Making a greater impact
May 26th 2017
There are two things that hinder the impact you are making right now in your work. This week I talk about how to overcome them so that you can shine your light in this world, even when times seem dark.
Have you ever had the thought, I wish I was making a bigger impact in the world with the work that I do? If that thought has ever crossed your mind and you’re trying to figure out how to manage your expectations of yourself then this video is for you.
This week we’re talking about impact. And a common thought pattern that really affects our satisfaction with the work that we do is the thought that I wish I was doing more right now, or I wish I was making a greater impact on the world right now, I wish I was reaching more people than I am right now. And it’s a common thought, it’s a common desire, and there’s nothing wrong with it because it’s pulling you towards growth and pulling you to skills and situations that are outside of your comfort zone that you’ll have to find strategies to negotiate into, and it leads to growth and growth leads to contribution.
At its healthiest it’s a really, good desire to have to want to help more people. When it becomes detrimental to yourself is when the expectations are not managed in a healthy way. You may be asking more of yourself than what you’re currently capable of giving. You may be wishing you had someone else’s skillset because they seem to be more successful and if I just had their skillset things would be a lot easier for me. You might be wishing that you had more access to resources and if you did then your impact would be greater.
There are a lot of things that support this kind of blown-out expectations and spiral us down into that kind of dark place when we feel unsatisfied with the impact our work is having.
There are two main ones.
Overwhelm and helplessness
The first is external, and it really comes from a place where you’re very compassionate and perhaps even sensitive to what’s happening in the world, and when you look at the news and all the horrible things that are happening to other people around the world and to the environment, it feels so overwhelming. It feels like there’s just so much to do, there’s so much craziness going on, and how is what I’m doing making any difference in the greater scheme of things.
That external landscape of negative, horrible, traumatic, sad stories that we’re bombarded with daily can really skew our perception of what impact we can make on the world. And it’s very easy to fall into helplessness and hopelessness… What can I do? So that kind of pressure from the outside really spirals us down into further thinking whatever we do is not going to really make a difference at the end of the day.
The second thing that really influences the way we manage our expectations is chronic dissatisfaction, continual feeling of ‘not there yet’, not arrived, not good enough perhaps. It’s an internal struggle where we’re feeling like no matter how much we’ve already done, it’s… we’re looking at the goal or the vision that we have for ourselves and we’re so far away from it, and we just don’t feel like we’ve reached our potential. So that… when it’s in overdrive can slow us down on our mission, with our purpose. It hinders us because it’s draining our energy and it’s making us feel as though whatever we’re doing we’re still kind of battling uphill.
I remember a story when, you know, this… it was coming to my mind that… I was going to talk about this for this week’s blog, and I remember when I was a kid, my brother and I and my parents… I believe… I remember it was monthly, we would as a service project with a few other families, we would pack sandwiches for men living in a men’s hostel in Newcastle.
So we’d go and do a big shop. We’d buy the bread and all the ingredients, the cheese, the tomato, the… I think it was vegetarian bacon, poor guys if they’re not vegetarian but that’s what we were… so we bought vegetarian bacon which is called “fake-on”… mustard sauce. We’d buy all the stuff and then as a family we’d make these sandwiches. And we had a little production line. One would be buttering the bread and one would be filling it and one would be putting the cling wrap on each one and then one would be packing it. I think the agreement as I remember was each family was to do two or three loaves of bread and then we’d do a drop-off.
I remember being very sparing with the ingredients. So I would be the one filling, and I’d add put a little bit of lettuce and a little bit of cheese and a little bit of tomatoes and it was a very light sandwich, there wasn’t much in it, because I was thinking the ingredients have to spread thin and they have to last for three loaves. And I remember my dad saying to me… he was just talking to himself and he was kind of talking to the whole family at the same time, and he’s like you know, when I eat a sandwich I really want it to be filled like a burger, it needs to be jam-packed with stuff and I’d really enjoy it and that’s the kind of sandwich I love eating, so let’s just pack it up so that we have so many good sandwiches as opposed to several half… half-made sandwiches so that each one is actually quite delightful to eat as opposed to none of them being very satisfying.
