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Partnerships and Building Relationships / Staff Leadership and Management

Understanding Our Impact: How The Smallest Things Can Ignite The Most Lasting Memories

woman in silhouette kicking around in the ocean, making a splash

I’ve been doing a lot of trainings around Social Emotional Leadership recently, which I love so much. Tapping in to the “softer” side of our leadership seems more important now than it ever was before.

In my trainings I’m known to use this quote from Douglas Conant, formerly of Campbell Soup, who says: “Even a brief interaction can change the way people think about themselves, their leaders, and the future. Each of those many connections you make has the potential to become a high point or a low point in someone’s day.

I insert this quote into conversations every chance I get.


Well, think about it for a moment. What Conant is pointing out to us is the stone cold truth that Every. Single. Encounter we have with another human being during the course of our day has an impact on that person—from the partner we share our morning coffee with to the stranger we pass on the highway. And that impact has the potential to send their day soaring to new heights or spiraling to the deepest depths.

In other words, you can absolutely make or break someone’s day, with nothing more than a simple comment, an off-hand glance, a dismissive gesture.

You might be thinking “I can’t believe that what I say or do has that much impact on another person,” but, in fact, here we are.

A quick walk through your mental corridors will surely confirm this assertion…. Try and find in your memory banks a time when a kind smile from a stranger filled your eyes with tears, a rude comment from a co-worker completely wrecked a meeting for you, a compliment from a teacher gave you a new idea for a future career path, etc. and so on and on. When I think back on my own moments, I’m amazed at how—for many of them, even from years ago—the emotions that I felt in that moment are still so present for me, just in the remembering.

So, we have multiple opportunities every day to choose our impact. And for me, that’s incredibly daunting and remarkably exciting, all at the same time.

Do you want to be the one who sends someone’s day off the rails, or do you want to be the one bright spot in an otherwise stormy 24-hours?

In the balance of things, I know that I’d rather have more often been the bright spot than the one bringing the storm.

So, tread carefully through this day. Tread softly. Tread mindfully. Those many interactions in your day today might not mean anything to you…. but you never know for whom those interactions might just mean everything.

How can you be a bright spot in others’ day today?

For breakfast, I had coffee.

Author: @erikap

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