06/20/2013 04:10 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2013

Making an Impact: Do You Live, or Merely Exist?

As I drove into work this morning, I looked around at the lanes the traffic, and I saw faces of people making a living -- going to work, doing tasks and meeting deadlines, and then getting a paycheck for their efforts. These people could be assemblers, engineers, CEOs or venture capitalists, yet in their cars on the way to a job they all looked the same. But what differentiates any of these workers from each other is whether or not they make an impact -- on their jobs, on their personal lives or even on themselves. Do they live, or do they just exist?

The idea of making an impact in life is nothing new. Doing things that have a profound positive effect on those around us means that we both stand out in people's minds, and also leave a lasting impression of what is possible with the right actions and decisions.

But the act of making this impact requires something that many people are hesitant to do - to lead the herd. This is not to say that one has to be a big boss or a corporate president to take the reigns. It just means that impact sometimes requires a guided effort - one that cannot be accomplished while being a backseat driver. Impact requires purposeful, intended effort to ensure that what needs to happen gets done the right way.

Impact in most cases can also be an all-or-nothing proposition. It's tough to save the world if your doing it half-assed. There are no shortcuts when it comes to doing something that will make an impression on others. But as was once quoted by Hunter S. Thompson, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right."

Each day when you get ready to go to work, consider this question - "Do I live to exist, or do I exist to live?" The basic premise being whether you go through your day just waiting for it to end, or do you use the day as an opportunity to make things better.

In my mind, I would rather go to bed knowing I made an impact in life, rather than going to sleep just being happy I survived another day.