The Butterfly Effect

Well, it happened again.

Several years ago, I spoke to a group of people about the influence we can unknowingly have on people. In my presentation, I talked about my father, a small-time, modest farmer in a small French community in Manitoba, started his farming career tilling his land with horses, raising chickens, pigs and cattle, milked cows by hand, and worked his half section like most farmers of his time did. I spoke about how many people approached me at his funeral to tell me about the influence he had on them. How they would not be farming today if not for my father. How he shared his expertise, knowledge and time, lent them money when they needed it most and when nobody else believed in them enough do so, and most important, how he greatly contributed to planting the seed of love in farming. For many years after his death, total strangers would tell me of the life-changing differences my father made on their lives. I had no idea. And I suspect neither did my father.

What’s most incredible is this:

1 – My father wasn’t a politician, a pastor, a person of high influence, and certainly not high profile. He never had a job servicing clients or doing any kind of work for the public at large. And yet, he somehow managed to touch more people, more deeply, than most of us would ever hope to do. The number of people whose lives he touched is incredible.

2 – Also worth noting is how what he did, in his very simple act of kindness and compassion, could have such a profound impact on so many people. But more to this point, how his contributions are still coming out of the woodworks to this day, so many years later.

My father was born in 1909 and passed away in 1990. He’s been gone for over 32 years now. My brother attended a funeral a few days ago of a gentleman I knew but very little, an old farmer, and at the eulogy this man made a list to his son of people we was grateful for and that he would appreciate his son mentioning at his funeral. The first of the list? Gerard Talbot. Wow! 32 years after his death and I still hear of people who owe their living to my father. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: how can such a simple man, with so little by way of influence, impact so many people so deeply?

So why am I telling you this? Well, I’ll admit that part of me simply wants to keep this great man’s memory alive and to once again claim how so damned proud I am to be remembered as one of his sons. But more to the purpose of this newsletter: do any of us ever think about how the small things we do every day can change people’s lives?

Building my accounting practice was sometimes EXTREMELY difficult. More than once, it brought me to my knees, and I wondered how I’d ever find the courage to continue. But more importantly, I would ask myself “why do I do what I do?”. The pain at times just didn’t seem to be worth the reward.   

Most of you reading this probably know that feeling too well. It’s probably happened to you several times. Few of us play this game of public accounting for the money. Most of us do it because of the difference we can make in people’s lives, and I think it’s critical that we never lose sight of this. I think it’s equally important that remind ourselves of this, especially when the chips are down and weeds are attacking our fields. We must never forget that the impact we’re having on people may be far more than we would ever imagine, and we’re most likely touching far more people than we think. 

I strongly recommend that everyone read “The Butterfly Effect” by Andy Andrews. In fact, Andy Andrews has several books and YouTube presentations where he speaks of the Butterfly effect. I truly believe that there’s absolutely no way of measuring how flapping our small butterfly wings over here and can have a tremendous impact on people’s lives over there- and possibly for generations to come.

I would recommend that whenever you have doubts about why you get up every morning and deal with those ungrateful clients (you know who they are, we all have them), instead of remembering their negative comments, remember the many silent people who are deeply marked for life for the great things you did for them. 

I doubt very much that my father ever really gave this much thought. He simply did what he loved every day without any thought to what good he was doing in the world. And I doubt that he ever expected his name to come up, still, 32 years after his death, of the people he so deeply touched and helped. What a legacy to leave behind!

I can only hope that my children live a similar experience and that years after I’m gone, people will tell them of how I helped them through very rough time. But the beauty of this story is this: there’s still time. There’s still time for me to flap my butterfly wings here and hope it results in me leaving the world some day a bit better than it was. I challenge you all to do the same and see what it does to your own life. I’m convinced that doing so will have incredible impact on your mental and physical health, your happiness, and your overall well-being.

Did you find this article helpful? There’s a lot more to this topic, including multiple videos I’ve made that you can find here:

YouTube Channel

If you have a question or something to add about this month’s article or want to share how you made your tax season happier, you can reach out anytime.