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Be One of the People Who Make a Difference – Speak Up!

By September 15, 2016January 25th, 201812 Comments

Kevin Bulmer YouTube IconIt often feels as if, every time we turn around, something awful is happening somewhere in our world. It can be overwhelming to think of how any of us could possibly make things more positive in the face of such darkness. So how can you be one of the people who make a difference? It’s actually a lot easier than you may think.

Start where you are. Begin with the yourself, and the people immediately nearby. Right now. Today. Create and nurture positive energy, any way you can, over and over. And one thing you can do, starting now, is to speak up.

Here’s a quick story of how this can work:

I’ve referenced going to the gym before. Last year, I wrote this story (“Show Up, Look Up, Cheer Up”) about a time I really thought I’d be better left alone, but I spoke up anyway, and “accidentally” changed the energy of my day for the better, right there on the spot. I wasn’t always like that. I had to choose to make a number of little choices, every day, to try and improve my state of mind. But it works.

Discovering the Magic of Thinking Big …

In Episode 11 of my podcast (with Kevin O’Hara of Alcohol, I mentioned to him how much I appreciated him sharing his thoughts on several books that had helped him, which he did in a podcast of his own. At that time in my life, I was not in a very good place, mentally or physically. Once a highly confident achiever, I was in a period of low self esteem and poor habits. My mental, spiritual and physical health were poor as a result (hence my searching out Kevin, but that’s another story, told in that podcast episode). Exasperated with the way I was feeling, I figured I may as well try something different. So I picked up one of the books that Kevin O’Hara referenced, read it, and began to force myself to do just about everything it said.

That book was “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz,

One of the many small acts that Schwartz suggests, something that we can easily incorporate into our days if we choose to, is speaking up.

In that book, Schwartz relates how we are so often prone to think, “If I say something, I’ll probably look foolish. I’ll just say nothing.” He goes on to remind us that, “Each time the ‘conference clam’ fails to speak, he takes one more dose of confidence poison. He becomes less and less confident of himself.”

However, there is another side to it. Again, from Schwartz: “On the positive side, the more you speak up, the more you add to your confidence, and the easier it is to speak up the next time. It’s a confidence-building vitamin.”

I’ve found all this to be true. Separation breeds negativity. And negativity is like poison, whereas confidence builds positive energy, strength, flexibility and resilience.

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But You’ve Still Got To Do It …

Still, despite knowing this intellectually, it can feel very unnatural and uncomfortable to just start talking to people. I’ve felt that first-hand! Even though I have always been completely comfortable speaking – or even singing – in front of a crowd, I admit I always thought I preferred to be “left alone” at every other occasion. What I failed to recognize was how separate I was becoming from other people and how much natural positive energy I was missing out on, for myself and for others.

In his book, Schwartz goes on to say, “Remember, people are more alike, much more alike, than they are different. Get a balanced view of the other fellow. He is just another human being.”

People in a Line Up

We’re not so different. Just say hi!

I took those words to heart, and literally forced myself to start talking to people in a friendly, positive fashion. I felt very awkward at first, striking up conversations with people at my gym, at the grocery store, at the bank, or at the gas station. But guess what I found out? I discovered Schwartz was right. I haven’t once had anyone respond negatively. People’s body language immediately changes when I try to make even the most modest or cliche connection with them. However simple, it’s still a connection. And as Schwartz suggests, every single time you initiate of one those positive connections, you will feel as if you have enjoyed one those “confidence-building vitamins.”

Comments, please! Who Makes The Difference For You?

Do you have someone in your life like the fellow I described in the video, above? Who are they? What do they do or say to help you smile? And … what can you be doing to be the one to make a difference for someone else?

Please do leave a comment or suggestion. Together, we can get this world going in a more positive spin, more often. One connection at a time.


  • Hari says:

    This post of yours is a good reminder for me Kevin, I have been avoiding people for a few days since I am preferring a bit of solitude for a while.

    But I what you have mentioned “the poison” I am well aware of that and I should stop taking the doses right now or it will get very difficult to come back, speaking and expressing oneself is something that waxes and wanes depending on how much we do it.

    I have read David J. Schwartz book, and I must agree it contains some very life changing lessons.

    Like you, I too am good at speaking up or even singing in the crowd, I enjoy my time everywhere, but I often avoid meeting new people cause of the same thought “they may find me weird” but deep inside we all know..we all are unique, weird, eccentric in many ways but still, we all are the same.

