How to make a bigger IMPACT at work

August 4, 2022

by Ravi Raman

My coaching clients are forever asking about ways to improve and demonstrate IMPACT at work. This single word tends to dominate the psyche since organizations, particularly fast-moving technology firms, are fixated on it. 

I work with leaders and high-performers at tech companies like Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, Google and numerous growth startups – and they often arrive at their coaching programs caught in the vice-grip of striving for ever higher levels of impact spurred on by organizational demands, their bosses and peers. 

They aren’t alone. Interviewers hunt for clues of impact in candidate conversations with job changers. Employees obsess over it to justify their promotions to the next level. Even CEOs care about it, egged on by the board of directors and shareholders. 

As a Coach, I’m not immune either. I have yet to work with a client who doesn’t care about the impact that coaching can produce. So much so that the last time I hired a coach for myself, my purpose was simple – to gain insight into how to get better results for my clients.

Impact yet again!

No impact, and my business withers and I close up shop. Lots of impact, and I continue to grow my business in the best way possible – happy clients telling friends and colleagues about what I do 😀. 

Impact is top of mind for so many of us. This isn’t a bad thing. However, life goes awry when we get confused about where it comes from.

So then, if impact is so important, what creates it? 

This is the topic of today’s newsletter, let’s dive in…

A game-changing insight that changed everything for Steve Jobs and might do the same for you too

This clip of Steve Jobs by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association reveals a profound way impact can be created. Jobs speaks to a shift in how one can view life and work. 

Listen carefully and what you will hear is not so much advice regarding the actions that create impact but the capabilities unlocked through a fundamental shift in one’s perspective about how life works.

…life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you…

…you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use…

…you can poke life, and actually something will, when you push in, that something will pop out the other side…you can change it, you can mold it…

…that’s maybe the most important thing, to shake off – this erroneous notion that life is there and you are just going to live in it… 

Steve Jobs

I’m not implying that Steve Jobs was speaking about a sort of ultimate truth about the universe or anything. I’m sharing the clip to illustrate that his reality and understanding of how life works undoubtedly played a big part in the impact he was able to generate through his work.

Specifically, a belief and trust in the malleability and responsiveness of life and one’s capacity to improve upon it, no doubt facilitated productive thinking (and activities, decisions, etc.) that propelled him forward towards more significant levels of impact. 

If, on the other hand, Jobs saw himself as powerless to impact life positively – and others as far more capable than he was – what would the chance have been that world-changing products would have flowed from his ventures at NeXT, Pixar and Apple?

After all, your understanding of how life works dramatically impacts how you engage in life, be it timidly or wholeheartedly. 

Your ultimate source of impact isn’t what you think

If you aspire to create even more significant results in your work, it’s worth heeding the advice of philosophers, mystics and innovators who have an understanding of the real source of human potential.

It isn’t in the specific actions you take. 

It’s in the realizations and insights that inspire those actions.

You see, how you see and understand the world has a material impact on the type of insights you have and the actions you take as a result of those insights. 

For example, if you see the world as entirely beyond your ability to change things for the better, then you might resign yourself to the status quo. You would succumb to your fate as a small and helpless agent adrift in the ocean of the universe.

Further, if you see success as a simple function of hard work over long periods of time, you will rely on grit and sweat to achieve whatever results you are after. This might work, but we all know people who work hard for a long time and don’t find the success they are after. This path is a steep hill to climb!

Yet again, if you see achievement as simply luck born from showing up as part of the game of life….you might step up to the plate to play the game often if you enjoy such games or give up if you aren’t fond of games of chance! 

In the case of Steve Jobs, his acclaimed reality distortion field and visionary capacity spawned from, in part, his fundamental beliefs and realizations about how life works. In particular, he could poke at life and it would respond in kind. That he could make the world a better place and be fully capable of doing so.

What is the source of your impact?

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ” – Archimedes

This quote relates to much more than the practical value of leverage; it points to a philosophical understanding of where humans can find power in life.

To me, and a small but growing group of Executive and Leadership Coaches, real leverage can only be found inside of the human mind, where our realities are created and our most profound capabilities lie.

Perhaps over the next week, you would benefit from taking a hard look at your own beliefs about work, including the type of thoughts you have regarding your ability to create change and positively impact your world. 

Are they empowering or disempowering? 

Are they inspiring you to act or keeping you stuck in the mud?

Explore those questions for yourself, and if you wish to go even deeper, here is how I can help.

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