Live Large & Leave a Mark


  • Author Howard Cannon
  • Published June 4, 2013
  • Word count 1,216

One of your biggest fears in life should be the fear of making no impact, that you will walk through life and no one will ever see your footprints, no one will acknowledge your accomplishments, no one will realize you have ever been here. Your victories, your efforts, your stumbles and falls all go unnoticed.

Be proud of who you are as an individual. Don’t be afraid to be unusual or unique. There has only ever been, and ever will be, one you. Your whole life is the stage and, if you haven’t made your grand entrance yet, now is the time.

Be fearless as you go. Let everything you think, do, and say be magnified by your personal courage. If courage doesn’t come easily to you, start with confidence and build on it. Going from zero to hero is incubated first in your mind—you must address yourself internally with dignity and respect. Begin small if you have to, then work up. Harness your courage and energy, and direct it in ways that are thoughtful—even magnanimous.

Let passion and relentlessness drive you to your next great moment. Get your heart really pumping. Intensity, passion, and desire propel people towards the results they want, and drive them to a higher level of effort, a higher level of focus, a higher level of determination, and even a higher level of expectation. Those who live large and leave a mark have something in common: an intense drive towards success and enthusiasm for what they do.

Be outstanding and memorable. You can begin by doing things that have an impact on your customers, employees, peers, bosses, friends and family – things that they can’t help but remember. It’s within you to touch people’s hearts and challenge their minds.

The concept of challenging yourself and those around you to be truly remarkable performers has faded tremendously over the last few years. You need to be okay with being outstanding and leaving a mark on a person’s mind. You might be surprised by what you can do to make an impact.

Years and years ago, I stayed at this hotel in Seattle. I walked into my room one evening, and there was a handwritten note on the bed that said, "Look underneath the bed." This was out of the ordinary; I was curious. So, I got on the floor and looked under the bed. There was another note that read: "Yes, I clean under here, too. Sweet Dreams, Kathy."

I’ve stayed at dozens and dozens of hotels, but that one I remember. I remember the room, and I remember Kathy in housekeeping. No one told her to do that; she took it upon herself to make an impact. She serviced that room like it was her own. She didn’t own the hotel, but she owned her performance. She owned her attitude about her work. She was driven to make the best possible impression – to "leave her mark".

Far too many people ask themselves, "Why should I go the extra mile and find out what’s possible?" You should go the extra mile because the failure to do so is surrendering to mediocrity. Failing to reach out to others, neglecting to make the most of the talent you have, and shrinking in the light of opportunity—this is all death by mediocrity. An American poet put it this way, "Every man dies – Not every man really lives." Don’t settle for less than a full life by intentionally setting the bar low and giving a minimum effort.

Develop an eye for recognizing good. If you see something genuinely good about someone, tell him or her. A heartfelt compliment costs you nothing, but you reap the reward of seeing another person made happy. You make a mark. You have a positive impact even if to you a compliment seems like a small thing. People love recognition. They love being seen. If you’re a manager, don’t be afraid to acknowledge the good things your employees accomplish daily. They’ll see that you recognize and appreciate their efforts.

Adopt an unwavering commitment to excellence. Exemplify your own high standards– which is just another way of saying, "Be all you can be." If you’re the restaurant manager, then step up and show your employees that you expect no more from them than you are willing to give yourself, and show them it’s possible to be exemplary. Bring your best self to whatever task is before you. If you’re a hostess, for example, then smile brightly, be consistently cheerful and genuinely attentive to your customers’ needs. Provide speedy and prompt service on a regular basis. Sometimes little things make a huge impact.

Living large and leaving a mark requires putting some time and effort into imagining the possibilities. Think through and explore your options, and then decide the ways you can make an impact. Then, be sure to follow through!

Don’t be afraid to be emotional or show your feelings. It’s okay to cry when you feel like crying and laugh when you feel like laughing. Don’t be afraid to make a difference and have a lasting impact on others. A mentor of mine once said to me, "Howard, whatever you do and whoever you meet, always have an impact." It took me quite some time to figure out what he meant but, ultimately, I finally got it.

The concept hit home while I was waiting at the airport for a flight to Dallas. A man walked up to me and asked me if I would be willing to help him say a special "Happy Birthday" to his wife. Her flight was scheduled to land soon. He showed me her picture and handed me one long-stemmed red rose. He gave me the words that he wanted me to say to her, "Here is a rose from your husband. He loves you very much and is thrilled you are home. Happy Birthday."

I agreed to do it, and I was not the only one. He’d purchased two dozen, long-stemmed American Beauty roses, and he had more work to do. Diligently, he continued his recruiting efforts around the concourse until every rose was in the hand of an enlisted stranger. As his unsuspecting wife deplaned, 23 birthday wishes welcomed her home. Each person offered a lovely flower and a heart-felt message from the man who loved her so much. Then he came sneaking out of the corner where he was hiding and gave her the last rose. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye to be found. The hugs and kisses he got from his wife were the stuff of legendary movies.

Not only did this tender and moving experience impact this guy’s wife, but it also touched everyone else who had the opportunity to witness it and take part–including me.

Now, this guy understood the meaning of "live large and leave a mark!"

Has someone made a "mark" on you recently? Or perhaps you have done something extraordinary? Tell us about it, we’d love to hear your story.

Quote: William Ross Wallace. American Poet. 1819-1881;

Quote: United States Army Slogan. 1980-2001.

ROI, Inc. © 2013 – All Rights Reserved

Restaurant Expert Witness – Howard Cannon has authored several books, written dozens of articles, delivered hundreds of speeches, seminars and interviews, and been featured on national, regional, and local TV and radio. His books can be found in bookstores in 76 countries around the globe. He can be reached at 800.300.5764 or at

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