I want to tell you a short story about how a single sentence changed my entire perspective on making a difference – and how it can change yours, too.
Six years ago I attended the Net Impact Conference. I was considering a total career change from leadership development into sustainability (which wasn’t THAT much of a stretch since my undergrad degree is in conservation biology) and I attended the conference to see if I really wanted to make that leap.
During one panel discussion, a member of the audience asked how he could make the biggest difference.
Dave Stangis, then Chief Sustainability Officer for Campbell’s, said the words I’ll never forget:
Start from your position of impact.
I immediately wrote down the words in big capital letters in my notebook and drew a square around the sentence.
At the time, those words guided me AWAY from a career in sustainability because I realized MY position of impact comes from speaking, training, coaching, and guiding groups through development programs. I had no idea at that point that I would start my own business, but I knew I made the biggest impact when I did these things. And I love them, too (also very important🙂 ).
I know you want to make a difference, too. I’ve heard from so many of you who want to bring anti-racism work into your organizations and be a part of real change in your communities.
I also know you’re overwhelmed. You’re overwhelmed because you are inundated with resources and articles and directives to action – and you have no idea where to start. You’re overwhelmed because you’re worried about not doing it right. You’re overwhelmed because you have a million other balls you’re also keeping in the air.
And, oh yeah – there’s still a pandemic going on too.
So instead of being overwhelmed with all the potential things you could do, ask yourself: What is your position of impact?
To get your thinking started, here’s how that has looked for me:
Right now, my biggest position of impact comes from speaking and facilitating webinars. In the last month alone, I’ve led webinars on Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Creating Your Own Rules For Success with hundreds of people from multiple different organizations.
I used to skirt around the edges of racism in these talks, bringing it up indirectly by using words like “power structures” as a cause of imposter syndrome.
Now I talk about it directly, saying that racial discrimination is one of the causes of imposter syndrome.
In Creating Your Own Rules For Success, I share directly how different groups of people are taught they need to follow different rules through seemingly small things like a performance review.
For example, I’ve gotten the feedback multiple times that I’m too direct. But I’ve never been called angry – something a black woman doing the exact same thing that I did would likely be told.
In the scheme of things, these are tiny actions. And I have A LOT more learning and work to do.
But these were small actions I could take right away to create impact. I didn’t do them perfectly. I know I stumbled over my words. But they happened.
What about you? What is your position of impact?
How can you alter what you’re ALREADY doing to create change?
Answer the question. And then go do that thing.
I’d love to hear your reflections. Post a comment below about how you’re acting from your position of impact.