One Practice to Maximize Your Impact Immediately
A few weeks ago, I had the honor to speak at the California Women’s Conference sponsored by the Women Network, an international membership organization whose mission is to unite women across the globe. I have received a myriad of emails from women commenting on the self-reflection my talk provoked, so I thought I’d share some of the content with you in my post this week. My talk was about one practice you can adopt that will help you maximize your impact immediately.
While there are many things we can do to maximize our impact—there is one practice that makes a dramatic difference for the people I work with.
My assumption is that you already know how to “do” things. You already know how to set goals and achieve them, as you have been doing that pretty well all your life. Learning how to set a goal and take action to achieve it isn’t really what’s going to help you maximize your impact.
What will, then?
Being more conscious and deliberate about who you are being while you are doing what you are doing.
What does that mean?
Let’s take the case of MaryAnne for illustration.
MaryAnne is an incredibly smart, high-flying woman executive who on the outside has it all. She leads an organization with over 5000 employees, makes a multiple six-figure salary, serves on a philanthropic board, runs her two boys around to their sports activities all weekend, and even has a “date night” with her husband once a week. She is “doing” many things and achieving much success as deemed by conventional standards we use to measure success. And yet when you drill down closer, you start to see another picture.
She is taking anti-anxiety medication for the panic attacks and stress she experiences constantly. She is frazzled and reactive much of the time, frantically checking her smartphone and answering calls as she does all of these things she is doing. She is half-present wherever she is, and rarely has time to just sit and enjoy whatever she is involved in since she is thinking about the next thing she needs to do. Her marital relationship is more a series of transactions and to-do lists than meaningful and fulfilling.
The surprising feedback she receives from her team at work is that she “doesn’t value people”, which not only upsets her, but shocks her to the core. She sees herself as a caring, compassionate, people-oriented person who values interpersonal relationships above all else.
MaryAnne is a perfect example of someone who is an expert at “doing” things. What she pays little attention to is who she is “being” while she is doing them. Is she behaving and “being” the person she wants to be? Is she really experiencing her life and acting in accordance with what she says she values?
The single practice that can transform your impact in the world is to think about who you are being while you are doing all the things you do.
When you drive down the street and flip the person off at the traffic light, is that the person you want to be?
When you read your smartphone while your son is telling you about his day – is distracted and indifferent how you want your son to see you?
When you wake up in the morning and bark out orders to your husband as you rush to get ready, is that the wife you want to be?
Make a list of the words you think people would use to describe you right now. Better yet, ask them to tell you what words—good, bad, and ugly, that they would use right now. Are they the ones you want them to use? If not—what are the words you want them to use? What words most closely describe who you want to be? Write them down and look at them. Then write down next to each word the behaviors you would consistently exhibit to personify the word. For example, if “supportive” is one of the words you wrote down—what behaviors would you exhibit to be supportive? Listening intently while others speak, acknowledging the feelings of others, asking questions, etc. would be just a few examples of supportive behaviors. And so on. Do this for your entire list and then take a look at this regularly. Are you regularly behaving the way you want to be? Are you being the person you want to be while you are doing the things you do?
The practice of being conscious and deliberate about who you are being while you are doing and achieving has an amazing impact in all areas of your life. It forces you to be accountable for something much greater than the mere achievement of goals or tasks.
It allows you to move from reacting to circumstances and people around you and actually choose and create who you are and who you become in this lifetime.