Making an impact at work!
Making an impact at work!
Millennials want to make an impact. They want to make a difference in the world, to have value and meaning from what they do and their work. When I hear this, I start to wonder: is this kind of thinking what the world needs more of? Short answer: yes, and no.
Firstly, what exactly is ‘an impact’?
We like people who consider others before themselves, who give freely, who are not selfish or self-centred, who act responsibly, perhaps who are philanthropic. We want people who are not afraid of change, and perhaps who instigate change. Surely people who are the above would be making ‘the impact’ they/we desire? It certainly sounds good. But what about those doing ‘not good’, for they also make an impact. So perhaps the truth of making an impact is not about doing ‘good’ or ‘not good’ at all. Let’s further explore what the true and life changing ‘making an impact’ actually is.
Take ‘Benjamin’ a business school graduate who has been in his first job for eight months. Benjamin meets with a life coach complaining, "I’m not making a difference. I want to be making an impact."
Unfortunately for Benjamin, a millennial (the generation born between 1981 and 1996 give or take), life has always been immediate. Want some cherries? You got it – just go to the store, there are cherries being grown somewhere in the world so you can have them anytime. Benjamin has never had to wonder where his parents or friends are, the second he wants to know he just texts, messages, calls or old-school emails them. None of this writing letters and waiting three months for the ship to send a reply.
Benjamin has grown up playing a computer game where life happens at a ratio where one real-time minute equates to twenty-four hours in the game. So in the space of a few (real-time) days or weeks, one can plant, grow and harvest a field of vegetables; if you want it to rain you collect some ‘lifelines’ and bam! it rains. One can become pregnant, grow the baby, go through labour, not once but three times for a virtually instant family over a few days, and without all the mess; and one can complete a four-year university degree in a couple of weeks. Life online is virtually instantaneous, where very little patience or waiting is required and success is guaranteed.
And so of course when Benjamin goes to work and finds – probably for the first time in his short life – that things take time and life is not his to control, it is not surprising he gets depressed thinking that his life isn’t panning out as he imagined. Benjamin’s work colleagues seem to ignore him; he’s not getting recognised for anything he’s doing, he hasn’t received any accolades for his ‘good work’, nor a pay-rise.
Back to this concept of millennials ‘making an impact’; is it a truly self-less felt purpose to make life better for other people? And by ‘better’ we are most definitely not talking of a more comfortable, easy-going life. We are talking about a life that is lived in harmony together with every other soul, with zero harm or abuse whatsoever.
Or, when Benjamin says he wants to be ‘making an impact’, in all truth he desires to be noticed for what he does. Or said another way, to be recognised for the work he does, to be rewarded for his efforts. I would hazard a guess that our friend Benjamin, if he were or could be absolutely honest with himself, does indeed want to be rewarded and heralded for his work, not that he wants to leave a mark on this earth of harmony, harmlessness, and fire.
I imagine asking these questions will likely cause some discomfort or dis-ease for the millennials as they are stopped and offered to become honest about their intentions. And we could very easily expand to including all age groups, not just the millennials. But once that passes, if indeed they allow it to, they can get to the bottom of why and how an impact is truly made.
I would offer that ‘making an impact’ starts much closer to home than most understand and that we have been misled with the idea (which our dishonest dictionary unfortunately supports), that making an impact must be something big and powerful/extraordinary.
How do you feel when one of your work colleagues says something like:
- Hey Mary, that’s a real pretty hairclip you have in today!
- Joe, that’s a great backpack you’ve got there, I’ve been searching for one just like it. -Sally, I noticed you drinking one of those lemon mineral waters the other day so I bought you one for lunch when I picked up my own.
- Here Fred, I think this might be your photocopying so I got it off the printer for you.
- Everyone, it’s John’s birthday today and I made him a quiche with candles to share with us all!
- I see you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed today Sarah, can I help you?
- Hey Simon, have a super celebration tonight for your wedding anniversary!
It’s not about compliments per se; it’s about people. It’s about noticing others and including others; and more than that, it is about deeply connecting with people by meeting them for who they truly are in their essence without imposition, judgment or need. We allow the inner knowing of how to care for another, and for yourself, to be expressed in all that you do.
You are making an impact on people by revealing who you in truth are and by understanding who they are. Imagine for one second what this would look like in a building of 4000 employees: every single one of them with their head up, eyes meeting every work colleague, sharing, considering, enriching one another. I dare say everyone would be clambering to work here, regardless of what the actual job even is! We are being fed the idea that we have to make an impact outwardly and in that pursuit we forget to see, or can’t see, the impact we already make by allowing each other just to be who we are, by honouring who and what we already are and already bring.
I would also offer that true change – by that I mean change that is chemically/systemically/foundationally altering so that there is a healing that one gets – is actually what millennials, if not all humans want. We do know this to be the truth, because we have tried to make life about what we put out and or do, and we eventually realise that this is not enough: we sense we are missing something incredibly important and realise we still feel empty and are falling short of what feels true. For this true change to happen, the energy behind that – that causes something to happen or to be as it is – has to change.
Consider for a second that the basic scientific truth, that energy is the supreme causal influence upon every aspect of life, is true.
Life as we know it most certainly needs to change. It’s not wrong or bad to want to make an impact, for life certainly needs to be impacted upon by someone. However, we’re not after a superficial impact. We are after an impact that is offering permanent change. Life needs to be impacted such that we move back to where we come from instead of impacting life such that we stay unaware and in the ignorance of the truth we are living in. Life has to not just have a different flavour to it as we have been doing for aeons. It’s not enough to substitute chocolate ice-cream for salted caramel or honeycomb crunch. The need for the ice-cream needs to dissipate in its entirety. It’s not enough to make life better than it has been for there is a purpose to life, and that is that life is about returning to who in truth we really are and living the quality of our soul.
Change the foundations of life – the energy behind the everything – and you have the propensity to be making an impact.
We are searching for richness in life, a beautiful sense of belonging, to feel the fullness of who we are, to see that we are an integral part of the entire picture and to be able to see that our beingness contributes to that.
Our workplace is the perfect place to start, considering that we work alongside others and are part of a team. Start with knowing that everything, absolutely everything, is connected – for you will then see the flow-on effects of noticing Mary for who she is and telling her so, even if that be making it about the pretty hairclip. This is the true way to ‘make an impact’, to connect with people and allow to come through what you feel from deep inside without getting in the way of any ideal of belief of what you were taught an impact should look like. From here, you will walk footsteps of love wherever you tread, the only worthy kind of impact the world needs.