Self-awareness is a huge part of successful leadership. How you behave in professional and personal situations, not only impacts your success but of those around you as well. What impact will you make?
What makes one person more successful than another? Is there a specific moment in time that separates you from your peers? Are some people born to succeed? Personally, I don’t think there’s one specific factor that leads to a persons ability to succeed; it’s a combination of things which leads you to achieve professional and personal success.
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I recently brought this subject to a meeting with my career coaching team. I was curious what they felt inherently drove success in others. As we began discussing all the factors that help a person succeed, more specifically, what external factors impact your success both positively and negatively, I began to notice a theme.
Yes, the biggest connector to success and especially repeated success was people; mentors, friends, family, peers, and acquaintances all impact our success. The company we keep has a profound impact on your overall happiness and your ability to succeed.
As I sat listening to my team brainstorm and pass ideas, my mind began to wander. I started to think about how much impact one person can have on the lives they touch. And in turn, how that impact then touches someone else as it ripples forward. I’m not only referring to major, life-changing impacts, like pulling someone out of a burning car but also the small day to day contributions we each make to society. Impacts you don’t even recognize you make. Little things, that seem inconsequential at the time, but add up and spread in ways you never even consider.
The Butterfly Effect
It’s one of those days. The kids are late for school. Waving to your neighbor resulted in dropped (and subsequently broken) phone. The barista at Starbucks is more interested in talking about yesterday’s exam than making your latte. Traffic sucks and you just got news that your largest customer signed a new contract with a competitor. What else could possibly go wrong today? Lots actually.
While you may not have faced this exact scenario on some idle Tuesday, I’m guessing you’ve faced something similar. How did you react? Have you ever thought about how your reaction to a bad situation impacted everyone around you?
Did you bark at the kids as they jumped out of the car; leaving them down in the dumps as they walked into school? Did you snap at the neighbor you were trying to wave to as you dropped your phone, forgetting that she lost her husband two months ago and she may be lonely? Did you treat the barista like he was an idiot because he took too long to make your coffee, not understanding he is battling cancer and passing an exam is a small victory that helps him feel normal? Did you cause a great employee to wonder why they look up to you as you stormed into the office with flames coming out of your ears because you lost a big client? Basically, did your actions raise someone up or drag them down? Did you cause someone’s day to take a turn for the better or the worse?
Look, I’m not saying life is full of rainbows and unicorns. Things happen. You’ll be tested and you’ll lose your temper. But, the next time you’re pushed to the brink of sanity, ask yourself what your outburst will do to solve your problem or help another person. Does your bad attitude add value or would the situation be helped if you decided to rise above and be amazing?
If you ask me, focus on being amazing.
Again, I’m not suggesting that you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders or walk through life wearing rose colored glasses. What I’m saying is, think about the message you’re sending. Think about the impact your words and actions have on someone else.
If you’re comfortable with the mark you’re making in the world and at your office, great, roll with it. But, if you’re embarrassed to think you may have ruined your kids’ day, caused a co-worker to feel inadequate or humiliated another person just because you’re so engrossed with your own struggles, then it’s time to regroup.
You Have An Impact
Your actions impact everyone around you. You may not realize it, but someone is always watching. We often talk about professional success from a standpoint of what you can gain from the help of others; we rarely look at how you can help someone else.
Each time you interact with another person you have the opportunity to help them. You have the ability to bring another person up or drag them down. You have an opportunity to make yourself feel better by cutting someone else down or praising their efforts. You have the opportunity to profoundly change someone’s day, and perhaps even their life.
You may not be the CEO of a Fortune 100 company and you may think your impact doesn’t matter, but it does. Even if you don’t realize it, there is someone out there in a situation worse than yours striving to get to your level. Working to land a job like yours and dreaming of the day when they reach their career goals. Someone looks up to you. You are someone’s inspiration.
So the next time you decide to be a jerk at Starbucks or treat a peer dismissively, stop and think about the image you want to portray. Choose wisely.