Formula for Impact©

I frequently hear people talk about how they want to do more (most typical) or do better (not as often). People want to be all of the above – more effective, more productive, more organized, more successful—you get the point (more, more, more). Everyone is chasing more, but at the heart of it all what people really want is something that usually isn’t even for them. Whether knowingly or not, people want to create impact – at home, at work, in families, in communities and in the world – but we often look for it in the wrong places or in the wrong ways. This results in frustration and stress.

Would you like to have the following three things in your life and leadership?

  1. Reduced or eliminated stress;
  2. Swifter, clearer and more actionable decisions; and
  3. More tangible and impactful control of your business, teams, relationships and life.

How’s that sound? Would you like to have some of this as a leader and in living your everyday life? It really is simple, even if it’s sometimes challenging. After all, creating what you desire involves taking personal responsibility and ownership of your outcomes, and this ownership creates the risk of failure and removes the option of blaming others or outside circumstances.

What follows is a simple formula that I use to accomplish the above three things in my life and leadership. The formula involves a few critical questions to ask yourself about every situation, challenge or opportunity that you confront. The first and most important question is this:

Is it important?

Simple, I know, but most of the time we don’t ask ourselves this question before we start down the road of trying to understand, solve, fix, change or stress out about whatever “it” is. In my work with clients, it often takes my outsider perspective and questions to help people see that the issue they are fixated on (and which is consuming them, their time and their psyche) is not important and not even worth thinking about, let alone solving. Here is the truth: not all situations or circumstances need to be fixed, solved or even given thought!

Let’s make this really simple: If a person, situation or challenge is not important to you, then let it go! Drop it. Leave it be. Don’t pick it up. Don’t accept delivery. And remember, not everything is important. When we don’t do a good job at prioritizing, we fall into the trap of believing that everything is important, just with different degrees of importance. Conscious leaders understand the true reality and are more discerning in the moment to avoid charging down rabbit holes to fix or change things that are not important (or not important enough) to warrant their valuable time and attention. They don’t want to waste any of these resources on things that don’t matter enough to take precedence over other priorities.

If the issue is not important, then you move on and let it go, but what if it really is important? What then? We then go to another simple question:

Do I control it?

This question may be a little more complex than the first, but the question is simply whether or not you have the ability to directly control the outcome, situation or result on your own. If so, you alone have the control, and you’re not dependent on anyone else for help or support unless you need it or choose to ask for it. Using the language of conscious leaders, if you have ownership of the outcome (or the actions to move toward your desired outcome) then you control it. Hopefully, you know what is next if you control it—Take Action! If you have the ability to control something directly and choose not to take action (or not to take swift enough action), then it’s on you if you stay stuck or don’t get the different results you desire. You have no one to blame but yourself when you control things but choose not to take action.

What if you don’t control it (directly and solely)? What now? Again, simple–you ask yourself one more question:

Do I have the ability to influence it?

This is perhaps the most challenging question because there are so many different ways that you can influence a decision or an outcome, yet it’s still a question that you can and must answer. Failing to ask and answer this question is akin to choosing to take your business or your life off-course without a thought, and it can result in not having time and attention for things that are truly important to you because you’re distracted by something that you may not even have the ability to influence.

Let’s start with the easiest answer—no, you don’t have the ability to influence the situation, decision or outcome. Things are now super simple—drop it immediately. If you don’t have the ability to directly control or indirectly influence something, then it does not warrant another iota of your precious resources of time, energy and thought. Much like worrying about things that are not important, worrying about or working on things that you have no ability to influence is absurdly insane (both personally and professionally). I know you will find that you have at least some ability to influence most things, but if not, then let it go as soon as you can. Drop it right now. Conscious leaders are keenly aware of this reality and quickly drop things that they have no ability to control or influence so that they have time and energy for things that they can control or influence.

Now we are at the end of the process—it’s important, you didn’t have the ability to directly and solely control it, but you have some ability to influence it. What now? You take action to lay the groundwork for a clear “yes” or “no” by whomever directly controls the outcome, knowing that you don’t control the answer or the outcome. You may not like it, but if you don’t control it, then you only (at best) have the ability to influence it. My research and experiences have shown me that most people (mostly unconsciously) don’t set things up for a clear yes or no. Instead, the lack of a clear decision point is the bastion of people who want someone to blame, and so we rely on assumptions and past history or experience to conclude that things will not change, so we choose not to do anything except blame someone else or outside circumstances when things are not as we want them to be.

If you’re unwilling to take action to bring a question or an issue to a clear yes or no point for the person who has the direct authority to decide, then you’re wasting your time and your mental health. This approach is crazy, and I don’t hesitate to point out its absurdity to people or teams. Here is an updated definition of insanity:

Stressing over something that is not important, that you don’t control or that you don’t have the ability to influence (or that you’re not willing to take the action necessary to influence).

Even if you’re convinced based upon past experience that you will not get the answer or decision that you want, it’s still a choice as to whether you take action to find out for certain. If you’re not willing to take that action, then let it go. If you’re prepared to take action toward a definitive yes or no, then take the action and get your clear decision. Conscious leaders seek out and create (and support others in creating) clear decision points in their businesses and in their lives. The reason is simple – conscious leaders know that making more clear decisions (and taking action on those decisions) is the surest way to create impact, both personally and professionally.

Action changes things written on a blackboard

Action changes things written on a blackboard

Speak Your Mind