To define it is actually difficult to experience it is very easy and I say this from an experience.
While speaking about social organizations we come across the tough question of measuring their impact. When faced by this question we discuss quantitative and qualitative parameters which can evaluate the work of the organization. We also think about sharing case studies and stories of the beneficiaries.
For a moment let us leave aside all that we know about impact, it’s assessment and parameters. Let’s first ask a better question- what is impact? We all know that whatever we do has an impact, but what does that really mean in the real life? In human life impact means a change. Change can be permanent or temporary but when humans come in picture this change is always permanent. Let me illustrate this with an example- the human habit of spitting on road is an impact of what habits human has acquired by observing. When someone creates an awareness about the harmful effects of spitting in public places the real impact would mean a change in behavior and not just awareness about the information that spitting on roads is bad.
Increasing level of awareness, knowledge and creating advocates of rights is not an impact at all. I make this statement because I see that these things actually have no impact. The only utility of such exercises is the symbolic ‘inspirational’ value and that symbolical inspiration to change something can be better acquired from individual examples rather than a herd of ‘informed’ group of activists. When activism confines itself to awareness it is dead, without any life. And anything without life can never create an impact.
Thus impact means change for real. Change in actions. This is certainly difficult but not impossible. We may may not be able to write a 100 page annual report about our social initiatives but we may be able to know how many lives have we changed for real, actually. The road is tough as it is the one which has been less traveled but you can be inspired from some of these shining stars like Baba Amte, Kiran Khalap, Satish Kamat or APJ Abdul Kalam or even you yourself who is trying to get better each day. We all definitely remember at least one school teacher who inspired us, who influenced us deeply. We all know the the name of one author who persuaded us to think. These people and their work with people is impactful. We all know the experience we have had with the change makers in our lives but we don’t know the details of actually what they did.
That is why I say that impact is difficult to define but easy to experience. We all have the chance to impact each other. Just go and do it, our hearts know the way.