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What impact do you want to have?


I’ve been thinking about impact a lot recently.  Working with some clients on their Purpose prompted me to do some work on articulating my own “Why”. 

When I worked in the corporate world, I never thought that I was driven by this greater sense of Purpose.  When I first read my own personal Strengths Profile, I was really surprised to see words like “Mission” and “Legacy” coming up.  The description of these Strengths sounded big and important: “How you spend your time, your decisions and your future plans are all aligned to your sense of mission and purpose in life” and “You want to make a positive impact and create things that outlast you.”

I wasn’t 100% convinced at first and I’ll explain why.

Changing the World

My original feeling of disconnection with this concept of Purpose was all down to my interpretation of the word “impact”.  My own take was that, in order to have a Purpose, your impact would need to change the world.  It felt like it should be macro, like finding a cure for cancer, eradicating poverty or saving the planet.

Yes, I want to have a positive impact, but my work is very much at the individual level and it didn’t feel broad enough or important enough.  It felt very micro.

I have worked in organisations which are very purpose-led.  The people heading up these organisations were definitely on a mission to change the world.  It always felt like I was contributing to an important thing, but I didn’t always feel aligned to the organisation’s or to the founder’s Purpose.  I thought that this made me, somehow, not personally purposeful.

Start with Why

I have used Simon Sinek’s “find your why” process with 121 coaching clients for a while but it wasn’t until recently that I worked through the process myself which culminated in my own Why statement.

It is an interesting and quite lengthy process.  It starts with you telling your listening partner stories from your life which had a great impact on you and on how your life turned out.  Your listening partner looks for key themes and from those themes, you mutually define your Why Statement.

This statement comprises two halves: your contribution and your impact.

And guess what I learned?

Micro impacts are OK.  Micro impacts can change people’s lives.  Micro impacts can be far-reaching.

Micro impacts

It was then I remembered a conversation I had with a good friend when we were in our twenties.  She was telling me how she wanted to start her own business, make an impact on the world, sell the business for £millions and then retire in her 30s.  I very distinctly remember her saying: “I don’t want to end up like my mother”.

I was confused.  “Your mother is an amazing person” I said.  “She has devoted a large chunk of her life to working with disabled children locally and making a difference in her community”.  My friend was not impressed.  The impact was too small.  She wanted to have a bigger personal impact.  I remember thinking that I would love to make the positive impact her mother had made, even if only for a handful of people.

On a Mission

When I finally articulated my Why statement, it felt amazing.  All the work I subsequently did that week felt purposeful, connected, energising, motivating, meaningful and enjoyable. 

I love my micro impact and I’m working on ways that I can create ripples that impact as many people as possible.  This is my mission and it may just turn out to be my legacy!

If you’re interested in finding your Why, let me know.  At the moment this is a 121 offering.  However, I am also looking to run some group programmes later in the year so let me know if you’d be interested and I can keep you posted!

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