Have you ever had someone thank you for being there for them? Have you ever had someone tell you that you've truly meant a lot to them? Has someone ever said that you truly helped them to change their lives, or that you've had a significant impact on who they are and what they've become? If you have, that's flipping AWESOME! My advice to you is.....OWN IT!
OWN YOUR IMPACT!
I say that because it's something I've noticed to be a reoccurring theme in my life. It's something I've found myself being reminded, scolded, and pressed to do. The lack of it has affected my personal and professional life in different ways. However, I am working to improve it. Countless times, I've had students, friends, family, partners, and colleagues share with me how significant or impactful I have been in their lives and the lives of others. They've said to me:
"JQ, you've really been there for me." "Yo, you're a big reason why I've made it this far." "Thank you for all you've done. You've really helped me a lot. "Speaking to you helped me change perspectives on the way I look at my life." "You really connect with students in a way that's inspiring."
Here's the twisted thing about that. Those are ABSOLUTELY all the feelings and emotions I want to create in the world!! But most often, I don't believe it. I don't believe that I've done those things. I don't believe that I've been that significant to others. I don't believe that I've had such an impact on their lives. A lot of times, I brush it off. Granted, I say thank you of course. But somewhere inside me, I find it difficult to take ownership and responsibility over the impact they say I've had. Sometimes, I'll even outwardly deny it and say, "Nah, that's all you. You did that."
Why? That's the question I haven't fully figured out yet. That's the one I continue to explore. But, here's where the lesson comes in. Here's what I've learned; it isn't until recently that I've discovered the power and the need to take ownership and responsibility of our impact and significance in the lives of those around us.
A spur of recent conversations have connected some dots for me and helped me recognize that refusing to claim ownership and responsibility for our impact is truly detrimental, for 2 reasons:
1. It doesn't negate the impact:
Just because we don't take ownership or responsibility for having left a mark, made an impact, or being significant in someone's life doesn't change the fact that an impact was made. Often times, I try to downplay it in order to deflect the responsibility. But, that doesn't change the fact that impact was made, significance was created, and the experience was instilled. If we don't choose to claim responsibility for it, that doesn't mean it didn't happen for the other person. It doesn't mean it isn't something real for those individuals. However, what it DOES do, is lead into the second reason why we must claim ownership and responsibility.
2. It risks creating a negative impact:
Attempting to negate our significance and impact in someone's life only amplifies the risk of leaving and creating a negative one. Here's why; if the person sharing that you've made an impact says you've been someone significant in their life and you deny it, or fail to claim ownership of it, you devalue their experience. You take away what they've experienced and, in some ways, communicate that what they believe isn't real. There's no way that's a good thing!
Also, there are probably people around you who watch and observe the level of connection, impact, and significance you carry with others. Some of them may even wish or desire to have the same level and degree of impact or significance that you have. It isn't out of spite. Nor is it out of jealousy; they simply would like to know that they too, matter to people. And, I believe we all do truthfully! So, these folks observe the impact and significance you have, admire it, and wish they too could have and feel that.
Our downplay of it, our lack of ownership, our refusal to claim responsibility for it may create the impression that we take it for granted. It may seem that we treat it as insignificant, as if it were meaningless. All the while, there are people who wish and desire to have that very thing! They wish to carry significance for someone; to know that they matter. They wish to be able to impact others in the ways we do. But, here we are acting as if we don't? Treating it as if it means nothing? Treating it as if we don't care for it? Not taking ownership of it because we refuse to believe that we can do such a thing?
That can't be good! Taking for granted that people have been impacted, changed, and influenced by us in a significant way? That's something great! That's HUGE!! Other people would kill to know what that feels like; to know they've mattered to someone.
I'm continuously working to OWN mine. Even recently, I've received a bunch of positive feedback and thanks for having shared my thoughts, listening, providing feedback, and creating some form of impact in the lives of people. To all whom have been recently or otherwise touched and moved by me in some way - thank you!! Thank you for allowing me to impact and be significant in your life. Thank you for letting me in. To those whom I may have left a negative impact, my sincerest apologies. I never realized what I was doing and I'm still working to fully OWN MY IMPACT. It's a process. Equal, if not greater, thanks to those whom have seen my lack of ownership and have pushed and challenged me to do so. It is much needed!! Thank you to those whom I have conversed with about this struggle and have helped me to connect the dots. We never succeed on our own.
In summary, I share all this to say that we MUST take ownership of, and responsibility for, our impact and significance in the lives of others. The truth is, everything we do impacts the world around us in some way. It may be directly or indirectly. Either way, not claiming ownership or responsibility doesn't negate the impact. It only amplifies the risk of leaving a negative one. Therefore, I advise:
OWN YOUR IMPACT!!