Anyone who touches other people’s lives, whether personally, professionally, or in their communities, can choose to make a positive impact.
What impact are you making? This is a question I’ve asked myself many times, and I think it’s one that we can all benefit from asking from time to time. Most of us who live in the first world societies of constant motion can all say we have a lot to do. We’re all busy. We’re tied for first on that one. But how much of what we do with our time positively impacts the people around us in our workplace, our families, and our communities? Let’s pause our busy lives for a moment and notice the impact we’re having or not having on those around us.
People who make a difference don’t all have to be privileged, advantaged, or special in any way, or even living or working in a special circumstance. Sure, the researchers who developed the COVID-19 vaccines are making an enormous impact on society – and we need those people and are grateful for them – but anyone who touches other lives, whether personally, professionally, or in their communities, can choose to make a positive impact.
Many of us spend most of our time working, so let’s start there. Maybe your organization has a meaningful mission that makes you to want to get up in the morning. For example, at BSA LifeStructures, our mission is “to create inspired solutions that improve lives.” For the majority of our stakeholders, that is a meaningful mission and something worth doing. It is “why” we do what we do, and many of us who work at BSA feel a sense of satisfaction from the positive impact that our organization has on patients, students, and others. But if you break that down to a human scale, what is each person at BSA doing to impact that mission? What are you doing to impact the mission of your organization?
If we just go to work every day (or stay at home and “go to work” like many of us have been doing) and fulfill our job descriptions, maybe that’s not enough to be truly impactful. Instead, we should be asking ourselves if we can fulfill our duties in such a way that makes life better for those around us or for the customers we serve. I’ve observed many ways that people positively impact other people or organizations, and in this article, I’ll identify four of those many ways.
- Attitude. We all choose the attitude that we bring to each day or situation. People who make a positive impact have chosen to have an energetic, upbeat, helpful, and “can-do” attitude. In my company, we are fortunate to have multiple administrative people who never say no, who seem to have boundless energy and capacity, and who are willing to do anything for anybody. Each of them brings up new ideas and offers help instead of waiting for someone to ask. I can’t speak for everyone else, but they have impacted my life by making me more productive and happier in my job. Seeing a bright smile and knowing that if I ask for something, it will get done with joy, quickly, and correctly makes my life better. And it’s infectious. If I interact with a positive person, then I’m in a better mood, and I can more easily be positive with someone else. Think about the impact we can have on a customer or a peer just by coming to the game with the right attitude.
- Knowledge share. Even the least experienced of us have learned something that would help others be more effective. It’s easy to “get busy” and decide that it’s easier and quicker to do something ourselves than to teach someone else to do it. But if we take the time to teach, it will positively impact others. And as a side benefit, we’ve now empowered someone else who could help us get things done in the future.
In our planning group, one of our senior planners has recognized the need to share knowledge and organize a class that meets periodically to share some of the principles he’s learned over the years related to healthcare planning and programming. Those people and the clients they serve will all be positively impacted by this one selfless act. Iron sharpens iron, after all.
- Promotion of others. As we accomplish our own goals and rise up through our career ladders, it’s important to remember to turn around and help someone else do the same. This concept is somewhat selfish because if you help someone do something you learned to do, it allows you the time to go on to other things. But in the end, it really is a positive impact on someone else and can be a huge benefit to customers.
One of our senior engineers (Seth, for the sake of argument) has held a significant healthcare client’s confidence for a very long time. During his time with that client, he has helped build great confidence and trust in himself and the firm. In the last few years, Seth has identified his successor with this client. The young engineer he identified (Roberta, for the sake of argument) and the client have both been informed that this young engineer is, in a defined time period, going to be the engineer the client relies on going forward. Roberta is working with Seth on projects, getting to know the client, and getting training on all the various engineering areas where she will need to be knowledgeable. The impact this transition will have on Seth and Roberta is immeasurable as Seth gets to go on to other things, and Roberta gets to grow with the customer. And the customer benefits, too, because Seth won’t go away entirely until everyone agrees that Roberta is ready. And in the meantime, multiple points of view impact the solutions developed for the customer.
- Recognizing that something can be better. Another negative result of our “busyness” is the fact that we tend to do things the way they’ve been done because we don’t want to take the time to change it for the better. But someone who wants to make an impact can look at things differently. By recognizing that a process or a situation could be improved and then taking action to improve it, the impactful person has potentially improved things for many others and for an extended period.
Recently, one of our principals mentioned to a client that the process of developing a project could be made more efficient by using a different piece of software. The client agreed to try the new software but didn’t know how to use it. Our principal arranged training sessions for multiple people on the client’s side. As a result, the project should be more efficient, more accurate, and the trained people have a new skill that they can use in other instances.
As we start to hit the play button and continue with our busy lives, I ask you again, what impact are you making? Take notice of the impact you are having on those around you and compliment those who choose to make a positive impact on you.
Kevin Token is chairman and CEO at BSA LifeStructures. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.