The Ripple Effect: How Many Will Be Impacted By Your Actions?


Because we started Big Oak Ranch over 40 years ago, we now not only get to meet children of our former residents, but we also get to meet their grandchildren. It is amazingly gratifying and humbling to have a child or grandchild of a former resident walk up and say things like, “Thank you for helping my dad make it. I love my daddy. He’s a real good man!”

No matter how important or insignificant we may feel, there will always be a ripple effect of how we treat people. Always!

There are three kinds of ripples that we will leave behind after we are gone.

The first one is a positive ripple. Hopefully, we all have influenced our mates, our children, our families, and everyone around us in a positive way. Sometimes this happens because we had a well-thought-out plan. Then there are times when we leave a positive ripple on a complete stranger. Our mates, children, and family members watch us when we don’t even know it. We can impact their lives in a very deep and moving way just by our example and the way we are living our lives.

The second kind of ripple is just the opposite, a negative one. It doesn’t take very much intelligence to realize the many ways we can leave a negative ripple as we walk through life. Many famous people have chosen poorly and left negative ripples. Most of us are not famous, but the negative ripples we may leave are just as, if not more, devastating.

Choices we make or habits that we cultivate can literally destroy generations ahead of us. The habit can control us instead of us controlling the habit. Numerous websites like will go back and help us locate or identify those who have gone before us. After a little effort on our part, many times we can ascertain whether the previous generations were transferring negative ripples onto our lives.

The third effect that we many times overlook is no ripple, which is possibly the most deadly. This is when we choose to do nothing. As I heard many years ago, “no decision is a decision.”

I believe the reason this is so devastating is because it gives the appearance to those who watch us, as well as those who will follow us, that we didn’t even care enough about them to make a decision one way or the other. This ambivalence makes someone feel they weren’t even worthy of being a thought. To be thought of as insignificant is a crushing blow to our mates, our children, and generations to come.

Our children, Reagan and Brodie, now run Big Oak Ranch. There are so many decisions that I made 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago that now impact not only our biological children and their children’s lives, but also thousands of other individuals because of the ripple effect. (Let me clarify here I have made so many mistakes I wish I could get a “do over” but that is not possible.)

We know from practical experience that many of the decisions we make will have an impact on many lives years down the road. Because of this fact, now when we make a decision we ask ourselves, “How will this affect lives 20 years from now?”

Could I encourage you to join us in weighing every decision you make on the ripple effect it’s going to leave? It is not always easy, but right is right every time.


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