those calling for her to run for president. And this is where the mindset that we have to keep going bigger, greater, and do more in order to exact change or influence.  I personally think Oprah has the right idea and has had the right idea for years–and if it ain’t broke, why bother fixing it. Oprah is exacting the greatest amount of influence she can by doing exactly what she is doing. She is unapologetically herself and to quote Jerry Maguire, THAT is what inspires! That is the way to effect change and to create that ripple effect of change that we wish to see in the world–each of us being our most authentic selves and doing that which only we can do.

Allow me to clarify this right now (just in case you were confused). You matter. Right now. At this very moment. Just as you are. You matter. You have something to offer the world that only you can offer in only the way that you can offer it and that makes you pretty freaking special. You needn’t worry about the numbers. Millions of people don’t need to know your name in order for you to matter or for you to effect change.  You don’t have to reach the highest mountain peak to inspire others. You just need to continue to show up.  We often overlook the small gestures that add up over time to the collective.  At any given moment, you could be the hope that someone needs to go forward. At any given moment, you could be the reason someone didn’t give up or someone aspired to do something.  So please don’t worry about the numbers or the crowds. Just be you and never ever forget that you matter and you matter because you are here.