“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” ~ Jackie Robinson
It’s been a tough week this week. Or maybe I should say a busy week. I’m trying to find my ‘why’. If you’ve seen it lying about somewhere, please let me know!
I feel like the lack of ‘it’ is impacting on my ability to properly focus my energy and effort on achieving the most impact I can. I’ve always believed that I’m meant to do something really significant. And I’m not lacking in ambition. But without knowing exactly what ‘it’ is, I feel like I’m dabbling. Paddling in the shallow end, rather than diving in.
I find the idea of impact intriguing. And sometimes intimidating.
I’ve been reading Find your Why, by Simon Sinek, David Mead and Peter Docker.
It’s delightfully simple in its execution – providing a straightforward and comprehensive approach to finding what it is that inspires you to act, and yet it is also daunting…
The idea of finding (and articulating) the one thing that makes you tick – across all facets of your life – is a little bit frightening. What if I don’t like what it has to say? What if it isn’t sexy? Or interesting? Or particularly impactful?
It’s also quite possible that the thing that frightens me most, is having to narrow my focus. If I have a clearly articulated ‘why’, surely I should only be doing things that deliver my why? I have a long-standing and very well-worn track record of sampling the menu, rather than specialising in anything. Doing lots of things quite well, rather than one thing with expertise.
So today, I’m going to talk about three levels of impact – personal, professional and global. I’m partly hoping that this will help me clarify mine… But more importantly, I hope it might help you to figure out if you’re having the impact in the world that you hoped you would.
“You can have an impact anywhere you are.” ~ Tony Dungy
I see impact as something that is nested, with the layer of impact that is easiest to observe and change being our personal impact. The impact we have on our friends and family, in our community and on those we meet on any given day.
Personal impact is mostly about character traits – like kindness, and compassion, and patience. But it also moves outwards in ripples. The way we treat other people, and the way we behave, moves out from around us and interacts with other people’s impacts in a (sometimes) unpredictable way.
What impact do you want to have on those immediately around you?
How do you want to be remembered by your friends and family when you die?
Is your behaviour and treatment of others likely to get that result?
If so, great! If not, what are you going to do about it?
Mindfulness is helpful to recognising your impact in ‘real-time’. So a meditation class or app (I use Headspace) can be really helpful in learning to understand and observe the impact of your behaviour and also identifying your emotional state (which can drive or trigger the behaviour).
“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” ~ Tony Robbins
The next layer of impact comes from how we choose to conduct ourselves professionally. Chances are you picked an occupation based on what you thought was going to make a meaningful contribution to society. We tend to be drawn to careers that reflect our values, and also to companies that validate our values.
How we treat our colleagues, and how we conduct ourselves at work, is a critical component of our professional impact.
Do you give real-time constructive feedback to your peers? To your boss?
Are you able to communicate effectively, even about complex issues? Or those that you feel strongly about?
Do you take responsibility for your actions?
Try and forget about hierarchy, and focus on adding value to everyone around you: your boss, your peers, your staff and your customers. If you believe and value the purpose of the company you work for, then the more successful you are, the more impactful the organisation will be.
“Doing good holds the power to transform us on the inside, and then ripple out in ever-expanding circles that positively impact the world at large.” ~ Shari Arison
And then there are some people for whom the ripples radiate outwards seemingly endlessly, touching thousands, even millions or billions, and making the world a better place along the way.
Through writing, through speaking, through acting, through sharing, through giving, through doing. Whatever the way you have for impacting the world, you should do it.
If you see a problem in front of you, fix it.
If you don’t know how to fix it, find someone who does. Connect that someone with the problem, and encourage them.
If you know something that would help others, share it. Share it loudly and often. If you don’t know how to get your message out, find someone who does. Connect with them, and help them to share what you know.
If everyone did something every day to make the world just a little bit better, that would be a lot of little impacts.
And those little impacts just might add up to something…
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