People often ask me, ‘How can I have more impact?’ They think it’s about being more impressive. Doing more. Achieving more. Being flashier. Wearing better shoes.
It can be those ego-flavoured things. But it really depends on what impact someone is seeking.
Me? I’m less interested in being on the cover of People magazine than I am in creating experiences and conversations that transform people’s lives.
So if you asked about having more impact, I’d say: ‘Think of yourself less.’
I don’t mean thinking less of yourself (as in, I’m a no-good loser).
I mean redirecting your attention to the person, or people, you’re with.
I mean being truly present in a conversation, listening with interest, thinking about others, and holding space for them.
This means relaxing our agendas, not needing to command the room, not having to impress. That’s so exhausting – and probably just a little off-putting.
Positive impact, as I see it, requires an energy shift from being self-oriented to being other-oriented.
I had a phone call with my friend David today. He was talking about competitive listening, that experience when someone’s listening to you, but can’t wait to interject with their own, more awesome story the second you draw breath.
David gave the example of a new, bunny-slope skier, who has just tried a red run. This psyched-up newbie is in conversation with a fellow skier.
At the soonest opportunity, the listener interjects: ‘I know what you mean, man!’
His story involves heli drop offs, ice crampons and untouched powder.
So how does red run feel? No bueno.
The subtext: ‘Enough about you, lets talk about me.’
People with positive impact aren’t posing and posturing. They are looking for opportunities to uplift, to energize and to support those around them.
Their impact comes from how deeply they connect.
We can all have conversations and create experiences that leave people transformed.
The way you speak to someone can energize or deplete them.
The way you react to a problem can uplift everyone, or add to the challenge.
An encounter with you can leave someone’s day better or worse than it was before.
That power flows through you.
Impact is, and isn’t, about you. It runs through you, like tea through the spout of a teapot. Your impact, when positive, fills up and warms someone else. You are the vessel. You have the power.
Use it for good.