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you, Hari. I also need and enjoy solitude. I like being alone. But I used to want to be left alone, and I’ve changed in that regard. Now, when I’m out and about, I keep my head up and look for connection and find I’m happier. But, to your point, yeah … if I don’t get time to rest, reflect and recharge all on my own, the other part of it is more challenging.
      Thanks for your time and for sharing your thoughts.

  • Jan says:

    Being with others is very scary for some people. It feels like work to them and after the encounter, they are exhausted. Are you suggesting that this will change as they engage more frequently with others around them?

    I have always found being with others as motivating and invigorating. I just interacted naturally with those that I encounter. Contributing naturally to the conversation is the best in my opinion. Nothing profound just natural.

    thank you for the insight.

    • Kevin says:

      Yep, it can change, though I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s experience if that’s difficult for them. Anything we’re not used to can feel unsafe and scary. It felt very unnatural to me at first to just start speaking to people. I got past it, but not without being told to. There’s nothing stopping me from looking someone in the eye, smiling and saying hello but my own choice. The sense of connection and acknowledgement you receive by offer the simplest of courtesies to someone else far outweighs the discomfort it might take to build the habit, at least in my experience.
      Thank you for your time and sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated!
      Best wishes,

  • Andrei says:

    Hey Kevin.

    Actually I think i’m like that. In the last 4 years I was a student and a street dancer. Usually I would dance in front of hundreds and up to a thousand people. It was very fun and I socialized a lot. The same as college I would have daily conversations with many class mates on different topics and never felt socially awkward. However I graduated college and I gave up dancing for the moment and separated myself more and more from other people. I have very few real friends and for me is very difficult to make a friend. Don’t get me wrong, I have a gf, it’s not that I suck at conversations or something like that but in today’s society, in my country at least, most people prefer to be mean to the others or to be friends with you only if they have any interest or they would obtain something by doing this. They usually follow only their interests and seem not to care about anyone else. Anyway I’ll take your advice and I hope in the future I will start to make new long lasting friends.

    • Kevin says:

      Our stories aren’t too different. I’ve always been good “on stage” – as a singer, speaker, or on the radio. But then when I was on “my own time,” I wanted to be left alone. And don’t get me wrong – I enjoy my solitude and times for quiet and reflection.

      But I got to a point where I didn’t want to be viewed as the serious-looking guy who had his head down unless he had a show to put on. I decided I wanted to be cheerful and friendly. So I started looking up, smiling and saying hi.

      I’m a LOT happier on a day-to-day basis now.

      Best wishes,


  • Will says:

    This is an excellent post Kevin, I myself was in a bad place sometime back and it was torturous both mentally and physically. Like what you said, I find myself wanting to keep everything to myself as I do not want others to worry. But this is a bad decision as opening up can help you better. Sometimes I wish others around me can understand what I am going through but it doesn’t help when I don’t say anything to anything. I think I need to speak up more to others, be it friends or anyone outside of my comfort zone. Thanks Kevin!

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you for your comments and sharing your experience, Will. I’ve been in a similar place, about 6-7 years ago, everything felt like it collapsed. Health, marriage, my company, my home – it all fell apart within about 6 months. I learned a lot about myself through all of that, among it, that I didn’t like asking for help, and I didn’t know how to process feelings. I’d just push them down and try to push past them. I now realize that’s like guzzling poison. You will pay for it sooner or later.

      Speaking up doesn’t have to mean much. Looking someone in the eye, smiling and saying hello does WONDERS for you and the other person. Your story and mine are not so uncommon. Why do we feel so separate from others? We all have struggles. Doing even something small to experience a bit of a connection with others pays big dividends over time.

      Wishing you health & happiness,


  • Danny says:

    Yes very easy to get and inward in this day and age. Life really is hard and making the most of what you have around you such as family is very easy to take for granted. I will be trying to project some more positive energy, it certainly helps to feel better about things.

  • David says:

    Really think you’re right with this. I have periods when I like to be more alone and not very outgoing and social. What I notice in those periods is that in the start it’s very nice to just calm your mind and take a break from everything. Then after a while I feel the need to talk to people more. Problem is though, that by that time I’ve already become a little socially drawn back even when I want to be social. The key for me in those periods is just to throw myself out there and don’t give myself the choice to back down.

    • Kevin says:

      I understand what you mean, David. My suggestion would be to not think you have to do too much. Just being willing to look up and smile makes a massive difference to you and to the other person. I almost wish I’d titled the most more with that thought in mind. I don’t want people thinking I’m suggesting that I think everyone should become public speakers. Just say hi. Maybe smile. We’re all human and all in it together.

      Best wishes,


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