Make an Impact on the People Around You

A remarkable thing happened to me today.  Someone told me I made THE difference in a very serious situation they are facing.  That's powerful!

Lest you get the impression that this is just Rod bragging... its not.  In fact, I've only recently begun to intentionalize this part of my life.  I'm not the encourager - that's my wife.  I'm not compassionate - that's my wife.  I'm not even "friendly" - again - that's my wife.  While I'm very comfortable in front of 1,000 people, I'm not very good one-on-one.

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Some Background

A number of years ago, I went to a training session for consultants.  It was a 3 or 4 day certification program and I met some great people.  I kept in touch with one of the guys in particular and over the years and we've developed a pretty good friendship.  A couple of months ago, I hadn't heard from him in a while - so I reached out with an email just to say "hi".  When he finally replied he shared that he was going through a very difficult time.  Details aren't necessary - but suffice to say - it's something that could have been life changing in a decimating way.

I'm a fairly blunt guy - some would call it the gift of exhortation - so I sent him a very pointed email with a singular message:  no matter what it takes - FIX IT.

He told me today that my email was the "turning point" for him.  I was blown away.  Something I did that took 5 minutes had such a great impact (for the good) in someone's life.

As I think about it, there's no reason why we can't impact each other every day - and our days for doing so are too few.

So here's my 5 Steps to Making an Impact.

1.  Commit to it.
Being intentional in life takes work.  Everyday. (Read "Five Steps to Refreshing Your Life")

2.  Look for Opportunities Every Day
If you don't keep your eyes open for things like this, you won't see them.  Some have called it "Paying it forward".  Caldini calls it the "Law of Reciprocity" - either way - when you look for opportunities and ACT on them, it will come back to you in good ways.

3.  Be honest
Sometimes it takes a friend to nudge... sometimes it takes a shove.  Better is the honest feedback from a friend than compliments from a stranger.

4. Be a "mensch" - It's no mistake that you're in the position to help - Life works that way.  Guy Kawasaki talks about this Yiddish term (originated in the German) in his book "Enchantment". He says "If you are a 'mensch', you are honest, fair, kind and transparent, no matter whom you're dealing with and who will ever know what you did."  He lists ten characteristics from Bruna Martinuzzi's Open Forum blog "How to Become a Mensch in Business":

  • Always act with honesty
  • Treat people who have wronged you with civility.
  • Fulfill your unkept promises from the past.
  • Help someone who can be of absolutely no use to you.
  • Suspend blame when something goes wrong and ask, "What can we learn?"
  • Hire people who are as smart or smarter than you and give them opportunities for growth.
  • Don't interrupt people; don't dismiss their concerns offhand; don't rush to give advice; don't change the subject.  Allow people their moment.
  • Do no harm in anything you undertake.
  • Don't be too quick to shoot down other's ideas.
  • Share your knowledge, expertise, and best practices with others.

He adds two more:

  • Focus on goodwill
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt (page 28,29)

5.  Follow up - it just takes a moment to ask "How ya doin'?"  The guys in my Sunday School class are doing it every week now. We're working through a study called Living in a Broken World (http://liabw.com).  Each week we draw a name and promise to call and just touch base.  I can't say it's "changing lives" - but its making a difference in how we interact on Sunday mornings.

One caveat - you don't do this to see what you can gain from it.  As "mensch" rule #4 states - "Help someone who can be of absolutely no use to you."

What do you think?  What would you add to the list?