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7 Ways to Leave the World a Better Place Your best chance of having a broad impact isn't dreaming big, it's focusing on what's right in front of you.

By Steve Tobak Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Checking out some popular content sites, I can't help but feel that people have their priorities more than a little screwed up. Everyone seems hell bent on becoming instantly rich, famous, happy, inspired, or successful. Everyone thinks they can be a leader or an entrepreneur by following what Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson do.

The irony is, if Musk, Zuckerberg and Branson set such ludicrous goals, they never would have achieved what they've achieved.

Then there's the cause crowd. They either want their work to mean something, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves, or they want to change the world, whatever that means. They want, they want, they want. It's always something they want and it's got to be big.

Related: 5 Apps and Websites Making the World a Better Place

You sort of get the feeling that they want to make it about them. They want to make it their cause. Look at me. You see I'm special because I've got this cause and I'm helping others all over the world. In reality, it makes them feel important, like a big shot. That's why they do it. Instead of trying to sound like you care when you're really just being self-centered and self-important, how about setting genuine goals you can reasonably accomplish that will matter most to you and your loved ones? If you can do that, guess what? The outcome will likely be prosperity and happiness for you and everyone around you.

If you really want to leave the world a better place than you found it, this is how you do it.

1. First, do no harm.

Think about it. If everyone could pull off this simple goal, the world would be transformed overnight into a far, far better place. It sounds so easy in theory and yet it's so hard in practice. Still, it's a pretty impressive priority, if you ask me.

2. Enjoy your time here.

How much of our time do we spend hating, whining, arguing, fighting, and generally making ourselves and everyone around us miserable. Sadly, social media, blogs and comments have extended that to include just about everyone. Try making it a priority to enjoy yourself. See how that works out for you … and everyone around you.

3. Provide kids with more opportunities than you had.

This may sound like falling off a log but, in it's not. In this day and age, just being a good parent and ensuring that your children have a chance for a better life than you had is an incredibly honorable and difficult goal to achieve. And the payoff is a better next generation.

Related: Why Should Your Business Care About Social Responsibility?

4. Experience the real world, explore your inner world.

The greatest learning comes from two places: experiencing the real world and exploring your inner world. Today, we've become voyeurs of a two-dimensional world bound by tiny little displays. If you get out and do things and quietly explore your mind, your learning will become boundless. And that leads to the next two goals.:

5. Leave a legacy of knowledge.

Where would we be without the breakthroughs and insights of great scientists and philosophers. The lessons of our forefathers? The art, music, and creations of those who lived to share their unique perception and gift with the rest of us?

6. Do great work.

If you can somehow manage to figure out what you love to do, you can strive to be the best and achieve great things. Whether that's building wonderful products that customers can't get enough of or making sick people well, that will serve you, your family, and the greater good. Doing your best work is a powerful goal.

7. Be a good man among your fellow man.

The longer I'm on this planet, the more I've come to realize that what seems to be the simplest of goals is actually the most difficult to achieve … and the most noble. In my experience, none is more challenging than simply being a good man among your fellow man. Try it for a week, or even just a day. See how long you last.

Related: The Power of Giving Back: How Community Involvement Can Boost Your Bottom Line

What this really comes down to is this. The interactive Web has given us all a false impression of global impact. It may seem that way, but in reality, your best chance of having a broad impact is by focusing on what's right in front of you: your inner self, your behavior, your loves ones and your work.

If you stick to that, everything will turn out fine.

Steve Tobak

Author of Real Leaders Don't Follow

Steve Tobak is a management consultant, columnist, former senior executive, and author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur (Entrepreneur Press, October 2015). Tobak runs Silicon Valley-based Invisor Consulting and blogs at stevetobak.com, where you can contact him and learn more.

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