Nading: Lollipop, Lollipop, Oh Lolli, Lolli, Lolli…


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“Lollipop moments” are memories which are insignificant to one person but have a tremendous impact on another. Going out of our way to show others that we appreciate them will have significant impact on others’ lives, making the world a better place.

Mackenzie Nading

When you think of a lollipop, what first comes to mind: sugar, Halloween, children, maybe all of the above? Most, however, wouldn’t choose to associate a lollipop with the idea of strength, leadership and life-changing moments, but that’s not the case for Drew Dudley.

Dudley is the founder of Nuance, an organization whose mission is to create transformative experiences by helping people create, improve or supplement leadership development programming. One of Dudley’s most well-known presentations was given at a TED (technology, entertainment and design) conference in Toronto, Canada.

In his talk, he explained the idea that everyone can be a leader by doing the smallest of gestures, usually unaware they are making a difference. He called these impactful interactions “lollipop moments” based off a personal experience where he had a large impact on someone’s life, completely unaware of it until many years later, simply by giving that person a lollipop. The full story can be found on YouTube.

This video was presented to me almost a week ago during a training session for my job. After watching the video, my fellow employees and I were presented the challenge of taking a lollipop and searching out a person we had never thought to thank for making an impact in our lives. It was in the midst of this challenge I realized how many important individuals I had left unacknowledged in my life.

As a society, it seems we celebrate the act of being, succeeding and triumphing, all alone. It is more of a feat to accomplish a challenge solo than with a team. This attitude has created a world in which true and sincere acknowledgments and thanks are rarely handed out. They are hardly even thought of. Without recognition, people will stop stepping up to help others when they are in need. Without a change, this cycle of ungratefulness and lack of compassion will continue without end until this world becomes distant and hurtful towards one another. But this cycle can be reversed and all it takes is a little thought and maybe a lollipop or two.

Most of us can identify at least three extremely impactful moments in our lives, which have, for better or worse, completely changed the path of life we were once pursuing. These path alterations usually don’t come from our own self-awareness to make a change. They occur because someone, or multiple people, stepped up and acted in our lives. Their actions made such a difference that it altered our worlds, and they created a true lollipop moment like Drew Dudley describes in his video.

I can almost bet those who made such a difference have no idea they even did so. What a sad thought: There are people in each of our lives who have no idea how important they were in creating where each of us stand today. Those people need to be thanked, immediately. Step-up and give thanks; those deserving individuals will never forget it.

Now let’s flip the tables for a moment and ask yourself if you’ve been making an impact on others’ lives without even knowing it. The world today seems to have a misconstrued idea of what it means to be a leader. Dudley talks about how we have built up the criteria of being a leader to extravagant proportions. People are always self-conscious about confidently stating they are a leader if they don’t own a successful company, haven’t saved someone’s life, or accomplished some other great feat.

This way of thinking is wrong and may be detrimental. It is important for each one of us to realize we can, in fact, be leaders by merely being ourselves. Simply interacting with others on a daily basis gives us the opportunity to significantly change peoples’ lives, even if it’s in a small way. When this thought really sets in, it’s an extremely powerful thing. 

Never underestimate the power you have to influence, lead and truly change someone’s life. It’s something to not only understand, but to act upon each and every day.

Be more conscious of your actions. Say thanks; be generous and go out of your way to help others. These small actions can create a lollipop moment in someone’s life and from just that one impact, many more lollipop moments have the potential to be created. Thank those in your life who have made an impact unknowingly, reach out to others in hopes of making a difference, and never underestimate the power of a lollipop.


Mackenzie Nading is a junior in political science from Elgin, Iowa.