On Friday, I got an unexpected, yet delightful message from someone who attended a workshop of mine in 2019. In it, she shared the progress she’s made since then toward her financial goals. I read her words, grinning from ear to ear, because I could not have been more thrilled for her and the work she did to get to this point! 

It feels amazing to get updates like this. 

For starters, they give me a chance to celebrate someone else’s success

Second, it serves as a great reminder of a takeaway from a book I read eons ago: “We are always giving something, we just never know what people are taking.”

Third, it grounds me in the awareness that, despite my (or your) intent of wanting to make an impact, I (and you) have absolutely no control of how that will actually manifest…or when

So, while you can create and deliver something with the goal of it having a positive impact. You don’t always get the privilege of knowing exactly how that will specifically play out in someone’s life and/or business. 

To me, this dynamic is the reason “impact,” as a word and a mission, is both a beautiful goal and a humbling end result. 

Making a Difference

When it comes to my body of work, I want to shift how people relate to their money. And I believe I’ve done my job if in some way or another, I’ve helped a person shift how they think, behave, and talk about money. 

This may seem lofty, but what grounds me is knowing that the shifts I want for people – or the impact I want to make – is not monolithic. The details of the shift, as well as the extent of it, varies person by person/business by business.

With my coaching clients, I have an up-close look at the shifts they’ve made (or are making). Our engagement along with their feedback gives me this insight; it gives me a chance to learn what someone is taking away from our time together. Plus, because of the nature of our relationship, I’m able to check-in and get periodic updates on the progress they are making. 

This is not always possible when it comes to my speaking engagements or with my content (my emails, blog posts, podcast, and social media). With these, I rarely know what someone is taking away from our time together, how they are applying it, and the results thereof. I am unaware of both the “what” or the “when” (does it happen immediately, four years later, or some time period in between?). 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary impact is defined as, “…a marked effect or influence.” 

My challenge with this definition is that it is quite nebulous, and varies based on a multitude of factors. Its vagueness means that when you and I say, “We want to make an impact,” we can’t stop there. 

We have to put in some deep, introspective, and, likely some perspective-shifting work to define what that really means – both to/for us and what we would like it to mean to/for others.

It also means you and I have to be bold. Because wanting to make an impact requires courage, confidence, and a willingness to take measured risks.  

I may not know the specifics of your work, or even why you do what you do. But if you follow my work, I feel pretty confident in presuming you do what you do and how, so that you can make an impact (make a positive difference) – however you’ve personalized the definition. 

This is one of the many reasons the message I received was so special to me. Not only was it a lovely spirit booster, it was a reminder about the long-arm of impact and how I made a positive difference for her. 

But, There’s a Duality

Here’s the thing, though: There is an oft-overlooked duality when it comes to the word “impact.”

It has become the cool buzzword du jour. One that gets used so frequently its meaning and significance has become a bit diluted. 

Its nuance is almost imperceptible.

Typically, when we talk about impact it is with an outward focus. Because the emphasis is on how our body of work is affecting others in terms of what it is helping them to be, do, or have – differently.

Yet, there’s another dimension of impact, too: Its focus is inward.

The message I received tapped into the deep emotional connection and sense of purpose I have toward my work. 

It is what motivates me and sustains me during challenging times. 

It is what keeps me creative and in the flow more days than not. 

It is what contributes to my overall well-being. 

It’s why I remain so committed to my self-proclaimed movement of focusing on both sides of the money equation (the numbers and the behavior) and prioritizing strategy over tactics in support of the people and businesses I aim to serve. 

It is what I love about my work, which is another reason the message caused me to grin from ear to ear.

What do you love about your work (the internal dimension of impact)? And how would you describe the impact you want your body of work to have on others? 

I would love to know your answers to these questions, because I am really curious to hear about what you wrestled with to get to them. 

I am particularly excited to learn how you turned the generic definition of “impact” into one that is meaningful and significant. 

Because for a definition that is relatively simple, the process of uncovering what it means to make an impact and what it takes for it to be realized is not. 

OAN: A cool by-product for me is when my coaching clients or workshop attendees and I become friends. For me, that’s “impact” unfolding on a whole other level. 

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