Impact happens when you least expect it. If I were to ask you to look in your calendar and identify the peak performances where you'll have the most impact, you’d likely point out a key meeting, presentation, interview, or maybe even a date night. While all of these events are clear opportunities to maximize your impact on others, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of hidden impact opportunities every day. I’ve yet to meet anyone, including myself, that doesn’t miss out on at least some of these.
These opportunities are found in tasks that we often think of as trivial or having minimal impact, such as sending a quick email, catching up with our team, having a 2-minute phone call, texting, chatting with a coworker in the hallway, and talking about dinner plans with our family. In reality, they are anything but trivial. If I were to add up all the impact I have on others during these events throughout the day, it quickly starts to accumulate - making these seemingly insignificant events more and more important.
The challenge is maximizing your impact during these opportunities when your load is high, you have peak performances to prepare for, and one-on-one communication doesn't seem to be a priority. When this happens, these opportunities are easy to brush off by becoming transactional. These misses seem insignificant in the moment, but over time, the cumulative losses can be devastating.
You can probably think of a time when you were on the receiving end of these transactional communications; we've all been there at some point. It starts with a carefully crafted email you've spent hours on to make sure critical insights are getting across in a clear, effective manner. It ends with a one-word, dismissive response from the recipient along the lines of, “thx.” Or worse, the person's response makes it clear they never read the original message. That response can feel as though the person doesn't care or doesn't have time for you, which is likely the opposite of the intended kind of impact.
In order to avoid having that effect on someone else, we need a new level of mental agility and readiness. Before you hit the send button or make an off-handed comment, stop and ask yourself these questions:
What are my intentions (what impact do I want to have)?
How do I want to be perceived? What do I want them to know? How do I want them to feel? The answers to these questions give your brain a clear vision of what success looks like in this situation, and practicing them will help you be more agile in the future.
Did I give this communication the thought it deserves?
If you know that you need more time to come up with a proper response, it’s perfectly fine to be a little vulnerable and let the person know you'd like more time to put together a more thorough response. If it's an impromptu question or request, be honest and set up a time to catch up later.
Do my tone, energy, and body language (if in person) match my intentions?
Without a quick check-in, it becomes very easy to wear the challenges of the day on your face or let them leak into written communication. There’s been more than one time where I was in a virtual session at the end of a long day and quickly realized I looked more like a zombie ready for Halloween than an energy giver ready to rule my impact. If you find you're not where you want to be, try to get in a burst of movement or a quick series of long inhalations followed by forceful exhalations. This can stimulate your brain, make you more alert, and quickly shift you back to being an energy giver.
I know it's not practical to capture ALL of your hidden opportunities, but imagine the impact you could have on others if you capture just a few more. These moments are what bring your High Performance Mindset to life; and when this happens, you’ll be amazed at the impact you'll have on yourself, and more important, the impact you have on others.
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