What Kind of Impact Are We Making?

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Introducing the Legacy Builder Series

It’s a typical weekday night. The clock says 4:45pm and I am hustling in the kitchen. The oven is cranked up to 400°F ready to roast tonight’s cauliflower, though it’s not yet cut. The water on the stove is boiling, sending steam to the ceiling while the rinsed rice sits neglected next to the sink. I’m dicing raw chicken on the cutting board as fast as humanly possible when my two older sons walk in the door, now home from school, squabbling over a basketball. My youngest son, who just awoke from his afternoon nap, tugs on my sweater and with bleary eyes says, “Mom, I want to help you cook dinner.”

 

The world freezes around me. I see the two choices I have. On one hand, I can curtly respond with a harsh, “No” which would be understandable considering the situation around me. On the other hand, I can slow down, pause the chaos, and take a moment to teach my son how to chop the cauliflower, helping him work on an important life skill while also including him in the daily tasks of the household.

 

I wish I could say that I always choose the latter, but sometimes I don’t.

 

This leads to the question, what kind of impact am I making? Sometimes I make an impact by just getting dinner on the table for my family and that’s okay. But on the golden occasions, when I do choose the latter, I’m making a greater impact by teaching, training, and leading my children while making dinner.

 

The Legacy Builder series is about recognizing the opportunities we have to make that greater impact. Whether it’s at work or in the home, we are influencing other people’s lives. As leaders, we are watched by those we are tasked to lead. As Patrick says, “more things are caught than taught.”

 

So how do we do it? How do we become Legacy Builders who leave lasting impressions on people’s lives? How do we make that greater impact?

 

Recognize the Opportunities

It would be nice if the opportunities arose when we were twiddling our thumbs, waiting for one to come about. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Often, they come up at inconvenient times, in the form of that co-worker knocking on our door as we’re banging away on an overdue report, or that old acquaintance who stops us while we’re hustling through the aisles of Walmart. The key is slowing down, setting aside our agenda, and giving time and attention to others, especially when it’s not convenient for us.

 

Speak and Act with Intention

Our words and actions matter. Even if an action seems small, it can have a lasting impression if there is heart behind it. For example, striking up conversation with janitorial staff just as we would with other co-workers, means that we value all people for who they are and not just for the work they do or position they hold. Listening well to others and asking insightful questions leads to connection and understanding. We can share our insights of course, but engaging in dialogue more often than monologuing leaves room for others to share their ideas and insights.

 

Turn Struggles into Lessons

No one is exempt from trials and failures. We know that means us as well. Yes, they’re challenging, but they can also be learning opportunities. If we are willing to be vulnerable and honest with those we lead, we can potentially encourage them through their trials and failures with the things that we have learned from our own. This builds trust and strong relationships.

 

Leaving a lasting impact by leading with empathy, compassion, perseverance. and patience is not easy. It also doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice. It takes failing sometimes and then apologizing and trying again. It takes hard work to grow as a person and a leader in a way that encourages others. The big thing is to keep trying, don’t give up.

 

In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to post about becoming a Legacy Builder but if you ever have questions and want to reach out, don’t hesitate. At Impact of Leadership, we’re creating a community of people who don’t do life alone.

 

Author: Ashley Buenger 

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