Are You Making an Impact?

Written by Megan Brown

Marketing Director | Fortify Foundation

How often do you stop and ask yourself this very question: Are you making an impact? In the business of life, work, family, and friends, we rarely take time to sit back and evaluate how we are doing and what we are doing. If I were to ask you if you wanted to make an impact, I am confident your answer would be yes. If I asked you how you were making an impact currently, would you quickly have answers come to mind? Or would it take some reflection and consideration to really pinpoint where your true impact is coming from?

Let’s take a step back and define what impact truly is. The definition of impact according to the Oxford dictionary is to “have a strong effect on someone or something”. Seems simple, right? Impact looks different in different areas of life. For environmentalists, making an impact might look like recycling more, picking up trash, or conserving energy. For a lawyer, it might mean taking on more pro bono cases. For a teacher, it might mean taking extra time with those students who just need to feel loved and valued. In the big picture, making an impact starts when you stop ignoring the problems you see around you and start making your own contribution to a better future. Making an impact means going outside of your comfort zone to have an effect on someone or something around you in a positive way. Based on these definitions and examples, impact sounds like a solo responsibility. But I want to challenge you with this: Impact is not a solo project. While you can make a good impact on your own, great impact takes more than one person. Of course, any change starts first within yourself, but the steps to making a great impact involve empowering those around you to join with you. As administrators, pastors, school leaders, teachers, professionals, or whatever your title is, you have the opportunity to not just create your own impact, but to create a greater impact by inspiring and equipping those under your leadership to come alongside you. Leaders, in whatever capacity, hold this extraordinary privilege to grow something positive and powerful with the help of those around them.

So where do you begin? Simon Sinek says, “Leadership is not about being in charge, but about taking care of those you are in charge of.” I would argue the single most important characteristic of any leader is caring. Are you showing those under your leadership that you value them? Are you looking at the needs of your team? Are you considering their opinions, thoughts, and feelings? Are you someone that they feel comfortable coming to with questions, concerns, or prayer requests? What environment are you fostering? I challenge you to take some time after reading this article to sit back and consider whether or not you are doing these things, and not only that, but whether or not you are doing them well.

You may already be doing the above things well, and if so, let me encourage you to continue doing the work! No matter where we are in the process, we should always remember that no one is perfect, and we always have room to grow, improve, and learn new things! President Abraham Lincoln once said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” I love this quote and the reminder it gives that each day presents new opportunities for wisdom and growth. We should strive to always remain teachable, leave room to grow, and be open to improvement. When we set this example for those around us and under our influence, it encourages them to do the same. We can’t make an impact if we always remain stuck in our ways! Impact requires stepping out. Impact requires being flexible. Impact also requires taking initiative and action.

Your job as a leader is to set an example. Here are just a few ways in which you can set an example:

Focus on service – God has placed you where you are to serve your team, your students, and your families. Jesus set the highest example when He came to the earth not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). We ought to follow in His example and be willing to serve those around us however we can.

Be a team player – Anything that you ask of your team to do, you should be willing to do yourself. If that means you empty out the trash a time or two, serve a meal, or step into a classroom when a teacher needs a break, then you show up and are more than willing to jump in.

Stay engaged – Have an open-door policy with your team and your community! Be available for them. Foster a space where they know that you care and you are willing to listen when something bothers them or concerns them. Be open to questions and try to be as transparent as possible. These things may seem small, but they go a long way.

Establish vulnerability in the workplace – Vulnerability starts with leaders who are willing to open up even when it is uncomfortable. Well-respected leaders don’t try to pretend they are perfect and that they know all the answers all the time. Showing your own growth and change sets a standard that growth and change are welcome for all of those under your leadership. There is no expectation to be perfect, there is only an expectation to do your best and seek the knowledge and will of God each day.

Impact goes beyond the workplace. It trickles into our homes, our churches, our friends, and even the people we encounter throughout the day like the waitress at the restaurant or the barista at our local coffee shop. Impact is a string of little changes and implementations combined with big influential moves that create a lasting effect. The more people you can inspire and equip around you, the bigger the impact you can create, together. Your team can make a larger impact together than just one member can on their own. Your family can make a larger impact together than just one member alone. We as believers can make a larger impact on society when we come together than just one believer alone. Impact is not a solo project. It’s a team effort.

So, I ask you again, are you making an impact? Let’s get started.