Welcome, welcome!! Today's episode is special to me and is easy to write about as a blogpost along with the recording. In this podcast episode, I take on two roles: the role of an etymologist and the role of a story-teller. Why? Because both roles are necessary if I'm going accurately bring life to the phrase "UNLEASH YOUR IMPACT"- the idea that is the foundation of all of my teaching and content.
As you read or listen in, here's what you can consider and reflect upon:
Role #1: Etymologist
Too often we use words flippantly, without considering the great power they have, or what picture they can paint for us, or what they can persuade and push us to do and become. That's why I find it imperative to pause and decide what we actually mean when we use certain words or phrases. In this case, we're investigating the etymology behind two terms: UNLEASH and IMPACT.
Check out the definitions below from Merriam-Webster Online dictionary! If you think about the term "unleash" in regard to the role we take on as leaders, specifically definition 1, doesn't it almost make you think about a glass ceiling? When we think about "freeing from" something, we instinctively believe there is something holding us back- an invisible barrier, a mindset, a fear, a physical person. And when we "unleash our impact", we are not doing so unintentionally. We are throwing ourselves into the great work, shooting TOWARD something bigger, or setting things into motion with HIGH intent. The term "unleash" has many synonyms, two of which stand out significantly: influence and release. I find it no accident at all that these synonyms stand with this word. To influence means that we have an effect on others. To release means that we are "allowing something to act or move freely". In other words, isn't it true that when we unleash our impact we are simultaneously influencing others to move forward into action?
IMPACT. (NOUN, VERB)
Now let's dive into the term impact. Check out Merriam-Webster's definitions. "Impact" is used not only as a noun, but also as a verb. Many of the definitions here give the impression that an "impact" is a physical thing or action. And many of the synonyms of the term are intense- not necessarily in a positive way. But we know this is not what we're going for. We, as impact leaders, are not going for intensity and force, but instead for subtle, but powerful, effects on others. This alludes to the synonym for "unleash"- influence. It is quite obvious that we're targeting the first definitions for the noun and verb forms of "impact".
BUT here is what's interesting: we sometimes notice people putting on their coats of intensity as defined in the more authoritarian definitions of these terms. Why is that??
Sometimes we have the tendency to believe that people who are able to make a great impact are those who are highly intense: they "go out with a bang"; they are loud and boisterous; they lead people with a charge and stomp grounds to demand change. While it is true that these types of people do in fact have an impact, THIS IDEA IS SIMPLY A LIMITING BELIEF.
Let me caution and charge YOU to remember: there is not a certain type of person or personality that is able to make a greater impact than another. Let's also keep in mind that ANYONE can make either a positive or negative impact. EVERY person, regardless of their personality, has the ability to unleash their impact AND has the ability to do so in a positive way. This is where stories of GRIT and GRACE are important...
Role #2: Story-Teller
As I tell you these stories of grit and grace, I want you to consider what they have to do with IMPACT? Consider the different personalities of the women in these stories. In each of the stories, who has a greater impact?
The picture to the left shows my grandmother- she goes by Nanny in our family. This woman is a story of grit. She began her marriage with her husband with not a penny to their name. At a very young age, they bought their first home with a whopping $25 (money they had to borrow). Nanny did anything and everything she could, first, to make ends meet and, second, to make a name for her family. She is loud as all get out (like a lot of my family), strong AND strong-willed, and scrappy as hell! When we were kids, she was always making us do things that pushed us out of our comfort zones, whether it was playing in a murky, questionable mud pit or making friends with strangers (who inevitably became close friends). Nanny let us try on her gaudy, hand-made jewelry and dress up in her fancy business outfits for her job as a treasurer at the courthouse- a job she worked her way toward without even a college degree! When people talk to me about my Nanny, they don't usually say, "She's such a sweet lady..." But, man, am I proud to hear them say instead, "Your Nanny is a spit-fire!" And when I was young, I wanted to be JUST LIKE HER!
The picture to the right shows my aunt- she goes by Aunt Pete. This woman is a story of grace. She is the sister to my Nanny and has a similar story, but with a very different personality. Aunt Pete is the oldest of her siblings. She made sure to take great care of her family while also taking very seriously her schooling. In fact, she made a decision at a very young age to become a teacher and did exactly that. She taught young children, older children, and continued to teach adults well after retirement. She is highly regarded by all who know her because of her eagerness to connect on a deeper level with those she cares about. She has poured into the lives of SO many people, JUST LIKE my Nanny, but has done so in such a reserved and quiet way. I visited her home regularly during college for meals (and to do my laundry) and conversation was never lacking. But she was full of questions that kept her visitors talking and kept her listening. She is truly sweet as honey. And while my Nanny was one to push us beyond what we thought we were capable of, Aunt Pete helped us to remain tethered and conscious of our decisions with her calm, wise words. In my college years, I wanted to be JUST LIKE HER!
Who, of these two women, had a greater impact? The woman who exhibited a great deal of grit, or the woman who exhibited a great deal of grace?
The truth is, they both have exhibited grit and grace over their lifetimes. They BOTH have made (and are still making) an incredible impact, even with their strikingly different personalities. And I find myself now wanting to be JUST LIKE THEM BOTH. Because this is where the greatest impact lies- through stories of both grit AND grace.
UNLEASH YOUR IMPACT
I began this post asking you two questions:
My hope is that you are considering what pieces of the definitions you stand in. What pieces of the definition are you going to clad yourself with as you live out stories of both grit and grace? Who will you influence and who will you release so that we experience collaborative communities of people who feel empowered, valued, inspired, and fulfilled? As a leader, with a whole personality of your own that no one else can claim, how are you going to fully UNLEASH YOUR IMPACT?
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- Collaborative Leader and Culture Changer!