Maybe you’re a fire-breathing monster bringing destruction to towns near you. Or one of those insects, which flitter across the surface of still streams creating gentle ripples. Chances are you’re somewhere in-between. Or maybe you’d place yourself on another continuum?
The question is: what impact are you creating… for yourself… and for others?
LIFTING THE LID
We often don’t think about our impact on ourselves and others. In heated moments, things can get out of control and tempers can get the best of us (which we might later regret). Or, we don’t speak up when we feel we want to, stonewalling and withdrawing from the conversation (which, again, we might regret). If this sounds familiar, that’s ok – we’re all human, right?
Recently, I set off an impact I’d not intended. I wanted to be honest, transparent and true to myself. This was important. It felt like the right thing to do. I did expect it to have some kind of impact on the people I was with, but in this tug-of-war in my head, I still thought it best to be honest and transparent.
Unfortunately, I’d lifted the lid on something that then had a far larger impact on the whole group.
“GO TO THE DOWNSTAIRS TOILET!”
Why is it important for me to honesty and transparently express myself? I’m not entirely sure, but I can trace its genesis back to childhood arguments with my siblings.
Back then, the arguing kids were ordered to the downstairs toilet, the smallest toilet in the house, to work things out away from the rest of the family. (Being a tiny toilet, there was always a rush to get there first to get the seat – the others had to stand.) We could only emerge in a utopian trance, with doves of peace flying over our heads.
The theory was that we’d work things out together, rationally and with maturity. The reality was that in that precise moment we weren’t terribly fond of each other, often defaulting to our preferred toxic communication behaviours.
We emerged from our tiny cell only because we wanted to get out of each other’s company. The conflict was not worked through or resolved – indeed it was mostly silenced and stifled.
So, as children, the four of us were not trained on how to have difficult conversations, how to express ourselves honestly, clearly and with respect. (And we certainly didn’t appreciate the impact we’d have on others.
CONSCIOUS AND INTENTIONAL
In my recent example above, I had an impact that then set off another far larger, more destructive impact within the group. I knew what I wanted to do and why it was important to me, but I hadn’t fully considered the effect it just might have on the group. I was conscious but not intentional.
What do those words mean? Well, the dictionary’s definitions are:
- Conscious:“aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.”, “aware of what one is doing”, “aware of oneself; self-conscious”…
- Intentional: as “done with intention or on purpose; intended”, “pointing beyond itself, as consciousness or a sign”.
Now I want to bring more intention to my impact on others. I want to be both more conscious and more intentional. I want to bring my integrity and self-respect to the moment.
This is all about choice. It’s about you choosing your intention. This doesn’t necessarily mean limiting intentions to those considered ‘good’ such as those of Mother Theresa or a Thunderbird… who knows when being Godzilla may actually be helpful?
It’s about not operating in your default, not being on autopilot.
Because, you’re more powerful when you’re at choice, when you actively choose an intention. So be curious about your intention and its potential impact. Know what impact you want. Be at choice.
Be curious and question yourself. What do I feel? What do I want? How do I want to be now, in this moment? How does this serve me? How does it serve others? What’s the purpose?
Remember, you get to decide your impact.
WANT TO BE CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSE YOUR IMPACT?
If you’re looking to be more conscious and intentional about your impact at work, then contact me about executive coaching or career coaching. We’ll uncover what’s underneath and get the answers you’re looking for.