This month’s leadership quote:
“Of the many, many things about which we are unclear, or of which we are unaware,
our impact upon others is at or near the top.”
-Larry Cassidy, Vistage Master Chair
Today’s blogpost is offered by guest blogger Larry Cassidy, fellow Vistage Master Chair and author of this month’s quote. Larry has been a Vistage chair in California for 27 years and his words of wisdom inspire all of us.
Are you aware of your impact upon others, for better or for worse? We all too often live in our own personal bubble, unaware of how what we say and what we do land upon others. So come with me on a short walk, to the wood fence behind our house…..
If each time we did something thoughtless or rude or unkind, we had to pound a nail into our fence post, over time the post would resemble a metal porcupine. And if we could pull a nail out of the fence post each time we did something thoughtful, kind or caring, our battered fence post might someday be devoid of nails.
That last nail pulled should be cause for celebration; however, before we hoot n’ holler, let’s first take a hard look at our fence post. After all the pounding and pulling, what is left? Nail holes! We have slowly exchanged our hard words and abuse for decency and respect, but the wounds from our nails linger on. The holes remain. The fence post never forgets. Nor do the people in whom we have punched holes.
Sorry, but there is no escape. This is our responsibility. We are leaders, and someone is always watching. And as leaders, our job is to grasp our impact upon others, to better shape what we say and what we do, and to ensure those in our lives are better for being in our lives. If we are not willing to “do the work,” our offerings too often kidnap self-esteem, and can even become abuse.
My suggestion: don’t think about this. Rather, feel those who have changed your life. Who are they? How did they make you better? Why do you remember them so many years later? I am clear about those who have their fingerprints on who I am today, and I am deeply indebted to each. I also have another list, those who took advantage, who were unkind, who toyed with key values, and they are no longer part of my life.
You know which is which. You can feel the difference. And so can the people in your life. Your children, the team you coach, your employees, everyone. They can feel you. Yours is the opportunity to show them a better way to be. To be the one they remember for supporting their work to be the best they can be. So remember: they are watching, always watching, and every exchange is one more precious opportunity to not drive a nail, to not leave yet another nail hole. Each is a teaching moment. Seize it.