I'll be honest – I'm addicted to having impact.
I don't know why I'm wired the way I am, but few things engage me more than having influence and making an impact – in business, in people's lives, in my family.
Maybe it's simply because I detest the notion that I might live on the planet for any length of time and not have an impact. Maybe it's that I hate that idea so much, that I strive to leave a mark.
I don't know and I haven't spent a ton of time trying to figure it out.
I just know that in every business I've been in, in every team I've led, with every business I've coached – the overall driver for me has been to have an impact – to help things change for the better.
That has its own challenges.
You want more honesty? That drive has had some incredible impact. But it's also created all sorts of challenges too. Not so much anymore, but when I was younger, and I didn't know how to have effective influence, it created some tough moments.
Why? Well, it's not hard to imagine how people might react to someone who is looking for greater and greater amounts of influence.
It makes you nervous. It makes you suspicious. It makes you wonder what the end game is. And with that wondering comes fear and a hesitance to invite you to have influence. After all, what if you take things and make them worse?
Being trusted and having greater influence
I don't know if you've ever read any of Charles H. Green's work, but it's awesome. He wrote a book on being a Trusted Advisor. It's a must-read and I've used it as the core of the programs I've created to help entrepreneurs.
In the book he has an equation that's really important, and answers the big question of how to have greater influence and therefore make a greater impact.
The formula for trust, that he created, looks like this.
But let me break it out for you. Credibility, reliability, and intimacy are all factors that have influence. There's no question. But there's one variable in the equation that will change the calculation more than any of the others. And that's self-orientation.
Let's just look at an example to see how this plays out.
So Tom Cruise is out at the baseball field and he's playing softball with some buddies. He's been assigned a case and as he's playing, he's negotiating a settlement. We soon come to find out that he's an excellent negotiator. In fact, he's never seen the inside of a courtroom – because he's always quick to settle.
Then he's assigned a case and his co-counsel can't believe that he's predicting the resulting settlement before he's even looked at the details of the case. She strongly senses that his self-orientation is very highly tuned to what's right for him – regardless of his clients.
What makes the rest of the story entertaining (other than “You can't handle the truth”) is that we watch a lawyer (Cruise) move from a high self-orientation to a much lower one, as he decides to enter a court (instead of plea bargaining), and take on a general – even if it means he might lose everything. His self-orientation shifts from himself to his clients.
And that's what makes A Few Good Men worth watching.
Having greater influence
When people feel like, strike that, when people observe that all you're thinking about is you, it undercuts your ability to have influence and an impact.
How do they observe it? If every tweet, post, update and conversation revolve around you pitching or selling something, then it's all about you. And if it's all about you, then there's no space for them.
That's why I recommend a strategy that lines up with everything Charles H. Green writes.
So here's my formula:
- Consistently look for ways to help others.
- Consistently look for ways to introduce great folks to other great folks.
- Consistently look for ways to educate.
- Consistently learn people's stories – getting closer to them.
When you do those things, the result will be that you will have earned a tighter, closer relationship to have impact. Greater influence is a natural by-product of people seeing that your self-orientation isn't high.
I'll end this post with a tweet that really had an impact on me, as it reinforced all my efforts and said I was having the impact I wanted.