Most of us have experienced tossing an object into a still body of water and watching it create a series of sustained ripples extending far beyond the point of initial impact. This relaxing phenomenon of a ripple can illustrate an important principle of leadership, our impact. My observation is that we greatly undervalue the impact we have on others, whether it be positive or negative. It can be tempting to conclude, when we don't hear back from others directly, that our efforts have gone unnoticed and/or unappreciated.
I recently had a very rewarding phone discussion with an ASCENT grad from nine years ago. We have never met. What she shared helped me again accept that a ripple was created, that I had made an impact. She shared how much she appreciated the monthly action learning (now contained in our regular blog) and how she used it. The impact of the monthly action learning moved beyond her own personal application as she shared it with others. She was sustaining a ripple and created a new one at the same time. I was both stunned and grateful at hearing this. My occasional doubt about how impactful the monthly blog is, was immediately bolstered with her feedback.
What's one of the possible take-away's from this? We very often don't know the impact and consequential ripple we create. The absence of feedback or hearing about the ripple might leave us thinking we are failing and our efforts aren't creating the outcomes we hoped for. You can counter this tempting conclusion by reminding yourself of the ripples others have created for you, that sustain you, that feed you. You are doing that for others. Let that empower the belief within that you are making a difference, because you are!
Questions for reflection:
1. What ripples created by others am I grateful for?
2. What is my awareness of the impact I'm having, the ripples I'm creating?
3. What do I tell myself (my story) about the value others hold of my efforts?
4. What are my doubts and have I checked in to see if they are well-founded?
5. How will I adjust my perspective to have more compassion for myself and the ripples I'm creating?