I remember that and I thought oh yeah, that’s true, like would I want to eat this sandwich? No, I want it to be packed. So we changed. We made less sandwiches that day and we knew for next time that we needed more ingredients. But it was such a simple thing but it really did impact me and I draw upon that story now and when I’m sharing these thoughts with the people that I talk to who are feeling as though they’re not making a huge impact, there’s a line that gets drawn, and it’s the fact that it’s better to really look after the people in front of you that have come underneath your care as a professional, as a company, whatever your work is and whatever your impact is right now, there are people that are putting their trust into you. And whether that’s two people a week or whether it’s two hundred or two thousand, the thinking pattern that I could be operating at a higher level to have a greater impact is not really related to how many people you’re servicing and looking after. It’s a thought pattern of more is better.
When you pack the sandwich, pack it really good for the person in front of you and give it your all and treat them like how you would want to be treated given the full attention, the full service, the full impact that you can offer them in their life.
It’s like the starfish story where there was a little boy, when he was walking along the beach and there were hundreds, maybe thousands of starfish washed on the shore and they were dying, and he was taking each starfish in his hand and throwing them back into the sea. And then someone walks up and goes what are you doing, you’re not going to be able to help all of them, you’re not going to change anything here, you’re not making much of a difference in the world. And the boy said well for this starfish I’ve changed its world, and he just continued to… It makes me really emotional. It’s such a beautiful story. I’ve read it a thousand times. But it’s talking about how the impact you can make in one person’s world is so valuable, and you wouldn’t even know the ripple effect that that’s creating for their world and the people in their world, and it just keeps going. A teacher can never really know the impact they have on the world because it’s just infinite.
Whenever you’re feeling as though the work I’m doing is just not making as big of an impact as it could be, scale it down and talk about well, am I giving my all and my very best to what is in front of me right now… what is front of me right now. Because what I’ve noticed with the universe is you can put intentions out there and you can want it and you can feel it, but you will only receive as much as you are willing to take responsibility for.
When you’ve got people coming to you for help, for products, for service as a company, you’ve got your staff, if you’re able to take responsibility and beautiful, healthy responsibility for the people in your charge now that you’re serving, more will come. And if you do it really well, you will feel the benefits and the satisfaction in helping the people that are in front of you right now.
That thinking pattern of more is better and more is greater and I’m not doing much right now, that is just the ego. That is literally just the ego trying to make you feel as though what you have right now is not enough. It’s the thinking pattern of the ego. And the ego always keeps you wanting more and more and more. I’ll just do one more course and then I’ll get started. We’ll just take on one more gig and then we’re really going to go full-throttle. No, go full-throttle now. Throw yourself into your work right now and you’ll find that the work feeds your passion and your abilities to manage what’s in front of you grows as you try new things and you’ll be given more to manage, more responsibility.
And know that you just have to find what you love doing that can serve other people, that lights you up. Don’t do something that doesn’t light you up. There’s plenty of opportunities out there to help and serve people. Find the opportunity that works with your personality and your skillset and your passions and your interests because you’ll be more engaged and more enthusiastic about the work that you do. And when everyone does that, when everyone does their bit, everything gets done. And that’s the only thing we can do. We can’t do everything. We can’t save all the starfish, but we can really impact the person that’s in front of us today, the people that are in our space this week and impact them, and just trust that everything else will take care of itself.
If you’re feeling like it’s just not enough, write a list of everything that you’re proud of… that you’ve already achieved in the last six months, one year, three years… pick a timeframe, and find the value that you’ve already given and just celebrate that, and let your prayer be “Universe, bring to me as much as I’m willing to take responsibility for” and you will see what comes. You will see what expands. Good luck with it. I would love to hear the impact that you’re already making and the impact that you desire to make one day and let the journey unfold. That’s all we need to do.