We keep throwing this word around called “impact.” Do you know what your impact is and how would you define, discover, understand or leverage it? It’s like the way my husband describes calories: he’s never seen a calorie, so he’s not sure if they exist.
Does impact exist?
I can assure you, most emphatically, that you have more impact than you realize. We all do. Tim Elmore says: “Sociologists tell us the most introverted of people will influence 10,000 others in an average lifetime.” Imagine how many people you have knowingly and unknowingly influenced in your life so far.
Every person you come in contact with is impacted in some way. For example, if you hold the door open for someone, that has an impact. Whether or not they say “thank you” impacts you. You feel satisfaction if they acknowledge you and disgruntlement if they don’t. If you compliment a co-worker on their performance, you have has an impact on that person. If you criticize another person, you have also impacted them.
What is impact?
2. Have a strong effect on someone or something. Synonyms: affect, influence, have an effect on, make an impression on, hit, touch, change, alter, modify, transform, shape.
I am focusing on definition number two: to have a strong effect on someone or something. We typically go about our daily routines without considering our impact. We don’t consider whether we are making a positive difference or a negative impression. This is particularly prevalent when we are not face-to-face with others. Consider your morning commute to work in an urban area: most likely, some of that commute was negative. This is due to the fact that other drivers are not considering their impact on you.
It’s a huge shame that our impact on others is largely unconscious. We do things without considering the repercussions or even realizing that our actions and words matter. We dish out our opinions on social media in thoughtless disregard to the ripples that they cause. We take rash stances or engage in impulsive acts from a reactionary state. We have become so convinced of our own powerlessness that we don’t stop to think that what we do shapes the very world around us every single day.
You have more impact than you think.
When you wake up and realize that you have more impact than you think, you also have a choice: Will you have a positive impact or a negative impact? You have a great deal of power over your environment and your influence on this world. You do not need to be famous or wealthy or write a book to be influential. You have family, friends, co-workers, peers and random people you come into contact with all the time. You also have freedom of choice.
You can choose what your impact is on others. You can choose your legacy on this earth.
Your impact equals your legacy. The impression you leave on this life and others is your legacy. You have the ability to become responsible for your actions and be intentional about your path. You can be intentional about your influence and your impact. Based on what you want your environment to reflect, your influence will matter a great deal. There’s an old saying: you get what you give.
Choose your path wisely.
Once you wake up and understand what your impact is and realize that you have more impact than you think, you can also get hung up on what other people think about you. Your impact and your legacy are not centered around what other people think, however. They’re centered on what you decide your legacy will be. In other words, will you be a supporter or a negative Nelly? Every action has a reaction. You receive what energy you put forth. What will that energy be?
Most individuals drift through life with casual disregard for their impact on their environment, loved ones, friends, colleagues and random strangers, at work and at home. While you might not care what a random stranger feels, you might care about your family. Are you considering the repercussions of your words, actions or inactions?
Why care about your impact?
Because your impact defines your reality, you either care or opt out of having an opinion. It’s like voting. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about who got elected. If you aren’t intentional about your impact, you can’t complain about where your life takes you. If you want to drive the bus of your life, you must be own your impact.
As John Maxwell says, “When you live each day with intentionality, there’s almost no limit to what you can do.” You can transform yourself to reach your goals, live your dreams and live in fulfillment. It all starts with understanding that you have an impact and owning it. Once you have taken responsibility for influencing your life, decide what type of influence you wish to be. Be the architect of your future; be intentional about your impact.