September 10, 2018
Have you ever questioned your impact?
One of those times was some years ago, I was coaching someone on a project that had so many twists and turns. The first few sessions were quite explosive and fun, but, a couple of months in, my client’s work was in the phase that wasn’t so creative. Legal red tape and lack of followthrough with other professionals slowed down the process to a crawl at times.
I love hitting home runs with clients or a least a big hit or two each time we meet, but some weeks were simply staying the course or correcting the course, and it felt like we were just treading water at times. (And yes, I did just mix metaphors on behalf of those who don’t watch baseball!)
I have to confess that once the project was complete I was a little more relieved than I was fulfilled because I wasn’t so sure I’d really brought much to the table that time.
A couple of years later, this client had a book come out. Out of curiosity, I picked up the book and thumbed through the first pages and was shocked to find my name in the acknowledgments.
My first response was really odd though: it wasn’t excitement. They painted a picture of me that made me look much smarter, more creative, more insightful, more helpful than I knew I really was in their process. The fact of the matter was I really hadn’t done much of anything except listen, ask questions, and help them keep moving forward when things were difficult.
My client really did all the hard work. And here my name was at the beginning of their book.
Well, that experience really taught me a few things about impact that I hope will encourage you:
I’m not saying that making an impact can’t happen in a single moment, it just usually doesn’t.
Going back to the baseball analogy: everyone remembers the home run that happens when the bases are loaded. It’s a powerful moment when it’s the championship or game winner. But, honestly, what set the stage for that moment was a child that had a dream. That kind of dream is in the making for some 15, 20 years. It involved parents playing catch, late night studying after long practices, crushing defeats, tears, frustrations, etc. There were countless 1000s of hours and easily 100s of people involved in making it happen.
We only see the moment – when or if it ever happens. We might later learn about the process and the impact that others made that actually enabled that moment to happen.
Impact isn’t the home run. Impact is showing up every day for people and helping them when they’re not a champion yet.
Are you showing up? Then you’re making an impact.
There are a million self-help books and materials out there. But, at the end of the day, the problem with self-help is that it leaves you lacking. After all, who did you do that with? Just yourself. It was lonely.
The deep sorts of change happen as a result of relationships of trust.
People think about their lives all the time. People think about, re-evaluate themselves every moment of the day.
Most of that processing is negative toward themselves. There is very little redemption and even less action taken towards dreams.
Coaching relationships are deeply impacting because, by their very nature, they create a safe environment for dreaming, vulnerability, and accountability.
When I re-considered my time with this client, I realized that I underestimated the power of connection that takes place in the common moments and in the moments where we are our clients aren’t at our best. It’s real. It’s so validating when anyone can pull the layers back of who they really are and not get rejected.
In most cases, we won’t be coaching clients for the rest of their lives. But don’t underestimate the impact a coaching relationship of just a few months can be.
Over the years, one of the things I’ve learned about is neuroplasticity. Basically, it’s the ability for the brain to be re-wired. For many years, it was believed that heredity, trauma, etc. had such an impact on the brain that an individual simply couldn’t change even if they wanted to. But new research has proven that the brain can be changed. Thinking can be changed and more.
Listen: if we can have faith that a single moment of trauma can forever change a person, then we must have faith that a single, powerful moment of goodness can change a person as well.
It’s not simply the amount of time that an individual spends with us; it’s how profound and meaningful those moments were and the strategies that they can learn to reinforce and keep their change.
I can remember a breakthrough a client once had that completely eliminated their bad dreams.
Another client came to me months after we’d worked together and told me how self-hatred had literally disappeared from their lives since they’d been coached.
I remember thinking: “We didn’t work on self-hatred.”
But sometimes, we simply underestimate or are unaware of the level of impact we’re having.
I’m hoping that you get to learn some of these stories about your own impact for yourself. You really do need to be able to taste the fruit of your labor.
And I want to encourage you: you are making an impact. Every day, you’re showing up, you’re connecting, and you’re doing all those things while the cameras not rolling. What my other hope is that perhaps now you can be a little more aware of those small moments and how even the power of your presence in another individual’s life is making an impact.